Friday, September 25, 2009

The Way of Christ

Since a Christ-like walk is a description of “life” in the authentic Christian faith, we must then define how Jesus walked. To begin, Scripture describes how the Son of God emptied Himself of His own power and glory as God to become a man. As a man, the Son was called the Second Adam because He came to live as the first Adam had been created to live. He lived in total dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Son did not use the power He possessed as God when He became a man. In the likeness of the first Adam, as Adam was able to live before he lost the indwelling presence of the Spirit, Jesus was expected to rely on the Holy Spirit to show forth the life and work of the Father through Him.

The reason why so many Christians do not know anything about the indwelling nature of God is because they have not been willing to enter through the one small gate into the presence of His heavenly life. They have not followed the path of the firstborn Son. An essential prerequisite to being filled with the life of God is to first permit the Spirit to empty us of our own power and glory. Jesus emptied Himself of a power and glory that He had a right to possess. In our fallen state, we have tried to be like God by using all of our efforts to fill our life with our own glory. If we hope to become like the Son and walk as Jesus did, we must give up our own glory in order to become an instrument of God’s power and glory.

No one will ever be in a condition to manifest God’s glory while they remain filled with self-exaltation. In effect, the self-seeking nature that seeks its own glory is the essence of the evil in fallen man. This is what keeps their soul from being exalted by the power of the Holy Spirit into the presence of God. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him...” (Phil. 2:5-9)

If you want to be highly exalted into the heavenly realms by God’s power and begin participating with Christ in His divine nature, you too must permit your self-life to be taken to the cross. This is the basic premise of the true Christian faith. (Luke 14:27,33) “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Rom. 6:5 KJV)

The spiritual law of pride and humility works as consistently as God's natural law of gravity. God does not show favoritism. (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:10) If we try to exalt ourselves, God will be working to bring us down spiritually. If we will humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand by living under the control of His Spirit, He will use His divine power to lift us up in due time. (1 Pet. 5:5-6)

When Jesus emptied Himself of His own glory to become “nothing” in Himself in order to walk as the Second Adam – to live as a man in the way that God had planned for man to live – He no longer had a will of His own {His will was united with the Father’s will}. He only had one purpose during His life as a man: He was here to freely submit Himself to do the will of the Father.

This was the glory of man and his source of blessedness before the Fall. We were to receive the blessings of divine life by living in the will of God. Jesus said to them, “My food {or source of spiritual sustenance} is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34 NKJV)

Based on Christ's example, the only way anyone will ever walk as Jesus did is by giving up their own will. Every true disciple of Jesus Christ will permit the Spirit to lead them through the cross and a death to self-will so they may be lifted up into God's heavenly life and will. And so we pray –

“Your kingdom come {into our heart-Luke 17:21}, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10)

“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:5-6)

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this {proud and willful} world... Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom. 12:1-2)

Jesus “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Phil. 2:7) The likeness of a “human,” as God had planned, is to be nothing in self. God did not intend for us to live for our own will and glory. The blessedness of the eternal life can only be known when God becomes our “all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28) Beginning today, and lasting throughout all eternity, God wants to be our one source of spiritual life. In effect, it is only when we are in a condition of nothingness that we can expect to be spiritually exalted by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit into the fullness of Christ's life. (John 10:10)

“I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 3)

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated the heavenly realms...” (Eph. 1:18-20)

“Praise be to the God...who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with {the reality of} every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3)

by Steve Bray


Thursday, September 10, 2009


Some of the following lessons were developed from William Arthur’s book entitled The Tongue of Fire; The True Power of Christianity. It was written in 1856.

Chapter One:


When John the Baptist was being used mightily by the Spirit to call people to repentance, the Jews began to say, “Surely this must be the Messiah for whom we have waited so long.” Of course, he was not the one they were seeking. John was sent to prepare God’s people to receive the Lord. He therefore said to them, “I am not the Christ.” (John 1:20) “I indeed baptize you with water {as a sign of repentance}; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)

The Jewish people had long been expecting a Messiah. He was coming to establish a kingdom here on earth where people would live by the will of God. Their last inspired prophet had said, “Behold…the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple.” (Mal. 3:1)

The Messiah, according to the general belief of the Jews, would set up His throne in the temple at Jerusalem and begin ruling His kingdom from a physical location. He would establish His government – the kingdom of God – like other kingdoms of this world. He would then make everyone obey the laws of God. His great power and authority would enable Him to rule over all other governments and people. And many Christians still believe this way.

But this is not how God had planned to establish His kingdom. The Lord did not intend to rule over the people of the world by making them conform to written laws. God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts. And His ways are far above the ways of man.

It is God’s plan to rule His people from a throne within their hearts. The Messiah, once He was resurrected and glorified, would use His Spirit to establish His kingdom-life within the hearts of men. He would manifest Himself within the temple of their bodies so they could share with Him in His life of true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:24)

Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes… I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws… I will save you from all your uncleanness. (Ezk. 36:23, 27, 29 NIV)

In other words, the Messiah did not intend to set up a physical kingdom in this world. However, He would enable people to participate with Him in His divine nature if they would surrender the temple of their body to Him so He could set up His throne of power within their heart. (2 Pet. 1:3-4) This has always been God’s ultimate plan for redeeming fallen man. Jesus confirmed this interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies when He said, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20)

The Lord would come to immerse God’s called-out people into His own spiritual life through a baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire. Through this purification and infilling, He would establish His Kingdom-life of love within their hearts and enable them to fulfill all the righteous requirements of the law. (Rom. 8:3-4)

John the Baptist was a prophet sent by God to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord to His temple. The Messiah, when He came to each of His consecrated disciples in power, would enable them to overcome the flesh, the world and the devil. These people who had been called out by God through repentance, would then be able to “serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of {their} life. (Luke 1:74-75)

God had been sending this message to His people through the prophets for centuries. But when John the Baptist came on the scene, the age of fulfillment was finally at hand.
Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me {by calling the people to repentance}. And {a little later} the Lord, whom you seek {wholeheartedly}, Will suddenly come to His temple… He is like a refiner’s fire… He will purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Mal. 3:1-3)

The sons of Levi represent consecrated believers in this age of fulfillment.
This long awaited “Promise of the Father” that purifies the heart and fills the temple of the body with God’s life of love – His glory – is only offered to those who have previously repented and have fully consecrated their lives to the Lord. They would become the true priests of God as they “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:24)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Pet. 2:9)

John the Baptist, as a minister of the gospel message, served the purpose of preparing people to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. His function was to lead people to repentance and to prepare their hearts to receive the Lord and His Kingdom-life from heaven. He said to the people, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2) This kingdom of heaven {a term that Matthew uses when referring to the kingdom of God} would soon be available to them. Once this kingdom was established within their hearts, they would be enabled to serve God with the same undivided devotion that the angels serve God in heaven. While the light of their understanding would not be as great as the angels, their devotedness would be “made complete.” (Jam. 1:4)

The Spirit-baptism is only offered to people who are already living in a reconciled state. We are told that “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mark 1:4) To people who were being reconciled to God through repentance, he said, “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight… Therefore bear fruit worthy of repentance…” (Luke 3:4, 8) He knew that only a forgiven, yielded, and consecrated heart would be prepared to receive this long awaited Promise of the Father.

God had forgiven people for their sins prior to the New Testament dispensation. He was able to see the Son’s shed blood from the foundation of the world. We can therefore find Him calling people back to Himself since the fall of Adam. Crediting people with righteousness was nothing new to God. (Rom. 4:20-22)

This New Testament age of fulfillment has something more to offer than the forgiveness of sins. The Messiah came to establish His Kingdom-life of love within the hearts of God’s called-out children so they would be enabled to display His spiritual image and glory in this world. He came to enable them to serve God with the same kind of selfless love that Jesus displayed when He lived in a mortal body. (1 John 4:17)

God has provided an Old Testament “type” to help Christians understand this spiritual principle. After God’s people in the Old Testament had properly prepared a dwelling place for the Lord {a temple}, had placed the sacrifice on the altar, and had prayed to God for the blessing, the fire then came down to consume the remains of the sacrifice. God demonstrated His approval of their preparations by sending the fire from heaven. Only then was He able to fill the temple, a dwelling place they were required to prepare for Him, with His presence and glory. Scripture says, “When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” (2 Chron. 7:1)

On the day of Pentecost, this Old Testament “type” became a living reality in the lives of the first disciples. After they had prepared the temple of their bodies, had placed the remains of their flesh-life on the altar of sacrifice, and had offered up prayers to God, He then sent His fire from heaven to purify their hearts. (Acts 2:3)

God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them {their consecration}…for
he purified their hearts by faith. (Acts 15:8-9 Emphasis added NIV)

Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life {the Kingdom-life} which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (Jam. 1:12 Emphasis added)

And the Lord, whom you seek {as the One who will establish His Kingdom within the heart}, will suddenly come to His temple… He will purify the sons of Levi {the fully consecrated believers}…that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.(Mal. 3:1, 3)

There is still a remains of impurity within the hearts of new believers. It can be recognized by the various forms of self-centeredness that still exist within their lives. The Bible refers to it as “the flesh” or the “sinful nature.” The called-out children of God will therefore be tested to see if they are willing to place this old self-centered nature on the altar of sacrifice. Christ will not consume the flesh-life with His fire from heaven and establish His Kingdom-life within their heart until they have made an unreserved {unblemished} offering of themselves to God.

God will not permit the flesh-life to enter into His presence. The Lord therefore needs to do His work of removing the old carnal nature before it is possible for the believer to dwell in His presence within the Holiest of All. In other words, “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14) Once the flesh-life is removed, the believer is able to enter into the holy nature of God and enjoy His presence. Their spiritual life is no longer a place of dryness and barrenness.

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary promises of Christ, let us go on to perfection {become complete in the Lord’s life of love}… Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience {steadfastness and perseverance inherit the promises… This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure andsteadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil. (Heb. 6:1, 12, 19)

Once the heart has been purified and Christ has shown Himself to the inner soul, the believer enters into a real participation with God in His divine nature. The flesh-life is consumed by His indwelling presence and the Spirit provides sufficient power to fulfill all the righteous requirements of the law. Whoever has My commands and obeys them {does his work of preparing the temple with his regenerate heart}, he is the one who loves Me…and I too will love him and show Myself to him {within the temple of the body}. (John 14:21 NIV)
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, {the law is powerless to change anyone’s nature, only God’s power can do that} God did by sending His own Son…that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled {fully met – NIV} in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:3-4)

Continue to Chapter 2 pg 5 of the PDF

Monday, September 07, 2009

The World’s Value System

Modern Christianity has transformed scripture that is meant to bring us into the Kingdom of God where there is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” into a self-serving, perverted gospel…anything to keep them from suffering.

Most Christians do not know what they were “saved” from. I would venture to say, “well learned ministers” of the “gospel” have no idea what Christ came to do and what he accomplished for us. The wonderful Good News of Jesus Christ has been cheapened into a “worldly” view of what “man” thinks is good. It has become all about happiness and comfort in this temporal world. God has called us to so much more than what this world can offer. If dying to your self and allowing yourself to go through the refining fires of the Holy Spirit seems like a depressing gospel to you, you have yet to know the Lord and his sufferings. And cannot understand the verse…”for the joy set before him, he endured the cross”.

We have all been born into a time of gross darkness; none of us have been immune to it. We were forewarned of this time in scripture. But, by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, if we have a love for the truth no matter where it takes us, the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. Traditions of men will kill us; time is short so let us lay them down.

*The following article is by Steve Bray . Some simple truth from the scriptures, I pray blesses you.

The World’s Value System

The devil has fostered a value system on the world that must be recognized. He will have the advantage until the light from God’s Word has exposed the evil in his ways. Scripture has used such terms as “the spirit of the world” and “the spirit of error” to refer to this corrupt way of life. Yes, even if we have been a part of the Christian church and have sought to be followers of Jesus from earliest childhood, we have still “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:2) Most Christians do not even understand what it implies to follow the course of this world. They have remained deceived and are still under the sway of “the spirit of the world.”

Life in the eternal kingdom of God requires a complete change in how we think. The Son provided a little insight into just how offensive man’s ways are to God when He said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matt. 16:23) The difference between the ways of this world and the way of life in God’s kingdom is so great that Jesus could say without qualification, “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15) And since it is detestable in God’s sight, we can begin to see how important it is to clearly identify “the things of men” and “the course of this world.”

A careful reading of the Bible will reveal the following facts: The “spirit of the world” teaches everyone to become independent and self-sufficient. It is an evil influence that turns people from a childlike dependence upon God to a self-seeking and self-exalting form of life. The people of this world reject the light of life as revealed through Christ’s self-denying and self-emptying way of life. They prefer to build up their own image and live for their own pleasures.

While fallen man may become religious and serve others as a part of this image building process, his main focus is to develop a personal kingdom where he becomes great. These are the ways that are highly valued by men and are detestable in God’s sight. It helps us to see how far we must go in renewing our mind before we can be lifted by the power of God into His eternal kingdom.

Those who live in the kingdom of God empty themselves of their own glory so they may live as mere vessels of God’s life and works. In His kingdom, He receives all the glory because He becomes the source of everything that takes place. Jesus provided an example of what this means. The Son of God left the place of prominence to become the lowest servant. Instead of living for His own pleasures, He willingly “suffered” for the good of others. And He assures us that He did not do anything “out from” Himself. (John 5:30; 8:28)

Can we begin to see what it will require if we intend to follow Him? And we must be mindful of the fact that we can only find His eternal Kingdom-life by following Him. (Matt. 16:24-25; John 8:12) Instead of living for our own pleasures and desires as worldly-minded people naturally do, it actually entails choosing to suffer for His kingdom while living in this world. We can become “joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” (Rom. 8:17)

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone {separated forever from the eternal life}; but if it dies, it produces much grain… If anyone serves Me {in the kingdom of God} let him follow Me {through the cross}; and where I am {in the Kingdom-life}, there My servant will be also. (John 12:24-26)
The world teaches us to save ourselves and to live for ourselves as a means for finding “life.” When Peter was on this “save thyself” course, which reflects the fallen way of life that Satan fostered on the world, Jesus knew that he was under Satan’s influence. In contrast, the Spirit of Christ teaches us to deny ourselves and to lose our old self-originated form of life so we may find life from above. It is here that we must choose which of these two conflicting courses we are going to follow.

The world leads people to direct their own steps. The objective is to be free from servanthood so we may “pursue life” as we please. Individuals want the right to develop their “psuche” *{See God’s Saving Grace for an explanation of the Greek word “psuche”} life according to their own will. And while no man should bind another man, this so-called “right” to personal freedom has been promoted to such an extent that even Christians have been unwilling to become servants of the living God.

Paul spoke of being “bound” to the Spirit. It is a reference to losing all rights to his life. He gave up all rights to his own life, and stopped living for his own pleasures, so that God would be able to direct all his steps. This is what enabled him to find the Kingdom-life from heaven and consistently enjoy “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17) Have you taken this same God-ordained course, or are you still following the spirit of the world?

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
(1 Cor. 6:19-20)

And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin {to self-will and self-seeking}, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God… And having been set free from sin {self-will} you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh {your unspiritual mind}. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness {everything is unclean that is not wholly devoted to God and His purposes}…now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness {to be used by God as He has planned}. (Rom. 6:13, 18-19)

While worldly-minded people will sometimes restrain their pursuit of pleasure in this world for a season, it is generally with the intent of accumulating their resources to prepare to have more happiness in the days ahead. Being afraid of what is ahead, they anxiously make plans to protect their future “psuche” life. They try to protect themselves from future hardships because they have learned how easy their spiritual life is lost in unpleasant circumstances.

The people of the world naturally live by their own strength and will. To them, only a fool would avoid planning his own future. Because they have never entered into a Spirit-directed way of life, where they trust God to work out all things for their good, they remain caught up in the self-sufficient and self-seeking ways of this world.

Jesus’ teachings are completely foreign to the worldly mind. He said to those who desired to follow Him, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.” (Luke 12:22 KJV) He knew that those who continued to live for themselves would not be able to serve Him in His kingdom. “No one can serve two masters.” (Matt. 6:24) He went so far as to emphatically say, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth.” (Matt. 6:19) He said that only those who are of “the nations of the world” do such things. (Luke 12:30) Lacking faith in the one and only God who is able to fully care for His true children, the people of this world think they must live for themselves and store up treasures on earth to protect their future.

The true followers of Jesus live as dependent little children. They trust in God to take care of their needs as they live for His Kingdom and glory. To the children of faith, this is wise because it puts the omnipotent power of God to work in their life.

These two different ways of life present us with a very important question: Who is the wise man and who is the fool? Is the man of the world wise when he rejects Christ’s teachings in order to lay up treasures for himself on earth? Or, is the child of faith wise when He trusts in the God of infinite wisdom and power to care for His future needs while he pours out his life in the service of the Lord’s eternal kingdom? Jesus Himself provides the answer to our question with very clear words.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man… But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man… (Matt. 7:24, 26)

God says that unless we are completely changed and become like dependent little children who trust in Him to direct our steps, which includes depending on Him to supply our needs according to His will, we will never see the kingdom of God. (Matt. 6:31-32; 18:3) In fact, He instructs us to give up our rights to both our lives and our resources in living for the good of others, so we may receive “the kingdom of God” as a gift. (Luke 12:32-34) He even goes so far as to instruct us to be willing to go through physical suffering for the sake of His eternal kingdom. (Phil. 1:29) Can we begin to see how our mind will need to be completely renewed before we will be prepared to enter into the way of life found in God’s eternal kingdom?

For those who are willing to be honest with God’s Word, it should become quite apparent how there will need to be a radical change in how we think if we are to pass through the desert testing period and enter into Christ’s heavenly life of promise—the constant, abiding and eternal “zoe” life *{See God’s Saving Grace for an explanation of the Greek word “zoe”} . Those who continue to live for themselves will find that it is impossible to truly respond to God’s Word. No one can serve two masters.

Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live…and go in and possess the land {the life of promise}... And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you…to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not…For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs… (Deut. 8:1-7)

In God’s kingdom the “least” and the “last” shall be the “greatest” and the “first.” Because everything is reversed, you will need to completely reverse your course in order to “come out” from “the spirit of the world.” “Therefore, ‘come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you {into the life of promise}.’ ” (2 Cor. 6:17)

Since our Lord’s ways are diametrically opposed to the ways of this world, you should begin to see why you will need to die to your own reputation and seek to be the lowest of servants if you are to follow Him. Have you taken this course, or are you still seeking to have your own reputation so you may have honor from men? Remember, God is the one who is testing your heart. And it was Jesus who said, “How can you believe {in the Christ who made Himself of no reputation and did not receive honor from men}, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44)

Those who are willing to be the least and last will be lifted into the highest levels of spiritual life in the heavenly realms. What has been the result of your system of beliefs? Has God honored you with His life from heaven?

Of course, the devil will tell you that God did not really mean what He said. You will therefore need to be very careful to avoid being deceived. You must listen to the Spirit of truth. You cannot afford to be like God’s people of old who did not receive the promise because they did not respond in faith to His teachings. “And to whom did he swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?” (Heb. 3:18)

As you seek out this life of promise, and search out God’s ways, you will be helped considerably by remembering what Jesus said: “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” If the people of this world love to do something, and they commonly seek after it as a means to improve their spiritual life, then it is probably something that needs to be avoided at all cost. Their whole thought process is in conflict with the “zoe” life in God’s eternal kingdom.

“But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,” says the Lord. “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water {as they seek spiritual life from the temporal realm}.” (Jer. 2:11-13)

Anyone who honestly opens their heart to the truth will begin to see how all independence, self-sufficiency and self-seeking, which naturally lead to a self-exalting form of life, come from an evil spirit. This “spirit of error” has led fallen man to keep his eyes on earthly things. In contrast, the true children of God lose their “psuche” life and live for the Lord and His kingdom alone. This is how we know who are the children of God and the children of the devil. And we need to say again that no one can serve two masters.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him… (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

We know that we are of God {because we no longer live for ourselves}, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one {because they live for themselves and their own glory}. (1 John 5:19)

There is only one way to be saved from the spirit of the world and this fallen way of life. We must deny ourselves and follow Christ in His way of the cross. It implies dying to the “psuche” life. Whatever you do, do not try to justify living for your own purposes. Even if you have the whole world agreeing with you, the self-seeking way of life is still detestable in God’s sight. As James has said, “This wisdom {that leads to self-seeking} does not descend from above, but is earthy, sensual, demonic.” (Jam. 3:15) It always leads to the wrath of God. (Rom. 2:8)

They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God {and understands His way of life} hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:5-6 Emphasis added)

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God {so we may walk in His ways and find life from Him rather than vainly seeking life from the things of this world}, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Cor. 2:12)

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above… Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hiddenwith Christ in God. (Col. 3:1-3)

This may be difficult to comprehend, but Jesus lived in the heavenly realms with His Father while He walked in this world. It was in this sense that He was “in the world” but not “of the world.” Yes, He is now in a place of much greater glory. But there is a way for man to walk in the heavenly realms with God while living in a mortal body. Jesus said, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (John 3:14) The Son was living with the Father in the heavenly realms by sharing with Him in the eternal “zoe” life while He walked in this world. And He expects us to live through Him in the same way. (1 John 4:9)

Every individual must choose today where he or she intends to live. Our place of life needs to be in the heavenly realms today if we plan to live throughout eternity in God’s kingdom.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love…raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly place in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4, 6)

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness {to reveal God’s heavenly kingdom-life}, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4)

The Second Man – The Lord From Heaven

…The last Adam became a life-giving spirit… The second Man is the Lord from heaven. (1 Cor. 15:45, 47)

…Who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. (Heb. 7:16)

To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies {the world, the flesh and the devil}, Might serve Him without fear {of remaining bound by the carnal nature}, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. (Luke 1:74-75)

The first man was Adam, and he entered into spiritual death. The Last Adam was Christ, and He came to raise the spiritually dead and give His endless life to each of His disciples. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9)

Had God not intervened by providing a new life from heaven, the family of Adam would have been without hope. There was no way for fallen man to escape from his sinful nature and raise himself out of spiritual death.

Right here we can see why the virgin birth was necessary. Had Jesus Christ been born as you and I were born, by natural conception through the line of Adam, He too would have been “in Adam.” It would have naturally left Him in spiritual death, uninhabited by the divine life of God, and dominated by the flesh-life. This is why the doctrine of the virgin birth is not a matter of secondary importance. It is imperative!

Because the Last Adam {Jesus Christ}, the Second Man, came from the line of His own Father in heaven, and He lived without ever departing from a walk of faith {He lived without sin. “…for whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23)}, He now has the right to impart His spiritual life from heaven to everyone who will follow Him through the cross. (Matt. 16:24-25) As the Son of God, He was sent into the world to manifest His Kingdom-life through everyone who is willing to die to their Adam-life. He now has both the power and the authority to make Himself known within the soul of every believer in “the power of an endless life.” (Heb. 7:16)

The Son of God came to re-inhabit your spirit and to re-conquer your soul. He has come to enable you to have His life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10) As He has said, “Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

The Son of God came to restore to you all that makes the mystery of godliness an open secret: He came to manifest His own life through the temple of your body! This is “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you…” (Col. 1:26-27 Emphasis added)

In addition to giving birth to Jesus, Mary also became a spiritual type for everyone who desires to bear the life of God’s Son. What were the events that led up to the miraculous birth of Christ? How was Mary able to bear the heavenly life of the Son?

It began with God’s Word being faithfully delivered by a messenger “sent by God.” (Luke 1:26) The Word she received was both strange and startling. It was contrary to all human experience and beyond anything the mind could fully comprehend. Since the message defied human wisdom, would she believe God’s word?

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest… And He will reign…and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33 Emphasis added)

The natural reaction of Mary was one of amazement. The obvious question to be asked and to be answered was “How?” And so Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34) The angel might have responded something like this, “Mary, there is no way to explain this mystery in human terms!” ‘But the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’ (Luke 1:35) He will do a work that causes you to bear the life of the Son of God.”

Mary would be a mere instrument. The almighty power of God would perform the miracle. But was that enough? No! One condition still needed to be met! Mary had to make herself available for this gracious, life-giving ministry of the Spirit.

Maybe you have taken it for granted that Mary would make herself available to God and thereby permit Him to do this wonderful work through her. Is there any reason why you should think this way? Have you made yourself available in a way that would permit the Spirit to overshadow you? Have you given permission to God to use your body for His purposes? Have you been willing to become “nothing” in yourself so the Son would be able to “reign” over your life and show Himself “great” through you? Is there any reason why you should expect her to do something that you have not permitted God to do through you?

Mary could have said, “I do not want God to interfere in my life! I am engaged to be married and I have my own plans! This would spoil what I have planned for my own life.” Isn’t this what has kept you from surrendering your life and plans to become a vessel of the Son’s life? Remember, as the Son of the Highest, “He will reign” when He has established His Kingdom-life within your heart. And when He comes to manifest Himself through your body, He is the only one who can “be great.”

Of course, Mary was a true child of faith! She said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) Once she yielded to God’s word, and trusted in Him to do the work, the responsibility was on God to fulfill His purposes through her. She trusted and yielded; God used His power to do the work.

We should emphasize, however, that it is never easy to bear the life of the Son. “Difficult is the way which leads to life.” (Matt. 7:14) Mary would be expected to go through some suffering before she gave birth to the life of the Son. After spiritual regeneration had taken place, when the seed of divine life was first planted within her by the Spirit, there were still many difficulties to pass through. But she continued to trust in God and wait for the life of promise to come forth.

Christians today, if they are to become vessels of the Son’s Kingdom-life, will also go through periods of suffering before the Son can display His life of divine love through their mortal bodies. It is like giving birth to a child. After being impregnated with a “seed” from the Son’s life, there will inevitably be a number of difficult trials leading up to the painful birth of His Kingdom-life from above.

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus , after you have suffered a while {in dying to the self-seeking and self-sufficient ways of the world}, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Pet. 5:10 Emphasis added))

Every Christian is expected to press forward in their faith until they have given birth to the Lord’s Kingdom-life from heaven. “He will reign…and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:33) His Kingdom-life, once established within the heart, becomes an everlasting life.

The law and the prophets were until John {the Baptist}. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. (Luke 16:16 Emphasis added)

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you {as Christians} do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star {Jesus Christ in His Kingdom-life} rises in your hearts. (2 Pet. 1:10-11, 19 Emphasis added)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Judgment and Rewards

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. (Isaiah 42:3)

God does not break the "bruised reed" or quench the "smoking flax." Rather, He sends judgment and grace until the weak are led forth in victory.

No kingdom is made up solely of kings. How can there be kings if there are no subjects? The Kingdom of God is an actual kingdom.

Perhaps you will agree with us that the Divine redemption is not limited to producing only the kings and the tormented. There are regions of life between the high thrones and the depths of the Lake of Fire. The Scriptures do not teach that there is but one level of attainment in the Kingdom of God.

One day you and I will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. We will be rewarded according to what we have done in our bodies, according to the good and evil we have practiced. Jesus is coming soon. His reward is with Him to give to every person the wages he has earned.

What is your choice? Thirtyfold? Sixtyfold? A hundredfold?
Will Jesus address you as a friend and faithful servant, or will you be met with a frown and expressions of disappointment or even anger in that Day?

Is your conduct leading you toward praise and blessings or is it bringing you to rebuke and punishment?

Are you in danger of being led away into outer darkness?

The Holy Spirit seems to be speaking to us that the issues we are presenting are far more serious than we have realized. A spirit of lightness and unwarranted optimism has pervaded the Christian churches.

The spirit of lightness and assurance concerning the things of the Kingdom of God is not in line with such apostolic expressions as "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"; "the righteous scarcely be saved"; "how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"; "knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men."

If we are correct in our understanding, the churches of Christ around the world are facing a severe chastening. Much blood will be spilled. Christian people will become aware that Gospel preaching over the past several years has not been acceptable to God as to the witness that has been borne. The call to repentance is too weak. The goodness of God is being emphasized but the severity of God is being concealed.

The believers will not be "raptured" out of this chastening, because the chastening is for their salvation. Were Christ to return now, it seems likely that a mere handful of believers would be prepared to dwell in the fire of His Presence.

The churches are not ready for Christ's return. The world is not ready for Christ's return.

First must come unprecedented glory and unprecedented tribulation. Much will be accomplished by the glory and also by the suffering. Best of all, the Bride of the Lamb will be separated from the worldly churches and will be purified, thus being made ready for Her Lord.

The Scriptures are true.

R. Thompson