The book which you are about to read has important theological and practical implications. In fact, they are monumental! Therefore it should read carefully, thoughtfully and prayerfully. It is essential to start from the beginning and read through to the end of the book without skipping over any material. Since the ideas which are presented here are developed over many chapters, if the reader, does not familiarize himself with the entire work, misunderstanding could result. There is sometimes a great temptation when first picking up a new book to look through the table of contents, find a chapter that looks interesting, and start reading there. Since many believers are not well acquainted with this subject matter the results of such reading could be disastrous. With this in mind I would like to urge all serious readers to thoroughly study the information presented here before they form their final conclusions.
Another fact which should be mentioned is that to understand the contents of this book requires spiritual revelation. Since we are going to be investigating the truth of God as contained in the scriptures, we must do so properly. Due to the inadequacy of the human mind to know God without revelation from His Spirit, when we are seeking to know His will we must rely on Him to enlighten us. So I would like to urge you while reading through these pages to do so in an attitude of prayer having your heart and mind open to Jesus, that He may reveal His truth to you. Of course this book is only a human effort; nevertheless, let us pray together that God could use it to further unveil to His own more of Himself and His purposes upon the earth.
The reader should be cautioned that much of what is presented here is neither widely taught nor known. Many of these things may be new or different from what he has heard before. Therefore if you come across something unfamiliar in your reading, I would ask you to weigh it carefully in the light of the scriptures rather than discard it because you have heard something different in the past. It is all too easy for us as Christians to develop concepts in our minds concerning the contents of the Word of God which are not firmly established on the truth but only on things we have heard. How easily our preconceived notions blind us to spiritual things and how much we should be careful not to get into a position of opposing God’s truth just because it does not fit with our previous ideas! May the Lord have mercy upon us so that we could be workmen who do not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Tim 2: 15).
In view of all these things let us openly, honestly, and
sincerely investigate the
* * *
IF YOU HAVE NOT DONE SO ALREADY, PLEASE READ THE INTRODUCTION BEFORE YOU PROCEED.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. “Thy Kingdom Come”. Page11
3. A Brief Chronology Page 27
4. The Day of the Lord Page 37
5. The Purpose of God Page 51
6. God’s Commission – Man’s Failure Page 66
7. The Kingdom of God is Among You Page 76
9. “Lord, Lord” Page 102
10. A Just Reward Page 117
11. “Faith-Works” Page 130
12. The Overcomers Page 145
13. A Word of Encouragement Page 160
Conclusion Page 180
Appendix Page 183
* * *
“Thy Kingdom Come”
Contrary to popular belief, the final dwelling place of real Christians, is not heaven. That’s right, no Christian is going to spend eternity in heaven. Now, before you get offended and throw this book away in disgust, please allow yourself to read just a few pages with an open mind.
According to the scriptures found in the Holy Bible, the final dwelling place of redeemed mankind is the new earth. The New Jerusalem which is the bride of Christ, of which all true believers are a part, is seen in the book of Revelation descending out of heaven to the new earth (Rev 21: 2). This means that Christians will spend eternity on the earth, a new one perhaps, but nevertheless on earth. In fact, God Himself is so pleased with the finished product that He is seen leaving His throne in the heavens and taking up residence on the new earth with His people (Rev 21: 3). What does this astounding fact mean? It means that God is more interested in the earth than [Page 12] than we thought. His original purpose in creating man and placing him on the earth to have dominion over it has not been abandoned. He has not given up on this first plan and instead started a rescue operation to save a few souls and whisk them off to heaven while leaving the devil to reign supreme in this world. No, what He originally started out to do, He will do! Nothing can stop Him. All His purposes will be accomplished both in this world and in the one that is to come. (Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the new earth will not be heavenly or that it will not be of a whole new substance and, nature far superior to that which we enjoy today. The point here is that God is interested in the earth.)
Not only are God and His people going to dwell on a new earth for eternity but He is not finished with this old one yet - not by a long shot. When Jesus Christ our Lord returns, He is not just coming to rescue us (although there is that element to it) - but He is coming to establish His Kingdom literally on this earth for 1,000 years (Rev 20: 4). And, we, if we are ready, will reign with Him. You see, not only are we not going to spend eternity in heaven, but we will not go there after Christ returns. We will still be or this earth for 1,000 years! That’s a long time. If we who are alive today get to heaven at all it will only be for a brief stay while waiting for the glorious moment of the second coming of Jesus the King.
A brief time chart is being included here to aid the reader in understanding these events in their proper sequence.
[Page 13] In light, of the above facts, perhaps we Christians should reconsider our present suppositions concerning the earth and what our role in it should be. Perhaps we should relinquish, our escapist philosophy and realize that God is not finished with the earth yet and neither are we. I am not talking here about a new plan to improve the environment or to end nuclear war. Neither am I going to recommend some social action or protests to improve the present state of affairs. What I am proposing is that believers need to be getting ready for the next phase of God’s plan on this present earth - the coming [millennial] Kingdom.
Now I realize that there are those who do not believe that there is an earthly Kingdom coming, or that it is here today or even that it has come and gone already. But dealing with these doubts, misconceptions and misunderstandings in any kind of a thorough way is really beyond the scope of this book. Suffice it to say that if people do not see from the scriptures a Millennial (1,000 year) Kingdom where Satan is bound (Rev 20: 3, 7) - which surely he is not today - where Jesus Christ is ruling the nations with a rod of iron and they are infinitely obedient to His will (Rev 19: 15), where the sucking child will play on the hole of the asp and the lion will lie down with the lamb (Isa. 11: 6-8), where men beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning books and there is no more war (Isa 2: 4), where Christ reigns physically on the earth (1 Cor 15: 25, Is 24: 23, Rev. 20: 6), reapportions the land of Israel among the twelve tribes (Ezek 48) and builds again the temple (Ezek 40-43, Zech 6:12, 13); if they do not see in this an earthly, physical Kingdom of Jesus Christ, then I do not know how to convince them. There is just no [Page 14] way to prove anything to anybody from the scriptures of they are not open to it. However if there are those who are not certain about this and are genuinely interested in a better understanding of the coming Kingdom of God, then I suggest they go to a good Christian bookstore and buy some books written by authors who believe the Bible literally just as it reads and do some further study. Also a partial listing of scriptures concerning the Kingdom is being included at the end of this book for the serious Bible student. “And we shall reign on the earth” … “with him a thousand years” (Rev. 5: 10, 20: 6).
This earthly reign of Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of God’s promise to David the king that there would never fail of his seed one to sit on his throne (2 Sam. 7: 12, Jn. 7: 42). It is the completion of God’s commandment to Adam to have dominion over the earth (Gen 1: 12), a sabbath rest to the people of God (Heb. 4: 1), the Day of the Lord (1 Thess 5: 2), and much, much more. What a blessed fact that we, God’s people, can be a part of it with Him. The participation of [“accounted worthy” (Luke 20: 35)] believers in this Millennial reign of Christ is one of the most neglected parts of the gospel. Too often we have skipped over this most serious subject while looking towards going to heaven for eternity.
Yes, we should set our minds on things above, and it is true that our reward is laid up for us in heaven, but the Bible teaches that when Jesus Christ returns He is bringing these rewards to earth with Him (Rev. 22: 12). I am not suggesting that we fill our minds with earthly things, but that we prepare to bring the heavenly things to earth. This is part of the gospel. The Kingdom reign of Jesus Christ is an [Page 15] indispensable part of what He came for and is going to do. And our role in this plan is of the utmost importance. So central is the idea of the coming Kingdom to the gospel that when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, one of the first sentences He spoke was “Thy Kingdom come … on earth,” just as it now is in heaven (Matt. 6: 10 NASB). Also a great many parables which He taught were about the coming Kingdom and what it would be like. Certainly we should not treat this subject as unimportant or inconsequential. Rather, with the return of the Lord drawing nigh, it is something to which all of God’s children need to give serious and prolonged consideration.
There is no way for the people of God to circumvent the Kingdom. It is a part of God’s plan for the earth in which we will all participate in some fashion or other. The amazing but largely unannounced truth is that what we do today has everything to do with what our role in [or outside of] that Kingdom will be. No matter how old we are, our time on the earth is not “just about over.” We still have at least 1,000 years to work together with our Lord for the accomplishment of His purposes in this world. Our faithfulness, our diligence and in fact our whole manner of living in this present world will be the determining factor for what role Christ gives us in His Kingdom when He returns. Can this be any surprise? Even in this realm people give places of responsibility and honour to those who are hard working and faithful. Does not Jesus say that He will reward each man according to his works (Rev 22: 12, 1 Cor 3: 14)? This is exactly what He will do.
With this in mind, in the following chapters we [Page 16] will examine several aspects of the Kingdom which have great relevance to us today. Many of these truths may seem startling but I beg you for your own sake, do not close your mind to them. After reading this book, search the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are true. By all means do not, be talked out of them by some well-meaning individual without looking into it thoroughly. The coming Kingdom has much to do with you and no one else can change your part in it. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14: 12).
“And I say unto you, that many shall come from the cast and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8: 11, 12).
* * *
Before we get very far in this book, one
thing must be made very clear if the readers are to properly understand this
message, and that is that the “
Perhaps the confusing element in the phrase “the
It is interesting to note that of all the New Testament
writers, only the Apostle Matthew uses the phrase “the
[Page 19] The Jewish people who were listening to Jesus teach did not have a problem understanding that He was referring to an earthly Kingdom. On the contrary, many of them had difficulty realizing the spiritual aspects of it. For centuries they had been waiting for Messiah the King who would lead them out of bondage. They well knew the scriptures prophesying that One would come to sit on the throne of David and rule over them (Isa. 9: 7). When Herod questioned the scribes regarding the place of the Messiah’s birth, they knew the exact location. The coming of a King to set up an earthly Kingdom was no secret to them. What they failed to realize was that the prophesied coming of Jesus consisted of two events. There was a first coming and there will be a second one - one to which all true believers are looking forward. And it is at the second one that He will establish His earthly, physical Kingdom.
What the Jews did not realize then, but what we know now, is that these two comings of Christ correspond to two aspects of the Kingdom. First, there is a present spiritual experience of the Kingdom into which Christians can enter and second there is the coming outward manifestation of the Kingdom on this earth. Today we can experience the Kingdom spiritually, and someday soon it is coming to the earth physically. On the one hand, referring to the first, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not [out] of this world” (Jn. 18: 36). But on the other hand, the scriptures read, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ”, (Rev 11: 15). Although the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom, ushered in with the first advent of Christ, and the outward manifestation of it, which begins [Page 20] with second coming, are separated by 2,000 years, they have very much in common. In fact they are inseparable and completely interrelated.
In order to have a good comprehension of these two facets of
In most of the free world today people have a lot of trouble
understanding the concept of “king.” There are very few rulers today who claim to
be kings, and those that do (except perhaps in the
Perhaps a word which could be used to better [Page 21] describe what the Biblical word “king” should mean to us is the word “dictator.” Here is a word our world can relate. It holds for us the idea of a man who wields absolute power. His word is law and no one dares to disobey. This is really what the Bible means when it uses the word “king.” (The word “Lord,” by the way, has a very similar meaning.) Although “dictator” may convey to us the idea of harshness or cruelty while our King, Jesus, is not that way, still the concept of absolute power and authority is exactly correct. God has made this same Jesus who was crucified both King and Lord. In fact, He is King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19: 16). It is to Him we must submit ourselves and Him we must obey.
Now, with this in mind, we can talk a
little about the
As mentioned previously, the first place that He is starting to rule and the area in which He is working today is the hearts and lives of men and women. Through the events of His first advent, Jesus Christ [Page 22] gained the authority to transfer people out of this world’s kingdom of darkness into His own Kingdom of light. He has redeemed mankind with His own precious blood and purchased us for His own possession. Now we are rightfully His! Whereas once we were obedient to the evil ruler of this age, now we need be subjected to him no longer. Jesus has set us free. Although we were God’s because He made us, Satan usurped this authority in the garden of Eden through his temptation of Adam and Eve. Now, Jesus Christ is in the process of recovering us from this fall and re-establishing His Kingship over His people. Hallelujah!
There is, however, a very interesting aspect of Christ’s
Kingdom to which we must pay very careful attention. Jesus will reign over only those who are willing.
He will be a King over only those
who want Him to be. When He came in person to the Jews in
These days in evangelical circles, a person can hear many people preaching such things as “receive Jesus,” or “ask Jesus into your life.” These things are true and right and good. However, this is not the whole story. What seems to be missing [Page 23] from this kind of preaching is that when we receive Jesus, we receive Him for what He is - King and Lord. When the first disciples preached, they preached the Lord Jesus Christ. They proclaimed a Christ who wanted full allegiance, who asked for a total commitment of the rest of their lives and who required a complete separation from what was not in His Kingdom. This is why they saw such marvellous results. Those preachers did not overemphasize what Christ could do for the people but they announced what the people’s responsibility was toward God. They knew who Jesus was. He was the King promised long ago and they were wise enough to submit themselves totally to Him. How we could stand a good dose of this kind of preaching today! How we need to follow their example!
This is one explanation of why we have so many lukewarm, insincere converts to Christianity today. We tell them something like: “If only you will receive Jesus He will make you happy and make you feel good and help you with your life.” On the other hand Jesus preached: “Repent (totally change your way of thinking and living) for the Kingdom (the rulership) of Heaven is at hand.” This then is the problem. When we lead someone to receive Christ without making it very plain to them the total commitment which is required, at first things may go along just fine. But sooner or later Jesus will begin to assert His rightful Lordship over their lives. Since these converts have not been prepared for anything like that, many times they turn away and walk with Him no more. Or sometimes there begins a long and painful struggle with God about who is to run their lives. We could easily spare people this problem by [Page 24] telling them the truth from the beginning. Let us tell them plainly that they should not even begin to build a tower until they sit down and thoroughly count the cost. I am afraid that we water down the gospel to get “numbers” “saved” when in reality we are doing service neither to God nor to them. It is all too easy to immunize converts with easy Christianity, making it all the harder for them to later realize the truth.
This then is the gospel of the Kingdom. It is the gospel that Jesus preached. We are to repent because there is a spiritual Kingdom which has been announced in which God is to have complete control over every aspect of our lives. And there is an outward, earthly manifestation of this Kingdom coming soon to this earth of which we can be a part if we are willing. Actually, there is no other gospel. Although we usually hear only other aspects of it, this is really what the Bible teaches.
[* On the contrary, eternal salvation is obtained by FAITH: “God gave unto them [the Gentiles] the like gift as he did also unto us, when we BELIEVED on the Lord Jesus Christ:” (Acts 11: 11: 17).]
[Page 25] Once we enter the sphere of God’s
reigning over us, it is essential that we continue submitting
ourselves to Him if we are to keep on experiencing the present
I would like to emphasize here that this is a choice which we have to make every day if not every minute of every day. There is a constant battle going on. Satan wants to retain his control over our lives and keep us subjected to himself. Unfortunately there is still an old nature within us, a product of our first natural birth, which sides with the devil against God. But Jesus Christ has overcome all that is within us and all that is within the world. The new life with the new nature which has been born into us has the power [if we remain obedient to Him (Acts 5: 32b)] to overcome all opposition. Within us we have the supernatural power to overcome Satan and his kingdom. The pivotal point however is that we must be completely willing to submit ourselves to God. If we are, He will give us the power to overcome. If not we will only end up serving the devil. How many Christians are in this boat! They belong to God, but in their daily lives they submit themselves to this world and the ruler of it. Oh how we believers need to submit ourselves totally, without reservation, to our rightful Lord and Creator! What a shame [Page 26] it is when we go our own way, but what a glory to God when we willingly live in His Kingdom and allow Him to be the Lord of our lives!
So we see that there are two, aspects of the
* * *
A Brief Chronology
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Ex 20: 11).* God’s work of creation consisted of six days with a seventh day of rest. It did not take Him weeks, months, or billions of years. The days about which the scriptures are talking are six literal days. As believers we have no reason to doubt this. Our God is capable of doing anything. He could have created the universe in six minutes if He so desired. We should realize that even time is the invention of God which He is using to accomplish His own purposes. Just because we are confined to it does not mean that He is. He exists eternally and is Almighty; there are no limitations on Him whatsoever.
[* NOTE. In Gen. 1: 1- 2a there is evidence to prove that a ruin of God’s initial creation too place: “The earth became waste and void” (verse 2). Therefore the six ‘literal days’ following were days of restoration not creation. This fact will become apparent as we continue with our study. – Ed.]
The way we know that the present earth was created in six literal days is that the holy scriptures tell us so. After each day’s creation record in the first chapter of Genesis we read: “And the evening and [Page 28] the morning were the [number] day” (Gen 1: 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). Even a young child could understand this simple explanation of a literal day. The sun comes up and the sun goes down and we have one day. Probably the reason that causes so many people to doubt the truth of these verses is their desire to somehow escape the fact that there is an infinite Creator to whom they may owe some responsibility. If in their minds they could only make God weaker or non-existent perhaps this would salve their consciences concerning their sin and lessen their need for a Saviour.
However, our real purpose here is to realize that God made the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. Why did He do things way? Why not eight days or five or even 50? Since there is nothing recorded in the Bible which is accidental or does not have some meaning for us, perhaps there is something about God and His creation which we can understand from it. So, the remainder of this chapter will be an investigation of God’s seven days.
There is another verse of scripture which also speaks about days. Peter, in his second epistle, addresses the question of the end of the age and the second coming of the Lord. Since many believe that this event will occur soon and since it has so much bearing upon the subject of this book, let us read it together. (Please remember that the context of this verse is the second coming of the Lord.) “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet 3: 8). In this verse is the key, to understanding the six days of creation [restoration]. [Page 29] It contains a fact that the writer considered very important and about which he was concerned that, believers would not be ignorant. Here we find a simple equation. One day equals one thousand years and one thousand years equals one day. To take this one step further we could say that one day of creation represents one thousand years of time which God has allotted man upon this earth and one thousand years corresponds to one day of creation. Lest some of you think that I am taking this too far, let us investigate some Biblical chronology.
Chronology is: “the science of ascertaining the fixed periods when past events took place and of arranging them in the order of occurrence.”* Biblical chronology then is the science of putting together the events and dates which are found in the Bible. Although many people do not realize it, through the years some very scholarly men of God have studied Biblical chronology. Among them are: Theophilus of Antioch (3rd. century A.D.), Clement of Alexandria (3rd century A.D.), Eusedius (265-340 A.D.), Wm. Hales (fl. 1809), J. N. Darby, and Martin Anstey, to name just a few.**
* Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979).
** Martin Anstey, Chronology of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1973), pp. 24-29.
These men and others have traced the often slender thread of dates through the scriptures to arrive at a very good idea of how many years it has been since the creation as well as the timing of important events, such as God’s covenant with Abraham and the advent of Christ. Although no two [Page 30] of these men agree completely on every date, the interesting thing is that almost without exception they are very close to one another. Within a reasonable amount of scientific error and considering the great age of the documents and dates with which they must work, they essentially agree. Most of them come within one hundred to two hundred years of each other.
Now for a simple person like myself, such in-depth study of ancient history is a bit beyond my scope. But since these scholars agree with one another to a reasonable extent, I am inclined to accept their learned opinion. Peter the fisherman’s brief chronology is more in my league. The surprising thing is however that Peter and the scholars agree! Their study and his revelation do not contradict one another. As one would suspect, honest scientific study only serves to further support the Word of God.
Did you realize that according to the Bible the present earth has been in existence for almost six thousand years? Since the six days of creation until now almost six thousand years have elapsed. Another interesting observation is that from the beginning of this world until Abraham was about two thousand years; from Abraham until Christ, about two thousand years; and from the birth of Jesus Christ until today, almost two thousand years. This is no coincidence. God’s plan and the way He has been carrying out His plan since the creation is very orderly. There is nothing haphazard or disjointed about it. Things are going just the way He intended them to, and as time goes by His masterful plan unfolds.
Let us assume here that when Peter wrote about [Page 31] one day being equal to one thousand years that he meant something specific by it and was not simply being poetic. Imagine for a moment that, when God spoke these words through Peter that He was revealing something to us which could be of use in comprehending His timetable and that He was speaking to us about the end of the [this] age. To go further, let us believe just what the Bible says and take heed to it. God chose to make [restore] the earth, the heaven, the sea and all that is in them in six days because He had already decided that man’s time upon the earth would be six thousand years (of course let us not forget the seventh thousand). Since the “I Am” of creation knows both the beginning and the end, He planned to do things in this way. Much later He revealed this to the Apostle Peter for our edification and benefit.
These observations all point to one thing. We are rapidly approaching the end of this age. We are on the very verge of its completion! We stand upon the threshold of the second coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His Millennial (one thousand year) Kingdom upon this earth. And all this corresponds exactly to the six days of creation and the seventh day of sabbath rest. The simple chronology of Peter the fisherman is correct and is attested to by all the other scriptures. The prophetic utterances in the Bible, including the words of Jesus concerning the restoration of Jerusalem to the Jews (Lk. 21: 24.) and the coming one thousand year Kingdom of Christ (Rev 20: 4), point to this fact - we are rapidly approaching the end of the six days, the completion of the age.
We have said all this to build up to one conclusion [Page 32] and that is that there is a seventh day coming, a one thousand year period
of time which is the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ. God is not through with the earth yet. If Jesus returned today, there would still he at least one thousand
years of time on this earth
remaining. The next stop for
God’s people is not heaven. Those who
are there now waiting for the Lord’s, return will come back with Him and assist Him in setting up His heavenly
Kingdom on the earth (Jude 14).*
God still has some work to do here in this world. And His people have the privilege of helping
Him do it. Jesus is in the business of subduing the whole earth unto
Himself. All the nations, the people in
them, even the animals and the environment will he put in subjection to
Him. This is the
[* NOTE. The error taught by Hymenaeus and Philetus was “that the resurrection is past already” (2 Tim. 2: 18); and the author has slipped into this same error! We cannot ascend into heaven until we are resurrected from the dead: and that cannot take place until the return of Christ, (1Thess. 4: 16. cf. John 3: 13; 14: 3; Rev. 6: 9-11; 20: 4.). We are not resurrected at the time of death one at a time! Only at the time of our Lord’s return to this earth will “the dead in Christ” be resurrected: and the “thousands of his holy ones” (Jude 14), who will accompany our Lord at the time of His return, are not “God’s people” but holy angels. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him then…” (Matt. 24: 31).
Having pointed out the time of the resurrection “of the dead,” it is of vital importance to distinguish “the dead” from those who will be alive, and caught up into heaven before the Great Tribulation commences, (Luke 21: 34-36; Rev. 3: 10). These are the watchful saints - “those who are there” at that time in heaven - and who “come back with Him.” – Ed.]
Let us now take time for a brief summary. God has always existed and will exist eternally. So before the earth was created He was there, without time, in what can be called “eternity past.” At some point He created the earth and decided after a conference with Himself to make man and place him on it (Gen 1: 26). In the process He also created what we call “time” and confined man to it. The treating process took six days plus one day of rest which corresponds to the time which God has allotted to man to dwell on the earth and accomplish His purpose. These seven days are, a foreshadowing of the seven thousand years during which man will have inhabited this present earth. Then after the last one thousand years, which is the Kingdom reign of Christ, God will dissolve both the old heavens and the old earth and create new ones. There will be new heavens and a new earth. This is what most people call “eternity.” For our purposes we will refer to it as “eternity future.” Man then has been allotted a seven thousand year period on earth in between two “eternities.”
It is at the end of the last one thousand years that the New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ, is seen descending out of heaven from God (Rev 21: 10). This holy city will then be located on the new earth which God will create. The New Jerusalem and the new earth are what most people are referring to when they talk about spending eternity in “heaven.” Actually it is not heaven at all but a whole new creation. Of course it will be heavenly in nature. In fact it will be a whole lot better than the present heaven, since what exists today will completely pass away. If heaven today were what God considered perfect, there would be no need for Him to destroy it. No, what God has prepared for those who love Him is glorious indeed. It is an entirely new creation, the thought of which has not entered into the mind of man, but which God is revealing to His servants (1 Cor 2: 9, 10).
Now for a word of caution.
Although this little chronology of events is very simple, we cannot be
too sure about the exact timing of them.
We are told the [Page 34] order of the things to come, but we
are not told exactly when they will occur.
As a matter of fact, the scripture plainly tells us that no one will
know the exact day or the hour (Mt 24: 36). Specifically, we do not know just when our
Lord Jesus will return and usher in the
It has already been mentioned that the Bible chronologers seem
to agree within one hundred to two hundred years. Even they, scholarly though they might be,
cannot be certain of the date. We do
know that it will be about two thousand years from the first appearing of
Christ. But where shall we begin
counting? Shall we count from His death
or from His birth? As you know our
calendar begins roughly near the time of His birth (give or take three to five
years). Just because secular history has
chosen this date as its reference point does not mean that God has. A very powerful argument could be made that
His death at
As a matter of fact, the verse in 2 Peter about which we have been talking was written to address this very problem. He tells us that towards the end men will be scoffing and asking, “Where is the promise of His coming?” No doubt many will be questioning this very thing if He delays longer than we think He should. Many may even turn away from following Him because of it. In these days when wickedness is abounding there is a great temptation for our love for the Lord to grow cold. While others are enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season, Jesus is asking us to deny ourselves and follow Him. If His coming does not coincide with the concepts of some Christians, they may be tempted to disbelieve and fall away. Please don’t get me wrong. I myself expect the return of Jesus during this century. The New Testament prophecies seem to indicate this. But if He doesn’t, I by His mercy will not abandon my faith, and neither should you. Our faith should not be based upon a timetable but upon Him.
In reality the teaching of the scriptures is that we should live each moment as if He were coming today. Our lives and our hearts should be ready for Him. The attitude we need to cultivate is one of constantly watching and waiting. If we do this then we will be ready. Then He will find us doing His will. If we willingly subject ourselves to His Lordship and live in His Kingdom today, there will be no problem tomorrow. “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Lk. 12: 43).
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF DARBY’S CHRONOLOGY
From the creation to the flood, when Noah was 600 yrs. old (Gen 5: 3-29; 7: 11) - 1,656 Years
From the flood to the birth of Terah (Gen. 11:10-25) - 222 Years
When his father died at the age of 205 yrs., Abraham was 75 - 130Years
Which fixes his birth, from the creation at 2, 008 Years
His entrance into the
Up to the exodus from
Up to the building of the temple 480 yrs. later - 480 Years
Length of Solomon’s reign, less three yrs. already past (1 Kings 6: 1) - 37 Years
Kings of Israel and Judah, up to the captivity
Length of the captivity 70 yrs., and up to Nehemiah 80 yrs. - 150 Years
Sixty-nine “weeks” less 33 yrs. (Dan 9: 26) - 450 Years
From creation to the birth of the Messiah - 4,000 Years
* * *
The Day of the Lord
The Day of the Lord is the seventh (and last) 1, 000 year day
of this world. It begins with the
appearing of Jesus Christ - the “second coming”
- and ends with the advent of eternity future.
The Day of the Lord is also the
At least part of people’s misunderstanding about the Day of the Lord stems from the fact that when the Bible mentions the Day of the Lord, it not only talks about Jesus’ coming in the clouds and His judgment of the saints, but it also speaks of the heavens and the earth dissolving, burning up and passing away (2 Pet 3: 10). From reading verses such as these, a person might be led to believe that Jesus’ return is the beginning of eternity. Such is not the [Page 38] case. With the knowledge that the Day of the Lord is a 1, 000 year day, all perplexity disappears. Many things happen during the Day of the Lord, and in this chapter we are going to be investigating some of them.
One of the first events to occur during the Day of the Lord is
something which we already mentioned - the judgment of the believers. When Jesus Christ returns we will rise to
meet Him in the air, and then come back with Him to the earth to help Him set
up His Millennial Kingdom. After the rapture (the term which some
people use for the catching up into the air of the saints) and before we begin our role in Christ’s
Kingdom, there will be a judgment. We
will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give account to Him of
the things which we have done in our body (2 Cor 5: 10).
The word “we” here must refer
to believers since it is to them that this epistle was written. This judgment is different from the final judgment of all people at the end of the Millennium which is usually called
“the great white throne judgment.” The “Judgment seat of Christ,” on the other hand, is before the Millennium and involves only believers. It is at the first judgment that what we have
done will be weighed. This judgment of believers [before the
Millennium] is an essential element in the Day
of the Lord. There are many interesting aspects of it which
Christians should understand; however, most of them will be covered in
succeeding chapters. Suffice it to say
here that there will be a thorough examination of believers at the beginning of
the Day of the Lord and before their entrance with Him into the
[* NOTE. There must be a judgment of the dead (in Hades, Matt. 16: 18. cf. Acts 2: 27, 34; Psa. 16: 10 ) before the time of Resurrection. This judgment will determine who will rise out from amongst the dead to reign with Messiah upon earth. It was this pre-resurrection judgment and the select resurrection which Jesus and Paul referred to as recorded in Luke 20: 35 and Phil. 3: 11. “…they that are accounted worthy to attain to that world (age), and the resurrection (out) from the dead.” “…that I may know him … and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection (out) from the dead.” See also Heb. 11: 35b.]
Please allow me to take a few moments here to speak concerning
the rapture, which signals the beginning of the Millennium. This is the event in which all the saints of
God are caught up from the earth to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess 4: 17). The scripture says that where the body is
there will the eagles [vultures] be gathered together (Mt.
24: 28). This is a reference to
how vultures, or birds of prey will circle the carcass of a dead animal. When the Lord appears all believers will be
gathered together to Him. No matter
where we are, we will rise into the air and be gathered to the place where He
is. We will meet Him in the air and then
come back with Him to the earth. And to
where is He coming? He is coming to
A friend of mine once shared with me an interesting idea concerning this word “meet.” He said that in New Testament times when a victorious king would return to his city with his army and all of his captives, the inhabitants of that city would come out to meet him and would then return with him to enjoy his victory celebration. What a picture! This exactly portrays how the rapture will occur. We will ascend to meet Him in the air and we will return with [Page 40] Him to the earth. The reason for being caught, up seems to be mainly for gathering the believers together into one place. When the Lord comes back we will be caught up to where He is so that we can come back with Him to where He is going - the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. Now in order to avoid confusion we must remember one thing: this event is not the beginning of eternity. It is just the first part of the Day of the Lord, the day toward which we should all be looking.
Many have thought that the judgment which happens at this time will take place while we are suspended in mid-air. Others have speculated that we will go with the Lord back to heaven, wait for a while and then return again with Him, thus requiring several “appearings” of Jesus Christ at the end of the age. However, it seems possible that the judgment of believers could take place right here on earth. One thing the scripture does tell us plainly is that there will be such a judgment and that we [who may be left until that time] will be involved in it.
Another thing which we can know with certainty is that when we are caught up our bodies will be glorified. We read, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump ... the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall he changed” (1 Cor 15: 52). Oh what glory there will be in that day! Our vile bodies will be made heavenly. The evil effects of the fall - death working in our bodies - will be eliminated completely. This receiving of our glorified body is just the beginning, a preparatory step for our inheriting the Kingdom which Christ is preparing.
Notice here that this verse tells us exactly when the rapture will occur – “at the last trump.” Most [Page 41] Christians realize that during the tribulation period there are seven trumpets which sound (see Rev 8: 2 ff.). In order for this trumpet of which Paul, speaks to be the “last trump” it must of necessity be either after the seven mentioned in Revelation or be the seventh. This would place the time of the rapture at the end of the tribulation period, or at least toward the end. Another passage which sheds some light on the timing of this event is Matthew 24: 29-31 where we read, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days ... he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds.” Although there are some who would insist that the “elect” here refers to the Jews and not to Christians, this idea does not fit with the Old Testament prophecies which tell that the people of the earth (not the angels) will bring the Jews back to Israel after the Lord’s return (Isa. 49: 22).
Actually, the time of the rapture is not the central theme of this book. Neither should it be a point of controversy. I am offering these thoughts only for the reader to contemplate and form his own conclusions. Therefore please do not be distracted by it from the content of the rest of the book. The timing of the rapture has very little bearing upon the remainder of this message.
Many of you may know from memory the scripture which says, “For in six days the Lord
made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh
day” (Ex. 20: 11).
This seventh day is the sabbath day.
It is the day of the Lord’s rest. Not only was it the initial rest of
God but it also foreshadows a further day of rest, the Day of the Lord. The
Not only is the sabbath day a foreshadowing of the rest which we will have with God in the Millennium, it is also a type of the rest which we can now have in Jesus Christ. Today spiritually we can enter into the sabbath rest of God through Him. We can cease from our own labours as God did from His. As a matter of fact this is a real key to a living Christian experience. We must learn to cease from our, own works - that is, doing what we want to do by ourselves, for ourselves and with our own energy - and rest in God. Do not get me wrong, this resting does not imply that we do nothing. It is only a cessation of doing our own thing.
When the Pharisees challenged Jesus about not keeping the sabbath day, He said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (Jn. 5: 17). Even though God rested from His labours after He created the heavens and the earth, Jesus tells us that He is still working. He is still doing something to accomplish His purposes. The reason that God continues to work is that His enemy, the devil, corrupted what He originally made and there arose a need for Him to do [Page 43] something further to fulfil His plans.
Yes, today Jesus Christ is working and we are to be working with Him. We are to perform the “good works, which God hath before ordained. that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2: 10). However, such labouring can also be resting. If we abide in Him and rely on His strength to do His bidding, we will, find peace. He explains to us that His yoke is easy, His burden light and that we will find rest in doing His work (Mt. 11: 30). When we find ourselves striving and very hard to serve the Lord - when we realize that we’re weary and exhausted - this is only an indication that we are not experiencing the rest of God. We have not entered into the supernatural rest which is available for us. Of course we know that this present rest is incomplete. During the Day of the Lord we will enjoy an even deeper rest and in eternity a full rest.
One reason we will be able to rest during the 1, 000 years is that Jesus Christ will defeat all of His enemies. In the scriptures we read that He will reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet (1 Cor 15: 25). This Millennial or “Kingdom” reign of Jesus Christ is another aspect of the Day of the Lord. In it He is going to establish His rightful rulership over the whole earth. All the peoples, nations, animals, and even nature itself will be subdued before Him. We read that He will rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev 2: 27). We are also told that the lions will eat grass like oxen and the children will be safe around venomous beasts (Isa. 11: 6-8). It sounds as if the whole course of nature will be changed and made to be at peace. The last enemy to be destroyed will be death. At the end of the Millennium the victorious [Page 44] Son will deliver up the Kingdom which He has subdued to Himself to God the Father, that God may have complete rulership of all that He has made (1 Cor 15: 24-28).
During the Kingdom reign of Christ, He will make all things right. He will stop injustice, clear up the problem of pollution and bring an end to war (Mic 4: 3). All crimes which are committed will be punished in a just an equitable way which God Himself could administer. The many things about our present evil world which so perplex and grieve us will be straightened out when Jesus returns. He will rule this world perfectly.
Another thing which will greatly further His correcting of this world’s mess is that the devil, will be chained up for 1, 000 years. During this time he will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit (Rev 20: 2, 3). Satan’s influence - his rulership over this present world - will be eliminated, and Jesus Christ will take His rightful place as King. Jesus will be reigning and establishing His Kingdom over the peoples and nations of the earth.
Unfortunately this rulership of Jesus
Christ will in many cases only be an outward subjugation. When the devil is again loosed for a little
while at the end of the 1, 000 year reign, all the nations will follow him in a
rebellion against the Lord (Rev 20: 7-9). They will gather themselves an army and
encompass the holy city to fight against Him and His saints. This uprising ends when fire comes down out
of heaven and consumes them (Rev 20: 9). This unfortunate episode graphically
illustrates an important fact. The
How blessed we are today to have the opportunity to know Jesus personally - to have His life living inside of our being and to have Him cleansing us the inside out. Through the indwelling [Holy] Spirit, He can purify our lives of that very sinful nature which causes us to do immoral things. He can save us completely from all of the evil that is in our hearts. We Christians are able not only to stop performing those outward deeds which are sinful, but we can be changed inwardly to be like Jesus. Oh what a salvation!
Another aspect of the 1,000 year, earthly reign of Jesus
Christ is that it is the fulfilment of God’s
promise to David the king that there would never fail of his seed one to
sit upon his throne. David, the king of
The Kingdom reign of Christ is also
the [Page 45] fulfilment of God’s
promise to Abraham* that his seed would inherit the
[* See “God’s Promises to Abraham” by Robert Govett.]
Of course we do not know exactly what form our reigning with Christ will take. One thing we do know, however, is that we will be in our glorified bodies, which are bodies just like Jesus Christ has had since His resurrection. This body is not confined to time and space. In the Bible it is recorded that Jesus walked through walls and seemingly appeared at will wherever He wished. No doubt our new bodies will have these same capabilities. So during the Millennial reign we also will probably not be limited in our abilities regarding time and space.
The scriptures do not state specifically whether [Page 47] our presence and our reigning during this time will be fully realized by
the inhabitants of the earth. Although
we may be visible to them and known by them, it is equally possible that we may
not be. There are today spiritual
rulers of this world led by the devil, which are not seen by men but which
nevertheless exert full sway over them. Believers’ role in the coming Kingdom could
conceivably be similar to this. Another
possibility is that they may function in ways similar to the Old Testament
The people of the earth over which those who are with Him will reign are the descendants of the men and women who survive the tribulation. During the great tribulation a large portion of the world’s population will be killed by various plagues and judgments from God. Also, at the battle of Armageddon (which takes place just before the return of Jesus Christ), literally millions of soldiers will be slain. The Bible describes the earth after this time as an olive tree which has been shaken (a method of harvesting the olives) and as a grape vine after it’s been picked (Isa. 24: 13). In other words, during the first part of the millennium the inhabitants of the land will not be many. But one thousand years is a long time and these men no doubt will multiply. Without wars and various other natural calamities they will increase quite rapidly and the earth will again be populated.
Not only is the thousand year Day of the Lord the judgment day for believers, a day of judgment upon the unbelievers who oppose Him at the battle of Armageddon, the seventh day, the sabbath day of [Page 48] rest, and the day of restoration of God’s Kingdom, but it is also the Lord’s wedding day. Perhaps many of you have heard or read about the wedding feast which is being prepared. The general concept among Christians seems to be that when the Lord returns and we are caught up to meet Him, everyone will quickly sit down around a large table and gulp down a huge feast. Possibly it will consist of turkey or ham or something like that (well, probably not ham), and then we will all rush back to the earth to set up the Kingdom. Some people think this feast occurs in a few days. Others surmise that it takes weeks or even three and one half to seven years. But, let us consider for a moment that this is the wedding feast of the Son of God. It is no small or unimportant event. This will be the most meaningful, supremely holy and spectacular wedding ever to occur in the whole universe. There is going to be nothing hurried about the wedding feast of God. This feast will be taking place over 1, 000 years because the Day of the Lord is also the Lord’s wedding day. “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father bath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Lk. 22: 29, 30).
In Biblical times it seems the way people celebrated a wedding
was to put on a large feast and invite all their friends. They started sometime during the day, perhaps
in the morning, and they began to eat and drink and make merry. All of the guests would have a good time with
their companions and relatives. They
feasted throughout the day until evening when the bride and the bridegroom went
off to consummate the marriage. This is exactly how the Lord’s wedding day will
be. We know from the [Page 49] scriptures that it is at the end of the Millennium that the bride of
Christ, the New Jerusalem, is made ready and that the wedding, the marriage of
the Lamb, is come (Rev 19: 7, 21: 9-27). This is when the marriage of Jesus Christ and
His holy bride is consummated. There is
no such thing as our gulping down a feast, racing off to reign with Christ 1,
000 years, and then being involved in the wedding later on. No, the marriage supper of Jesus Christ will
last for 1, 000 years. Our reigning with
Christ, our resting with Christ, and our feasting with Christ are all simply
different aspects of the same period of
time. This is the
In the book of Revelation, in the letters to the seven churches, Jesus not only speaks about our sitting with Him in His throne (reigning) (Rev.3: 21), and ruling the nations with a rod of iron (ruling) (Rev 2: 27), but He also promises that we [if deemed to be overcomers] will eat of the hidden manna and the tree of life (feasting) (Rev 2: 7, 17). These verses portray to us two of the aspects of Kingdom living into which we are to be entering. During the 1, 000 year reign of Christ, we will be feasting. We will be feasting with Jesus Christ and we will be feasting on Jesus Christ. He explained to His disciples that He is the living bread that came down. He is our feast. Certainly at that time we won’t need turkey, bread, or wine to sustain us. Our desire will be the supernatural elements of the divine life of Jesus Christ.
Today we have a foretaste of this. On that day we will have a full taste. The new wine will be abundant, and the heavenly manna will be spread everywhere. None of God’s chosen people will go hungry. We can then feast on Jesus Christ and he fully satisfied. Of [Page 50] course it’s a good idea to get our appetites ready. There is no doubt in my mind that our capacity for enjoying God in that day will be very much dependent upon how we develop that capacity right now. If we learn to feed on the Lord, in His Word and through prayer, and to have intimate times daily with Him basking in His presence, then I believe our enjoyment of Him during the Millennial reign will be greatly enlarged. It’s worth it, I would say, to apply ourselves in this direction. Not only will we be rewarded today for our efforts, but we will also be rewarded greatly in the age which is to come. Surely, we cannot lose anything by preparing.
* * *
The Purpose of God
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And as part of this creative work He made
many angels, one of whom was named Lucifer.
He was the mightiest, most beautiful angel which God made. Probably he was also the first being to be
formed. In Isaiah
chapter 14, verse 12, he is referred
to as the “day-star,
son of the morning”
(ASV). This verse alludes to the fact
that in the dawning of creation when God was just beginning His wondrous works,
the angel Lucifer was created. Not only
was he the highest and most powerful angel, he was also one of the cherubim and
dwelt near the very presence of God. Ezekiel chapter 28 reveals some very interesting
facts about this Lucifer, known today as Satan.
Although here the prophet is speaking of someone referred to as the “king of
Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum,
full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy
covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the
beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle,
and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy
pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the
anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the
What a tremendous passage of scripture this is, revealing to us the status and the nature of Satan as he was originally created. He is referred to here as “the anointed cherub that covereth.” Lucifer was one of the cherubim - created, chosen, and anointed by God for a special task about which we will speak more shortly.
In the first part of Ezekiel we can learn more about cherubim. We know, for example, that they are winged creatures each having several sets of wings. Instead of feet they have hooves and each has four faces on its head, one on each side. Rather than having a back of the head and two sides of the head they have four faces. One is like a man, one is like a lion, one is like a cherub and one is like an eagle. They also have other interesting features such as wheels full of eyes which go with them wherever they go. When they move they don’t turn toward the direction they are going but simply move in that direction instantly, seemingly violating the laws of nature.
By the way these beings are most likely the same as the “living creatures” or “beasts” that we find mentioned in the book of Revelation. Many times the scriptures speak of God’s throne being surrounded by cherubim. Psalm 80, verse 1, reads, “thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.” (See also 2 Kings 19: 15, 1 Ch 13: 6, Isa. 37: 16, 1 Sam 4: 4, 2 Sam 6: 2, Rev 4: 6-8.) And in the book of Revelation it is the “living creatures” which occupy this position.
[Page 54] You may notice that while Revelation 4: 6-8 describes each “beast” or “living creature” as having a different face, Ezekiel sees each cherub having four faces. Why is there this apparent discrepancy? The secret is that the Apostle John was seeing these cherubim from only one direction. These four beings stand on each side of the throne of God and each of them faces it. Since John was looking from only one direction he saw only the one corresponding face on each of the cherubim. Consequently, it appeared to him as if each one had a different face. However Ezekiel gives a more complete description and explains that each cherub has four faces.
Lucifer was once one of these cherubim. These celestial beings’ duty is to surround the throne of God and cover His presence. With their wings they conceal the glory and majesty of the Most High God from any would-be onlookers. These cherubim are constantly in the presence of God worshipping Him and covering His glory with their wings (Rev 4: 8).
The cherubim also appear symbolically on the top of the ark of
the covenant which the children of
So now we know who Lucifer used to be. No doubt he was the first created angelic being (Isa. 14: 12) and probably occupied the highest position in the universe. He was one of the cherubim. It is not impossible that he was also the high priest of the universe and led all of creation in worship, praise and adoration of the Most High God. At least we know that he understands something about religion since he has started numerous false ones. Perhaps he is using his experience before his rebellion to do so.
Not only do we know that Satan was great in might, power and beauty when he was created but also that he fell, was corrupted and began to sin. He began to think of himself very highly and was lifted up within himself because of his greatness, His pride was his undoing. He must have thought something like this: “I am so beautiful, so mighty - all the other creatures in the universe respect and admire me. Why do I need God? Why do I need to submit to Him and worship Him? I’ll start my own thing.” And so he did. Of course in order to do this he needed to establish his own kingdom. He had to lure away from [Page 56] God’s kingdom a number of adherents - followers who would worship him and do his bidding instead of loving and obeying God Almighty. So he had to chose something different. He had to base his kingdom on something else.
The Bible tells us that the devil is the father of lies. He invented this for himself. He became the originator of all kinds of sin, establishing his kingdom on hatred, darkness, lust, greed, corruption, lying and every imaginable kind of evil. He changed his nature to be the opposite of all that God is. And no doubt he began to visit other beings in the universe to seduce them to join his kingdom and to follow him in his rebellion against the Most High. As we all know, he is still engaged in this same evil activity today.
It is probable that God gave the earth to Satan as part of his jurisdiction sometime before his fall. The scriptures are not explicit about these things and so we can only speculate concerning some of these ideas, but we do know that at some point in time the devil obtained authority over the earth. He is called the “prince of this world” (Jn. 12: 31, 14: 30, 16: 11). We also know that the angels are sometimes referred to as “the stars of heaven” (Job 38: 7, Dan 8: 10, Rev 12: 4). It is possible that in the beginning each angel was given a star and the surrounding planets, if any, over which to rule. If this is so, the devil’s domain would be our solar system, the centre of which is the sun. It is interesting to note how many of the ancient pagan religions worshipped the sun, and by so doing were really worshipping the devil.
One thing is certain and that is that the devil is the ruler of this present world. When he was tempting Jesus in the wilderness he claimed to have authority over it and the Lord did not dispute that authority. He only rebuked him by quoting the holy Word. Other places in the scriptures also show us that the devil has jurisdiction and over this earth (Jn. 14: 30, 16: 11, 2 Cor 4: 4). In all probability this authority was given to him before his rebellion, while he still retained his original position before God.
Since it appears safe to assume that Satan (Lucifer), the highest angelic being whom God created, was given this earth as part of his domain before his fall, we can’t help but wonder what it was like at that time. Although the Bible does not tell us these things specifically it does give us some hints from which we can draw some reasonable conclusions. The book of Genesis states that God created the heavens, the earth and all that is in them in six days. However this scenario does not provide an explanation for when the angels were created and when and how Satan fell. Neither does it tell us how his fall affected the earth over which he ruled. In order to investigate these things further let us look at the first verse in the book of Genesis.
We read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1: 1). The second verse begins with the word “and” – “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Gen 1: 2). The first verse tells us of God’s creation, and we can be assured that when God creates anything He makes it perfect and beautiful in every detail. The second verse therefore is not a [Page 58] further explanation of God’s creative work, but rather it shows us a second step in a sequence of events. Grammatically this word “and” in the second verse implies that something else then began happening or had happened. If we take verse 2 of Genesis simply as a description of the original heavens and earth which God created, we would have to assume that He first created a dark, waste, void, empty mess. Then He began working on it to make it look good. This does not fit with the kind of Creator that we know God to be.
Actually there is a better
understanding of this verse to be seen.
In fact there is a better translation of it which will help us to
understand more clearly what the Biblical record is saying. The fourth word in the second verse is translated by the King James
version “was” - “And the earth was...” This word can equally well be translated “became.”
It is the same word which is used in the story of Lot and his wife
The phrase “without form and void” can also be translated differently, and to do so will help us see more clearly what has happened. The Hebrew words here are “tohu, wahbohu” and could better be rendered “waste and empty.” These two Hebrew words are found together two other times in the [Page 59] Biblical record. In both places, they refer to God’s judgment upon and subsequent destruction of something (Isa. 34: 11, Jer 4: 23-27). They do not speak of creation, but of wrath and desolation (note context). These words “tohu” and “wahbohu” are found separately many other times in the Old Testament and most of the time they clearly refer to God’s judgment, His wrath or His destruction. One passage which is particularly striking concerning this subject is Isaiah 45: 18 where we read, “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [tohu].”
Linking all of these items together, a picture emerges. It becomes clear that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth perfectly, just as they should be, but something happened. At some point in time the earth “became waste and empty.” No doubt this corresponds to Satan’s rebellion. When the god of this world rebelled against the one true God, corrupting himself and his own nature, in the process he corrupted the territory over which he ruled. It is probable that God then judged that world and destroyed it by a flood of water. This is the condition in which we find the earth in the second half of Genesis 1: 2 - covered with water and in darkness and desolation. Although we cannot make an airtight case from this one verse and a few others which are associated with it, still I feel that it is a good possibility that this is the truth. What is hinted to us in the second verse of the first chapter of Genesis is in all probability what actually happened.*
* For an in-depth study of this subject see: G. H. Pember, Earth’s Earliest Ages (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1975).
[Page 60] Another interesting point here is that this word “created” which is used in the first verse of Genesis (where we read “God created the heavens and the earth”) means to make something out of nothing. Most of the other words in the first chapter of Genesis which are translated “made” refer to something being constructed out of materials that were already present. The word “created” meaning to make something out of nothing is used only two other times: in verse 21, concerning the animals, and in verses 26 and 27 regarding the creation of human life. The other acts which God did during what we know as “the six days of creation” are most probably a restoration - a restoring of the earth which God had originally created. A good example of this is found in Genesis 1: 11 where God says, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” It is quite possible that these seeds which sprouted and began to bring forth many varieties of plants were already in the earth. The ruined earth which God was restoring contained seeds that God simply caused to germinate, sprout and begin bringing forth fruit.
What we have here then is a record of God restoring and re-creating something which He once made perfect and complete and which was destroyed by Satan in his rebellion. Of course we cannot prove this conclusively and it is nothing to base our faith upon, but I believe you will see as we proceed how it explains many more things than it makes unclear, and how this understanding provides us with a much better picture of what God is doing on the earth today. In fact two good criteria for judging the truth [Page 61] of certain teachings may be: one, that they explain more things than they confuse and two, that they enlarge our revelation concerning the purposes of God rather than obscuring them. Any teaching concerning scripture which, reveals, unveils and expands our understanding concerning God should carry a certain amount of weight.
Another thing about which we can speculate is that during this time when the original earth was governed by Lucifer before his rebellion against God, there may have been some kind of creatures or beings inhabiting it. Perhaps some of them even resembled man in some way. We do not know such things certainly, but if there were such creatures, when Satan rebelled he no doubt induced them to rebel with him. When a person examines the fossil record interesting facts emerge which tend to give credence to this idea. Many of the dinosaurs for example which could have lived during this time seem to have been very vicious, aggressive animals. And the fossil men which some claim to have found (although the evidence for them is very scanty except in the case of the Neanderthal) could have been the inhabitants of the earth during this age. According to this idea, after these creatures rebelled with Satan, God judged that first creation with an inundation of water in which all the beings upon the earth were destroyed. This is exactly the picture of the earth which we are shown in the second verse of Genesis: the earth waste, void, covered with darkness and submerged under water.
If there were such manlike beings upon the earth before Satan's rebellion this would explain to us the origin of the demons. Most Christians have been [Page 62] taught that demons are fallen angels. This is not necessarily the case. There is no verse of scripture which says that this is so. Unfortunately, people have made this connection mainly by guesswork. What we do know however is that in the scriptures there is a strong association between demons (unclean spirits) and water. Jesus said that when a demon has gone out of a man it wanders through waterless places seeking rest (Mt 12: 43). When Jesus cast out the legion of demons they requested that they could enter into the swine feeding nearby. These swine then rushed down the embankment into the sea (Mk. 5: 12, 13). Evidently those demons were anxious to get there. There is also a verse in Job which mentions “the shades (spirits) of the dead” trembling underneath the water (Job 26: 5 Amplified). Who. are these “shades” if they are not demons? It is doubtful that this verse is referring only to the limited number of sailors who had died at sea before the book of Job was written. Although again we may not be able to draw absolute conclusions from these things there is some scriptural evidence supporting them. This would explain why demons would desire to possess or inhabit a human body. If they were once spirits dwelling in bodies comprising a pre-Adamic civilization and were then disembodied (in other words the body in which they lived died during the judgment of the first earth) then no doubt they would want to again inhabit a body.
Angels on the other hand were created higher than human beings. We read that man was created a little lower than the angels (Psa. 8: 5). They seemingly can appear in bodily form at will when they so desire. There would be no need for them to possess a human [Page 63] body. Also we are told that the fallen angels dwell not in the sea but in the air (Eph 2: 2). These facts show us that the fallen angels who are ruling this earth with Satan have their dwelling place in the atmosphere, the air, and not upon the earth or in the sea.
The complete picture of the enemies of God - the demons in the sea and the fallen angels in the air - is clearly portrayed by the passage which describes Jesus going across the sea in a boat (Mk 4: 35-41). The wave’s (home of the demons) rose up and the wind (the domain of the fallen angels) blew while Jesus was asleep. When He awoke He rebuked them and said, “Peace, be still” (vs. 39). Jesus Christ has full authority over both the fallen angels and the demons.
Perhaps you in your walk with the Lord have had some experiences which this interpretation could explain. From reading the New Testament we know that Jesus gave His followers authority over the unclean spirits, the demons. Jesus and later the apostles cast them out with a word. However sometimes we find ourselves harassed and attacked by spiritual forces which when we rebuke them do not instantly obey our commands. A possible explanation for this is that they are not demons at all but fallen angels - principalities and powers against whom we are fighting. We are not yet today given full authority over them. Paul says we wrestle against principalities and powers (Eph 6: 12). Our warfare against them is a wrestling and a fighting whereas our warfare with the demons is one of absolute authority and command. When we rebuke them they will flee. So if you can rebuke evil spirits which are [Page 64] bothering you and they flee away, this may indicate that they were demonic forces. But on the other hand if you find you must wrestle, strive, resist and seek God’s help for a long period of time, it is probable that this is the wrestling with fallen angels about which the scripture speaks. I am not saying that we do not have the power to win these battles but only that the manner of warfare and victory is different and should be understood by those who are walking with the Lord.
There are some believers today who, not realizing the foregoing assertions, have followed a policy of rebuking and casting insults at the devil and his angels. This activity is warned against both in 2 Peter 2: 10 and Jude 8. Here we find strong admonitions against “railing at glories [Gr].” We are told that this is a foolish, fleshly thing which even the highest, holy angels do not dare to do. Brethren, let us he careful in our warfare with the enemy and do so according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Do not be led astray into silly and hurtful practices but rather focus your attention on the Lord Jesus Christ, serve Him with your life and resist the advances of the devil at all times.
Now before we get too far afield let’s get back to our subject at hand. After God’s first creating work, the original earth was corrupted by the fall of Satan and his rebellion against God along with all the inhabitants of the earth. God then judged that earth, destroying it by an inundation of water. (By the way, this covering of the earth with water and the absence of any light would explain the long and sudden ice ages which some geologists claim the earth has experienced. See Job 38: 30.) This ruined, corrupted [Page 65] earth God set out to restore, recover, and bring back to Himself. He has not allowed and did not allow the devil to defeat Him. He simply began the further outworking of His plan for this earth - to restore it to Himself, to assert His rightful authority over it and to fill it again with beings who would be obedient to Him. This is what we’ll be talking about in the next chapter.
The foregoing discussion has been an
effort to paint a picture and set the stage, so to speak, for what we are to be seeing in the rest
of this book. If we are to understand God’s purposes for the
earth, it is essential that we know its history. The
* * *
God’s Commission -
It can be postulated then, as shown in the last chapter, that the original earth which God created was corrupted and ruined by Satan in his, rebellion and that God then judged and destroyed that earth as a consequence. Therefore the first several chapters of the book of Genesis are actually a history of God’s restoration and reconstruction of the earth. This restoration like the original earth was perfect, since it also was the work of God. After each day’s work of creation, with the exception of the second, God “saw that it was good.” God was pleased with His work when it was finished (Gen 1: 30).
Although this is so there was still
something wrong. In this beautiful,
lush, re-created earth which God made was the presence of His enemy with all
his hosts of wickedness. The atmosphere
surrounding the earth was full of fallen angels (Eph
When man was created he was made in God’s image and after His likeness (Gen 1: 26). To be created in God’s image means that man is law inwardly like God. And to be created in God’s likeness means that outwardly, physically, man also resembles God. The scripture informs us that man consists of three parts. He has a body, a soul, and a spirit. In 1 Thessalonians 5: 23 Paul says, “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” These same three parts are also evidenced in the Most High God, although perhaps not exactly in the same way.
In order to investigate this further let us start with man’s spirit. The Bible speaks of the Lord who “stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him” (Zech 12: 1). Therefore, we know assuredly that man has a human spirit. Every believer should also realize that God has His Holy Spirit.* Many times in the Bible the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit, is mentioned. Thus God and man [Page 68] have these two corresponding parts - Spirit and spirit.
[* See the attached condition for the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer: Acts 5: 32. cf. Psa. 51: 11; 1 Sam. 16: 14, L.X.X.: “And the Spirit of the Lord departed” - [because of disobedience] – “from Saul…”]
Man also has a soul. Interestingly in many passages God speaks of Himself as having a soul. He says in Hebrews 10: 38 for example, “if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” These verses reveal that in the inward parts, the spirit and the soul, man is made in the image of God.
The body of man gives him his outward appearance. Although God does not have a physical body His appearance is like that of a man. He does not have hooves, claws, feathers or scales. When we see Him we will recognize the form in which He exists because man appears just like God. The likeness or the outward form of man is made after God. As a matter of fact man is the only creature in the whole universe which has this privilege of inwardly and outwardly resembling God. Hallelujah! What a glorious fact this is that we have been fashioned after God Himself.
Now to return to our original discussion: God made a new creature, man, in His image and after His likeness and placed him in the garden of Eden. In so doing He put him right in the middle of a hostile environment full of fallen angels and demons, and He charged him saying, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Gen 1: 28). (The Hebrew word for “subdue” can also be translated “conquer.”) Here we find God creating a man after His similitude, placing him in the midst of the devil’s territory and charging him to conquer, or subdue it. This was the beginning of God’s plan to recover the earth, Satan’s domain, back for Himself. God placed man upon the earth as His emissary to retake what had been lost during Satan’s rebellion.
[Page 69] Man, resembling God and having communion with Him, was commissioned with the work of populating the earth with men just like himself who were submitted to the authority and rulership of God. As they multiplied, on the earth God could again claim it as His own because it would be filled with creatures who. loved and obeyed Him. What a glorious victory! But as we all know at that time the victory was not to be forthcoming.
Satan no doubt understood at least part of what God was doing. He probably could not stand a being who looked like God inhabiting his world. It must have galled him to the very core to see Adam and Eve living and working for God on his earth, so he came and subtly deceived Eve. She in turn seduced her husband, and they fell. Instead of living for God and serving Him, they rebelled against God and became constituents of Satan’s kingdom. They partook of the tree of which God had instructed them not to eat. Their natures were corrupted and death began to work in them. At that time they came under God’s curse and became for all practical purposes part of the devil’s kingdom.
However God is not easily thwarted. He does not give up quickly. He has the power to carry out His plans , in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity. Even though the first man Adam, failed to perform the charge of God to have dominion over the earth, God promised to the woman a seed. And of this seed He said, “it shall bruise thy head” (meaning the head of the serpent) (Gen 3: 15). Although the devil had won an apparent victory, still God had a plan. From woman, through the race of man, God was going to bring forth a seed that would [Page 70] finally fulfil His desire, crushing and defeating the enemy. This seed is the man Jesus Christ, the One who triumphed over the devil and made an open display of this victory to the principalities, and powers (Col. 2: 15).
After the fall men began to multiply on the face of the ground. As time went on God would occasionally find a man who was open to Him, who would love Him and who would serve Him. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was such a man. The scriptures testify that he walked with God, and was not, for God took Him (Gen 5: 24). In the long run, however, the multitudes of fallen men corrupted their way upon the earth very much. They walked in evil, lust, greed and violence. They continually practiced all the things which God hated. These men performed daily what the enemy with all his evil desires led them to do.
This situation worsened until man became so much a part of Satan’s kingdom and rebelled against God to such an extent that some of the women even began to have intercourse with fallen angelic beings. In the first several verses of Genesis chapter six we read about the “sons of God” coming in to the “daughters of men” and having intercourse with them. The product of such an unholy union we are told was the giants, a race of beings whom God never intended and did not want on His earth. A careful reading of Genesis chapter six will make this evil development undeniably clear.* At this juncture God [Page 71] saw that the imaginations of men’s hearts were only evil continually. Not only was man himself rebelling but he was polluting the human race by illegal fornication.
* NOTE. The “sons of God” here must he angelic beings since the scripture in other places refers to them as such (Job 1: 6; 2: 1; 38: 7; Dan 3: 25). In fact some of the ancient scripture manuscripts render “sons of God” as “angels of God” in this passage. Although some have taught that these must be the descendants of Seth (i.e. men in the lineage of those who walked with God) this cannot be the case. Such a theory does not explain why the offspring of these marriages were giants or why God considered their activities to be so wicked. Possibly some find this sin so offensive that they refuse to admit its existence. Nevertheless Jesus plainly tells us, “as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man” (Mt. 24: 37).
The Biblical record also informs us that the earth was filled with violence. Man had broken loose against all reason and restraint, contrary to all that God had planned for him. They slew one another at a whim. The situation became so bad that God repented that He had ever made man. He looked upon the earth and saw it altogether corrupted, filled with violence and evil deeds, and populated with giant beings whom He never desired to exist. Consequently, God planned to destroy the earth with all the creatures that inhabited it. But in one man, Noah, God found someone who was righteous. Noah walked with God. And so God decided to save this man and his family from the destruction which He was planning. God instructed him to build an ark and take one pair of every unclean animal gong with seven pairs of every clean animal into it. This ark was to be the vehicle whereby they would all be saved from the second flood of waters upon the earth.
It is interesting to note that Noah’s ark, through which this salvation was effected, is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the side of the ark was a door [Page 72] through which all who entered were borne up above the judgment of God. And it is also through the pierced side of Jesus Christ, from which blood and water flowed, that we are saved from the impending judgment of God for a new world which is to come.
Although Satan had apparently won a great victory by
corrupting mankind and again ruining God’s earth, God found one man with whom
He could start over and begin a new world to eventually accomplish His
purposes. After the flood waters subsided and the ark landed, Noah’s
descendants once again began to populate the earth. Sadly, they too failed to
know God, to love God, and to fulfil God’s commission to the first man. Evil and rebellion again began to spread
unrestrained. Striking examples of this
are recorded, such as the incident of the
At this point it appears God altered His method of
working. Instead of dealing with mankind
as a whole He decided to choose for Himself a people - to call out from among
all men a race that was especially His.
And it was with these people that He would work towards accomplishing
His original goals. For this plan God
chose a man of faith, Abraham. When he
was still childless he was called by God and [Page 73] promised that his seed would multiply
and inherit all the
As you probably know, God carried out this “phase” of His plan with the children of
Biblical history tells us that in the course of time this
project also ended in apparent failure.
The people of
At one point it seemed as if the victory had almost been
won. During the reign of Kings David and
No, God is not defeated, and neither will He be. He has not abandoned His plan and now gone
into the business of just rescuing men from
the earth. He is going to establish His Kingdom, His authority, His rightful rulership here on
the earth! The charge which
He gave to the first man, Adam, will be fulfilled. His people, with Christ at their head, WILL have complete dominion over this earth for 1,000 years. This
Some, when reading about the coming
* * *
is Among You
In the last chapter we examined God’s purpose for establishing His Kingdom upon the earth, to recapture this planet from the domination of the devil and re-establish it under His rightful authority. We have also seen that God created man in His image and after His likeness and placed him on the earth to be His agent in a accomplishing this plan.
Man failed to carry out the commission with which God
entrusted him in the first chapter of Genesis. Repeatedly mankind as a whole
did not fulfil what God required of them and did not accomplish God’s purpose
on the earth. Seemingly, the devil
reigned supreme. But throughout this
history God had promised a seed who would prevail. The fulfilment of this promise is found in
Jesus Christ. He was a God-man born of a
woman, in the family of
This God-man, Jesus Christ, is the fulfilment of God’s promise to send a seed of the woman that would crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3: 15). This is exactly what Jesus did. From His birth the man Jesus Christ was completely sinless. He never did anything that displeased the Father (Jn. 8: 29). His earthly life was in total opposition to all that the devil’s kingdom is. He never participated in evil in any way. His life was the living manifestation of God’s righteousness on this earth right in the middle of the devil’s domain. How Satan must have hated Him. He was a perfect man. At one point He said, “the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me” (Jn. 14: 30). Hallelujah! God sent His Son, and He became a man in whom the devil had nothing. What a glory to God and what a victory over the enemy that a real man walked this earth sinlessly living in perfect submission to God. He was never drawn into all the evil and the corruption that Satan had to offer.
[Page 78] Now don’t think that Jesus wasn’t tempted. His sinlessness was not a result of an easy life. In the wilderness He fasted for forty days and forty nights and was tempted by the devil. He was tried in every aspect just as we are today (Heb 4: 15). He did not escape temptation - He overcame it. He lived victoriously above it. He did not give in to the seduction of evil, which is why the Bible says with Him the Father is well pleased (Mt. 3: 17). Jesus lived in this sinless, perfect way from His birth to His death on the cross.
It should be mentioned here that His dying on the cross was the fulfilment of all the typology of sacrifice in the Old Testament. Jesus was the Lamb of God who offered Himself without spot or blemish for the sins of the world. The Israelites were supposed to find a perfect male lamb to offer to God. They examined it carefully to make sure that it had no imperfection. And Jesus too, before He was crucified, was examined. Pilate and Herod both checked Him out thoroughly, and Pilate when he was finished said, “I find no fault in him” (Jn. 19: 4, 19: 6). I doubt if he could have said that about any other man. He was so impressed with this one man, Jesus, that he could truthfully say that he couldn’t find any fault in Him whatsoever.
This was a man that overcame all that the devil threw at
Him. He lived a victor. Not only this but when Jesus rose [out] from the dead
He overcame the most powerful tool that the devil has - death. He overcame sin during His life and He
overcame death in His resurrection from the grave. Death could not hold Him. The strength of Satan was overcome in the
resurrection life of Jesus Christ, the God-man.
All that the enemy and his forces could muster was [Page 79] thwarted. When Jesus rose from the
dead He made an open show of their defeat. He triumphed over them completely (
When Jesus walked on this earth almost 2,000 years ago He was
the living manifestation of the
* The reason I have chosen this translation is that it gives a more correct understanding of this verse. Some versions have “within you” instead of “in the midst of you” or “among you.” Although it is true that we can experience the Kingdom of God inwardly today (chapter 8 of this book is all about this subject) at the time when Jesus spoke these words the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out and thus it would have been impossible for any of His hearers to have the Kingdom of God residing in them.
As Jesus began His ministry He preached repentance for the
sake of the Kingdom. He said “Repent: for the kingdom of
heaven is at hand” (Mt 4: 17).
This meant that the rulership or the authority of heaven was being
manifested and that men needed to repent for their part in Satan’s
kingdom. They were being called upon to
repent for the deeds which they were doing and even the thoughts which they
were thinking which were contrary to the new, heavenly Kingdom. Since the
The two kingdoms about which we have been speaking - the
kingdom of this world and the heavenly Kingdom - are in total opposition to
each other. There is no middle
ground. In order to become completely
subjected to God’s Kingdom we must be wholly set free from Satan’s. This requires a deep, thorough repenting in
the heart of every man concerning the things which he was doing and thinking
before he knew about the
The reason that we can live as Christ did is that He has given us His very own life. The eternal life, which God promises to give through His Son Jesus, is His own divine, eternal life. When Jesus Christ, who lived victoriously conquering Satan and sin, now begins to live in us, we too can live as He did. The scripture asks of those who believe, “Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor 13: 5). Praise God, this same Jesus who lived on this earth apart from the kingdom of the enemy now resides in us. Jesus has given His Kingdom life to men. When we receive Jesus Christ we receive all that He is and all that He accomplished. When He comes into us He brings all His attributes and power with Him. Through the Holy Spirit every believer can enter into victory.
[Page 82] Since God has poured His Holy Spirit into men upon this earth (the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus) (Rm. 8: 2) there are now thousands of individuals who have the life and the power to live in God’s Kingdom. Now, through the Spirit, the overcoming life of Christ is being fruitful and multiplying in people all over the earth. These men and women can fulfil God’s original command to overcome the powers of evil in this world and live according to God. This eternal power dwells in all [obedient] believers. And if they are only willing to repent, to change kingdoms, to cease from doing the works of darkness and to enter into the Kingdom of light, Jesus Christ within them will supply them to do it. His life, His victorious life, will enable them to overcome. This is exactly the purpose for which Jesus came and died. He came to gather to Himself a people who would express Him and have dominion over His enemy. By His power they are now living in this hostile world yet subjecting themselves to His authority. Through their lives they manifest Christ’s victory and establish God’s authority over this earth. At last the purpose for which man was created is finding fulfilment. All that now remains is for God to finish gathering all those whom He has chosen and prepare them for that final day. Very soon we will all, be caught up to meet Him in the air and return with Him to reign. Our role is to be obedient and to announce this gospel of the Kingdom in all the earth.
The Church is the body of Christ. She is His expression on this earth today. Since He has ascended to the Father, we His people are now the vehicle through which He expresses Himself and accomplishes His work. This word “body” is not just [Page 83] a nice religious expression. It contains much important spiritual meaning. God’s will is to use His people as instruments of righteousness and as a testimony of Himself. This is both a privilege and an awesome responsibility. We are to be expressing the invisible God of the universe to the inhabitants of the earth as well as displaying His victory to the heavenly hosts. Today, through His body, the Church, God is manifesting His wisdom and His eternal plan (Eph 3: 10). How we need to take this commission of Christ’s seriously! It is of the utmost importance to Him to accomplish this work through us, so much so in fact that He died in order that it might be done. This is not a small thing for which we have been called. One day soon when we stand before His judgment seat we will be called upon to give an account of our response to this all-important command.
One very important aspect of this work is that we are to announce this gospel to every creature (Mk. 16: 15). Part of our job as Jesus’ disciples is to preach as He did the gospel of the Kingdom. His will is for all men to hear the message of repentance and to receive His new life. For this to happen, we must co-operate. We must be willing to go wherever He sends us and spread the good news. We too need to be fruitful and multiply spiritually. If we are willing and obedient, He will empower us to rescue men and women out of Satan's kingdom of darkness and transfer them into His own Kingdom of light. Jesus Christ is coming back again soon and I am very sure that He would be happy to find you standing in the gap saving people from God’s wrath and getting them ready for the wedding feast.
[Page 84] This brings up another essential aspect of our Kingdom commission. It is also our responsibility to assist God in perfecting His people and preparing them for His coming. Not only do we need to introduce them to Christ’s Kingdom, but we also need to teach them how to live in it. God does not want a collection of spiritual babies but a multitude of mature saints with whom He can dwell in intimate fellowship forever. Before He ascended He said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations... teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Mt. 28: 19, 20 NASB). Building up the body of Christ is not a secondary responsibility but an equal part of the task which believers who are seeking to be obedient to God’s will should be doing. Not only do we need to bring, in the raw materials, but we are also being called upon to assist Him in fashioning them into what He wishes them to be. We must be helping each other prepare for His coming.
It should be noted that not all members of Jesus’ body have the same function. All of us are not called to do the same thing. There are many different kinds of work to be done. The scripture specifically mentions in several places that there are various gifts, administrations and abilities which the Spirit gives and with which we can serve God (see 1 Cor 12: 4-12, Rm. 12: 4). The important message is not that we are all to do the same job, but that we are all to do what Jesus is calling us to do. Each and every one of us is to be actively serving God in some capacity. All believers must live under the authority and direction of Jesus today if we are to find His approval when He returns. Whatever your job or function is, you should be doing it with all of your energy. If you [Page 85] do not know what it is then you should seek the Lord’s face through prayer and seek fellowship with other believers until you know that you are walking in His will.
One reason that many Christians have difficulty knowing the will of God for their lives is that they have so many priorities which come ahead of serving God. For example, first they get an education, marry a wife, find a good job, buy a house and then wonder what God’s will for their life is. No wonder they are confused! If we are to really know the will of God, we must be open to Him in every area of our lives. ALL things must be put in subjection to Him. The extent to which we are truly open to Him is the extent to which we can know His will. No one who is genuinely seeking God will be left hanging in bewilderment for long. God is able to lead His people.
Of course simply standing in one place and praying for years may not bring the answer. Sometimes we must begin to move in the direction in which we think He might be leading to find His will. As we walk, we will have the inner assurance of His blessing or the conviction that we have made a mistake. Be bold! Take steps toward doing the work to which you think Jesus is calling you. Making mistakes is not fatal but burying your talents in the earth will bring His disapproval on judgment day. “Blessed are those who listen to God’s message and practice it!” (Lk. 11: 28 Williams).
Once we receive the Lord, this is not the end. Instead it is the beginning of a life-long process of following Him, doing His will and expressing His life and nature to the perishing world. Jesus has run the race before us, overcome all the power of the enemy, [Page 86] and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High. Now we, His people, are faced with the responsibility of following Him in this victory. By faith we can serve Him and accomplish His will upon the earth. Since we have His life within us, we too can live as He did. There is no acceptable excuse for not living in God’s Kingdom, today and manifesting His will upon the earth. The great and terrible Day of the Lord is coming. Who can stand in the day of His appearing? I tell you, it will be those who have done His will.
* * *
Although the outward manifestation of the Kingdom of God,
which we know as the Millennial Kingdom, has not yet come, still today there is
a present spiritual reality of this Kingdom.
Even though we cannot see it with our eyes, it is very, very real. Anyone on this earth who is willing to
receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior can enter
to this Kingdom and live in it every day.
Men and women can experience the spiritual reality of the
In order to live in this Kingdom, we must first enter into
it. In John
chapter 3 Jesus explains to Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees, some very
important [Page 88] facts about the
If you are reading this book and you have not had this experience yet, I urge you, take the time right now and pray earnestly to the heavenly Father. Tell Him that you are sorry for your sinful acts and condition and ask Him to send His Son Jesus into your heart to give you new life today.
I would like for the readers to notice here that the Bible
does not say that when a person is born again, he fully enters into the Kingdom
at that time. It says only that he first
must be born again before he can enter. In
fact, he must be born anew even to see the Kingdom, which means to understand
spiritually what the Kingdom is. Now in
order to comprehend this better, let us go back and repeat a short definition
of what the word “kingdom” means. A kingdom is the sphere over which a king
reigns. When a group of people living in
a geographical area [Page 89] submit themselves to the authority of
a king, they become part of that kingdom.
Or, in another situation, a king might come and forcibly assert his
authority over them. Now in the case of
can live in the
Once we decide to follow Jesus there are many things that will stand in our way - the things of the world, Satan himself, sin working in our bodies, and the self, the fallen nature which still lives on in us. From all these things we must turn away. Jesus said. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt. 16: 24). To live in obedience to Jesus Christ is to deny ourselves every day. The cross is intimately related to the Kingdom. In fact, unless we experience the cross, it is impossible to continue experiencing the Kingdom. There are many things that will come into our lives to distract us and draw us away. Even some apparently good things that we desire to do must be denied in order to live in obedience to the heavenly King. And it is when we deny ourselves that the cross is applied to our lives. This is what the Bible means when it speaks about being crucified with Christ. When we pick up His cross and deny ourselves we allow the Spirit of Jesus Christ within us to make His death on the cross real to us. Through the Spirit we can put to death that part of our old nature which is resisting Him.
When we deny ourselves, the death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the grave, will become a reality to us instead of just a teaching. This is something which all of us should be experiencing, and if we are not, in all probability it is because we are not being obedient. If the death and resurrection of Jesus are not operating in our lives every day, then we are walking only according to the course of this world and being disobedient. Jesus says that if [Page 91] we don’t pick up our cross and follow Him daily we are not worthy of Him (Mt. 10: 38, Lk 9: 23). Clearly, self-denial, bearing the cross of Jesus Christ, should be the daily experience of every believer. The cross of Christ stands at the door of the Kingdom. If we are to be entering in we dare not bypass it. By its presence it speaks of the annihilation of everything in us which is contrary to God and the replacement of it by His Kingdom nature. Friends, may we never imagine that there is any other, easier way.
Now let us move on to a few specific examples to more clearly illustrate this concept. Let me simply say that whatever there is in our lives which keeps us from living in the presence of God is disobedience. Anything in which we are involved that dulls our mind and our sensitivity towards God is no doubt something in this category. These things could be our job, money, relatives, family, recreation, prestige, glory, pride, ambition, or any number of other things. Jesus says, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14: 26). And being a disciple means being obedient to His will. Many people’s daily living is filled up with thoughts about themselves. They are concerned about themselves and the many things in which they are involved. They put their own lives first and they serve Jesus Christ only secondarily.
There is an excellent test which we can apply to ourselves to see how we measure up in this category. This test is to examine ourselves and see what thoughts our minds are filled with. When we have time to think, or when we find ourselves idly [Page 92] thinking, what kinds of things are we thinking about? Are we meditating on the Lord and upon His Word? Do we think of how we can serve Him and our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we regularly lift our hearts in prayer to the Father, or are our thoughts primarily filled with things concerning ourselves? Are we dreaming of how we can entertain ourselves with a certain TV show or some other diversion? Do we often find ourselves thinking about our job and how we can make advancements? Is money a big part of our thought life? How about our relatives and families? Do they consume us and take a large portion of our thought time, more than is really necessary? Or do we have some ambition, some goal which we’re pursuing, which constantly fills our minds? I’m sure, if we are honest, every one of us would have to admit that to some extent one of these things, or perhaps something which hasn’t been mentioned, often fills our thoughts, thus dulling our communication with God and causing us to live in disobedience to His Kingdom. The scripture plainly says that “the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8: 6 NASE).
But, some may ask, don’t We have to
think about all these things in order to live in this world? The Bible tells us the answer: “seek ye first the
If we are to live in the spiritual
Another good test which we can apply to ourselves to see if we’re living in the Kingdom is to honestly assess out attitudes towards such things as prayer, church meetings, Bible study, fellowship with other believers and serving the saints. If we are not doing these things or if we find ourselves cold towards them and not desiring to be involved in them, this is a sure sign that we are not living in the Kingdom. It is an excellent indication that there is something in our lives which we are putting ahead of [Page 94] Jesus Christ and which is keeping us from experiencing His ruling today.
In this world there is no neutral ground. Many mistakenly think that because they are not doing something blatantly sinful that God is pleased with their life, or at least that there is no serious problem. Such is not the case. Not every part of Satan’s kingdom is obviously evil. There are many things in his worldly system which appear to be quite good. It seems he will tolerate good things if they keep us, from God - if they capture our hearts and minds and hinder us from experiencing the reality of Jesus. For example, we may be intensely interested in playing sports, or hunting and fishing. There is really nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. The problem enters in when they keep us from experiencing God’s Kingdom. In fact, the devil can use these things and use us to work for him if we allow ourselves to be drawn away from God into them.
As an example, suppose we are thinking about going fishing and
as we’re thinking the idea occurs to us to invite another Christian to go along
with us. We know that there is a church
meeting that evening which we should attend.
Both of us realize that we probably won’t get back in time for the
meeting. But we go anyway. Then, if by
some chance we do get back in time, our minds will be filled with how many fish
we caught or what a good time we had - but no matter, there is nothing sinful
about it. However, when it is done in
disobedience, then it is sinful. It is
living for self and the pleasures of this life rather than living for God. Such rebellious activity only frustrates what
God would like to accomplish in us and in others during this time. When we do
these [Page 95] things, we actually build up and further the
No, there is no neutral ground. If we are not actively seeking and following
our Lord Jesus every day, then we are in reality building up the wrong kingdom;
and when Jesus Christ returns, no doubt He will bring us into judgment
concerning these things. We must be
willing to deny ourselves - to radically change our way of living if necessary
in order to conform ourselves to obedience.
Jesus says, “from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mt. 11:
12). I am sure that He is not
referring here to armies or physical violence.
The violence He is talking about here is violence which is done to the self, the sinful nature which lusts
against the things of God and keeps us from entering into the Kingdom. Sometimes we must be violent with ourself in
order to take the Kingdom and enter in.
Jesus also says, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many ... will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk. 13: 24). The gate into the
We have been speaking about submission to God and how it is through obedience to the daily leading of Jesus Christ that we enter into His spiritual kingdom. If in any of these areas we find ourselves coming short of what God expects of us the solution [Page 96] is to repent - repent for the sake of the Kingdom. This is the gospel which Jesus preached, that men everywhere should repent and get ready for a divine Kingdom which was coming. Right now today we also need to repent, to turn away from anything and everything which keeps us from experiencing God’s Kingdom, and renew our hearts in the Holy Spirit towards God.
So before you read on, take a moment to consider these things
carefully and examine your heart before the Lord. Our goal as believers should be to “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” (
Another thing that I should mention here is that it is essential for every believer to cultivate a living daily relationship with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can know and experience God. While Jesus Christ was on this earth He informed His disciples that He was going away. “Nevertheless,” He said, “I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you ... he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (Jn. 16: 7, 15). Yes, it is through the Holy Spirit, and only through the Holy Spirit, that we understand anything of God today. So if you are a Christian but your life is not full of the Holy Spirit and you don’t have a daily intimate relationship with Him, then something is definitely wrong. The answer to this problem is for you to be experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Please notice that I did not say that you need to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but that you need to he experiencing it! Sadly, there are many people arguing about this subject today. Some teach that this is a second experience after the new birth. Others want to believe that it is something which you receive at the new birth. Still others teach that all the Gentiles were baptized in the Holy Spirit in the house of Cornelius, the centurion. The fact is it really doesn’t matter when you were theoretically baptized in the Holy Spirit if you are not experiencing that baptism right now in your daily life. If you have it only doctrinally, but it is not a living reality to you, what good is it? We all should seek to be filled, “baptized” if you will, in the Holy Spirit continually. Jesus taught the following: “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Lk. 11: 11-13). He is making this point specifically about asking for and receiving the Holy Spirit from the Father. It is of the utmost necessity that every believer be experiencing the Holy Spirit every day. If you are not, then you need to seek for it until you do.
Now since we have been discussing obedience [Page98] perhaps it would be a good idea to investigate exactly what the substance
of this obedience is. In John’s epistles
he mentions that when we know Jesus we keep His commandments (1 Jn. 2: 3, 4; 5: 2). These commandments to which he is referring
are not the Old Testament law or the ten commandments. Instead he is talking about a living, daily
experience of obeying the risen Lord. The fact that we live daily in His
Kingdom is positive proof that we know Him and love Him. The
If our following Jesus Christ is outward and legalistic, it
will not please God. The Jews in the Old
Testament by keeping the law of Moses did not measure up to His standard. Neither can we. The scripture says that no one will be
justified by the works of the law (Gal 2: 16). Our own righteousness, which we can muster
up, is not acceptable. The only offering
which God will receive is that of His Son.
He said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:
17). It is only when we live by
Him - that is, allow Him to live His Kingdom life through us - that we please
the Father and enter into the
Please allow me to say here that although many Christians are not living by the Old Testament law, they are instead living by New Testament legalism. They, through the scriptures, have developed for themselves a very complex code of ethics by which they live. These misguided believers often read the New Testament scriptures and then attempt to apply them instead of yielding to the risen Saviour. Although very few of those who are in this situation will admit it, this is actually what they do. It is not enough simply to know what God demands of us and then attempt to do it. Unless our obedience and our works are the result of the living out of the life of Jesus Christ, it will not please the Father. No amount of outward conforming to the scriptures will do. God looks upon such activity as rebellion because it is not truly submitting to His Son.
Those who live their lives by “scriptural principles” fit into this same category. If when we are reading the scriptures we think we perceive certain spiritual principles and then attempt to live by them, we will also be found rebelling against God. His is a very narrow way and it is the person of His Son. He [Page 100] said, “I am the way” (Jn. 14: 6). He didn’t just show us the way. He IS the way, and it is only when we submit ourselves in our hearts and minds to Him and allow Him to live His life in us that we can experience genuine Kingdom living. Anything else is a fake and a sham.
How many Christians do you know personally who are outwardly
moral but inwardly dead? This is the
direct result of trying to live for Jesus without submitting to His inward “Kingdom life.”
Conforming to an outward code of ethics and spiritual principles is legalistic
and dead. Paul tells us that if we
submit ourselves to the law - if we are justified in our own eyes in this way -
that we are severed from Christ (Gal. 5: 4). When we attempt to establish our own
righteousness we cut ourselves off from the true righteousness available
through Jesus. We rebel against God and we enter into death. Again, we need repentance. We need repentance for the sake of the
Kingdom - the true spiritual reality of the
In closing this chapter, let me say that it is essential that
we enter into the
* * *
The chapter you are about to read is probably the most important one of the entire book. The subject which we shall be discussing here is of tremendous consequence to every believer in Jesus Christ. Therefore I would like to ask all the readers to pay careful attention to what is being said. Please read these words with an open mind and a heart which is open to God and genuinely seeking to know the truth. Do not jump to any instantaneous conclusions, but rather read the entire chapter before forming your own opinion about these things. In fact, I would urge you to also read carefully the several chapters following this one because this subject is so important that we are going to dwell on it at length. There is no other single topic which I know of in the scriptures that has been so neglected and so misunderstood by God’s children in these days. May the Lord add His blessing to these words.
It is well known by most Christians that when a [Page 103] person is born again he receives eternal life. This means that in eternity he will be with the Lord. All true believers will be inhabitants of the New Jerusalem, part of that holy city, dwelling on the new earth with Christ forever. Once we receive Jesus Christ, nothing any man or angel can do can take Him away from us. He Himself promises us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13: 5). His desire is that His children be with Him for eternity. Let me repeat this. ALL true believers, those who are born again of the Holy Spirit, will be with Jesus Christ in eternity. “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2: 21). This means that they are rescued from God’s eternal judgment and they will dwell with the Lord forever. These are facts which we know and upon which we can rely.
However, even though all this is true, not all Christians
will enter into the coming
In order to have a full comprehension of what the scripture is
saying here, we must remember God’s purpose for having this earthly Kingdom in
the first place. Ultimately, His purpose
is to recover this world from the devil and to reassert His rightful Kingship
over it and all the inhabitants therein.
When He comes He is going to establish His government (Isa. 9: 6), which will be centered in
Now let us go on to examine other passages of scripture which say essentially the same thing in order that we can understand more fully the will of God. Perhaps one of the clearest sections of the Bible which applies to this subject is the parable of the ten virgins. This parable is found in Matthew chapter 25, beginning with verse 1. Let us read it together:
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened [Page 105] unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took, no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Mt. 25: 1-13).
This is a very interesting and enlightening parable. Notice from the first verse that it is a parable concerning the Kingdom. We are not misapplying this parable. The subject matter (the wedding feast vs. 11 Gk) also shows that it is speaking about the Kingdom. That it is a parable which applies to Christians - real believers - shall also become apparent as we look at this passage together. (Please do not let anyone tell you that these verses apply only to the Jews or that they are not for this present [Page 106] dispensation. To say such a thing is to render this passage of scripture virtually meaningless to believers and to blind their eyes to the truth which is herein revealed.)
Who then are these ten virgins and what does this parable mean? We know from the scriptures that virginity is a term which is applied to believers. Paul says that he had espoused certain believers as “a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11: 2). Virginity here means purity, holiness and an undefiled life. This is a reference to believers who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, who have been cleansed from all their defilement and who are now holy and pure before the Lord. All ten of these individuals were virgins. The only difference between them is that five of them were wise and five were foolish. The Bible does not say that five were saved and five were unsaved, or that five were good and five were wicked. We read only that five were wise and five, foolish.
All ten of these virgins had at least some oil in their lamps. This is evidenced by the fact that before they fell asleep, all of their lamps were lighted, otherwise they could not later have “gone out” (vs. 8). A lamp wick without oil would have burned out almost immediately. The wise ones had extra oil in their “vessels” (vs. 4) while the foolish ones apparently had only a little in their lamps. This oil which they had is a type of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament the priests were instructed through Moses to compound an anointing oil (Ex 30: 22-25) symbolizing the Holy Spirit which God has now poured out. Of these ten persons, all had oil. They had all partaken of the Holy Spirit.
[Page 107] Notice also that these lamps were burning. The scripture reads: “The spirit of man is the candle [lamp] of the Lord, searching all the inward parts” (Pr. 20: 27). The spirit of man is where the Holy Spirit of God dwells in a born-again person. “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor 6: 17). The joining of God’s Spirit to man’s results in the kindling of a spiritual flame in each believer which begins to give them supernatural light. Surely these virgins who had oil in their lamps and had their lamps burning must have been regenerated, born-again saints.
Another thing which tells us that these were believers is that they were waiting for the bridegroom. No unbeliever is waiting for the bridegroom. Only those who know Him and love Him are waiting for Him. We read in verse 5 that while the bridegroom tarried they all fell asleep. Symbolically, all these believers died while they were still waiting for their Lord. But at midnight a cry went forth, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh!” and they awoke. The scripture reads, “And many ... that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake” (Dan 12: 2). When the Lord returned, these believers were resurrected, raised up from [amongst] the dead to meet the bridegroom.
However, after [before]* their resurrection some of them began
to notice their rather poor condition.
They lacked oil. They had not paid the price to go and buy while they
were still living. Evidently they all
had the opportunity but five of them were foolish. No doubt while they were living their life on
this earth they chose to please themselves.
They didn’t do the Lord’s will. They didn’t pay the price necessary to be
full of the oil of the Holy Spirit.
Their foolishness caused [Page 108] them to be disobedient, negligent,
and wasteful of their time and energy. So
when the bridegroom, came and entered into the wedding feast (from the previous
chapters we know that this is the
[* It is appointed unto men to die, and after that the judgment. That is, judgment takes place after the time of Death, not “after” but before the time of Resurrection. – Ed.]
This passage corresponds exactly to the other one we have already quoted which says that not everyone who claims Jesus as their Lord will enter into the Kingdom, but those that do the will of the Father. Here is an immensely sobering truth. It is one to which every believer should give serious consideration, If, in our individual lives, we are unfaithful and disobedient, the Son of Man will come at a time when we are not looking for Him (Lk 12: 46) and will find us unprepared. Since we see that not every Christian will be allowed to enter, how should this knowledge affect our daily living? My hope is that this realization will startle some who are only pleasing themselves, cause them to repent and to begin living from this moment on for their King.
No doubt we should take a moment here to discuss one phrase which is used in this parable that might cause some misunderstanding. It is the one where the Lord is heard saying, “I know you not.” These words are found both in the passage where it says, “Not every one will enter the Kingdom” and in this parable about the ten virgins. Some have insisted [Page 109] that because Jesus says he doesn’t know these people that they are not His children. They argue, how could He say “I don’t know you” if He had begotten them. Please pay careful attention to the answer for it is very significant. There are several reasons which explain this statement of the Lord.
To begin with, the word “know” - the Greek word which is used here - is translated in another place “allow.” In Romans 7: 15 Paul says, “For that which I do I allow not.” This means that he didn’t approve of doing it. This word can also be translated “certify.”* Jesus would then be found saying these passages, “I certify you not” or “I approve you not.” “You have not measured up to the standard and, therefore you are not certified or approved.” These individuals who were foolish, unfaithful and did not do the will of God while they were alive were not certified, approved, or allowed by God when He came to establish His Millennial Kingdom.
* W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1966).
Would the Lord Jesus deny that He knew some of His own
children? Yes, He would. He says plainly that those who “deny me before men, him will I deny before my Father” (Mt. 10: 33). This means that He will deny that He knew
us. He will deny having knowledge of us
because we denied Him. And what does it
mean to deny Him? It means that by our lives, our
actions, our words and the way we conducted ourselves, we denied His Kingship,
His Lordship and His rightful authority over us. In short, we were disobedient children. You
don’t have to say with words, “I deny Jesus,”
to deny Him. All you have to do is
ignore Him and deny that He has any [Page 110] claim of authority over you. Don’t get me wrong; our denial of Jesus can
be verbal and outward, but it can just as easily be non-verbal and inward,
manifesting itself in stubbornness, disobedience, and self-serving living. Those people who conduct their
lives in this way are the ones to whom Jesus Christ will say, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity [rebellion, lawlessness, disobedience]” (
This situation could be likened to a woman who had a son. She loved her son very much and raised him the best she could. But when he grew up, he became disobedient. Let us imagine that he became a murderer, a thief, a rapist, an immoral person, a gambler, and was involved in wickedness and evil of every kind. His mother naturally was ashamed of him. After many years this man came back home and said, “Hi, mom, how are you doing? Can you lend me some money?” This woman would probably say, “I don’t know you. I disavow that you are my son. I am ashamed of you because of your disobedience, rebellion and evil works and I am disclaiming any knowledge of you. You are not allowed inside my house.” This is just how it will be on the day of the Lord’s return with those [of God’s redeemed children] who have acted foolishly and unrighteously.
Let us now go on to several other passages of scripture which
tell specifically who will or will not inherit the
What Paul is telling these believers is that if they
continue to participate in the rebellion and sin in which they once participated before they came to know Jesus Christ,
they will not inherit the
A passage in Galatians 5, starting with verse 19, says essentially the same thing: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5: 19-21). Do you know any Christians who do such things? Do you practice these things yourself? If you do, then you can be assured that you will not inherit the Kingdom. You will not enter into all that God has prepared for you. Although we usually think of unbelievers as the people who do these things, it is a shame to say, but yet true, that there are many Christians who still practice them.
Let as start with the first word in verse
21, “envyings.” How many of us envy
others and what they have and who they are?
How many of us have hatred in our hearts towards another brother or
sister in Christ? Or, how many of us love
to strive about certain doctrinal teachings?
Don’t you know that those who practice such things will not inherit the
Not only are there believers who strive, envy and hate but it has also come to my attention that there are literally thousands of Christian men and women who regularly commit fornication. There are also innumerable people who profess to know Jesus but spend countless hours in bars, drinking and participating in the worldly atmosphere and conversation. The sad truth is that many of the individuals who come to church on Sunday morning do other things during the week that would raise the eyebrows if not the hair of anyone who genuinely loves the Lord. It is even true that there is a growing number of Christians who use marijuana and other drugs claiming that they enhance their “spiritual” experience. This is a lie from the pit. And it is these kinds of activities about which the scripture is talking. No one who does these things will enter into the Kingdom but only those who do the Father’s will.
Now let us read together in chapter 5 of Ephesians, starting with verse 1. Here again Paul is writing to believers:
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And
walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an
offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or
covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which
are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor
unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, [Page 114] hath any inheritance in the
I believe that these verses speak for themselves. It is very true that in Jesus Christ we have cleansing
from these sins - that His blood is available to us today - to wash us
clean. However, I would like to submit
to you that it is only the repentant ones who confess their sins whom God is
going to cleanse (1 Jn.
1: 9). Those who are unfaithful, rebellious,
disobedient and continue unrepentantly in their sin
are going to be held accountable. True, if they are believers they have escaped
the wrath of God and eternal judgment, but the scriptures tell us that they will not inherit the
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5: 3). “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt. 5: 5). “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5: 10). Those people who are humble, who are meek, who are obedient and who submit themselves to the heavenly rulership of Jesus Christ are the ones who will possess the earth when He comes again. They are the ones to whom He will say., “Well done, good and faithful servant ... enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mt. 25: 21).
A passage in 2 Peter speaks clearly about this subject. Starting with verse 9 in chapter 1, we read, - “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, 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 ministered unto you abundantly into [Page 115] the everlasting kingdom of our lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1: 9-11). “He that lacketh these things” is somebody who is foolish, someone who is lazy and irresponsible in his relationship with Jesus. Peter explains to us here that if we do the will of the Lord, our entrance into His Kingdom is assured. Praise God! What a glorious day [or day of glory] this will be, when all those who love Jesus Christ, who look forward to His appearing and who have worked for Him during their lifetime, will enter into the joy and the abundance which He is preparing! Oh, hallelujah, what a glory it will be to see all those faithful saints, some of whom have even lost their lives for the Kingdom of God, enter into this wonderful 1,000 year reigning and feasting experience.
Still another passage which conveys the same message is found
in Hebrews chapter 4. Here the Writer is
speaking of the rest, the seventh day rest - the
I urge you all to read this chapter in Hebrews carefully and to see in the light of all the things about which we have been talking how this passage applies specifically to the coming Kingdom; how the rest, the victory over the enemy and the enjoyment of Christ in His coming glory, is something which we must labour to enter into. Our entrance into the Kingdom requires diligence and faithfulness. It is even quite scriptural to have within us a certain amount of fear - a holy, Godly fear - of not measuring up to the standard which God requires [for our entrance]. The writer of Hebrews urges us on to enter into what God has prepared for us.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6: 7). God is not fooled by anything which we are doing. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb 4: 13). God knows our hearts. He sees if we are faithful or disobedient. If there are things in our lives which we know are against Jesus Christ, we should seek Him with our whole heart and do our utmost to put them away.
No one can please himself and do his own thing in this life and expect that God will be happy with him on judgment day. If we live for ourselves and please ourselves only we will find the door to the Kingdom shut and no way will be found for entering in. That day will be a day full of surprises, anguish and grief. I pray that every one of you who is reading this message and I myself will be found doing the Lord’s will when He returns.
* * *
A Just Reward
In the last chapter we discussed the fact that not all God’s [redeemed] children will enter into His Millennial Kingdom. Although they will all be with Him eternally in the holy city upon the new earth, still, not everyone who names the name of the Lord will enter into the blessing of reigning and feasting with Him in His [Millennial] Kingdom. Not only this, but some of God’s children who are rebellious and disobedient will also be punished. Not only will they miss out on the precious reward of the Kingdom, but they will be punished in various ways, some of them punished severely for their disobedience. In this chapter, we are going to be investigating the scriptures which illustrate this truth.
Once a person receives Jesus as his Saviour, he is born again and has a new life. His acceptance of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on the cross guarantees his existence in eternity. Anyone who knows the Son personally has passed from death into [Page 118] life. Those who have received salvation through Jesus are no longer alienated from God but are now His sons. The scripture tells us that He is “bringing many sons unto glory” (Heb 2: 10). What a privilege it is that we could be one of them. Since we have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb we have been saved from the wrath of God and He no longer deals with us as He deals with His enemies. Instead, He deals with us as His children. However, becoming God’s sons does not mean that we have escaped His disciplining entirely or that we can do as we please.
Just as you, as a parent, would not allow your children to be rebellious and disobedient, but would keep them from living that kind of life by disciplining them, so God too disciplines His children. The scripture reads: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb 12: 6). This word “scourgeth” means to beat with a whip. God is not the kind of father which some people are today. He does not advocate permissiveness. He loves His children and in His wisdom He realizes that discipline is healthy - that to punish them for their wrongdoings will cause them to do the right thing in the future. In fact, His disciplining of us proves that we are His sons, because in His great love, He provides us with correction.
Now we come to a very important divine principle, which is set forth in the Word of God. Galatians 6: 7 says: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Whatever kind of seed a gardener or, farmer puts into the ground, that is exactly the kind of plant which [Page 119] will grow up. If he plants corn he will not get beans; and if he plants onions he will not harvest beets. The seed that is sown produces exactly after its kind. The same principle is true with us as believers today. Don’t be deceived about this. Don’t think that just because we are under the grace of God and have been delivered from the wrath with which He will destroy His enemies, we can do as we please and get by with it. God is not mocked, neither is He blind. The Bible tells us that the eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding both the evil and the good (Pr. 15: 3). He knows what we think, He knows what we say and He knows what we do. For all these things we will be brought to give account before the judgment seat of Christ.
At this time, though we will not be in danger of the lake of fire, we will be in danger of the proper punishment which we have earned. God will punish His disobedient children. They will receive exactly what they deserve because of the rebellious things which they have done. In Revelation 2: 23 we read of Jesus saying, “and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and, I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Revelation 22: 12 reads, “behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with. me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” And again in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 10 we read: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Concerning these verses I’ve heard some teach that whether the things we have done are good or [Page 120] whether they are bad, God will still reward us. He will still bless us. He will still give us only good things. This is what it means to be deceived. It is impossible to sow bad seeds and grow up good rewards. Such a thing will never happen. I’ve also heard it said: “Well, those who have done good will receive many rewards and those who have done bad will receive only a few.” I feel I must tell you in the name of Jesus Christ that this is a lie.
When the Bible uses the word “reward” it does not always refer to something good or a blessing. The word “reward” is also used in the New Testament to refer to just punishment of ungodly acts (see 2 Pet 2: 13). When Jesus was hanging on the cross between the two thieves, one of them said, “for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss” (Lk. 23: 41). They were being crucified because they had done wrong. They were evildoers and were suffering the “reward” which they deserved. When Jesus Christ comes with His reward, we must not think that it will be only good no matter what we have done with the things that He has given us. He is expecting us to be serving Him in obedience with our time and our talents (Acts 1: 18, 2 Tim. 4: 14, 2 Pet 2: 13, Rev 18: 6).
Would God punish His children? Yes indeed He would and He is going to if they are rebellious and disobedient. In fact He promises that He will do this very thing. Now there are some who say that the chastening and scourging to which the Bible is referring happens today in this life. They think that the Lord would never do that when He comes. While it is true that in this world God does discipline and chasten us very much, it is equally true that some of [Page 121] God’s children do not respond to this. They do not heed the warnings of God and do not allow themselves to be guided and corrected by Him. Instead they continue in their evil way. Oftentimes these people will attribute the unfortunate circumstances which come upon them as natural happenings and refuse to recognize the hand of God in His dealing with them. Some will find any excuse not to admit that the problems through which they are passing are the divine disciplining of the heavenly Father. These people stiffen their necks and harden their hearts against what God is doing. Though they may deceive themselves in this life by so doing, when Jesus Christ returns all things will be manifested. All the hidden counsels and thoughts of the heart will be brought to light, and these men and women who knew the Lord’s will but didn’t do it will be justly punished by Him.
Let us turn again to Matthew chapter 25 and examine another parable which details this truth for us. Starting in verse 14, this passage reads:
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. After a [Page 122] long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lotd, I knew thee that thou. art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into [Page 123] outer darkness: there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 25: 14-30).
What a tremendously sobering parable this is. In it, Jesus Christ is speaking about His servants. These three servants were [regenerate] believers. They were all servants of the Lord, and each one of them received talents from Him to do His will while He was away. No unbeliever fits into this category. Do not make the mistake of calling two servants believers and the other servant an unbeliever. All three must be the same thing. And all three are born-again believers who are servants of Jesus Christ. I beg you, do not deceive yourselves about these things. Take them to heart and consider them seriously, because through His Word God is speaking these things to us today. He that has ears to hear let him hear what the Lord is saying.
In this Kingdom parable we are informed that the unprofitable servant will be cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. We aren’t told exactly what outer darkness is, but one can imagine that it is a place which is separate from the direct presence of Jesus Christ and that it is a place of deep soul searching by the individuals who are cast there. The weeping and gnashing of teeth about which the scripture speaks is caused by the anguish of these believers who have just realized what they could have had, the joy into which they could have entered, if only they had taken a little effort to be faithful. But now they see that it is too late. They cannot at this point recover themselves to enter into the Kingdom and they are left in this state for 1,000 years until the beginning of “eternity future.” This is a serious punishment. It is something [Page 124] which I am sure you would not like to experience. Fortunately, no believer has to, since God has enabled us all to be faithful and He will empower us to be obedient.
In many people’s eyes this servant’s sin does not really seem to be too bad. He didn’t really do anything blatantly evil. He simply didn’t do anything. We have talked before about the fact that there is no neutral ground in this world. In our lives we are participating in either one kingdom or the other. Either we are living in Christ’s Kingdom and in obedience to Him, or, knowingly or unknowingly, we are serving the devil. Jesus Christ has entrusted us with a commission to go into the world, teach all nations, and make disciples of them (Mt. 28: 19). A disciple is someone who is obedient and disciplined by his Master. Believers are entrusted with this message and are given various abilities to use in carrying it out. If through fear, laziness, or simple disobedience we do not exercise our gifts and talents to fulfil what God has commanded us to do, we will answer for this at the judgment seat of Christ. At this time, some will be cast into outer darkness: There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Not only will some believers be left out of the wedding feast, but also some will be punished in this way for their lassitude and disobedience.
The scripture repeats this warning in another place where we read that “many shall come from cast and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kindom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 8: 11,12 NASB). Who are [Page 125] these sons of the Kingdom? They are those who, by virtue of being sons, who because they were born of God, had the right to inherit the Kingdom. Just as the son of an earthly man will inherit his substance when he dies, so the sons of God have the right to inherit the Kingdom which He has promised. The Williams translation makes this very clear by saying: “many will come from the east and from the west and take their seats at the feast with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be turned out into the darkness outside, where they will be weeping and grinding their teeth.” Those of God’s children who are unfaithful will be disinherited, and not only will they be disinherited, but they will also be punished.
It is important to note that outer darkness is not the lake of fire. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that it is. Human beings have often put these two things together when they should not be. Let us not take our inspiration from Dante or Milton, who portray hell as a place of various kinds of punishments and sufferings (darkness, scourgings, fire etc). No, being cast into outer darkness is a punishment for God’s children. It is temporary and it is something which happens after the judgment seat of Christ, during [before] the Millennium.
[* That is, this judgment must take place in Hades and before the time of the resurrection of the dead. Note also that this is not the false doctrine of purgatory!]
Why is God punishing and disciplining His sons in this way? He does this so that they will learn to be obedient, so that when eternity comes they will be ready. He knows what is best for them. I’m sure it grieves Him tremendously that these His children have not made themselves ready. But in His divine providence He has made a way to help them so that when eternity comes they can enjoy it freely.
[Page 126] Let us turn now to another passage in Luke chapter 12, starting with verse 35. Keep in mind that this passage is also spoken in the context of the Kingdom (see verse 3l):
“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. [This is the wedding feast.] And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. [This speaks of the ruling with Christ. in the [Millennial] Kingdom.] But and if that servant say in his heart, [Page 127] My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken, the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Lk. 12: 35-48).
Here we have elaborated for us clearly and undisputedly the fact that when Jesus Christ returns, some of His servants will be punished. The particular servant of which the scripture speaks here was beaten with many stripes. The words in the King James version, “cut him in sunder,” (vs. 46) do not mean to cut him in pieces but mean to “scourge him severely”* and are referring to how the skin on the back is cut open by repeated lashing with a whip. Will the Lord beat His children? Yes I tell you surely He will do just that if we have been unfaithful and disobedient. Here the scripture makes it plain that this is a believer. We read in verse 45, “But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his [Page 128] coming.” This is the very same servant that in the preceding verses was blessed by the Lord and made to be ruler over His household. There should be no doubt that this servant about which the scripture is speaking was a child of God, but that in the latter part of this passage he became disobedient.
* From marginal note in American Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1901).
Yes, God will surely punish His children when they deserve it. Both in this life and in [Hades, during] the Kingdom age which is to come, He will reward every man according to his works whether they be good or evil. All of God’s children should take this message seriously. Colossians 3: 23-25, which are words written to believers, reads: “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the Inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ I beg you for your own sake, pay careful attention to and believe these words. The way we live today has monumental consequences! Whatever we are sowing is exactly the reward which we will reap. No one will get special treatment or be able to escape the just reward which they have earned. If you or I are disobedient we will be punished by the Lord when He returns. Not only will we be left out of the wedding feast, but for 1,000 years we will suffer God’s righteous discipline. Please do not deceive yourselves about these things. Even if you can talk yourself out of believing this message the final outcome will be the same.
With these things in mind, let us examine our manner of living thoroughly to see if what we are doing is pleasing to God. And if we find that it is not, [Page 129] let us then repent for the sake of the Kingdom. It is very scriptural to live both soberly and circumspectly in this world so that we will be pleasing to our Lord. The things and worldly pleasures which we must deny ourselves today are not even worthy to be compared to the things which God has prepared for us. Our life here is short and fleeting. It is well worth the investment to spend our time here wisely and gain a Millennium of joy.
* * *
Salvation is by grace through faith. In these days almost all Christians who have access to a Bible realize this fact. There is nothing which we can do in and of ourselves which will please God or cause Him to save us. It is only by His great mercy and the love which He has for us that He sent His Son to die in our place. No works which we can do will bring us salvation but only our acceptance of the great sacrifice which Jesus made. When we believe into Him, then God is happy with us. He is satisfied with the perfect offering of His Son and He receives us into the Beloved. This is something which every Christian should understand.
Even though this is so, as we have been learning from the past
several chapters, a
believer’s entrance into the
Salvation - receiving eternal life - indeed is by grace
and is not of ourselves. We will spend
eternity on the new earth with Jesus because He died for us. But, our entrance
This knowledge caused Him to be obedient and to spend His time doing His Father’s will. He said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (Jn. 19: 30). In fact, many times Jesus even worked on the sabbath day. When the Pharisees questioned Him about such working He explained to them, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (Jn. 5: 17). You see Jesus was busy working and He tells us the Father was too. Even though God rested on the seventh day of creation, something happened which caused Him to begin working again. This event was the fall of Adam and Eve, His first created human beings. When they fell, God’s perfect re-creation of the earth was ruined, making it necessary for Him to begin working again to accomplish His purpose. This purpose was and is accomplished in His Son.
When Jesus died upon the cross He said, “It is finished” (Jn. 19: 30). Through His death all that the Father was working to do had been fulfilled. The defeat of God’s enemy was now complete and all that remained was the outworking of it in the lives of the believers. Yes, Jesus Christ, while He was on this earth was very busy because He knew what the Father was doing. He was labouring together with Him to accomplish these purposes.
This should provide a challenge for us as Christians today. How we too need to have an uplifted, heavenly vision of what God the Father is purposing in His heart! When our vision is limited [Page 133] this also limits and hinders us in our labouring together with Him. If all we see is a small fraction of God’s purposes, we will be greatly impeded while seeking to accomplish His work on the earth. If on the other hand we lift up our eyes to see all that God is doing and will do, we can more easily, faithfully and perfectly cooperate with Him in it. One of the things which He is doing is working to bring His heavenly Kingdom to the earth and to establish it here. This is what Jesus taught us when He prayed. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6: 10).
Just as Jesus Christ spent His time doing the will of the Father, so we too should bear fruit unto God. When a farmer plants seeds in the ground he does so with the expectation that they will grow up and produce fruit. In the same way God is expecting us to bring forth works which glorify Him. Peter writes that we should be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Him (2 Pet. 1: 8). God requires that we produce the fruit of good works while we are on this earth. Through Jesus He has given us new life and entrusted us with a great commission. His purpose for doing this is that we would use our time here to serve Him, helping Him to accomplish His will. The Lord Jesus expects us to be doing something while He is away, and it is by these works which we have done that we will be judged when He returns. May God have mercy on us that we would be found faithfully doing His will and be pleasing in His sight. Paul, the great apostle, urged Timothy to labour so that he would be a workman that “needeth not to be ashamed” (2 Tim 2: 15). We too should follow his example so that we would not be ashamed on [Page 134] that day.
When the Day of the Lord comes, all the works which we have done will be tried by fire. 1 Corinthians 3: 12-15 reads: “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall he revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” This fire which will test our works, I believe, is nothing other than the presence of the eternal God. “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12: 29). The intensity of His presence and the glory of His countenance will quickly reveal the substance of our activities.
The phrase “suffer loss” used here must mean the loss of inheriting the
We find mentioned in the foregoing passage two specific categories of works: wood, hay and stubble; gold, silver and precious stones. The valuable ones endure the test and entitle us to a reward while the combustible items are consumed and expose our disobedience, thus disqualifying us from entering into the Kingdom. Since these deeds which we do are so critical in determining whether or not we will be approved when we stand before the Lord, it is well worth taking some time to discuss at length the substance of them. Every believer should have a good understanding of which activities will please God and which will not. Many Christians being ignorant of God’s criteria could all too easily be wasting their time building something which God does not desire.
To begin, we know that these works which we are to do while Jesus is away are not works of the law for the scripture says that “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3: 20). And we should further realize that doing the right thing according to a “New Testament pattern” will not be acceptable to Him either. What then is the secret? What is it that Jesus is requiring of us if it is not to do the works which He Himself specified? How can our righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees so that we can enter into the Kingdom (Mt. 5: 20)?
The secret to this is found in the gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 10. Pay careful attention to this. Jesus said, “the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” Jesus was not doing these works Himself. He was not dreaming up ways to please God, or imagining what the Father would like Him to do and setting out to accomplish it. Neither was He studying the Bible and trying to fulfil what [Page 136] He read there. No, there is an entirely different kind of thing happening. The Father was living in Him and the living Father who dwelt in Him was actually doing the works through Him. It was not the man Jesus who was the source of these works but God the Father was accomplishing His works through Him. This is the secret of genuine New Testament Christianity!
Jesus Christ when He went away did not leave us alone but He sent us the Holy Spirit. He said that He would send the Comforter who “dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (Jn. 14: 16, 17). Today the Spirit of Jesus Christ lives in every [obedient] believer. Our responsibility is to cease from our own works and turn our lives over to Him. We must allow the Spirit of God to work the works of God through us. We should be channels, vessels if you will, to convey and express the God of the universe. It is not our calling to attempt to figure out how to serve God through intensive Bible study.* Our responsibility is to cultivate an intimate, personal relationship with the one true God and to allow Him to live His life out through us. We must permit Him to work His works in our bodies, to live His life in our hearts and minds and to express Himself to the world today. This is the real New Testament Christianity. And this will produce the kind of works which will endure the test of that [Page 137] day - gold, silver and precious stones.
* NOTE. The word “study” found in 2 Timothy 2: 15 which many people quote as an exhortation to peruse the Bible as if it were a textbook, is actually a King James English word which means “be diligent.” Although diligence would seem to require extensive reading, merely “studying” the Bible may not produce the desired result of life through an intimate relationship with God.
Unfortunately many believers have missed this secret. They have used the New Testament simply as an extension of the Old. They have studied it thoroughly, followed it diligently and become legalistic and stilted in their work for the Lord. These Christians have missed the inward secret which is manifested therein: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1: 27). The works that a believer does only by following the Old Testament or the New are “dead works” (Heb 9: 14). Paul says that God made him and his fellow-workers able ministers of the New Testament not of the letter, but of the Spirit. He explained, “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Cor 3: 6). Here he is referring to the written pages of the Bible used without the Holy Spirit. How sad it is that many ministers of the New Testament today are ministers of death, ministers of bondage, ministers of self-induced righteousness which cannot please God. By teaching only the letter they fall into the trap into which the Jews fell when in “going about to establish their own righteousness” they did not submit themselves “unto the righteousness of God” (Rm. 10: 3).
Those who are living their lives only by the outward directives found in the scriptures and not by the Spirit of God will be among the ones to whom Jesus says, “depart from me, ye that work iniquity [lawlessness, rebellion]” (Mt. 7: 23). To set out to accomplish the dictates of the Bible without first submitting ourselves to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to live and work through us is rebellion against God. It is the works of the flesh. People who live in this way can accomplish many apparently wonderful [Page 138] things for God. They can do “mighty works” in His name. They can build cathedrals, preach wonderful messages, and live (at least outwardly) very moral lives. But moral living, beautiful cathedrals and eloquent messages do not please the Father. Only His Son pleases Him. And it is only when He sees His Son being manifested in us, when the life of Jesus Christ is lived out through us, that the heavenly Father is satisfied. The works which we ourselves can do will be exposed on judgment day as being only wood, hay and stubble.
Although there are actually tremendous spiritual differences it can sometimes be very difficult to tell which works are done in the Spirit and which are done in the flesh. These two kinds of activity can appear very similar. Christians can do deeds which seem so very good but which are without the content of the living God. It is only through spiritual discernment that we can know the difference. If we do not cultivate a personal relationship with God and grow in this discernment we will be helpless to know what is merely outward and what is of the Spirit. We like Enoch must learn to “walk with God” (Gen 5: 25). It is only from such intimacy with the Most High that we are able to know what is really of Him. As our relationship with God grows we learn to embrace reality and refuse the rest.
Now we come to a very important section. Here we are going to discuss the operation of faith in the production of good works. Unless the reader grasps this all-important truth, it may be difficult for him to enter into the things about which we are speaking. Therefore, please take some time and prayerfully consider the contents of the next few pages.
[Page 139] Today we serve a God who is unseen. Although He is very real He chooses to hide Himself so that the natural man cannot apprehend Him. It is only through our faith that we are able to see Him and know Him. It is also only through our faith that we can obey Him and follow Him. Since He does not often speak to us in an audible voice or write us messages on the wall we must through faith affirm His inward leading and do what He says. When we sense in our spirit that Jesus is leading us in a certain direction to accomplish some work for Him we must then believe that it is realty His speaking and obey. By faith we can know His inward voice (Jn. 10: 4, 5) and thereby follow Him.
This is what is meant by the term “faith - works.” The acceptable works which we do today are works of faith. Just as Abraham, Isaac, Samson, Moses, David and all the men of God wrought by faith many works through the power of the Holy Spirit, so we too need to work the works of God while it is day. Our responsibility is to co-operate every minute of every day with the Spirit living in us to accomplish the purposes of God. If we do not we are in actuality rebelling against Him. And for these things we will all be brought into judgment on that day.
In the scriptures concerning the garden of Eden two specific trees are mentioned. One is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the other, the tree of life. These two trees contained important spiritual realities for the first man and they still speak to us something very essential today. Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil God said: “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2: 17). Notice please that this tree is just as much the [Page 140] tree of the knowledge of good as it is the tree of the knowledge of evil. To know good can be just as deadly as knowing evil. In their minds I’m afraid that many Christians have put the “knowledge of good” on the tree of life and have been chomping merrily away. This is a great mistake. Before his fall Adam evidently did not know the difference between good and evil. He relied upon His relationship with God to know what to do. He did not have the capability of discerning between good and evil and so he was forced to lean upon God and trust His direction. This is exactly the way believers should live today.
Unfortunately much of Christianity is practicing the opposite thing. They spend their time perched in the tree of knowledge studying the Bible trying to figure out which things are good and which are evil so they can know for themselves the difference and so they can decide what they should and shouldn’t do. But true to God’s Word, in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die. I’m sure that many of you know Christians who are very legalistic and very dead. They know in minutest detail from both Testaments, Old and New, how they should be living. Every doctrine has been studied thoroughly. Every point of conduct has been elaborated upon and death has set in full force. On the other hand there are always those believers who don’t know that much, whose knowledge of the Word might be somewhat incomplete, but who are extremely living, who love the Lord and who express the Holy Spirit.
Of course I am not advocating ignorance of the Word of God. In fact, I would exhort the opposite - that we should fill ourselves daily with the words from the Bible because they will feed us and cause us [Page 141] to live for God. However we must learn to apply them in the right way. We must eat of the tree of life. And what is this life tree? It is the Lord Jesus. He says, “he that eateth me, even he shall live by me” (Jn. 6: 57). Paul further clarifies this by saying, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2: 20). The tree of life is symbolic of the experience about which we have been talking, being full of the life of God. We should not live our lives according to an outward standard of what’s right and what’s wrong but rather learn to know Him, the One whom God sent, and to allow Him to live His life through us.
To partake of the Spirit of God is to eat of the tree of life and to fill ourselves with the living God. When we do this, what we take in will begin to produce fruit. Jesus said, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15: 5). When we abide in Christ we will produce works which God calls “good fruit.” This is the kind of works which will be pleasing to Him when He comes again. These are the works which will stand in the day of judgment and not be consumed by the fire of His presence.
This explanation should solve for all believers the dichotomy, or at least the apparent dichotomy - [ a division into two entirely different parts or kinds.’] - between faith and works. James tells us that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (Jas. 2: 17). If we have faith in God, true faith, it will produce Godly works because God Himself will be working in us. The scripture says this very thing. We read: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2: 13). Eternally we are [Page 142] justified by faith in the Son of God, but before the judgment seat of Christ we will be justified by the fruitful “faith - works” which the life of God has produced within us. If we are void of these works this will also prove that we were void of faith and very short in our relationship with Him. It will expose us as being disobedient, rebellious sons who spent their time either doing their own thing or trying to accomplish work for God without truly submitting to Him.
It is possible that some may argue against the premise that we are justified before Christ by our works by stating the “positional truth” that we are “justified by faith.” While it is true that we are “justified by faith” in God’s Son, this will do us no good if we are not experiencing it. Just as Jesus died for the sins of the whole world but only those who believe into Him are thereby justified, so it will only be those who through faith enter into God’s works who will be approved. “Positional truths” are useless to us if we do not enter into the experience of them through faith. How pathetic it is that so many of God’s children are satisfied with the continual restatement of their doctrinal “position in Christ” and do not enter into the rich, unlimited experience of all that He is. This is the kind of faith that James labels “dead.”
Let us be careful then in our walk with the Lord that what we
do for Him would be genuinely of Him and not merely outward. Let us handle knowledge, especially knowledge
of the scriptures, in the proper way. At
one point the Apostle Paul said, “if any man think that he
knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Cor. 8: 2). I
believe what [Page 143] we’ve been talking about is the very
reason He said it. Paul’s desire was
that he might know Him (Phil. 3: 10).
He realized that the knowledge of the Person was true knowledge. Knowing Jesus Christ in reality, not just in
words and letters from a book, is the real understanding that we need to
have. This kind of [mature] knowledge, the knowledge of God,
will cause us to be, neither barren nor
unfruitful. God Himself living
within us will cause us to live righteously according to His Word. In this way an entrance will be abundantly supplied to us into the
Yes, one day we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. There the fire of God will test our deeds thoroughly and expose the substance of them. Those whose works pass the test will be greatly rewarded, but those whose works are burned will be punished severely and suffer the loss of the 1,000-year Kingdom. Consequently every Christian should live with this judgment seat in view. All our words and actions should be weighed in the light of how they will appear when we stand before the Lord of the whole earth. This life into which we have been called is not a small thing. The stakes are very high. The choices which we make today concerning these things carry a Millennium of consequences.
If after reading this chapter you find that your Christian life has been only legalistic and dead, or that you have been doing nothing to bring forth fruit unto God, the answer is repentance - repentance for the sake of the Kingdom. God is calling to us today to repent of everything in which we are involved which is against His Kingdom. Jesus Christ is coming again soon to judge the earth in righteousness. Therefore “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin [Page 144] which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12: 1, 2).
* * *
Even though the door to the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ is open to all believers, not all choose to enter in. For various reasons, many of God’s children refuse His rightful Lordship over their fives and instead live largely for themselves and the pleasures of this world. Perhaps it is for this reason that in the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ issues many calls to the “overcomers.” When speaking to each church, He states their attributes and their shortcomings and then makes some very special offers to those who are willing to overcome - those who have “ears to hear” (Rev 2: 7). By the time the Book of Revelation was written, it had become apparent that not all believers were going to be obedient, as evidenced in these letters, and so again, God sends forth a call to those few who would respond to Him and promises them special rewards. (See Rev 2: 7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3: 5, 12, 21).
There should be no doubt from reading these [Page 146] verses that many of the rewards which are mentioned here apply to the coming [Millennial] Kingdom. The verses which speak of ruling the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 2: 27) and sitting with Him in His throne (Rev 3: 21) are obvious references to sharing Christ’s authority during His Millennial reign. The passages which mention having the right to eat of the tree of life (Rev. 2: 7) and eating of the hidden manna (Rev 2: 17) show the feasting aspect of the Kingdom experience. A couple of other overcomer promises which relate to the Kingdom are the one which mentions being clothed in white raiment and the one in which Jesus promises to confess the faithful believers’ names before, His Father and the angels (Rev 3: 5). You may remember that we have already discussed in chapter 9 whom the Lord will or will not confess knowing in that day.
There is an interesting portion of a Kingdom parable found in Matthew chapter 22 which addresses the subject of wedding garments. We read beginning in verse 11: “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22: 11-14). This poor man was obviously lacking some requirement for entering into the wedding feast. What was this requirement? It was to be clothed with good works. Revelation 19: 8 reads: “that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the [Page 147] righteous, acts of the saints” (ASV).
If we are to enter into all that God has prepared for us, we too must overcome. God is calling to us. His will is for us to conquer and have dominion over everything which is contrary to Him. We must overcome the devil and every aspect of his worldly kingdom. If we do, God promises to reward us greatly; but it not, we will suffer loss. Therefore we, God’s people, should cultivate an attitude of submission and obedience to the Father’s will and decide to do everything possible to remove ourselves from the devil’s kingdom.
There is a great battle in this world today. The devil, his angels and all his demons are
fighting with every ounce of strength they possess to counter what God is doing
to recover the earth for Himself and establish His
Kingdom upon it. Do not be surprised,
therefore, if escaping this world to live and work for the
In order for us to have a better comprehension of this battle
in which we are engaged, it is important to have some understanding of the
obstacles which we must overcome. For
this purpose perhaps we can divide Satan’s kingdom into four categories: number 1, the system of this world with
all its lust, opulence, greed, flash and glitter; number 2, the fallen “self” of each individual; number 3,
sin; and number 4, Satan himself and
his cohorts. These are four areas of
battle in which we are to overcome if we are to live victoriously in the
Firstly, God has called us to separate ourselves [Page 148] from the world. He says in His Word: “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6: 17). The world and all the things in it are an important ingredient of the devil’s kingdom. It is one of the most subtle snares in which he entraps the people of God. Satan offered to Jesus and he is offering to us today all the kingdoms of this world if we will submit ourselves to him. But like our Master, we must learn to flee from this at all costs because if we do not, it will cost us the [inheritance in the coming] Kingdom.* In the scriptures we read, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt. 6: 24). The mammon that the scripture is talking about here is the things of the world. It is impossible to serve God and serve the world. Unless our hearts are purified from these things and we determine to serve God alone, we will be swallowed up by the cares of this life, by the things of this world, and we will fall short of the goal to which we have been called. “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jas. 4: 4).
[* See Gal. 5: 5. cf. Col. 3: 24]
Money is the singularly most powerful thing in the physical
world today. Jesus says that it is
harder for a rich man to enter into the
If we do possess money, it is only by subjecting all that we have completely to the authority of Jesus Christ that we can overcome. And like the rich young ruler, this may require that we give much if not all of it away. Money should be used for doing God’s work and fulfilling His purposes and not for setting ourselves up in a comfortable and secure position, gaining material possessions and satisfying all our own desires. Money which is under God’s control will be used to support His servants, to give to the poor, and in every way to see that the purposes of God are furthered in this world. Money can be a very important tool for those who know how to use it for God’s Kingdom, but the scripture warns us that the power of money is extremely deceitful, so deceitful in fact that we must exercise extreme caution and care in dealing with it.
All of God’s children should make sure that their finances are completely under the authority of God, and that they are willing to obey Him whatever it may cost. Peter at one time said to Jesus, “Lo, we have left all, and followed thee” (Lk. 18: 28). And Jesus replied to him: “Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren. or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Lk. 18: 29, 30). In this “Present time,” that “more” might mean spiritual blessings. It might mean that we never possess many things for ourselves, but on the day that Jesus returns, we will be greatly rewarded. I beg you brethren and readers, do not put the world and the things in it first. Put them all aside. “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life” (2 Tim 2: 4). Let us seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and trust that He will add to us the things which are needful to continue living in this present world (Mt. 6: 33).
The second thing which hinders us from entering into
God’s heavenly [sphere of the coming] Kingdom is the “self.” The “self”
refers to the fallen soul of man. In
Adam all died, and death has passed upon all men. Although in Christ we are
made a new creation, the old creation is still with us until the day of
the redemption of our bodies.
The old nature, or the “old man” as it is sometimes called (Eph 4: 22,
The Bible teaches us that it is only through much tribulation that we enter into the Kingdom (Acts 14: 22). We also. read that, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (2 Tim 2: 12). At each moment of every day we have a choice. The self has its desires, and the Spirit of God within us has its own. We must choose every day whom we shall serve remembering always that we will be brought into judgment concerning these things. When we find ourselves wanting to do things which we know will not further God’s Kingdom, activities which spring from self-serving lusts and desires, it is then that we need to deny ourselves and take up the cross of Christ. However in order to have this experience we must be willing. Let us therefore prepare our minds and affirm that this is God’s way: that sometimes, no, even often, we must suffer because we choose not to do those things which our self desires but rather do what we know is pleasing to God.
Jesus never said that following Him would be easy, but He promised us an inward joy and strength which comes from believing obedience. It is only when we deny our “self” and lay it down at the feet of Jesus that we can enter into the eternal, spiritual joys which are available in Christ. It is only as we leave the realm of this world and our own life that we can experience His. Much of Christianity today is shallow simply because it has not passed through the [Page 152] cross. The life which we Christians live has so little of the power of Jesus’ resurrection because we have so little of the fellowship of His suffering. We do not experience His exaltation and glorification because we do not share in His cross. Let this be a challenge to all believers to deny themselves in every area of their living the things which Jesus shows them are of the self and begin living in obedience to the heavenly Kingdom. Please do not excuse yourself; the Day of the Lord is drawing nigh.
Peter, when Jesus told him that He was going to the cross, attempted to hinder Him from doing so. He said, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Mt. 16: 22). This is exactly what many of our friends, even Christian friends, will tell us today. They may say something like: “The cross is too hard. Denying yourself this or that pleasure is certainly too much. It couldn’t be real Christianity to do that! God wants you to have all good things. Those people who aren’t doing those things are just too religious or too much.” What was Jesus’ reply to this kind of talking? He said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Mt. 16: 23 NASB). If we allow ourselves to he taken in by those who would comfort us and encourage us not to experience the cross, or if we deceive our own selves in this way, then we will miss out on the heavenly Kingdom. Do not be led astray by these things, but know what the will of the Lord is, and by patient endurance, do it until He comes.
The third thing which is part of Satan’s kingdom that we need to free ourselves from is sin. On the cross Jesus conquered sin. For those who have [Page 153] received Him it is no longer necessary to live in it. Believers have within them the power to overcome sin. The Bible teaches us that we should not yield our members any longer to sin because to whom we yield our members, that’s whose servants we are. Although it may be very difficult and we may experience a tremendous battle, we can choose not to sin. That’s right. It’s really very uncomplicated. All we have to do is simply to choose not to do the things which the devil is tempting us to do. By the power of Christ within us we can turn away from the lusts which war in our members and we can live for God.
If you find that you absolutely cannot cease from a certain sin, it is very possible that there is something else in your life which needs to be dealt with. Perhaps your environment is wrong. If you are an unmarried woman and are living with your boyfriend, of course it’s going to be impossible to cease from sin. If you have a problem with drinking and still visit bars frequently, naturally you’re going to find yourself drunk. If you live with unbelievers you are going to find yourself drawn into their sins. So, if you are serious about being holy and living for God, you must depart from these things. You must remove yourself from the environments and the situations which lure you to sin and seek the Lord for what His will would be. Each of us should seek a living situation where we can have as much contact as possible with other believers who love the Lord and spend as little time as we can around those who are involved in sin, except to relay to them the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
If besetting sin continues to be a problem in our lives, another possibility is that there is a part of our [Page 154] heart that we are not yielding to the Lord. When we insist on relying on our own strength or on doing our own thing, it becomes impossible for us to apprehend God’s power in these areas of our life. The solution for this situation is consecration. We should daily give ourselves to God completely, without reserve, and tell Him that we are only His. Our attitude should be that of a slave who has been purchased by someone and has no rights of his own whatsoever. Another analogy could be that of a sacrifice which is placed on God’s altar and completely consumed. It is through this kind of “bond-slave” service to Christ that His power to overcome sin is fully available to us. If we are serious about following Jesus and being His disciples, then we must commit ourselves to Him totally and allow Him to reign in every part of our lives.
The last enemy with which we must battle and which we must overcome is Satan himself with all his evil hosts. Since [obedient] believers are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit they have the power to defeat God’s enemy. Remember that the scriptures do not tell us to rebuke the devil but rather to resist him. Paul says, that we wrestle against the principalities and powers (Eph 6: 2), thus indicating not sudden victory but a, continuing warfare. Every day we need to overcome the devil. We must resist his suggestions, his influence, his thoughts, and instead live in the truth of God.
To do this, it is necessary that Christians learn to discern between the accusations of the devil and the messages of their own consciences. While God will use our conscience to touch us when we sin or stray from His will, the devil also will accuse our [Page 155] conscience and condemn us by telling us that we have sinned in some way. We must cultivate a discernment through reading the Word of God and establishing an intimate relationship with the Father so that we can understand what is happening within our own being. When we realize that it is simply the devil condemning us, which he does constantly, we must then reject his accusations and not give them any place in our minds. Many believers live in defeat simply because they allow Satan to continually fill their thoughts with his fiery darts. These negative, accusing messages may appear to be very true but they must he resisted at all costs if we are to live in victory. When Satan reminds us of past sin, we need only point him to the precious blood of the Lamb. On the other hand, we must be careful to recognize the genuine twinges of conscience which come from God, respond to them and obey.
The book of Revelation in the letters to the seven churches has many messages from Jesus Christ to overcomers. Some of these we have already mentioned. By the time the book of Revelation was written it was evident that not everyone who had believed in the Lord was living in the victory which Christ had won for them. Even though He had conquered the devil and all of his kingdom on the cross, still some believers were not willingly entering into what Christ had provided for them. Just before He died Jesus said, “It is finished” (Jn. 19: 30). Everything has been done. All that is in Christ - His victory, His atonement, His redemption, His transformation, His glorification, His enthronement and His Kingdom reigning upon the earth - is now available to every man. But, just as we must initially enter into [Page 156] Christ through faith, so too we must by faith continue entering into all of these things that God has purchased for us if we are to experience them.
Jesus is calling to men and women today, to anyone who will listen, to overcome. He is saying: if you overcome you will feast with Me; if you overcome you will reign with Me; if you overcome I will reward you with more than you can even understand or imagine. However, these things are promised only to those who overcome, not to those who simply undergo. These same letters to the seven churches are full of rebuke and admonishment to those who were departing from His will, to those who were unfaithful in one way or another. We should give earnest heed to these things which God has spoken to us lest at any time we should let them slip. These words were not idly spoken by God. He very much means what He says. He is calling to you and me today to be those who are willing to do whatever is necessary to overcome. We must overcome the devil and everything in his kingdom.
Later in the book of Revelation we encounter an interesting scene. In chapter 11 we are shown a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She is in travail, having labour pains to bring forth a man-child who is to rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev 12: 5). This vision is mysterious, yet it is full of meaning. Let us take just a moment to investigate several aspects of it. To begin, some may ask, who is this woman? She is a composite woman of All God’s people from all of history. Since the beginning God, through His people, including the apostles, prophets and patriarchs, has been moving toward this one [Page 157] goal - to bring forth a group of men and women who are completely submitted to Him. This is the man-child who will rule and reign with His authority over the earth. Now is the time of her travail. The time of her giving birth is near.* Jesus is calling to those who are willing to overcome, willing to get out of darkness completely and enter into light. He, through His Church and with the help of all His faithful people down through history, is finally bringing forth the man-child who will rule the nations.
[* See Psa. 139: 14, 15. cf. Rev. 6: 9-11.]
This man-child is the composite group of overcomers. How do we know his identity? By placing two scriptures from Revelation side by side the whole picture becomes clear. Chapter 12 verse 5 states that this man-child will rule the nations with a rod of iron. Chapter 2 verses 26 and 27 show that this promise was given to those who overcome. (By the way, if you’ve ever heard that this woman was Mary and the man-child was Jesus, please put aside this teaching. Jesus was not caught up to the throne of God after He was delivered from His mother’s womb, nor did Mary flee into the wilderness after His resurrection as we see this woman doing. This is a spiritual vision. The woman and the man-child here are spiritual entities.)
Now when this man-child who is to exercise God’s rulership over the earth is caught up to the throne of God, an interesting thing happens. This event seems to precipitate a war in heaven (Rev 12: 7). We read that Satan and his angels fought, and Michael and his angels fought; and Michael, the angel of God, prevailed against the devil so that he and his angels were cast out of heaven (Rev 12: 7-9). The scripture [Page 158] states that there was no place found for them (Rev. 12: 8). I would like to suggest that the reason they had lost their place is that they had been replaced. The devil and his angels’ original position of exercising authority over this world had now come to an end. The man-child, that group of overcoming men and women who during their life on this earth fulfilled the will of God and lived according to His Kingdom reigning, are now elevated to the heavenly position which Satan once occupied. They have replaced him as the highest created being in the universe! The overcoming Church, the bride of Christ, will then be the one who is nearest to God for eternity.*
[* Could this be the saints who “prevail to escape” via a pre-Tribulation rapture, and who will return with Christ at the end? See Luke 21: 34-36; Rev. 3: 10; Jude 14.) Note also that the “bride” of Christ, consists of those who will be taken out from amongst the members of the “Body” of Christ – the “church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven:” (Heb. 12: 23)]
At, this point when the man-child is caught up, Satan is
totally, practically defeated. Notice
please the song which is sung after this event, starting with verse 10 of chapter 12:
“Now is come salvation, and strength, and
the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our
brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they
overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;
and they loved not their lives [Gk; soul-lives] unto the death” (Rev. 12: 10, 11). Praise God!
Now is come salvation and strength and the Kingdom! At last the [Millennial]
* NOTE. It should be mentioned that this catching up of the man-child seems to happen in the middle of the tribulation. Does this mean that there is a partial “rapture” of overcomers (both dead and living) in the middle of the tribulation? It is very possible that this could be (see Rev 3:10).
Finally, through these overcomers, God’s original commission to mankind is fulfilled. Here is a group of [Page 159] individuals made in the image and likeness of God who have had and will have dominion over the earth. They conquered the hostile forces which were upon it. They did not live according to the rulership of Satan, but according to God; and in so doing, they gave Jesus Christ the right to claim this earth as His own and set up His Millennial Kingdom upon it. These people wanted Jesus Christ more than they wanted the devil or any part of his kingdom and were willing to sacrifice even their lives to see God’s Kingdom brought to this earth. Praise God for such men and women who were willing to pay any price to see the kingdom of this world transferred to Jesus Christ, thus fulfilling His prayer to the Father, “Thy kingdom come ... in earth, as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6: 10).
Now let me ask you, will you be one of these? You have the opportunity. Jesus’ call to the overcomers has gone forth to all who have ears to hear. The door is closed to no man, but you must be willing if necessary (and it probably will be) to give all for the sake of the Kingdom. If you are ready and willing, God is ready and He will enable you to live in this way. His life, living within you, will give you the strength that you need to overcome the world, Satan, self and sin - all the things that are standing in the way. May God by His tender mercy grant you the willingness to live for Him until He comes.
* * *
A Word of Encouragement
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32). Our heavenly Father desires very much that each and every one of His children would be obedient to Him and would enter into His Kingdom. It is not His desire to turn any away. Surely in His own heart when He begot us through His Son Jesus Christ He yearned that we would be faithful and that we would inherit this great blessing. The scripture reads – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). We also read in Romans 8: 32: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
These passages demonstrate to us God’s great love toward
men. He didn’t even spare His own Son in
manifesting to the world the immeasurable, immense love which He has. Concerning salvation we [Page 161] know that it is not His will that any should perish but that all should
come to the knowledge of the truth. I am
certain that this same attitude also applies to His children entering into the
It is up to us. If we are willing and obedient, He is faithful and He will enable us to enter into these things. All the power and the authority of God are invested in Jesus Christ and they are available to us today through the Holy Spirit. We should not make excuses about being too weak or unable. On the cross, by the shedding of His blood, Jesus purchased everything that is necessary for us to be obedient and to accomplish His will. Not only this but He has poured out His Spirit upon us to strengthen us so that we may live according to God. If we are willing, He will empower us to overcome the devil’s kingdom.
There is no need for even the smallest, weakest member of the body of Christ to be defeated. God has done it all. What remains is only for us by faith and obedience to enter into it. Let us not be condemned or afraid. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom.
Now, we need to say a word to backsliders. If you are a backslider and living in a backslidden, sinful condition, it is not too late to repent. You can turn from your evil, sinful living right now. And when you do you will find that the Father will welcome you with open arms. Just as the prodigal son whom we read about in the scriptures went away from his father for awhile and squandered his substance on riotous living [Page 162] and evil companions, one day came to himself, returned to his father’s house and was there received with joy and feasting by his father; so you too can repent and turn away from the direction in which you have been going and come back to God. He will receive you, He will love you, He will again clothe you in a clean garment. And if you continue faithfully until He comes, you too can enter into the Kingdom.
It is not too late. It
will never be too late to repent and turn again to Him until the day He
comes. On that day it will be too late,
but until then there is opportunity for every child of God who
has returned to his vomit and wallowed in the mud to turn again and receive the
inheritance. In His great
love which He has for all of mankind and especially for His children, the
Father will certainly receive you back and enable you to live for Him. I must say here that those who
have backslidden probably will not receive the same degree of reward.
Nevertheless they can still enter into the
There is an interesting parable in the New Testament (Mt. 20: 1-16) about workers whom the Lord sends
out into the vineyard. The story is told
of how some workers were hired early in the morning, others later on in the
day, and some towards the end of the day.
When they came to receive their pay, each one was paid the same
thing. Some of those who had been
working hard all day long complained about this, but the Lord rebuked them and
I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will
give unto this last, even as unto thee.
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, [Page 163] because I am good? So
the last shall be first, and the first
last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Mt. 20:
13-16). This is how the
There is still time for you. If you have not received the Lord or if you have not yet begun labouring in the vineyard, Jesus Christ is calling to you. He is calling labourers to come and work to bring forth fruit unto God. If you hear this call begin today. It is not too late to begin doing the Lord’s will until He comes. Do not let the devil deceive you into thinking that you’re too old or that it would he too hard or that it’s simply too late to do anything. This is a lie. If from today onward you work faithfully, you will receive the same reward [of the inheritance (Col. 3: 24)] as those who have laboured patiently throughout their lifetime.
5: 19 there is another encouraging word.
Here we find the story of a man who disobeyed one of the Lord’s
commandments and even taught others his disobedience. The scripture says that he will be called the
least in the
Let us read together a portion of another parable about the
“Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the
[Page 165] How accurately this parable describes the workings of the Word in the hearts of men and how clearly it applies to the coming Kingdom. The Word of the Lord has gone forth and for most of you readers it probably has been sown in your hearts. It is really up to us what kind of response we are going to have to it. Since we are in control of our own heart we must decide which one of these several ways we will be going. I think it would be a good idea for all of us, to examine ourselves in the light of these words. Now I do not advocate long hours of self introspection but I do believe it is absolutely indispensable for us to have times of waiting before the Lord, allowing His Holy Spirit to search our hearts. We must be open and willing for the Spirit of God to expose us in many areas of our life, to shine into us and help us see the stones, the thorns and all the things that will choke the Word, hinder it, and make it unfruitful.
No one who is truly willing to serve the Lord will be kept out of the Kingdom by these things, for we can, when we see them in our hearts, ask the Lord to remove them. We may request that He change us into the kind of person He wants us to be. God can take away the heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh (Ezek 36: 26). We, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can break up the ground, throw out the stones, cut down the weeds, and bring forth fruit unto God. Let us therefore examine ourselves in the light of the Word and through the enlightening of the Holy Spirit and see which one of these kinds of hearts we have. If we find that our heart is evil, stony or full of the thorns and thistles of this world, then let us repent - repent for the sake of the Kingdom - and [Page 166] renew our hearts toward God. He will greatly assist us in this and help us to enter into what He has promised.
It is important that all believers know the fear of God. The scripture tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Pr. 1: 7). To have a healthy, reverent respect for the power of God and for the coming judgment day is good. However, there are some believers who labour under constant condemnation from the devil. It is to these that I would like to write this word. Even though there are many things in this book which are frightening, do not allow the devil to use them to accuse you. If you are doing your best, if you are obedient in everything that you know the Lord wants of you and are in your heart living for God, do not permit Satan to condemn you and keep you from your joy. Resist his accusations and don’t believe what he says. The devil is a liar and would love to keep you under constant condemnation so that you cannot serve the Lord or know His will.
On the other hand, there may be many Christians who have the opposite kind of problem. These are those who refuse the speaking of the Lord, whose ears are grown dull of hearing. They hear but they don’t heed. These are the ones who constantly make excuses for not doing what they know God wants them to do. Since God today is invisible and we don’t see Him with our natural faculties, it is all too easy for the children of God to ignore His speaking or to excuse themselves from doing His will.
If you are one of these, I plead with you, unstop your ears, soften your heart, make it tender towards God and allow yourself to respond to what He is [Page 167] saying. He may be asking you to do something is very difficult. Perhaps He is asking you to sell all and go to another nation to preach His Word. Perhaps He is leading you to get out of some occupation to which you look for security but which keeps you away from Him. Perhaps He is telling some of you younger people to give up that boyfriend or girlfriend who you know is not a believer, or is not living for Jesus Christ. Nothing is too much to sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom. Do not be like Esau who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, who sold his right to the inheritance simply to gratify his momentary cravings.
In God’s Kingdom today and in His Millennial Kingdom which is coming, there are great spiritual rewards. The joy is unspeakable and full of glory, but you will never know it or taste it unless you lay aside what is keeping you from entering in. The scriptures exhort us to “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk. 13: 24). This is referring to how a pack animal, in order to go through a narrow opening, first had to have all its baggage unloaded. It was only after being thus disencumbered that a beast of burden could squeeze through. The sad reason that so many of God’s precious children do not enter into the Kingdom is that they are unwilling to rid themselves of all the baggage which is keeping them from the will of God. They are hanging onto many things being afraid to let go of them and trust Jesus to be all to them. Many believers have barely gotten, the aroma of the rich enjoyment of God which is available to them today. They stand in the outer court and never enter into the holy of holies, into the very [Page 167] presence of God, to feast with Him and enjoy Him, because they are attached to outward, material, earthly things. Let us lay aside the weights and the sin which so easily beset us and run the race. If there is something which is keeping you from entering in, cast it aside. Do not be encumbered so that you cannot enter. God will keep those things which, you have entrusted to Him until the day when He comes, and then He will reward you abundantly for what you have left behind for His sake.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the
I would like to end this chapter with just a few verses which show how faithful God is if only we will be, and how much it is His will for us to enter into His heavenly Kingdom. “And I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thess 5: 23, 24). “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord [Page 169] Jesus Christ. God is faithful” (1 Cor 1: 8, 9). Paul says: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim 4: 18). “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1: 6). “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24, 25).
* * *
Of all that we have been saying the summation is this: In the beginning God Almighty created the universe, the heavens and the earth and when He created them they were perfect. Sometime after that Lucifer, the mightiest angel, rebelled against Him and in so doing his domain, the part of the universe that God had given to him before his fall, was corrupted with him. This territory included the earth. God in His greatness did not choose to simply snuff out this rebellious angel but He instead devised another way of defeating him. As part of His plan to recover the earth back to Himself and to have it again completely under His authority, He created man as His agent and placed him upon the earth. His instructions to man were that he should multiply, fill the earth and have dominion over it. His plan was that man would live in subjection to His authority and by populating the earth recover it for the rightful King, the Lord God.
[Page 171] However as we all know, man failed to fulfil this commission. First Adam, then mankind as a whole and later God’s people the Jews did not measure up to God’s intention. So God sent His Son to redeem those who would believe and to give them new life, thus enabling them to fulfil His original purpose. Even though the first man Adam failed, the last Adam, Jesus Christ, attained the victory over the devil and all of his kingdom. Today the Spirit of this same Jesus is being poured out into men and women who are also overcoming Satan. They are defying him and defeating him in all that he is and all that he has. And these same people with their gospel [of the kingdom] message are today spreading over the entire earth.
Someday soon the Son of God, the righteous King, is going to
return to claim His rightful authority.
At that time the devil will be bound in chains and thrown into the
bottomless pit for 1,000 years (Rev. 20: 1, 2).
During this time Jesus Christ and His faithful followers will set up a
After 1,000 years Satan will be loosed again for a little while and will gather all the nations together to war against the Lamb and the holy city. Here the devil and all his forces will be totally defeated. Then comes the moment when Jesus the King delivers up the Kingdom to the Father. This is the total fulfilment of God’s original plan to recover the [this] earth for Himself, all of which has been accomplished [Page 172] through His Son. After Jesus Christ subjects the whole world to Himself He will then subject Himself and His Kingdom to the Father that God might be all in all (1 Cor 15: 24-28). The victory will then be complete and God’s reigning will be fully established in the whole universe. This is what is known as the restoration of all things (Mt. 17: 11).
The defeated archangel Lucifer is then cast into the lake of
fire along with all his demons, his angels and those men and women of the world
who followed him instead of the rightful King.
The lake of fire is the garbage dump of the universe where all the
refuse will be cast to be punished and destroyed. Jesus, during His earthly ministry, often
referred to the lake of fire as “Gehenna.” Gehenna was the
garbage dump outside the city
At this time God will dissolve all of the old creation. The heavens and the earth will pass away. The Bible says of the present heavens and earth that they will wax old as a garment and as a vesture He will fold them up (Heb 1: 12). We are also told that they will burn up with fervent heat (2 Pet 3: 10). Then God in His magnificent omnipotence will create a new heavens and a new earth. The new heavens and earth will probably be quite different from what we know today. Although we will no doubt recognize them, they will be made of a whole new substance. God says, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21: 5). When the new earth is finished the holy city, the [Page 173] New Jerusalem, which God has been preparing will come down out of heaven to take its proper place upon it. This holy city is composed of God’s people. It is referred to as the “bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev 21: 9). One day all those who have been joined in Spirit to Jesus Christ, who have partaken of His life and of His nature, will join in holy union with the Son of God. Thus the eternal marriage of God’s Son to His bride will be consummated and we will be with Him as His proper partner, intimate companion and “helpmeet” forever. What a glorious, joyous day this will be when the wedding of Christ and the Church is consummated. How holy this occasion is and how much we today need to be making ourselves ready!
Many Bible expositors and others have considered that this
city is something only physical and in so doing I believe they have missed much
about what God is telling us through the Apostle John’s description of it. Some have made it a cube, the length, height
and breadth of which are equal, and through mathematics have figured out exactly
how many cubic feet of space each one of us will occupy. Surely this is rather silly. The New Jerusalem is a spiritual entity. Individuality and elbow room will not be a
consideration on that day. Actually, the holy city is a mountain. The scripture reads: “But ye are come unto
I’m sorry to disappoint you by telling you that there will be no mansions there. I’m afraid that many people have misunderstood the verse in the gospels where Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (Jn. 14: 2). The word here should be “abodes” or “dwelling places” and is referring 1 believe to the Christians, the believers. They are the many dwelling places of God. God is not primarily making many dwelling places for us. He is building us many dwelling places into one holy city where He will dwell and where we will dwell with Him for eternity. We are being “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph 2: 22).
Even though God is not making us all big mansions, I guarantee that you will be extremely happy. To be part of this holy city will be indescribable satisfaction. Please do not be disappointed and disillusioned by this but only believe that the things God is preparing are right and good and eternally satisfying beyond description. There will be no night there nor any sorrow nor crying for God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. We will dwell there in His presence for eternity. How glorious this will be!
Another fact that I would like to point out is that there is
not a network of golden streets in this city.
The scriptures tell us that there is one street. There is only one way. This golden pathway winds up the
The wall of this city is great and high and a tremendously beautiful
sight to see. It is into this wall that
we are being builded and it is here that we will probably dwell. We know this because the scriptures refer to
believers as precious stones, and the walls of this city are composed of “all manner of precious
stones” builded together
(Rev 21: 19). Please notice here that the entire city is
transparent. Even though there are
different colours represented (perhaps alluding to the believers’ different
personalities), the whole city of
This fact should speak to us in our daily lives. On earth today we are building His holy city. We are involved in constructing, the eternal habitation of the Most High God and because of this we should be very careful how we are building. In our individual Christian lives, nothing should be hidden. God’s desire is to work in us to remove all the darkness. In each one of us individually and between each one of us corporately, God wants to remove the barriers, the walls and the dark areas which hide His glory - all bitterness, jealousy, hate, strife, suspicion, fear - all these dark things need to be removed.
This working of the Holy Spirit has very much to do with how we as Christians are builded together into the habitation of God. He will inhabit a city that is crystal clear. Let us therefore in our dealings with God and with one another seek to live in all clarity and purity. Let us cooperate with Him in the work which He is doing so that there are no hidden lies, secret ambitions, covetousness, jealousy, or anything that would mar these precious gems which God is using to build His eternal dwelling place.
It is interesting that Solomon’s temple when it was built was constructed in pieces away from the building site. All the stones were first fashioned completely and then brought together and assembled. We read that when it was put together there was not heard the sound of a “hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron” (1 Kings 6: 7). This is exactly how God is building His holy temple today. He is fashioning each part here on earth and when that day comes it will all fit together perfectly. Each separate building is growing into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph 2: 21). At [Page 177] the end of the Millennium it will all be assembled and the various parts will fit together smoothly.
We should pause for a moment here to admire gates of the city. Each gate is one huge, perfect pearl. Have you entered through the gates into this city? I tell you that this pearl is Jesus Christ. He is our entrance into this eternal community. He is the pearl of great price for which the merchant when he found it went, and sold all that he had to buy it (Mt. 13: 46). Would you do the same today? A pearl is formed when a small grain of sand or other object pricks the side of an oyster. As this irritation grows the oyster begins secreting juices from its body to surround the grain of sand and reduce the irritation. So too the side of our Lord Jesus was pricked for our transgressions and out from that wound came the life-giving flow which has provided the pearl for us, our entrance into the city. “Blessed are they that wash their robes [apply the cleansing blood of the Lamb], that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city” (Rev 22: 14 ASV).
So we see God’s holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and being placed upon the new earth where it will abide eternally. Here God shall “dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. 21: 3). This is the final fulfilment of all that God has been doing since the beginning. He has been defeating His enemy, securing a bride for His Son, and calling out a people among whom He can live forever. This is the everlasting Kingdom.
When Jesus Christ came to this earth, He was the [Page 178] living manifestation of the
At this time the highest created position in the universe once entrusted to Lucifer will be filled by men and women who will never take this position lightly. They are ones who had to fight for it, who had to overcome rebellion and sin. They were not created and placed into this position perfect and beautiful as the devil was. No, because they had to attain it through patience and endurance and because they realize the great price which was paid for them by the Son of God so that they could enter in, they will never take their place for granted. They will never again rebel in any way against the Most High. In God’s wisdom He conceived this plan and through His power and majesty He is fulfilling it. Even though some of this process remains to be completed, in God’s eyes it is finished. These are the words of Jesus when He died upon the cross and there purchased for us all about which we have been speaking. In that one act of sacrifice, “It is finished” (Jn. 19: 30).
[Page 179] In view of all these things perhaps now we can understand why our Lord taught us to pray as He did: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from [the] evil [one]: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Mt. 6: 9-13).
* * *
We live today in a most crucial and difficult time. This “Church Age”
is drawing to a close and the coming of the Lord is drawing nigh. The scripture says that the city of “
I am not claiming that these Jews are today [Page 181] righteous or that God is somehow pleased with them in their present state. It is when Messiah Jesus comes again that He will “turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rm. 11: 26). The point here is that God is doing what He promised and that His second coming is imminent. The stage is being set. These things are just signs which show those who are watching and waiting the importance of the hour. No other time in history has been so pregnant with turmoil and anticipation. The Judge is at the door.
Jesus says: “Behold, I come quickly ... to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev 22: 12). The Greek word for “quickly” here does not mean fast, but rather “suddenly.” Those who are actively seeking Him and waiting eagerly for Him will not be taken by surprise when He appears. But to those whose love has grown cold and whose ears have become dull, He will come as a thief when they are least expecting Him (Lk. 12: 46). What will you he doing when Jesus comes? Will He be pleased to find you in your present state? If not, then I want to exhort you as forcefully as I can to repent. Change your way of living before it’s too late! Repent for the sake of the Kingdom!
Brethren, the time is short. We are being called upon to work the works of God while it is daylight, for night is coming when no man can work (Jn. 9: 4). The Bible tells us that shortly before the Lord comes there will be a great falling away (2 Thess 2: 3). Although this may not yet be upon us, in its place among many of God’s people there seems to be a “great falling asleep.” The message of this book is: “Awake, awake; the bridegroom cometh!” It is high time that we awake out of the sleep of serving [Page 182] ourselves and make ready for His coming. Brothers and sisters in Christ, prepare ye the way of the Lord; make His paths straight!
This message is going forth for that very purpose, to prepare God’s children for Jesus’ soon appearing. Men and women everywhere need to be getting ready so that they will be allowed to enter into the coming [Millennial] Kingdom. The “gospel of the Kingdom,” the reality of the total rulership of Jesus Christ [in His manifested glory upon this earth], must be preached to ALL nations and then the end shall come (Mt. 24: 14). Surely in these days [of apostasy], at the close of this [evil] age, this is the message – [the ‘Gospel’ (good news)] - which is on the Lord’s heart. Friend, let me ask you one all-important question. When Jesus comes [to rule and reign here in righteousness and peace], will you be waiting and ready? I pray that we all will be.
“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that, if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not:”
- (Lk. 12: 35-40).
* * *
Some people may argue against the foregoing assertion that some of God’s children are going to be punished by claiming that all our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. Their reasoning might go something like this: “Since Jesus’ blood has cleansed me, how could God see my sins and discipline me for them?” The truth is this. The blood of the Lamb in only effective for those who have genuinely repentant hearts. No insincere Christian can continually apply the blood and somehow “magically” be forgiven. Just as no one can say the “sinner prayer” without meaning it in their heart and be converted, so no [regenerate] believer will he forgiven for what he fully intends to continue doing (Heb 10: 29). While we have escaped the wrath of God and eternal punishment we have not gotten a blind fool for a [righteous and holy] Father. God will no more accept the blood of His most precious Son to relieve insincere believers of their just reward than He accepted the blood of bulls and goats in Old Testament times from the hands of the hypocrites. In short, our forgiveness from present sins (not our eternal destiny) is related to the state of our heart.
Many Christians have been taught that when they accepted Jesus as their Saviour all their sins were forgiven - past, present and future. While it is true that the death of our Lord on the cross was sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world, it does not follow that whatever we do from the new birth onward is automatically covered by His blood. No doubt we can be forgiven if we repent but Christ’s blood is not a license to sin [wilfully] without [dire] consequences. Matthew 6, verse 15 states: “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This verse and others (such as 1 Jn. 1: 9; Mr. 11: 26; Mt. 18: 35) clearly show that there are some stipulations concerning our cleansing. The power of the blood is available to us and it is able to wash away any sin, but we must come before God with a proper attitude. Hebrews 10: 22 says concerning this: “Let us draw near with a true heart (sincere hearts, WMS) in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
[Page 184] Please remember that once we have received the Lord there is no longer any question about our eternal destiny. We have escaped the wrath of God and [relative to] eternal judgement. Spiritual rebirth puts us into a whole new category concerning our relationship with God and His with us. While unbelievers are in danger of the ‘lake of fire,’ [regenerate] believers are not. We are now His sons. And as such we are now and will be in the future subject to the corrective measures which He deems necessary to bring us into conformation to His will.
Another question which may arise is one concerning God’s disciplining us for our past sins when we appear before the judgement seat. If we have repented, we are forgiven. God will in no way hold us accountable. However, what we are speaking about here is not primarily just individual sins but whole life styles. Our reward will be based upon our manner of living when He appears. If in the past our lives have been shameful but we have repented and turned again to His way, He will not hold us accountable. On the other hand, if we have lived for Him for most of our life and then fallen away our present condition will determine our reward concerning the Kingdom (Ezek. 33: 12-19). “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing” (Mt. 24: 46).
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PRACTICAL LISTING OF KINGDOM VERSES
1. Ezek 39: 25-28
2. Isa. 11: 14, 11, 12
3. Isa. 66: 14-20
4. Rev 11: 15
5. Isa. 56: 6-8
6. Lk. 22: 28-30
7. Isa. 2: 2, 3
8. Isa. 4: 3-6
9. Amos 9: 11-15
10. Ezek. 20: 33-42
11. Ezek. 36: 21-28; 37: 14
12. Jer. 33: 7, 8
13. Isa. 61: 6
14. Zech. 8: 22, 23
15. Ezek. 44: 15-24
16. Jer. 30: 3-11
17. Deut 30: 1-10
18. Dan. 7: 13, 14, 27
19. Jer. 23: 5-8
20. Lk. 1: 31-33
21. 1 Cor. 15: 20-28
22. Rev. 20: 4-6
23. Rev. 5: 9
24. Gen. 35: 10-12; 17: 8
25. Zech. 10: 10
26. Zech. 12: 2-10
27. Isa. 9: 6, 7
28. Zech. 6: 12, 13
29. Zech. 14: 1-9
30. Ezek. 37: 21-28
31. 2 Sam 7: 12-16
32. Lk. 13: 24-29
33. Mt. 19: 27-29
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