"ARISE" is a journal to be published on a quarterly basis. It's aim is to serve as a vehicle for the expression of the Body Of Christ as it relates to present truth. The articles provided are mostly from brethren fellowshipping in the Tampa and Orlando, FL area. "ARISE" also publishes pertinent articles of similar concern from those abroad consistent with our general purpose and calling. So now receive the word with all readiness of mind and examine the scriptures every day to see if it is really as we say.
This issue of "ARISE" features articles such as:
I. "Salvation - An Ark Or A Whale?" continues with how God provides his methods of deliverance for us. My friend Romeo Corsini presents the refreshing idea that "your whales should not be interpreted as evil things in life". Romeo, his wife Christine and three beautiful little daughters, live in the Tampa, FL area.
II. "The Riches Of His Grace" is from a wonderful brother and well-respected teacher of present truth for today, J. Preston Eby. Preston and his wife Lorain publish Kingdom Bible Studies on a monthly basis. They live in El Paso, Texas.
III. "When God Reaps What He Sows" comes from the pen of a well known teacher of our time, Ray Prinzing. Brother Ray and his wife Doris have made Letters of Truth, books and tapes available to many over the years. They currently reside in Boise, Idaho.
IV. "The True Church Of Christ" continues to look further into the progression of the invisible church and examines how it continues to act and function separate from popular churches of today.
V. "Christianity 101 - God's Love Towards All" provides an introduction
to a basic principle
which we are commanded to teach all men. Contrary to most doctrine taught across our land,
we find that God's love is greater than man's tradition.
There have been many favorable comments and kind letters regarding "ARISE" and I thank those having done so. It is with the utmost thankfulness to the Lord that this journal can be used to touch people and to provide them a better insight as to their journey in this land of the living. We do not seek a reputation nor do we preach ourselves. Our desire is to be a blessing to you.
In His Service,
Timothy David Carroll
"ARISE" is free to all as God's way is "Freely you have received, freely give". The mailing address is listed on both the front and back pages for those interested in sending in questions or in receiving this journal on a regular basis. Additional copies are available upon request.
Salvation - An Ark or A Whale? - con't
There is an irony in the fact that God required Noah to build the instrument of his own salvation...the ark; very much like the believers building up the body of Christ. Another irony is that, while the water of the flood was to the many destruction, it was simply an intermedium that would carry the one who had found grace in the eyes of God to his deliverance, accompanied by those who belonged to him. The Body of Christ is being built up to carry the obedient during a time when the earth will be filled with the Spirit of the Lord that to many will be a fire that will try every man's work. If Noah had known about the impending flood and reasonably had decided to build the ark on his own, it would not have withstood the onslaught...We are told that the Lord shut him in. Noah followed the instructions of the Lord to the letter and then boarded the ark to be sealed in by the Lord. Those that belong to Him enter the body of Christ and are sealed in by the righteousness of Jesus and the Holy Spirit rises and lifts the body above the earth as it tries by fire all the works of the flesh. Noah's own hand could not shut and seal the ark's entrance and it is not any of the righteousness of man that seals him into the body of Christ; but it is the righteousness of the Son of God.
Could Noah have built the ark if he had not listened to the voice of God? Can the believer build the body of Christ without listening to the voice of the Spirit of God? Can you develop in the image of the son of God if you can't recognize his voice? How do you know what He looks like? Until you learn through obedience to enter into Him and allow Him to shut the door between you and the rest of the earth, your ark was built in vain and you too will drown in the cleansing. You may say, "At least I'll end up clean;" but I'd rather ride it out on the cushion of the water and in the safety of the ark. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Again, let "the earth" in this instance refer to your self, the better to demonstrate what it is really that we ought to be steadily leaving behind as the Holy Spirit continues to pour out to reach the level where it will lift up the ark I am in and bring me into union with the promise of God...His glory!
The difference between Noah and the rest of all flesh is the difference between faith and religion where faith is exercised through obedience and religion is exercised through opinion. Who is there among any who can tell another what the voice of the Lord is saying to that individual? There is no one. Imagine Noah listening to any one of the rest of all flesh regarding what he was doing. He would surely have drowned, himself. If any person is not leading another to learn to hear the voice of God for himself but rather erroneously proceeds to tell him what God is saying to him, that includes "leaders" of any groups, he or she is not worthy of the calling, if a calling it be and not a profession.
In the case of Noah's situation, it repented the Lord that He had created the flesh in man. "And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth". This was the great and glorious plan: to abolish the enmity between the flesh and God, by destroying the flesh of His own creation, Jesus Christ, His Son. The Lord's repenting here is the Lord's grieving over the destruction He would inflict in order to secure the salvation of His creation. How marvellous is His wisdom!
Jonah, on the other hand, was not required to build anything. In fact, it seems he had no intention of being involved; therefore, the Lord sent the whale, not as a punishment, but as an instrument to encourage Jonah to obey Him. How merciful He truly is! And once again there is an impending destruction and again a repenting from the Lord; but now it is a repenting to spare Nineveh from the destruction that Jonah was sure would occur in forty days. Matthew 10:15 tells us that it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for the city that rejects the message and the messenger, which Nineveh did not. So, rather than destruction they receive forgiveness for their repentance. Many leaders still preach fire and brimstone and doom and do very much discredit the perfect victory of Jesus over the enmity of God, the flesh. There is much too much talk about what ought not to be done and less about all that ought to be done. Are you yourself preaching, "This is wrong to do and that is wrong to do," and not, "Let us do this and let us do that unto the Lord"? While there is a place to discourage misbehavior, there is no substitute for praise and rejoicing about the victory won by Jesus. The truth is that God inhabits the praises of His people. Where there is God, there is power; power to overcome, power to forgive and be forgiven, power to love. Perhaps what Jonah lacked was the vision that God loved the Ninevites. If he had allowed it, he might have realized that God's interest for His creation is to see it to it's good end. After all, had not God called it good when He made it? If anything, now, with the enmity between God and man reconciled through Jesus Christ, it's even better. But one will never truly be a right instrument of the Lord if he cannot, see, first, the love God has for all creation, and secondly, that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was made on behalf of that same "all creation". Every one. Without preference or prejudice. Jonah may have been a man of religion, one who behaved by opinion. He should have taken lessons from Noah, who obeyed God, seeing the need for salvation.
If your heart has grown callous unawares as it regards the place the rest of mankind holds in the kingdom of God, the message is to you, not to the Ninevites, that the whole purpose to having destroyed the flesh of the earth was to spring it back to a newness of life, this time covered by the insurance of God's own covenant by His own mouth...no deductible!
How else can one understand grace from God? What else can unmerited favor mean but that the one giving it loves you? And if you, why not your neighbor? Those who ignored the wounded man in the parable of the good Samaritan were a priest and a Levite, a learned man and a man with a "calling". Yet it was the one with whom the Jews were not to mingle who reached across the great divide of prejudice, arrogance and haughtiness because he recognized that the issue was not whether the wounded deserved to be saved but that the wounded needed saving. God will not only use those that mouth His name, He will use any creature that He, the potter, created, and no one will tell Him different!
"This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord. For He hath looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death; to declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem; when the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord." (Ps. 102:18-22).
How hateful it must truly seem in the Spirit when ignorance instead of compassion is permitted to determine whether one will ever see the glorious eternity that God has prepared for His creation. If the horizon of your vision in the Lord does not change, you have not grown toward perfection; you have been growing blind by a hardened heart. The Spirit of God, the love of God, must be permitted to increase continually in our lives, else it isn't love. If love isn't growing, it isn't loving. Love never fails; it never fails to lift its heart and eyes toward God in any given situation, very much like a flower that will rise and face the sun to receive the sun's reflection. All things must point to the will of God if they are to have any purpose to their existence. It grieved God's heart to bring about the end of all flesh because of the price he had to exact from it. Yet the flesh served its purpose in the will of God, which was to give way to the promise from God's own word of eternal life. After all, "...the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Rom. 8:20-21)
The questions that the Spirit of God puts forth most prominently deserving of a "yea" or "nay" answer are these:
"Did Jesus come to save the world?" Answer: "Yea." "Did He accomplish His mission?" Answer: "Yea." Is there any doubt? If so, what is the disagreement based on? On the doctrines and precepts of men?
"...because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." (I Tim 4:10).
"...Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Rom. 5:18).
Who will dare to say that he is more worthy to receive this free gift of grace and faith from God than any one else? There is no one. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9).
Religion will teach that one is greater than another. (Witness the varietal religions and factions.) Faith will simply rejoice in the free gift of glory and want it for the fellow man.
In a world filled with the force of human dramas, the agonies, the anguish, the futilities, the vanities, even in this world where God in so many places barely is acknowledged, where is there room in God's plan to be selective except as the selection reflects the will of God to direct all creation back to Himself? There can be no other purpose for God to have selected to reveal Himself unto you except to use you as an instrument of His will in His plan for all mankind.
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." (Rom 12:3).
The believer has been given the ministry of reconciliation; "to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." (2 Cor 5:19). Because of this, Paul urgently encourages us to be reconciled to God ourselves. (2 Cor 5:20). (If we are not convinced that God has sealed us into His salvation by His own hand, so that we would not have any way out of it except through the Spirit of God, how could we possibly be impressive to anyone else?) The dove that Noah would release at intervals is significant in that it represents the Holy Spirit who always goes before us and prepares our way, guiding us and leading us into all truth, letting us know whether to or whether not to. (Jhn 16:13).
The revelation of the Lord is at hand: He is gloriously abiding in us and in due time He reveals Himself unto all. Such is the power of His grace. It is simply important that those who know Him demonstrate Him so that all those others will know to witness Him within themselves. He will not be rejected for He is more able to convince and convict the heart of man which wants only to be one with its creator. (Rom 8:19-23).
While on the one hand we deserve, as sinners, nothing of the mercies He has bestowed on us, we do experience the inheritance as sons of the Most High, which is the demonstration of the righteousness of Jesus Christ through us as changed creatures, to honor the power of His grace. Amen!
In brotherly love..............Romeo Corsini
The Riches Of His Grace
"In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE; wherein He hath abounded toward us..." (Eph. 1:7-8).
The Father's act of choosing His elect, predestinating them unto the adoption of sons, placing them in the Beloved, redeeming them by the blood of Christ, and forgiving all their sins, is declared to be "according to the riches of His grace." The words "according to" translate a single Greek word, kata, a preposition which, in its local meaning, conveys the idea of "down." This may imply a sovereign act whereby the counsel of a monarch may be "handed down," or his enemies "cast down," etc. Therefore the term speaks of domination or control. The perfection of all that is bestowed upon us and wrought out within us is CONTROLLED or DOMINATED by the plenitude, the inexhaustible RICHES of the Father's matchless grace! The word "riches" translates a Greek word, ploutos, a term from which we derive our English word plutocrat, one who rules or controls by the means of his wealth. Here it is the mighty measure of the endowment, the grace in its quality of RICHES, the magnificent WEALTH that is bestowed upon us by God, that is introduced. "Ye know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was RICH, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be MADE RICH" (II Cor. 8:9).
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:1-3). There are those earthly minded folk who persuade the saints that they should have the finest and best of all the good things this world has to offer - the best jobs, the highest salaries, the finest homes, the choicest automobiles, beautiful clothes, good and luxurious furniture and an abundance of the amenities of life. Ah, dear ones, THIS IS NOT the abundant life of which Jesus spoke when He said, "I am come that ye might have life, and have it more abundantly." The abundant life is experienced in CHRIST OUR LIFE, not in the corruptible physical things He blesses us with along the way. The abundant life with its vast storehouse of RICHES AND WEALTH consists not of temporal things. If God has favored you with them, then you may accept them, but do not deceive yourself by thinking these earthly things are a sign of God's favor or the substance of the abundant life. The sad fact is that the blessings most often sought after by Christians are not the true riches of which Paul here speaks, but mere blessings of the corruptible realm such as healing for the body, financial prosperity, houses, lands, automobiles, jobs, solution to problems, multiplied daily necessities, etc. Remove these things from the average believer's prayers and you would reduce his prayer life by 95%! The riches of the Kingdom of God are not the riches of this world, but the RICHES OF HIS GRACE! The fleshly Israel of old enjoyed all these earthly things for which men seek, but they did not partake of the RICHES OF HIS GRACE.
Hear now the exhortation of the Lord: "Take heed, and beware of covetousness:
for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
The life is more than meat, and the body more than raiment. But rather SEEK
YE THE KINGDOM OF GOD; fear not, little flock; for it is the Father's good pleasure
to give you the Kingdom...provide yourselves with bags which wax not old, a
treasure IN THE HEAVENS (realm of the Spirit) that faileth not...for where your
treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Lk. 12:15,23,31-34). Old testament
Israel with its promises of PHYSICAL BLESSINGS is but the shadow - Christ is
the substance, the reality - and yet many Christians choose to live in the shadow
instead of the substance, in the earthlies instead of the heavenlies, in the
flesh instead of the spirit, seeking after and receiving temporal things rather
than eternal things! Ah, the TRUE RICHES are the RICHES OF HIS GRACE, riches
of wisdom and knowledge, of joy and peace, of love and faith, of grace and glory,
of righteousness and power, of the mind of Christ and the image of God. Praise
God, saints, WE'RE RICH!
It is remarkable that during the three and a half years of Jesus' earthly ministry, being found in fashion as a man, limited by the realm of the physical and mortal to which He subjected Himself on our behalf, He never performed one act, not even one miracle, sign, or wonder on the spiritual plane of incorruption. Every miracle performed by our Lord was for the earth-man as He raised dead bodies, cleansed lepers, made the lame to walk, blind to see, deaf to hear, healing every manner of sickness and disease among the people - yet they all got sick again and died! He even turned water into wine and fed 5,000 people from five small loaves and two fishes. It was good wine, and delicious bread and fish, but, nevertheless, just physical and earthly, supplying strength for a few fleeting hours to the outer, mortal man and then cast into the draught. Nothing incorruptible or heavenly there! And nothing for the INNER MAN.
But once Christ ascended on high He ministers from a higher realm, and now, as on the day of Pentecost, there COMES FROM HEAVEN something greater far than that which blesses the outer man, the Spirit has been poured out that we might be BORN FROM ABOVE, our spirit quickened by His Spirit, imparting the divine nature. Truly He has "raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places." And it is here.... in the heavenly places....in celestial spheres....that He blesses us with ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS in Christ. The earthly blessings are first experienced when we are babes, minding earthly things, but the spiritual blessings are reserved for SONS (Eph. 1:3-6). One can know he is moving into sonship when, in all his asking, he asks most often for SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS instead of TEMPORAL BLESSINGS! One will know that he has discovered the storehouse where are hid all the RICHES OF HIS GRACE when, in all his seeking, he seeks only and always those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. One of the most significant utterances ever made by the apostle Paul is contained in these words: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST." "Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).
The source of all blessing is God who is Spirit. This includes temporal as well as spiritual blessings. However, in the apostle's words above, the blessings which he describes as "good" and "perfect" are not temporal, physical, natural blessings for the outer-earth-man, but SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS for the inner-new-creation-man! These spiritual blessings are received and experienced only "in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," thus these are eternal realities communicated from the realm in which He dwells. In the phrase, "heavenly places" the word "places" is supplied by the translators, the Greek indicating IN THE HEAVENLIES or HIGHEST HEAVEN. The thought is that the spiritual blessings of God have their source and substance in the highest spiritual dimension and are ministered to our spirits from thence. This glorious realm is the realm of INCORRUPTION which lies beyond the power of temptation, sin, limitation, sickness, sorrow and death.
May the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God help all who read these lines to clearly see just what is meant by the RICHES OF G-R-A-C-E. Of the many truths God has made known to the saints of the Most High none shine more brightly or more frequently from the sacred pages of God's Word than the truth that our sonship, from start to finish, is totally and fully a product of the GRACE OF GOD. This word "grace" is translated from the Greek word charis which does not mean merely "unmerited favor," as the preachers are wont to say, but carries the deeper meaning of "influence that produces a result". Thus, grace is not merely the kindness of God in doing something for us which we have not deserved, but it is the essence, the energy, the power and working wrought within as HE DOES for us, to us, in us, and through us! God's grace, divine grace, then, is DIVINE ENABLEMENT. In grace God does something more for us than just showing mercy to an undeserving one - He works by His mighty power to do in and through us WHAT WE OURSELVES CAN NOT DO. What a blessed truth this is and how wonderfully it reveals the graciousness of God! Ah, yes, weak, carnal men need mercy - but do you not see, my beloved friend, that men need more than mercy? They need help! They don't need a handout, they need a thorough change! Mercy covers my weakness - but DIVINE ENABLEMENT OVERCOMES IT. Mercy forgives my sin - divine enablement conquers it and supercedes it with righteousness. Mercy overlooks my faults - divine enablement causes me to rise above them. Mercy means that God will do for me in spite of myself - divine enablement means that what He does changes me and makes me something more than I was!
Little wonder, then, that Paul, when writing to saints who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world - chosen to be holy, predestinated to be sons, appointed unto full redemption, spirit, soul, and body - should first say to them: "GRACE be to you...from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." The entire work of sanctification and transformation into the image and glory of God is being continually wrought in us by the energizing power of the Holy Spirit, which is the grace, the DIVINE ENABLEMENT, of God! Can we not see that when Paul said, "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But BY THE GRACE OF GOD I AM WHAT I AM; and His GRACE which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but THE GRACE OF GOD which was with me" (I Cor. 15:9-10), he pointed us to the fact that his apostolic ministry was entirely the result of DIVINE ENABLEMENT. I pray that the truth and force of these things may grip your heart! It was not "unmerited favor" that made Paul an apostle - it was divine enablement, the mighty working of God's power within him. While I would not for one moment confess any inherent "worthiness" before God, yet God must have deemed man worthy of His purposes, else He would not have gone to such lengths and paid such a high price to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Oh, child of God, if ever you are to stand transfigured in the image of Christ in the presence of the Father you must rest in this faith: "Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant GRACE might...redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. But the God of ALL GRACE, who hath called us unto His eternal glory...make you perfect, stablish, strengthen you" (II Cor. 4:14-16; I Pet. 5:10). Have you wondered, questioned, whether you could ever attain unto the high and holy calling of sonship? Not only has the Father called you - He giveth MORE GRACE, more and more and more of His DIVINE ENABLEMENT to bring you unto His purpose! Glory!
The abundant provision of this grace is made clear and certain in our text. "...according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath ABOUNDED toward us..." The Greek word for "abounded" is perisseuo meaning "to overflow, to exceed a certain number, measure, or quantity, to exist in super-abundance, superfluity." The grace of God is not miserly! His goodness and power toward His sons are of such magnitude that they exceed measure! Not only are they limitless in their immensity, but, also, in their eternity and infinity! It is beyond the comprehension of finite minds. The same verb appears in Rom. 5:20 where it is prefixed by a Greek preposition meaning "above" (huper), indicating superabundance and more superabundance over all the superabundance below! It is as though the plenitude of the grace of the Father, which we can see, is only the tip of a mountain of grace submerged out of sight in the boundless sea of His infinite love and purpose toward us! Thus Paul says, "Where sin abounded, GRACE DID MUCH MORE ABOUND" (Rom. 5:20). We must never underestimate the heinousness of sin, or its almost unbearable magnitude and measure. The woes and pain and disease and wretchedness and savagery of man throughout the past six milleniums bears eloquent testimony to the power of sin and death. Still, the superabundant grace of God is of such infinitely greater magnitude and power that even our sins must dispel before such an overflowing of the quickening of the Father. The Amplified Bible renders this passage: "But where sin increased and abounded, GRACE HAS SURPASSED IT AND INCREASED THE MORE AND SUPERABOUNDED."
Grace did "much more" abound. More. MUCH MORE! My deepest prayer is that God may grant understanding to all who read these lines that you may see the wonderful significance of the word "more". You can never comprehend the greatness of God's love, the majesty of His purpose, nor the glories of His kingdom in the bright ages yet to come unless your spirit can grasp this word "more". "More" is that which goes beyond the limits. A cord of wood is a set limit. If I pay $100.00 for a cord of wood, and find on my woodpile a cord and a half or two cords, that is "more". It surpasses the limits of the $100.00. I am amazed, delighted, happy, ecstatic - a warm feeling of gratitude and satisfaction pervades me, someone has done MORE than required or paid for. What I can do with what I have received is far more than the present need. "More" has a language all its own. That language of MORE THAN is the essence of creation and redemption as sketched from the opening chapters of Genesis to the closing chapters of Revelation. That is what GOD IS AND DOES. That is what SONSHIP IS AND DOES!
No one will dispute that sin abounded, or that it overflowed, spilling out of Eden's fair garden and saturating the whole earth and all men. Abound means overflow - constantly issuing, running over and filling like a river running into a lake. Ah, yes, sin overflowed, flowed all over, flooded the world, permeated the minds and temperaments and nature of all men everywhere, until the seed of Adam's disobedience has grown and increased throughout six long milleniums in the field of the world and has now come to horrible fullness. Who has not been distressed by the overflowing of evil and sorrow and death? But - where sin increased and abounded, grace has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded. Where sin overflowed, grace did EXCEEDINGLY-MORE-THAN-OVERFLOW! Grace equaled the overflow of sin, and THEN MORE! This is seen first in the firstfruit company, the sons of God. Grace is doing its mighty work in us, cleansing, purifying, quickening and transforming into the image of God. What a privilege to walk with God, how we rejoice in this hour, the change is on and we are being changed - by His grace! This is the overflow of grace into us, and from us it must overflow creation till ALL THINGS ARE MADE NEW. If the Word of God does not teach this, then I know nothing of the Word. How meaningful the words of the little chorus:
"His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundaries known unto man;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!"
..............J. Preston Eby
When God Reaps What He Sows
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Gal. 6:7-9).
We hold to the vision that God purposes to bring forth a new creation fully conformed to His image, partakers of His divine nature, with whom He can share intimate communion. And while right now He is drawing a firstfruits unto Himself, yet ultimately He has the whole world in view, for "in Christ shall all be made alive," though it be "every man in his own order." (I Cor. 15:22-23). We cannot force another into our calling and time, since "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." (John 6:44) Yet we do rejoice that "God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan, and it is this: He purposes in His sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in Him." (Eph 1:9-10, Phillips).
While our "text scripture" is dealing with man, it presents another of God's marvellous principles, set forth and applied as the Spirit gives us understanding. Though the principles abide and are applicable to all His creation, yet God uses situations and circumstances that are fitted for our personal processing. In this particular principle we find application for both the realms of evil and good, negative and positive. There are certain facts which need to be understood relative to our subject, so let us note:
1). Seedtime and harvest, the one follows the other. Apart from some divine intervention, drought, flood, freezing, etc. "while the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest.... shall not cease." (Gen. 6:22). Whatever the seed sown, regardless of the waiting time involved, eventually it will come to maturity and be reaped, be it of a negative or a positive nature. This can become both challenging and an encouragement -- especially when God directs us to pass along a "word", to be sown as seed into some heart, for "one soweth, another watereth, and God giveth the increase." The life is in the seed, and when it is the incorruptible seed of the Word of God that is sown, the ultimate harvest will come.
2). We reap according to the kind of seed sown. This is an unchanging law of God. "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matt 7:16). "Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same." (Job 4:8). If you sow to the flesh, you reap out of the flesh that which is corruption. If you sow into the Spirit, you reap out of the Spirit that which is life age-abiding. You do not sow into the flesh and reap out of the Spirit, nor do you sow into the Spirit and then reap fleshly corruption, but everything bears after its own kind.
Christendom has greatly muddied up the waters of truth, and confused the principles, teaching that if you worship God in Spirit, He will give you a harvest of fleshly blessing. There is a divine principle for natural prosperity, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over." (Luke 6:38). But there are other realms as well, sow a seed of bitterness, and reap a full harvest of the same. Envy sown, envy reaped. Jealousy sown, jealously reaped. To be sure, the consequences of our reaping can be extensive, because we are a tri-part being, spirit, soul, and body, and these vitally joined into one. So while one might sow to the flesh, yet the soul and the human spirit are involved. Thus, any sowing in the flesh realm means that consequences will not only be felt in the body, but also in the soul realm-- emotionally, in feelings, in agitation of mind, etc.; as well as in spirit-- with an internal bleakness, emptiness, dissatisfaction. But the point remains, the flesh reaps from the flesh, spirit reaps from the Spirit, and these harvests are not interchangeable; each is after its own kind.
3). According to measure. Here is another fact in God's working in man, and illustrated through natural things. "He which soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. - So let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:6-7). This is also confirmed in Prov. 11:24, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is met, but it tendeth to poverty." Sow plenty of seed, and then trust the Father to cause it to multiply, to His glory and praise.
4). One cannot regard the circumstances, and allow them to hinder the sowing. "He that regardeth the wind shall not sow." (Eccl. 11:4). But, "blessed are ye that sow beside all waters," (Isa. 32:20). Waters are often used as being symbolic of people. There is no "racism" in the true move of God, for we joyfully sow beside all waters, trusting Him to bring forth that harvest which He hath purposed in due season. He will have a firstfruits from every race, kindred, tribe, and tongue-- and the position which each one will fill will be in accordance with His purpose. But there is a firstfruit for each race, that betokens the harvest of that whole race in due time.
5). Travail and tears precede joy and victory. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." (Ps. 126:5-6).
With these five facts concerning seedtime and harvest in the background, now let us proceed to consider, WHAT DID GOD SOW? For surely that which is portrayed in our little world, can also be applied in a greater way to that which is wrought out in the universe. The principle of seedtime and harvest has vast outreaches into the ages, redounding to His glory and praise. Since nothing happens "outside of God," it is being wrought "inside" of Him, within the sphere of His control, purpose, and working.
What did God sow? We shall but touch on three points. He sowed all creation, He sowed a nation, He sowed His Son.
1). All creation. "For the creation was subjected to frailty - to futility, condemned to frustration - not because of some intentional fault on its part, but by the will of Him Who so subjected it." (Rom. 8:20, Amplified). This was not a voluntary act on the part of creation, but a sovereign act of God, working all things after the counsel of His own will. He purposed this sowing of His creation into the bondage of vanity, being turned to destruction, but with the inherent command to ultimately return into glorious liberty that rightfully belongs to the children of God.
2). The nation of Israel. "And I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember Me in far countries." (Zech. 10:9). "The twelve tribes which are scattered abroad." (James 1:1). "The strangers scattered..." (I Pet. 1:1). The word "stranger" used here is the greek word "paraepideomos." Para/ alongside, epi/ upon, demos/ a pagan, combined we have the correct sentence, as translated by Wuest, "those who have settled down alongside of a pagan population." Israel was sifted among all nations, so when Peter wrote a letter to them, he addressed it to all those scattered ones who were now settled down alongside of the pagans, becoming nationalized and identified according to whatever country wherein they were dwelling.
Peter also used the word "scattered" coming from a Greek word meaning: to sow seed, and having a prefixed preposition meaning: throughout. Thus we have a picture of those who are sown as seed, providentially placed by God. Sowing speaks of design, purpose, planning. And all that has happened to Israel through the centuries has been according to the purpose of God.
3). His Son. "When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son..." (Gal. 4:4). Sowed Him into this whole present cosmos. But with every sowing there comes a time of reaping, and now we begin to see how God also had to reap what He had sown, both negatively and positively. He sowed creation into this bondage of vanity, frailty, and where did Christ have to descend, to redeem us? Right down into the frailty and humiliation of this flesh. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same." (Heb. 2:14). "Took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." (Phil. 2:7).
All the weariness, the emptiness of this realm, the humiliation of a flesh body, down into the nothingness which creation has been subjected to, into this DEATH-REALM He must needs come to be our Saviour. When God sowed creation into this realm, He knew He would have to reap the same kind of experience. "Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." (Heb. 2:17-18).
So much was the Son of God sown into our "nothingness," that He declared, "I can of mine own self do nothing." (John 5:30). In this man-part of His being He knew the nothingness of the flesh. It was in His Spirit that He was linked to all resources of the Father. And it is BY THE SPIRIT dwelling in us, through union with Him, that we also have access to this bountiful supply. Whatever it was that God sowed creation into, in its poverty, He reaped of the same in His Son. "He was crucified through weakness..." (2 Cor. 13:4). "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." (2 Cor. 8:9).
When Israel was scattered, God suffered all the shame and reproach of birthing a nation, and then losing them. "O Lord, give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God." (Joel 2:17). During the time when Israel was journeying from Egypt to Canaan, and were so rebellious, stiff-necked, murmuring and complaining, the Lord spake with Moses of smiting that whole nation, to disinherit them, and then He would make Moses a greater nation. But Moses interceded for the people, and included the argument, "Now, if Thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of Thee will speak, saying, Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which He sware unto them, therefore He hath slain them in the wilderness... pardon, I beseech Thee..." (Num. 14:15-16, 19). God did bring Israel into their promised land, but because their rebellious nature had not been changed, in order to discipline them, in time He would scatter them among the nations whose gods they wanted to serve. But it was a SCATTERING BY DESIGN as He sowed them among the nations. However, He also had to reap of this sowing in Himself.
When Jesus came to His own, being born of the seed of Abraham, He found that Caesar was ruling over them, and He had to pay taxes to this ruler. He who was the Lord of glory, was subservient to the laws of those who bear rule over His people Israel. When God sowed Israel under the rulership of the heathen, He put His own Son under that rule as well. Jesus flatly stated, "render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's..." and thus He paid the taxes required of Him. Ultimately the climax was reached with the curse of the cross. "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." (Gal. 3:13). Here He reaped in full all of the shame and reproach. We marvel at the workings of God.
Even now, though we are born from above, and "our citizenship is in heaven," (Phil. 3:20), nevertheless our physical, flesh body is of this earth realm, and subject to the things that God sowed creation into, until He brings us into the fulness of our redemption. But now we come to the positive side of this working, and another part of the harvest that is to be reaped, as God works all things together into good. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24).
The Seed, Jesus Christ, was sown, and a whole new creation shall arise and be harvested. He who sowed His Son, shall reap MANY SONS. "For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom, are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." (Heb 2:10). Out from the midst of the old ariseth the NEW, and it is an act that is worthy of God to execute such a glorious purpose in His interplay of good and evil. When a seed is sown, it is not the body that shall be, but God giveth it a body. Who today can comprehend that many-membered-body of Christ, of which He is the Head?
He has long waited for this harvest, "Behold, the Husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until He receive the early and latter rain." (James 5:7). Now we see the time of harvest drawing near, for everywhere the "tares" are coming to maturity, as sin abounds and runs over the cup. Soon He will send His reapers to "gather first the tares," and bind them into bundles to be burned, dealt with, purged with the correctional judgments of God; while He also gathers His wheat into His garner. Like as there is a glorious harvest from the sowing of His SON, so also will He reap a positive result from the sowing of a nation. "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" (Rom. 11:15). "And I will sow her unto Me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not My people, Thou art My people; and they shall say, Thou art my God." (Hosea 2:23).
When God regathers unto Himself that whole nation which He has sown among the nations, then shall He also bring to Himself ALL THE NATIONS wherein they were sown. "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." (Rom. 11:32). As a little leaven leaveneth a whole lump, so also was Israel sown among the nations, that all nations might then be drawn unto the Lord, that the scripture might be fulfilled, "In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Gal. 3:8).
And then also, the creature was sown into the bondage of vanity, but there is appointed a day when all creation "shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Rom 8:21). The curse will be lifted, the futility and frustration will end, and then, as goes the hymn: "Then the universe shall be made anew, greater far than before the fall, When the Son puts all in the Father's hand, and our God shall be all in all." Yes, there is a positive reaping, when God shall reap what He has sown, and the ultimate harvest shall redound to His praise. We worship Him for all His ways. amen!
The True Church Of Christ - con't
Every man can only walk in that portion of light given from on high, yet when the Spirit of Truth brings understanding to a particular area and it's time to share it, we do so knowing that he who has an ear to hear will hear, while others may be yet quickened "down the road" by the seeds of thought we have planted in them. And so we are apt to teach the things of the Lord while remembering to be gentle, patient and meek, instructing those whom God may give a change of mind in order to acknowledge the truth. We are to be kind and tenderhearted, remembering that God is working at all levels throughout Christendom, dealing with each individual on their own plane of maturity, never expecting too much or too little. We are to plant or water, yet it is only God who gives the increase.
I am sure that we have all sunk into the quicksand of religion in one form or another and at one time or another. We have all tried to build our towers of babel in an attempt to reach the heavens of God, working our own thoughts and counsel as to what God would have us do rather than having responded to His very own spoken word to our hearts. Yet as the path of the just shines more and more unto a perfect day, we begin to see more clearly what is inspiration and what are doctrines and commandments of men, what is the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. We learn to understand the difference between God's true invisible church from the visible.
While the visible organizations continue to hold out their cups as a blind man begging for money, God continues to work in the hearts of others, separating them from the influence and practices of the "so-called" churches of today. Many money seeking prophets are gone out into the world, making merchandise of God's people, yet the Lord will scourge these moneychangers with a cord and drive them out from among His flock. Just flip on the television dial and see the non-righteous beg for bread.
You ask what do I mean by the "invisible church?". I think the easiest way to answer is to use several examples in scripture. Let's first look into Luke, chapter 2:1-20. Here we see God sovereignly setting the scene as Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a tax should come upon all the world, bringing Joseph and Mary to their own city to pay their share. This also fulfilled scripture that the birth would come out of Bethlehem of Judea. It was here that Mary brought forth the baby boy, her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. The story goes on to tell us that country shepherds, upon instruction of the angel, found the babe in the manger. We can learn from this account of the invisible and visible. We find no grand proclamations nor trumpets heralding the birth of the saviour of the world. Simply done in secret, the birth was invisible to the world yet visible to those whom God selected. There were no sensational and spectacular signs and wonders announcing his birth. The event was very quiet, insignificant and unnoticeable among most men. Often God works quietly and in secret, concealed to the world and religion.
Luke tells us of a man named Simeon, whose name means to hear or listen. We are told that Mary observed the required forty days of purification, according to the law of Moses (Lev. 12:2-4). Then she took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice. Again, we see God sovereignly in control of the events as the keeping of the law takes the baby to the place where the Lord's servant is waiting for the consolation of Israel. This just and devout man had the Holy Spirit reveal to him that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Simeon heard the prompting of the Spirit to go to the temple. This is where Mary and Joseph were to bring the child. We read that this "man took the child up in his arms, blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all thy people." (see Lk. 2:22-32). Once again, an example of the invisible versus visible. Simeon did not have any outward indication that this poor couple with a child was the answer to his long awaited promise. There was no visible crown on this King of the Jews, no bumper sticker on their camel saying "The Kings kids (or parents)", nor did his parents wear "Jesus pins" identifying them from others in the temple. This baby looked no different than any other baby brought to the temple on other days. Today's christianity would require the visible, the obvious, but Simeon saw something more than a baby having cute little eyes, tiny fingers and such, as they do. He saw much more! By the Spirit, he saw Emmanuel, God with us!
The years of Jesus, from a small boy all the way up through his early years of manhood, serve as yet another lesson on the invisible. The boy grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom as God's influence was upon him. Very little is known of these years of his life, although we are told that at the young age of twelve, he was not found among his parent's caravan after attending the feast of passover according to custom. Instead, he was among teachers of the law, both listening and asking questions, astonishing them with his understanding and answers. Scripture tells us that upon being found after a three day search, he said to his parents "....know ye not that I must be about my Father's business?". After this incident, he was subject to his parents. (Subjection to his parents would of course contradict the idea that he, as a young man went to the Far East to perform "minor miracles" and learn from mystical monks, as some would imagine). Although Jesus was not put on display through all those years, invisible to both the world and religion as far as his identity was concerned, the Father clearly shows us exactly what he thought of Jesus upon John's baptizing him in the Jordan, stating "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mk. 1:11). To most, he was just the carpenter's son, yet to those given the ability to hear and see, he was Jesus Christ, the Lord!
Even the beloved physician Luke tells us that when John the Baptist was in his mother's womb, he leaped for joy as soon as the voice of the salutation of Mary, the mother of John's Lord was heard in Elizabeth's ears. Is not this yet another sign of the invisible leading our way? It is often a joy beyond explanation when meeting one who is born from above, one who has had God reach down and quicken, breathing a new life into him/her. "This is the Lord's doing: it is marvellous in our eyes" (Ps 118:23).
Another example is of that Pharisee who helped take the body of Jesus after his crucifixion, wrapped it in linen clothes with spices, and laid it in the new sepulcher. This very man once came to Jesus in secret; his name was Nicodemus. John gives us the account in chapter 3 that this man "came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven".
We just read of a devout man, a ruler of the Jews, who came to Jesus in secret. Nicodemus knew Jesus was from God and was able to see Jesus had authority from God. Jesus picked up on his observation and told him that the only way a man could see this is if he were born from above or, if I may suggest, have a higher life reach down to a lower to quicken and bring it out of a death realm into a life realm.
Now I am acutely aware that there are two very good teachings, one which says that we are not born again but are be-ing born again for "whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin" (I Jhn 3:9) and another that we are now already born again for "as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (I Pet. 2:2). Although I favor the latter, I see a wonderful truth in both sides and would say that it all depends on the allegory used to bring across the issue, the illustration chosen to point to what is real. Yes, it is true that the church is in travail and is in the process of giving birth to a full corporate son, a man-child as scripture denotes. And yes, it is also true that there have been many over church history who have gone before us as the first part of this birth - Our Head Jesus, then the neck, shoulders, chest, waist, legs, ankles, etc. And now we, as the True Church Of Christ wait to experience the end of the travail, to experience the fullness of that life which has been deposited in seed form in us and is being formed in us, through our trials, our tests, our very own personal walk with God. However, it is equally true that we have desired the sincere milk of the word. Peter chose the allegory or symbol of an already born baby to bring out his point. And what was his point? To describe something having much greater meaning or depth than the allegory. The real significance behind the example of a new born baby was that of a NEW LIFE!!!
So, Jesus spoke of a whole new way for Nicodemus to understand. No longer can we rely on our natural senses to be always true to us. As wind, those born of the Spirit can not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth! Ever try figuring out wind? Where did it start, where is it going? Can I detect some sort of pattern so next time I know exactly how it'll blow? You know, many try this, watching patterns, hearing testimonies of others and then thinking that that is exactly how God will move in their similar circumstance. Some have imagined God to be a genie in a bottle, making their command, rubbing and uncorking the bottle and waiting for their request to come to pass. No, there are no long term project plans with those who are born of the Spirit. These "wind-people", the True Church of Christ, are not building many programs or mapping out business plans which yield a healthy dividend from the tithes of the poor. Yes, it is true that without a vision a people perish. Yet I can confidently say that more often than not, such visions originate out of man and come not from God.
You see, there are many various organizations, highly visible to the world, viewed by many as the true church of God. From the church of Rome to the vast denominations and non-denominations alike, they all claim loudly to be God's true church in the earth. Boast they may, but I assure you, let the money stop and the ministry would halt as well. They minister condemnation upon the people, having them believe that if they were to leave their sect, they have left God. People spend their entire life around the building of it's programs and wealth, never realizing that they likely fulfill the scripture "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17).
On the other hand, the "invisible" church remains pure as a chaste virgin, forsaking the ways and traditions of men. They will follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth (Rev. 14:4), not marching to the drum beat of carnal minded professors of theology and misguided zealous preachers of religion. The True Church Of Christ's only desire is to walk according to the will of God. This invisible church has the distinct characteristic of operating and judging by the Spirit, not having to resort to a long list of do's and don'ts imposed by old testament extensions. The prophet Isaiah tells us of this company of sons, this BRANCH growing forth from the vine, (remember the words of Jesus - I am the vine, ye are the branches - John 15:5), that they will not judge after the sight of their eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of their ears (Isa. 11:3).
These continue to learn moderation or temperance towards both fellow christians and unbelievers. Consideration is that attitude of heart which helps us understand the place others are in and to see how we would act if we were under the same circumstances or as scripture says "having considered thyself lest thou be tempted". The only reason you may not be subject to a particular sin of your adamic flesh is not of any own personal merit or ability but of God's grace or influence upon your heart "For it is God which worketh in you both to will (desire) and to do (perform) of His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). This is not to suggest that we sin or condone evil, it is simply to say that we appreciate and realize God's influence upon us meanwhile extending this same mercy and grace to others. Our act may very well be God's grace and mercy in its infant stage to change such a person! Think on that!!!
This church will not throw the sharp, rigid stones of condemnation at a person caught in the act of adultery with their adamic flesh, but rather will have the power to turn such a one from that particular sin, never having them return again. Their ability to influence and change such will not be in word, but in actual demonstration for "the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (I Cor. 4:20). As Moses's spiritual eye was not dim, so will the eye of the invisible church not be obscure. I cannot speak to the natural eyesight of Moses whether it was 20/20 perfect vision . Yet, I can say for sure that Deut 34:7 does not speak of natural eyes as in plural, but rather a spiritual eye, as in singular. Praise the Lord! Moses's focus at 120 years young (a number which represents the end of all flesh) was not dim, but rather focused, in tune to the things of the Spirit. Our last study showed that the word "church" comes from the greek word ekklesia, meaning "out-called" or CALLED OUT. In the Bible, it means called out for a particular purpose. And so it is, The True Church Of Christ stands uniquely different from the false church. The invisible church is entirely different in motive and practice or deed! And this is a key difference between the two.
The True Church Of Christ is learning that they don't have to go around and around on the merry-go-round of this busy life observing all its circumstances, believing God is not near, not close, not very active and not in control of their journey. On the natural plane, many find a time of relaxation to vacate from the busy activities of city life to a rural area, a country land where the grass is green, rolling hills, cool spring water, singing birds, etc. And it is true that there is an element of relaxation in such settings. Yet, the writer of Hebrews tells us of a city where there is relaxation and rest. I speak not of that city which the false church has spoken of over the centuries. They try to sell us a piece of real estate in the sky, a city somewhere, anywhere but here! Yet, many are coming "unto Mt. Zion and unto the city of the living God" here and now even as Jesus walked while on earth (ref. Jhn 3:13).
So, I'll close with an interesting testimony as it relates to our time and the word which is heralded across the four corners of this earth. May I say that this experience which I am about to share does not automatically qualify me in any way, shape or form for the High Calling of God. Yet, because of my experience and encounters with a particular topic, it has made me very aware of its significance in God.
We are told that we are a "chosen generation,..... a people for a purpose". It is this special generation of which I speak. Matthew in chapter one, verses 1 through 17 shows us of this special generation. If you read carefully, you will find that Jesus is shown here as the 41st generation from Abraham and the Christ as the one after, or the 42nd generation. This is not to suggest that Jesus was not the Christ, for He most certainly IS!!! Yet, Matthew shows us here of an en-Christed body, (ref. I Cor. 12:12).
When I was about 10 years of age, my parents found me sleep-walking a few times and out of that occurred one thing I find most interesting. During the sleep-walk, as my parents tried to wake me, I looked directly at my father and told him he was to die at 42!! Well, I am happy to say that he is now 50 years of age and didn't die. Yet what I told him was very true. I'll explain soon. Since that time, I've found this number often in my life. First, I was born 4 pounds, 2 ounces. Then, I discovered I was put in an incubator for 42 days for growth and development. My parents were also both born in the year 1942. I also think it most interesting that the current president of the United States is now the 42nd president. Coincident? Hardly.
And so you see, all men, including my father, will come to the death of all self and into the Christ, the 42nd generation!!! Praise the Lord.
To be continued.......T.D.C
These lessons, entitled Christianity 101 are intended to be basic, entry level teachings which can be used to understand the instruction of our Lord. It is with patience and comfort of the scriptures that we rightly discern between our soulish thoughts and our spiritual, confirming by holy script what the Lord has spoken into our very own hearts. So now meditate on these things, watching the seed of Christ spring up to produce His very image and reality.
To get the most out of Christianity 101, actively participate by reviewing chapter and verse, always asking the Spirit of Truth to open your mind. I am sure you'll be able to see much more than I am capable of sharing here. And now the lesson......
GOD'S LOVE TOWARDS ALL
This subject has received much ridicule and mockery over the ages, yet it is also a subject which must be understood and embraced if you are to truly see the nature of our Heavenly Father. There have been many good books written on this topic, and upon request, I would be more than happy to list for you those in which I am familiar. Through this series of lessons, verse upon verse will be rightly aligned to better see God's Love Towards All.
We not only believe that God's love is towards all and will be ultimately proven
and demonstrated, but
we are believing to now practice and exhibit this very same love in our hearts and minds towards those in our lives today. I trust that these lessons will relieve some of certain doctrines and traditions taught by religion and will help see that God's love is far greater than we have ever imagined.
These truths are of vast importance and are foundational to every professing Christian. I do not apologize for rubbing against the main theme of traditional teachings for we are not called to be men pleasers, but are called to command and teach all the principles of Christ. ( ref. I Tim 4:10-11).
So lets first look at life as having some eternal purpose, with a well thought out plan, and an ultimate goal in mind. Strange thought to some perhaps. How is it that God's thoughts and ways are much higher than ours, yet even we as men take on most projects of significant importance with a plan of some sort. I hold a computer science degree and have worked in building telephony-related software products for nearly a decade. Projects which were successful have always had a well-thought out plan, having specific tasks, deliverables and milestones throughout the duration of the project. Each project had participants assigned to their various tasks, all working together towards the same goal, a successful completed product as specified in the plan.
It may come as a surprise to some, but God also has a plan. His plan is right on course, meeting every objective and delivering the exact quality components of an expected-end product all along the way, all on schedule down throughout the ages of time. And you my friend, believe it or not, are part of that plan! God is very active in your life, working towards His expected-end product.
Religion would have us believe that God's original plan was foiled by the devil, and with some stroke of luck, at best, one percent of all creation will be saved and spend eternity with God while the remaining ninety-nine percent will spend it in endless torment. But does the Bible really teach such a thing? Does such a hideous thought lend itself to the very nature of God? Let's reason together.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let him have dominion...." (Gen 1:26). God said from the beginning that man would be in the image of God and that man would have dominion over the entire universe. If God decreed such a thing, then His word will not return void or empty. It will accomplish the very thing it was sent to do. In the wonderful words of George Hawtin - "The answer to the eternal question, "What is man that Thou art mindful of him," is twofold, because the question is two-fold. What is man? The answer by example is JESUS CHRIST highly exalted. His name being above every name. He is the first man and the last man. He is the beginning of the creation of God and He is the end of the creation of God. We are His younger brothers, all members of the same family, first being sons of men and secondly sons of God. What He is we are becoming, to which the scripture clearly attests, saying "As He is, so are we in this world." (I Jhn 4:17). Every creature, whether of beasts or birds or fish or any plant or insect, brings forth seed after his kind, and shall it be different with God? Shall He not bring forth after His kind? Shall not he who is begotten of God be a son of God and a member of His family? Did not Jesus settle the contention forever when He said, "If He called them gods unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God?" (Jhn 10:35-36). Jesus Christ was the son of God, and we too, are sons of God because we are members of the family of God.
The first part of the question is, "What is man?" The second part of the question is, "That Thou art mindful of him?" Or, "What hast thou in mind for man?" The answer is that man will be given dominion, when his perfection comes and his Christ-likeness is complete, over fish, over birds, and over the beasts and creeping things of the earth. (Gen 1:26). The fish represent the things beneath. The birds represent the things in the heavens above. The beasts and creeping things represent things on the earth. That is what God decreed in the beginning, and that is His immutable intention now and in the ages to come - man in God's image, ruler and lord of the universe." - endquote.
I know that ruling the universe is a mind-boggling thought, even though it shall be true. However, before you or I can ever attain to such great feats in God, we must first rule over our own little universe. This brings things a little closer to home, somewhat more attainable and meaningful for our very NOW, to rule over our own thoughts, words and acts or deeds. "...and he that ruleth his spirit (is better) than he that taketh a city" (Pro. 6:32).
I cannot explain why God didn't just create man from the very start in His image, although I think something would have been lost if He did it that way. There is an element of appreciation and understanding that comes with experiences, hard as some may be a times. Certainly, our night experiences are essential to reveal His brightness and shining, for without the dark background the light cannot be discerned as light. Yet, God chose to lower man to be ineffective, useless or futile. You or I did not have a say in the matter. The apostle Paul has made it very clear to us - "For creation was not rendered futile by its own choice, but by the will of Him who thus made it subject, the hope being that creation as well as man would one day be freed from its thraldom to decay and gain the glorious freedom of God's children" (Rom. 8:20-21 Moffatt). And again, "for to vanity was the creation made subject - not of its will, but because of Him who did subject it in hope, that also the creation itself shall be set free from the servitude of the corruption to the liberty of the glory of the children of God" (Young's Literal). And another, "For to vanity was the creation subjected, not voluntarily, but because of Him Who subjects it, in expectation that the creation itself, also, shall be freed from the slavery of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Concordant Literal). And last, "For the creation was made subject to frailty, not voluntarily, but by Him who placed it under; in hope that even the creation itself will be emancipated from the slavery of corruption...." (Diaglott).
"Rendered futile, made subject to vanity or frailty! Not by its own choice, not of its own will, not voluntarily, but rather placed under it, under the slavery of corruption, a realm of death and decay". Such phrases clearly indicate that Adam was not deceived, he did not make the wrong decision, the wrong choice. Adam was lowered into the realm of death, not willingly!
In a way, Adam's fall was a result of being PUSHED! It reminds me of when one night after wrestling practice in junior high school, someone snuck up behind me as I was sitting on the staircase rail and shoved me from behind. I fell over head first into a large garbage barrel with my feet sticking out. I had to be helped out, while my chin bled as it hit the metal sides as I went down. To this day I have a scar on my chin (due to the several stitches) to remind me that I was pushed! I was plunged into the garbage can, not willingly!!
Likewise, man was lowered into the realm of death and carnality, not by his own choosing, but rather by DIVINE CHOICE. And all of creation, including you and I were lowered with him. Yet, it was not without specific purpose and plan. "Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men" (Ps. 90:3 KJV). And again, "Thou turnest man unto a bruised thing, And sayest, Turn back, ye sons of men" (Young's Literal). Also, "Thou crumblest man away, summoning men back ...." (Moffatt).
God knew what He was doing as He lowered His creation to a realm lower than Himself. Yet, He also decreed TURN BACK, RETURN. God has set in motion that return, that return to love, that return to the One who lowered us having a specific purpose in mind. Men and women have taken heed to that inner call, to journey back to the Father. Each are coming in their own rank and order, not breaking rank. We cannot condemn those who are not now returning for we know that God must bid the call, God must initiate the draw, for it is not man's decision but rather Our Heavenly Father's selection.
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jhn 1:12-13). Job even testified when "Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee" (Job 14:15). "You see, it is not a question of human will or effort but of the divine mercy" (Rom. 9:16 Moffatt). And again, "Hath not the potter power over the clay" (Rom. 9:21), "Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy" (Rom. 9:18).
It is difficult to see God's love toward all without first understanding God's love toward you. In fact, His love is so great for you, He controls your very own life, He controls what can and what cannot happen to you, all working together for your good, according to His divine purpose and will. All of our ups and downs, our successes and failures, have been in the hands of God, working and molding us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. Now, I am not suggesting that He causes us in each facet of our life to succeed and fail as if we were robots without any ability whatsoever to make decisions. After all, we are being made into the image of Him and He "chose us", therefore He has instilled within us the ability to "CHOOSE HIM BACK". Yet it is a divine choosing back, initiated and guided by the One who created us.
I have personally given a great deal of time and energy considering the sovereignty of God, especially these past few years. It is indeed a subject most difficult, yes even impossible, for the natural mind to grasp. However, the spiritual mind understands all things, and with this same mind I will now share some of the truths discovered during my search regarding God's sovereignty.
The word "sovereignty", although not found in holy script, is revealed time and time again. It carries the meaning of having absolute, unrestricted, self-governed power and authority, not limited by any other. It would be stated of a person who has supreme power or rank, the greatest in degree. Another closely related word, omnipotent, has similar meaning of being unrestricted, unlimited in power and authority. It is found ten times in the new testament, nine translated as "Almighty" and once as omnipotent - "For the Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth" (Rev. 19:6). By the definition above, it should become apparent that God has total authority over all His creation. Scripture also bears witness that God is in control of His creation as Paul writes to the saints at Ephesus "Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will". And without any doubt, you beloved, are part of His creation. And may I add, it is good to know that He loves us enough to curb, direct and control our lives. "I will bless the Lord who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons" (Ps. 16:17). And, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in Himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jer 10:23). Again, "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee" (Ps. 65:4). And, "Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way" (Pro 20:24).
Even Daniel knew of God's rule over the affairs of men as found in such statements as "....He removeth kings and setteth up kings: He giveth wisdom unto the wise and knowledge to them that know understanding"; and, "the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men and giveth it to whomsoever He will". Proverbs also bears the same idea that "The kings heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water, He turneth it whithersoever He will". (Pro 21:1).
Please give ample thought to some of the statements our friend Job made and how it relates to the Lord ruling over his life. This perfect and upright man, who feared God and stayed away from every evil, was delivered into the hand of the adversary to experience the night time of death with its fire of purification to come forth as shining gold. His experience was a divine appointment, all purposed by our Divine Creator and God. His outcome was a blessing and a lesson for all to learn from. Yet it was his seeing God in control of the events in his life that I am most impressed. I'll quote a few verses, leaving it to your own study and seeking of the Lord to reveal His control of the events in your life. (If you are not familiar with the story, please take time to read the first nine chapters to find most of these quotes). "The Lord gave and the Lord taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord"; " What, shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil"; "For He maketh sore and bindeth up, He woundeth and His hands make whole"; "For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terror of God do set themselves in array against me"; "....that He would loose His hand"; "For He breaketh me with a tempest and multiplieth my wounds without cause" and, "...over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon Him". (ref. Book of Job).
To grasp that there is purpose, divine purpose in everything that touches your life is a thought to cherish. As Job stated, God hast appointest our bounds that we cannot pass. God has placed our bounds in order that we be exercised therein. He has placed His sovereign will over our own will for us to become willing and aligned to His will. It is as a "will within a Will". Even Joseph saw purpose in his terrible misfortune, tossed into a pit by his own brothers, left to die. He saw God in control of the events, saying to his brothers "So it was not you that sent me hither, but God".
Once again, this is not to suggest that we have excuse to sin, God forbid. His sovereign way has given us principles, which if disobeyed, will reap to that which it was sown, namely flesh. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap". (Gal 6:7-9). Yet, He will also use your own wickedness to correct you and your backslidings to reprove you" (Jer 2:19). So the Lord wins out in the end, for "The Lord is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His doings" (Ps. 145:17) and "Faithful is He that calleth you who also will do it" (I Thes 5:24).
To conclude, we must first believe that God loves us and is working at a very close and personal level to burn all our impurities in order for the Christ to shine forth as pure gold. Once we see purpose in what God is doing in us, we can proceed to see His plan and great love for all, as the next lesson will continue to explore.
To be continued.......T.D.C.