BEAUTY FOR ASHES PART IV
CHAIN REACTION IN REALMS OF THE SPIRIT
George H. Warnock
First Printing: April, 1989
Second Printing: March, 1994 (Printed in the U.S.A.)
Printed by Pinecrest Publications -- Salisbury Center, NY 13454
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2
"That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:21
C O N T E N T SIntroduction
Chapter 1: This Gospel Of The Kingdom
Chapter 2: A Chain Reaction Of Death
Chapter 3: Chain Reaction Of The Law Of Life
Chapter 4: Two Men-Two Kingdoms
Chapter 5: Discovering Our Cross
Chapter 6: Led By The Spirit Of God
Chapter 7: The Law Of Life In Our Lord Jesus
Chapter 8: The Law Of Life In The Early Church
Chapter 9: Gods Desire For The Latter Day Church
Chapter 10: Chain Reaction In Jezreel
Chapter 11: The Light Of Seven Days In One
Chapter 12: Rend The Heavens, O Lord, And Come Down!
The Kingdom of Saul was not Gods way...
Nevertheless God ordained it...
Because the people wanted it...
They learned through bitter experience that God was right...
And God brought it all to nought...
In the meantime God was diligently preparing David and his company to be the true shepherds of Israel in the day of sudden calamity, which was sure to come. But let us learn from David what our attitude should be toward the kingdom of Saul:
Respect the anointing that God has put there.
Love Gods precious anointed ones who are doing what they can in the best way they know, and seeking to serve God in a tottering kingdom.
And do nothing to harass or hinder what they are doing.
But we know it is to be a short-lived regime, and we want to encourage those who are beginning to recognize that God must surely have a better way.
David never at any time sought to bring the faltering kingdom of Saul down. He had ample opportunity to do so. He knew God had a better plan, and he knew he was to be a part of Gods new order, even though in times of great stress and trial he often felt he was going to be wiped off the face of the earth. And when the old kingdom came falling down, and Saul and Jonathan were killed, it was a cause of great lamentation for David. He sincerely loved these two anointed ones in Israel, and it was not a case of mock humility as he sat down and composed "The Song of the Bow" in memory of Saul and Jonathan. He meant it. He loved the people of God... even the rebellious people of God. It was totally devastating for him to see how Gods anointed ones were slain in battle, and their kingdom shattered:
"The beauty of Israel
Is slain upon thy high places:
How are the mighty fallen! "I am distressed for thee, My brother Jonathan:
Very pleasant hast thou been unto me..." (2 Sam. 1:19, 26).
The inevitable had happened. And distressing though it was, it was the beginning of a new day for Israel. They were not to be scattered like Saul and his army upon the mountains of Gilboa, as sheep not having a shepherd. God had already been preparing a new kind of leadership, rejected and despised until that hour, but groomed of the Lord for a place of loving rulership in the kingdom of David. It was not a case of one self-willed regime giving way to another. It was a case of a rebellious leadership giving way to the leadership of the Holy One of Israel. For it is evident throughout all the prophetic psalms of David that his role as "shepherd of Israel" was to turn the hearts of the people unto the LORD, and not merely to regiment them for His own purposes.
Herein is revealed the fundamental weakness of the present Church system. It operates much the same way as in the world. The leaders are dependent upon the people for their support, voted in and out by the people, and answerable to the people for whatever they want to do. And because they are subject to the pressure of the people in so many cases it seems they must compromise if they are to keep the people contented. To maintain a semblance of unity in his kingdom, Saul had to yield to the pressure of the people. He was suited for the task, and I believe that is why God set him up as king. The people were minded that way, and God simply gave them a king who would be compatible with the erring reins of their own hearts.
Nevertheless there were many God-fearing men in Israel who longed for something better. All the true ones did not forsake Saul for David. Many of them remained with Saul to the bitter end. But as the old kingdom came crashing down they recognized what God was doing and they began to gravitate in large numbers to the kingdom of David. The same thing is evident throughout the land today. There are many out there who truly love God, but they cannot find true rest in that old regime. Many are growing weary of it all but they seem to know of no other way but the one they were born into. If their hearts are open they will find their true placement in the Body of Christ, in the Kingdom of God, where they too will be able to come into His sanctuary, and sit before the Lord, and say--
"One thing have I desired of the LORD,
That will I seek after..." (Ps. 27:4).
Please understand then, in all that we are saying in this writing, that it is not by way of criticizing any of Gods servants who are faithfully doing what they feel God has told them to do. But God wants us to know that the present system in the Church is not His way, and He is going to bring it to nought. Gods heart is grieved with the way man has usurped the authority of the Holy Spirit, and robbed Christ of His Lordship in the midst of His people. He wants us to know He is arising out of His holy habitation to deal with the self-will and the rebellion of His people. He comes in great power and anointing--"to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down." But that is not the end of it. Gods purpose is very positive: "TO BUILD, AND TO PLANT" (Jer. 1:10).
To build a temple for His glory, and--To plant a garden that will flourish with the fruit of His Spirit.
This writing actually grew out of the previous one called The Journey of the Bride. Before I had finished that writing I found myself getting involved with this matter of interaction in the Body of Christ, and the chain reaction of Gods movements that come out of that. I was going to leave it as a chapter at the end of the book, until it was confirmed to me that there was to be another writing, covering the matter more fully.
I know there is repetition in this writing, but I do not feel I can avoid it. It is the way of truth to repeat over and over, but each time the Word comes forth it ought to be fresh and new. It is like the rain from heaven-it comes again and again, but it is always new and fresh and life-giving IF IT COMES IN THE RIGHT SEASON! And so in the pattern of Truth it is Gods way to repeat it again and again, not because Gods people do not know it, but because they know it. This is what John said as he wrote words of love and truth to the people of God:
"I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it..." (1 Jn. 2:21).
For truth imparts life every time it goes forth; and knowledge must give way to the truth before it can be meaningful and liberating. If it is a mere repetition of knowledge, it will slay more and more; but if, like the rain and the sunshine, it comes to your heart in the seasons of growth, it will nurture and bless and unfold in your life with the beauty of the living Christ.
FOR THIS IS GODS TOTAL PURPOSE IN SENDING FORTH THE WORD OF TRUTH.
--George H. Warnock
THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
In this writing we want to talk about the spiritual dynamics of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The gospel of the Kingdom is much more than a "message." Our Lord Jesus promised His disciples that there would be a powerful demonstration of the gospel of the Kingdom before the end would come. THIS MUST YET HAPPEN:
"And THIS gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN shall the end come" (Matt. 24:14).
Notice He said, "THIS gospel of the Kingdom." I think one would have to be extremely blind to think that our Lord was talking about this kind of gospel preaching that is generally pouring forth from the Church in this hour. Certainly He is talking about the kind of gospel that shone forth from His ministry, and that of His apostles, and not the sterile kind that is going forth today from our many pulpits, and through the mass media of radio and television. "THIS" gospel of the Kingdom is much, much more than a message. It is a dynamic Word that works mightily in the hearts of those who hear it:
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the POWER [dunamis] of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..." (Rom. 1:16).
Bible colleges and seminaries can give one a lot of instruction in the scriptures--and God certainly wants us to know the scriptures. But going forth to the nations with this knowledge and understanding, and preaching it to men and women, IS NOT THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM. Pauls gospel was much more than that:
"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance... (1 Thess. 1:5).
Mans thirst for knowledge and understanding has been insatiable ever since our foreparents partook of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." And somehow, even in the Church, if we know what God has said we get the feeling that we know the truth. But truth is a dynamic working of God in the hearts of men and women. The letter of it is in the Bible, that is true-and we love the written Word. But it must be deeply imbedded within us, and spring forth from our hearts in a mighty working of His Spirit before we really know God, and before we can truly declare Him, and make Him known to others.
Sent By God--Or Sent By Man
The great commission, as it is called, ("Go ye into all the world...") was never given to the Church as a mandate to organize missionary programs. It was given to a handful of His disciples who had walked with Him and learned His ways. But even then they were not equipped. They must first tarry at Jerusalem, at home base, until they were "endued with power from on high" (Lk. 24:49). Even then, having received this mighty baptism of fire they continued to linger in Jerusalem-for how many years we do not know exactly--awaiting Gods time. Let us not accuse them of lethargy, negligence, or cowardice. They braved the storms of persecution and stayed in Jerusalem even when the Church was scattered far and wide. (See Acts 8:1.) Why did they not obey the Lord and "go into all the world and preach the gospel"? They did, but they walked with God, and knew God, and they knew that He had a time for everything, and a way, and that they must walk in His way. They had learned much of Gods way as they walked with their Lord. They knew they must wait for Gods TIME.
GOD NEVER SENT HIS PEOPLE FORTH IN MISSIONARY ACTIVITY EXCEPT AS THEY OPERATED IN THE REALM OF KINGDOM-OF-GOD DYNAMICS. AND WHEN HIS PEOPLE WERE READY GOD DID THE SENDING.
Whenever I get one of these little slips that comes in the mail, I quickly throw it in the waste basket: "I cant go to the mission field, but here is my donation of $___ to help support someone that can."
I CAN GO, if God sends me. So can you. God has made no provision for substitutionary service in the Kingdom of God. If God tells you to go and you reply, "I cant Lord, but here is my $100 for someone that can," YOU ARE TOTALLY DISOBEDIENT TO THE WILL OF GOD.
May God quickly bring His people to the realization that He is still Lord of the Church, and that He knows how to prepare vessels for ministry, and when to send them forth. The presence and the Lordship of the Holy Spirit has been completely ignored in most of our programs and endeavors to reach the nations of the world. Our Lord is still capable of saying to a handful of believers who are walking with Him, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:2). Even then they did not get up and run. They waited on God in fasting and prayer, and for the blessing of the Church. And when they went forth they were "SENT FORTH BY THE HOLY GHOST..." (Acts 13:4).
I am not saying that what happened in Antioch must in any sense be a pattern for the Church. For God always moves in different ways as He may choose. We are simply emphasizing that God wants to speak distinctly to His people in this hour, as He did in her early beginnings.
I know it is all so different now. The Holy Ghost is no longer expected to speak in this emphatic manner. BUT THE COLOSSAL BLUNDER OF THE CHURCH RESTS IN THIS VERY FACT, THAT IF GOD IS NO LONGER SPEAKING DISTINCTLY WE WILL SIMPLY DO THE BEST WE CAN WITHOUT HEARING HIS VOICE. It is even taught that it is our responsibility to act boldly without waiting for God--waiting with such an intensity of commitment and devotion that we know we dare not go forth except as we hear from Him. We have a right, and a responsibility, to know what the will of the Lord is. "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:17). If God wants us to have this understanding, then we must seek for it, and wait, till we know for sure what the will of the Lord is. I am not denying that there may be seasons of perplexity as we struggle to know clearly what He is saying. But this is all in the learning process. In such times it is important that we learn patience and trust, rather than to act in haste. The hasty spirit generally moves in the wrong direction. Jesus said that if we would but walk with Him in His yoke, we would find rest unto our souls.
A Divided Heart
Saul was prepared to do what God told him to do as long as it would not endanger his own reputation, or his exalted position in the eyes of the people. He feared they might not continue to stand by him if he fully obeyed the word of the LORD, and this became his downfall.
In the battle with Amalek Saul had a clear word from God: "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not..." (1 Sam. 15:3). Saul was confident that he did what God had told him to do. "I have performed the commandment of the LORD" (v. 13) was his confident boast. But what did the prophet have to say about it? "Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD...?" (v. 19). What was the trouble? A divided heart! He would do the will of God and destroy the Amalekites, but not those good things that belonged to the enemies of God. That would be so unreasonable. He would save these as an offering for God! (See 1 Sam. 15:15.)
Does all this sound familiar? We certainly want to do Gods will, but not if it doesnt make sense-not if it offends too many people. We might come up with a hundred different options if we make doing the will of God a conditional matter. But if and when we come to the place where the doing of Gods will is our one and only desire, then there are no options.
I am convinced that our inability to hear the voice of God distinctly is, in most cases, because we are looking, expecting and insisting that His will must fit into the framework of what we have already set our hearts upon doing, and which we are not prepared to abandon to the will and the wisdom of God. It is just not reasonable to contemplate that Gods will might lead us in a pathway that could mean the forfeiting of all our plans and hopes and ambitions for the future.
I am not suggesting that these desires are necessarily wrong in themselves. They may even have sprung from a certain knowledge of what God has revealed for ones life. But whatever the case may be, you cannot wave these before the Lord and say, "Lord, I want to do Your will, but You promised me this. Lord, I cannot go the way You are leading me, because then Your promise could not come to pass." No, we would not blatantly accuse God of breaking His promises. But this is what He hears when in the secret corners of our hearts there lingers that opposition to go Gods way if it seems to mean the cancelling of all our plans and ambitions in life.
How deep is our love? Can we not lay down everything we think we know about His promises, out of love for the God who gave them? God told Abraham to do exactly that: to lay on the altar of burnt offering the very promise that God had given him, and Abraham obeyed--SIMPLY BECAUSE HE LOVED GOD MORE THAN HE LOVED THE PROMISES. At the same time he knew that the God who had promised would be faithful to do what He said, and would bring his son back to life again--if need be--by resurrection power.
We are going to emphasize much this matter of the will of God, because I believe it is of vital importance in this hour to walk in His explicit will. I am confident that God is apprehending a people who will come to such commitment to Him, that He will be able to use them for the unfolding of His wonderful plan and purpose for this hour. We are not talking about Gods people becoming active in a lot of good, worthwhile things--trying to use their gifts and talents, trying to do something profitable for the Kingdom of God. We are talking about coming to the place of such commitment to the Lord, that we know explicitly what He wants us to do. For when God finds for Himself this kind of a people, He will be able to send them forth with power and anointing to do ANYTHING He wants them to do, and NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE to this willing people.
God tells us about the Day of His Power, and He lets us know that He is preparing a "willing people" for that hour-a people who will be accounted worthy to move in the splendor and glory of the exalted King who reigns from Zion:
"Thy people shall be willing
In the day of Thy power " (Ps. 110:3).
But before we continue with this thought we want to consider briefly, just to form a background, mans Day of Power, and what it has brought us to.
A CHAIN REACTION OF DEATH
Back in the early part of this century a very notable scientist by the name of Albert Einstein came up with a remarkable formula. History has proven that his formula was correct, but for many years it remained but a "theory." He expressed it in a very short equation:
And translated it means,
"ENERGY EQUALS MASS TIMES THE VELOCITY OF LIGHT SQUARED."
Well, this is still quite incomprehensible to most of us, but in those days it made quite an impact upon the scientific world. It was a theory which, if true, carried with it a tremendous potential for the release of energy such as mankind had never dreamed of. Nobody knew for sure if it was valid until other scientists developed it, and out of it came what is known as "nuclear energy" which has revolutionized the whole realm of power and energy, particularly as it relates to the military resources of the nations. The awesome implications of this discovery has terrorized the whole human family; and because of it the whole world today stands on the brink of annihilation.
There are two kinds of nuclear chain reactions: the one is called nuclear fission, such as we have in the atomic bomb, where the atoms are divided; and with every dividing of the atom there is a release of energy, again and again, until there is a massive blast of death. But in the second kind, nuclear fusion, there is an even greater release of energy, as one particle is fused with another, and still another, and still another, releasing the kind of energy that even now is taking place in the sun. It is said that the core of the sun is a mighty nuclear reactor, and that what man has brought about in the hydrogen bomb is just a tiny replica of the same process of fusion that has been going on in the sun--for how many millennia we do not know.
Even now we are told that scientists of many nations are looking for a breakthrough in technology as to how they might harness the energy of nuclear fusion for the good and the benefit of mankind. They feel they are on the verge of a tremendous breakthrough. If they succeed in their quest, all other forms of energy will become obsolete. One scientific observer has this to say:
"The production of power will be efficient and clean, the current nuclear plants wrapped in glass and buried. The Arabs will trade in their Rolls Royces for camels. The Persian Gulf will possess no strategic value. Automobiles will run on electric batteries, charged by hydrogen-produced energy. Coal, oil, and gasoline, and of course uranium fission, will be ancient history..."
But man dreams of still greater accomplishments, if and when he discovers how to convert large amounts of mass into energy on a controlled and sustained basis. One scientist puts it this way:
There is little that would not then be conceivable for him to accomplish, from changing climatic conditions on his planet to shoving other planets into new orbits around the sun."
This may all sound so exciting, so RIGHT in the eyes of man. But what does God say about mans ways?
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12).
God says mans way is going to end in death. God says there is no way by which man can extricate himself from the law of sin and death that has overwhelmed the family of MAN--NO WAY, BUT THE WAY THAT GOD HIMSELF BROUGHT INTO BEING THROUGH THE CROSS AND THE RESURRECTION, BY THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS.
When men in their rebellion sought to build a city and a tower that would reach into the heavens in order to make a name for themselves, God said it was enough; and He came down to scatter the crowd. (Gen. 11:9).
What do you suppose God is thinking when men start speculating about changing the climates of the earth, or shoving planets into other orbits. You can be sure He is going to come down again, and bring to nought the wisdom of man.
I have a chart that I clipped from a newspaper a few years ago, arranged by men who understand the situation as it relates to the nuclear armaments of the nations. It shows in graphic form how the nuclear weaponry of all nations combined is equal to 6,000 times the total firepower of all nations involved in World War II. It is stated that one percent of the U.S.A. or Soviet arsenal would be sufficient to bring on the nuclear winter, in which the sun would be so blocked out by the dust that filled the atmosphere that our planet would soon be uninhabitable for plants, or animals, or humans. They stated that one new Trident submarine alone had the firepower equal to eight times all the firepower used in World War II by all nations, and that it would have the capability of destroying every major city in the northern hemisphere.
We are talking about the kind of power that man has discovered in the atom; and how man, in his great "wisdom" now holds in his hands the power to annihilate all forms of life on this planet. Our Lord Jesus told us that if God did not intervene, "no flesh" would be saved; but He promised, "...for the elects sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:22). Men might have wondered in times past if Jesus was speaking in hyperbole, for how could any kind of war or natural disaster annihilate all flesh? But now the awesome implication of a suicidal holocaust hovers over the whole human family. It is good to know that somewhere in the midst of all the devastation that is coming, God is going to cut it short "for the elects sake." Man continues to look for the way out, but he is caught in the net of his own making. He does not have the wisdom, even if he had the will, to prevent the using of his own inventions of destruction, for the simple reason he does not have the "grace" that comes only from God.
But entirely apart from the threat of a massive nuclear holocaust we are now in a state of global emergency because of the pollutants that are destroying our land, our seas, and our atmosphere. Even as I write there is an international conference underway in England which they hope will initiate a massive cleanup campaign among the nations, in an effort to save planet earth before it is too late. I thought it very timely that the final issue of National Geographics centennial year pictured on the front cover a hologram of our planet in a state of collapse, like a glass globe that was shattering to pieces, and under it the question:
"CAN MAN SAVE THIS FRAGILE EARTH?"
The apostle Peter tells us that "scoffers" would abound in the last days, "walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (2 Pet. 3:4). This scoffing has been going on for a long time, but please note: NO LONGER ARE THEY SAYING, "ALL THINGS CONTINUE AS THEY WERE..."
No man of ordinary understanding is saying it. No fool in his perverted mind is saying it. No scientist, no politician, no environmentalist is saying it. We are actually further along in Gods timetable than the time Peter envisioned when he spoke of "the last days." Somewhere in the last 50 years or so we slipped by that period of time that Peter spoke about; and we are now living in a time-frame that would more properly be described as the last hour, or the last minutes.
The tragedy of all this, as far as Gods people are concerned, is that most Christians today are as "willingly ignorant" of the times we are in, as were the scoffers that Peter spoke about. Nobody knows the time of the end, that is true. But Heaven s timetable is definitely far beyond what it was just about 50 years ago when the Church lived with a certain sense of expectation for the Lords Appearing. At that time there was no thought of planet earth starting to fall to pieces. But somehow today, 50 years further along, all this does nothing to arouse the Church to seek the face of God. The thought is much the same as it was in the days of Isaiah the prophet, when Jerusalems fate hung in the balances, and the people seemed to care less:
"And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: and behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die" (Isa. 22:12-13).
Jesus Said, "Occupy Till I Come"
Gods people continue to plan and purpose and speculate, and are very much engrossed with the affairs of the world, hoping somehow that they might accumulate just a little more of earths vanishing toys before the holocaust. But are we not told to "occupy" till the Master returns? Certainly, but "Business as Usual" is not what the Lord was saying. He gave His servants precious gifts and graces and told them to "trade" with these till He returned. He was not telling them to fill out their days much as they have in the past. He bids us to be occupied with Heavens treasures, not with earths vanishing toys. To trade with these, that when the Master returns they might not be ashamed at His coming, but could say: "You gave me five talents, I have gained five more. You gave me faith, You gave me Heavens treasures, I have invested these in the lives of Your people by Your enabling grace, and now, behold the fruit of it in the lives of my brethren."
Chain Reaction Of The Law Of Sin And Death
Frightening as it may be we are inclined to admire the genius of the human species, not only because he discovered the formula for this kind of nuclear energy, but because he found out how to make it work. However, in the light of what has happened, I think we should change the formula a little, and write it this way:
Because THIS NEW FOUND ENERGY EQUALS DEATH MULTIPLIED BY ITSELF, DEATH ON A MASSIVE ACCELERATING SCALE.
For man created nothing; all he did was discover secrets that long lay hidden in the purposes of God, and which God would not reveal until man had descended to the very depths of apostasy. For what has man accomplished but the ability to accelerate the Law of Sin and Death that has been working in the human family ever since the Fall! Let us no longer admire the genius of man; but let us rather be solemnized by the fact that mans wisdom has brought about such an acceleration of the Law of Sin and Death that he now has the capability to set in motion a chain reaction of devastation that could annihilate the whole human race, and obliterate all forms of life on this planet, if God would let him do it. How wonderful an achievement! How wise is man, that he can bring about his own destruction in almost a moment of time!
"Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made FOOLISH the wisdom of this world?" (1 Cor. 1:20).
We are not so foolish as to charge that man wants to bring about a nuclear war and all this devastation. Man certainly wants to maintain his place as lord of this planet. But we know that there is NO PEACE to the wicked, and that man will never find PEACE until he bows at the foot of the Cross, and acknowledges Christ to be the Lord and Prince of Peace. Only in the wisdom of the Cross is life to be found. Only by the blood of His Cross did God make peace for mankind, and reconciled man to Himself. And of course this is deemed to be foolishness to the wise of this world:
"For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the POWER OF GOD" (1 Cor. 1:18).
We are talking about the reign, the rule, and the dominion of death. We are talking about this cruel king who took hold of the human family when Adam sinned; and from that point on there has been a chain reaction of this law in the human family, right down to this day. But now in the end of time, in just this last 50 years or more, there has come about such an acceleration of this terrible law that man has discovered the secret of annihilating five billion of earths inhabitants in a matter of a few moments of time. And how did he accomplish this achievement? He came to this exalted place because he gave himself over to the god of this world in a vain attempt to be his own god. It was not by way of "evolution" but in "retrogression" that he said:
"I will not acknowledge God, nor give Him thanks."
Then he descended further in his apostasy and said, "I do not need God, I am sufficient in myself," and worshipped the creature rather than the Creator.
And finally in his last downward step of apostasy he said, "I do not want God in my thoughts." (See Rom. 1:21-28.)
And with every downward step on the ladder of apostasy he gave greater and greater acceleration to the Law of Sin and Death, so that now in the "height" of his wisdom he has brought himself to the brink of extinction. And it is all because of his inherent sin that spurs him on to acknowledge God less and less, and to despise His Lordship more and more.
Now what we have said concerning the Law of Sin and Death is merely to form a background for what we are going to say about a different kind of chain reaction: the chain reaction of the Law of Life.
CHAIN REACTION OF THE LAW OF LIFE
We have no problem recognizing the far-reaching implications of the kingdom of death. We live in that realm, and death is about us on every side. Every generation of man has been witness to it. But this generation in which we now live has been compelled to acknowledge the acceleration of the Law of Death beyond anything that was thought possible up until about 50 years ago.
But there is a new law that God set in motion when Jesus died on the Cross and rose from the dead, The new law was designed of the Lord to swallow up the old law. For it was there on the Cross that the Prince of Life destroyed the Law of Sin and Death, and began to impart anew law to the members of a New Creation order. They are the ones whom the Lord has apprehended from the clutches of the old law and introduced into a new order, a new sphere of life, a new realm, a new kingdom. It, too, embraces a whole race of beings, all those who by faith have been snatched as firebrands from the burnings of the old race, and brought into the new. They are not brought in by going through a process of reformation or reconditioning, but they are brought into new life by the outworking of a new Law: the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
"For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the Law of Sin and Death" (Rom. 8:2). There has been a confrontation of the two laws, and the Law of Life has prevailed where the Law of Sin once reigned. The Law of Life not only defeated the Law of Death, IT HAS REPLACED THE OLD LAW AS THE MOTIVATING AND ENERGIZING PRINCIPLE OF THE NEW MAN. This is a bit staggering, and only by faith and the revelation of the Spirit are we able to receive it. Death REIGNED--it was in supreme control. There was no one that could escape its dominion IF SO BE HE WAS BORN INTO ADAMS RACE. The Law of Death is inherent in all of Adams family, and no man can be released from its tentacles except it he by the new Law of Life. Then, having been released from the old law, there is a new law that takes its place:
"THAT AS SIN HATH REIGNED UNTO DEATH, EVEN SO MIGHT GRACE REIGN THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO ETERNAL LIFE BY JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD" (Rom. 5:2 1).
Can we grasp it? That as "sin reigned" so now grace must "REIGN unto eternal life." That as sin dominated, and brought about a chain reaction in realms of death, even so GRACE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LIFE MUST NOW DOMINATE, and by a chain reaction of Gods workings bring about the REIGN OF LIFE!
It is really not difficult to flow along with the logic of what the apostle is saying by the Spirit. But we would draw back in fear when we come to the implications of it all. And what is the fear? THAT BY THE OPERATION OF THE NEW LAW OF LIFE WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO FORFEIT IN OUR MEMBERS THE WORKING OF THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH, AND HAVE IT REPLACED WITH THE WORKING OF THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS!
And why do we shrink from this clear declaration of the Word? It must be because as creatures subject to sin and death we feel more comfortable in that realm. Like insects hiding under a rotting tree, we lift it and they scamper for the cover of darkness. Why? Because they are creatures of the darkness, and the darkness has blinded their eyes. Jesus said,
"For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind" (Jn. 9:39).
If we are partakers of the kingdom of darkness and come to the light, we are fashioned anew so that we begin to rejoice in the light. But if we are content to abide in death, and to rejoice in the darkness, then the light that shines upon us makes the darkness still more intense than it was before, For if the light that is in us be darkness, Jesus said, "How great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:23).
Let us never fear to come to the light. It may be fearful, I know, for by nature we are the children of darkness and would choose to remain in that state. The light is too strong, too brilliant for the eyes of our fleshly understanding. We fear it might blind us. And it will, just as Jesus said--if we continue to resist it. But as we come to the light, the light will dispel the darkness of death, and cause us to walk in the light of a new day. The shining of the light of God into our lives will produce a chain reaction for good or for evil. It will set in motion an increasing brightness of His glory as we choose to walk in it, or it will set in motion an increasing measure of spiritual blindness, if we choose to resist it. The Sun of Righteousness will blind our eyes, as He did to Saul of Tarsus in his rebellion; or that same Light will bring healing and restoration, and an increase of greater and greater glory, as we find ourselves like Saul praying and seeking God with great repentance and heart-searching. Let us never fear to come to the light, no matter how unworthy we might feel, or how fearful we might be to stand in the brightness of His all-seeing eye. For light is inseparable from life, and as we come to the light so shall we come into realms of new life, where Life will be the Lord dwelling within us, And He comes to remove the sin, and to remove the death, and to dethrone the king of darkness, and to rule and reign in his place.
Implications Of The Reign Of Life
We have talked about the kingdom of death, and the formula that brought about the acceleration of the Law of Death in the human family:
But there is also a formula for life, and it has been functioning in the earth in a certain measure ever since the Prince of Life visited this planet. Without getting too scientific about it, let us summarize it in this equation:
THE WISDOM OF THE CROSS BRINGS A PEOPLE INTO LIFE MULTIPLIED BY ITSELF.
This multiplication of life produces light:
"In Him was Life; and the Life was the Light of men" (Jn. 1:4).
This life came into manifestation when Jesus visited this planet, as He submitted Himself to the way of the Cross, to the wisdom of the Cross, But the Church, for most of her history, has missed the way because she has been deceived into thinking that the formula applied only to Jesus. He died on the Cross, so we do not need to die on ours.
We have missed the way because we have failed to realize that the Cross was not only an instrument of cruelty upon which Jesus died for our sins, BUT IT WAS A CROSS THAT HE BORE ALL THROUGH HIS LIFE, A CROSS THAT WAS INEVITABLE SIMPLY AND ONLY BECAUSE HE DID THE WILL OF THE FATHER. Jesus was born under the shadow of the Cross. Even at His birth, the Prince of Death set in motion an evil device to kill the Prince of Life. Daily He was in confrontation with the world that resisted the light of God.
Once we understand what the Cross means we will cease our boasting that Jesus died on His Cross, so we do not need to die on ours. If we intend to do the will of God, it will be impossible to avoid the Cross, BECAUSE THE CROSS IS THE EMBODIMENT AND THE EXPRESSION OF MANS OPPOSITION TO THE WAYS OF GOD, AND OF GODS OPPOSITION TO THE WAYS OF MAN. And so our Lord Jesus bore His Cross daily, not because He went about looking for trouble, BUT SIMPLY AND ONLY BECAUSE HIS QUEST WAS TO DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER. To say that I do not need to suffer the Cross because Jesus did it for me, is to say that I do not need to walk in obedience to the Father because Jesus did it for me. IF WE ARE GOING TO GO GODS WAY WE ARE GOING TO KNOW THE HATRED, THE REBUKE, AND THE OPPOSITION OF THE WORLD ABOUT US, AND THIS IS WHAT CONSTITUTES OUR CROSS. We do not go about manufacturing self-inflicting forms of penance in order to somehow identify with the sufferings of Jesus. This is a deathly way of trying to contravene death. Only as we walk in the pathway of life are we going to contravene death. As truly as we seek to do the will of the Father and are committed to walk in obedience to His will, are we going to know and experience the opposition and the hatred that is heaped upon those who love God more than the ways of the world.
There can be no meaningful cross in our lives as long as we live an ordinary religious kind of life. But darkness will quickly react when the light shines forth. Jesus said to His religious brethren, "The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil" (Jn. 7:7). The religious world of that day co-existed quite well with the world about them; but when Jesus came on the scene THERE WAS A BROADSIDE COLLISION OF DARKNESS WITH LIGHT, OF HATRED WITH LOVE, OF INIQUITY WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS, OF EVIL WITH GOOD, OF SATAN WITH GOD; AND IT WAS THIS COLLISION OF THE LIGHT WITH THE DARKNESS THAT PROPELLED JESUS TO HIS CROSS.
But rather than the darkness destroying the light, it was the light that destroyed the darkness. Rather than death destroying the life, it was the life that destroyed the death. Rather than hatred destroying the love, it was the love that destroyed the hatred.
And so our Lord Jesus died for us that we might not die, but LIVE. But as we embrace the LIFE, we are enabled to walk in the same LIFE that Jesus walked in, in the same obedience that Jesus walked in. It was this obedience that brought Jesus to His Cross, and if we walk in it, surely it will bring us to ours. Notice this, it is His obedience that we must walk in, if it is to be glorifying to God. Nothing less than the obedience of Christ will honor and glorify the Father. And what, explicitly, is the nature of His obedience?
"Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God" (Heb. 10:7).
"I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (Jn. 5:30).
Is our concept of the will of God related only to doing all kinds of noble things: preaching, evangelizing, writing, establishing churches, etc., etc.? Or have we come, in our commitment to do the Fathers will, to the complete renunciation of all our thoughts, ambitions, desires, pursuits in life, whether it be in natural or in spiritual things? THIS MUST BECOME THE FIRST STEP IN OUR DESIRE TO DO GODS WILL--RENOUNCE OUR OWN THOUGHTS IN THE MATTER, CANCEL ALL OUR PLANS, AND BY HIS GRACE COME TO THE PLACE WHERE WE KNOW WE CAN DO NOTHING. AND THEN WE CAN EXPECT TO LEARN WHAT THE WILL OF GOD IS ALL ABOUT.
Now if the obedience of Christ is intended to lead us in paths of truth that will culminate in our cross, how important it is that we guard our hearts and minds from those subtle temptations of the Enemy that would sidetrack us from the pathway of learning this kind of obedience. Jesus "learned obedience." This is not to say that He was ever disobedient. But in the many tests to which He was subjected, day by day He learned the voice of the Father. We too must learn this kind of obedience.
JESUS CAME INTO THE EARTH TO DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER... AND THIS BECAME HIS TOTAL PURSUIT IN LIFE OR IN DEATH ...HE HAD NO OTHER AGENDA.
The Will Of God--Or Mans Agenda
It is important for us to understand this. As Gods people our lives can become cluttered with so many worthy projects, all in the name of doing the will of the Father. And I think we come to this kind of involvement primarily because we fail to recognize that DOING THE WILL OF GOD, RATHER THAN DOING MANY GOOD WORKS, IS THE WHOLE DUTY OF MAN. God has some very wonderful plans and purposes yet to be fulfilled--we know that. He has great and wonderful objectives in mind--great things that He wants to accomplish in His people, and in the earth.
BUT WE TOTALLY MISS GODS WAY WHEN WE START TO ASSUME THAT WE ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK ON GODS OBJECTIVES, RATHER THAN IN BEING TOTALLY COMMITTED TO DO HIS WILL AND WALK IN HIS WAY.
AND THE REASON WE MISS GOD IS SIMPLY BECAUSE OUR WAYS ARE NOT GODS WAYS, NOR ARE HIS THOUGHTS OUR THOUGHTS.
And so what do we do? If we know God wants to feed the five thousand, we will organize a committee to raise the funds and get the job done. If we know God wants to reach the nations with the Gospel, we will organize the crusades and raise the pledges to get the job done.
BUT IF WE KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THAT WALKING IN HIS WAY IS ALL HE REQUIRES, THEN GOD DOES ALL THE PLANNING, AND WE ARE IN A POSITION WHERE WE CAN SIMPLY RESPOND TO WHAT HE SAYS--AND GOD IS TRULY GLORIFIED.
IF WE ARE TOTALLY COMMITTED TO DO HIS WILL, THEN HE WILL SHOW US HIS WAY, AND HIS OBJECTIVE IS GLORIOUSLY REALIZED. BUT IF WE SEEK TO PURSUE GODS OBJECTIVE WE TOTALLY MISS WHAT GOD HAS IN MIND.
Now God does give us from time to time a little glimpse into His plan, and a little understanding of His objective. BUT HE DOES THIS TO PROVE US, TO TEST US, TO GET US SEEKING HIM, AND NOT TO GET US INVOLVED WITH PLANS AND STRATEGIES. (See Jn. 6:6.) God will show His servants what He wants, to get us seeking Him for His way, His anointing, His methods. But how quick we are to ignore His ways, and to move out in the arm of flesh in an attempt to do WHAT GOD ALONE CAN DO BY THE POWER OF HIS ANOINTING AND PRESENCE.
Jesus life was therefore totally devoid of clutter and innovative devices to get the job done. He had but one thing on His agenda: "Lo, I come to do Thy will O God." And because this ONE THING pervaded His whole being, and totally occupied His thoughts, His life was completely uncluttered. He simply moved along in the predetermined pathways of God, whatever might be involved: healing the sick, raising the dead, witnessing to a devastated woman at the Well of Samaria--ministering to one or two, or to multitudes as God might choose--and finally laying it all down because the Father said, "Now, go back to Jerusalem, and lay down Your life "
Now Satan knows a little about Gods plan too, and how he would like to get us involved IN ANY WAY OTHER THAN GODS WAY, AND TO OFFER US THE RESOURCES THAT WE THINK WE NEED FOR THE ACHIEVING OF GODS PURPOSES IN THE EARTH.
Jesus was therefore subjected to a three-fold temptation at the very beginning of His earthly ministry, For in Gods will He must overcome Satan right here on Satans territory before the Father would allow Him to go forth in power and authority to establish the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of men. We have mentioned this temptation several times before; but briefly we must mention it again. Satan was saying in effect:
I will give You the key to your daily bread: "Turn this stone into bread..."
I will give You the key to popularity and acclaim before the crowds: "Cast Thyself down from the wing of the temple..."
I will give You the key to all the resources of earths kingdom: "All these things will I give Thee..."
The Church of this hour has succumbed to this three-fold temptation on all counts, and no wonder the Law of Sin and Death continues on its rampage in the Kingdom of God. As long as Satan can continue to deceive the people of God with thoughts that success, and achievement, and the accumulation of man s resources, and grasping for political power, and economic power are things that God needs for the extension of His Kingdom, the Law of Sin and Death will continue to reign in the midst of Gods people.
Is it really true that Jesus overcame the Devil back there through much test and trial, so you and I can find the key to easy living, to find popularity and acclaim, and to take over the resources and kingdoms of the earth for the benefit of the gospel? That Jesus resisted this temptation back there, so that the Church can now yield to it? That He suffered the Cross by refusing to accept Satans challenge, so that we can now escape the Cross by yielding to it? That He overcame the Devil, so now we do not have to?
LET US BE ASSURED OF THIS, THAT ANY POWER THAT WE ACQUIRE IN THIS LIFE, APART FROM WALKING IN TOTAL OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD, IS SELF-GLORIFYING BY NATURE, AND SELF-DESTRUCTIVE IN CONSEQUENCE.
LET US BE ASSURED FROM THE WORD OF GOD, AND FROM THE LIFE OF JESUS, THAT HIS CROSS WILL BECOME OUR CROSS IF WE ARE TRULY COMMITTED TO WALK IN GODS WAY.
Church history bears abundant witness to what happens when a people of God, moving in realms of obedience, and bearing their cross, are suddenly exalted to places of economic, material, or political strength. Very quickly their testimony is gone, and they are captivated by a worldly, Babylonish system. And then it happens, as history bears witness, that the once-persecuted Church becomes the persecutor, under the deceptive notion that God had vindicated them and given them ecclesiastical authority and political and economic power to establish the Kingdom of God in the earth. Gods way they totally miss, and the kingdom and reign of sin and death continues to hold sway over the hearts and minds of nations.
Gods Way Is Effectual And Mighty
We are not talking about a theory which may or may not work. We are talking about Gods Way, GODS ONLY WAY TO REACH THE HEARTS OF MEN--TO REACH ALL NATIONS WITH THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL. He has done it before in measure, and He will do it again, this time in full measure.
It was first given as a promise to Abraham: "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed " (Gen. 22:18). Inherent in the promise was the fact, revealed to the apostle Paul, that "the Seed" was Christ (Gal. 3:16); and that out from this Seed there would come a harvest that would fill all the earth with the Seed of the living Christ.
Do not underestimate the law of the seed, and the potential of the seed. It produces a mighty chain reaction of life, as one seed reproduces hundreds more, and each of these produces hundreds more, each in its own season, And it is all because the life that is inherent in the seed reproduces itself as it submits to the process of dying in the will of God.
When Life visited this planet there was a "fusion" of God with Man. This Divine "fusion" released Divine energy; and this release of energy continues to generate more and more and more energy in a mighty chain reaction of life that would very quickly fill the whole earth with Gods glory and presence were it not for the disobedience of Gods people.
But we say this in the context of Gods purposes. We know that God always allowed this mighty working of power to fade away, until the times were ripe for the full measure of the Law of the Spirit of Life to be revealed in the final harvest of the ages. The Husbandman has continued to look for that day. And because He is patiently waiting for that day, He speaks to His servants, whose hearts are molded after His heart--"The Husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it... be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (Jas. 5:7-8).
Patient? Be patient in harvest time when the need is so great? Thats what the apostle said. For Gods servants who know the reality of the formula for the Chain Reaction of Life are not caught up with mans devices to reach as many people as they can, as fast as they can, with all the human resources they can muster, because time is running out. Now only ONE THING matters. The only way to "redeem the time" is to understand "what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:16-17), and to faithfully do what He says. You do not become more spiritual by seeking out some "spiritual" kind of employment. Do what God places in your hands to do, and do it faithfully, serving God in the menial tasks of daily living; but in it all be sure you EARNESTLY SEEK HIM, AND LONG FOR THE INTERACTION OF THE HEAVENLY WITH THE EARTHLY. For it is right where you are, in the pathway of God, even in the midst of the menial, ordinary tasks of life that He has given you to do, that Heaven comes down and touches the earth, and the mighty God of Heaven becomes FUSED with His servants in the earth.
It happened with Abraham... It happened with Joseph... It happened with Moses... It happened with Joshua... It happened with Caleb... It happened with Shamgar... It happened with Deborah and Barak... It happened with Gideon... It happened with David. It happened with the prophets... with Isaiah... with Jeremiah... with Ezekiel ... with Amos... and with all the rest who knew Gods ways. It happened with Zechariah in the temple, in the ordinary course of his duties, doing the will of God. It happened with John the Baptist, who remained in the desert, doing the will of God where God placed him. He was not studying under the capable scribes and Pharisees of the temple, in order to make himself more proficient for the task that lay before him. But he was waiting... waiting... waiting for God... waiting for the interaction of the heavens with the earth, and he was not to be disappointed. The Word of God came to him right where he was, in the wilderness, doing Gods will, and waiting for Him.
And finally, it happened with our Lord Jesus...
But now we have come to the true Seed. His precious disciples thought He came to bring about the great harvest that the prophets spoke about, and His death was the most devastating thing they had ever experienced. They did not know that He came to be the "Seed" that must be planted in the earth, and that He would then become the "firstfruits unto God" as He rose from the dead in resurrection life. But soon they were to make this glorious discovery. He had to die that the "fusion" He had known with the Father might react in His brethren in a mighty chain reaction of spiritual life that would RELEASE ALL THE ENERGY OF THE SON OF GOD IN A WAY THAT WOULD PERMEATE THE WHOLE Body of Christ. His enthronement in the heavens would in no way limit this great and mighty chain reaction of Life, BUT HIS ENTHRONEMENT WOULD RATHER BE THE MEANS OF BRINGING IT ABOUT. For this Man, perfected through His sufferings in the earth, would then be fused back into God with glory greater than He ever had before. And now from this fusion of a glorified Man with the Father of Glory, more and more of the divine energy would be released upon His people in the earth. A Man of the earth is fused into the heavenly Glory, and the energy of that glory begins to pour forth upon His waiting disciples in the earth, and chain reaction after chain reaction takes place as earth responds to Heaven, and Heaven responds to earth. Humble and devastated disciples are fused with the glory of God, and begin to move in the earth as Jesus did when He was here. He went away for this purpose, that He who was the Light of men when He was here might now radiate that same Light in the earth, through His people who have learned His ways, and walk with Him.
And so the chain reaction of the Law of Life accelerated in greater and greater and still greater measures, until in a very short period of time the whole earth was saturated with the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
I stand amazed at times at the glory and reverence that Gods people will ignorantly bestow upon the kingdom of sin and death, how they marvel at Satans awesome powers, and at man s awesome achievements, and yet give such little respect to the Law of the Spirit of Life, and think it to be impossible for the Sovereign Lord to create a people for Himself, who shall come forth into the full stature of Christ. I am confident there is yet to be revealed from the heavens such an interaction of the Kingdom of Heaven in the affairs of men that not only will the earth be shaken, but the very heavens will know the mighty impact of the Word of Truth, as it sounds forth from the enthroned Christ, through the lips of His anointed servants in the earth; the purpose of which is to destroy all that which is destructible in the earth, and to leave in its place the indestructible, unshakable Kingdom of Christ:
"For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, MUCH MORE shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him THAT SPEAKETH FROM HEAVEN: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, YET ONCE MORE, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain" (Heb. 12:25-27).
Our God is able, in the very midst of the very worst that man or Satan can do, to bring about in His people such a massive acceleration of the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus that the achievements of men will be blown away like the dust of the threshingfloor, and the harvest for which the Husbandman is waiting will come to the full measure of the stature of Christ. Or, are we going to confess that the Law of the Spirit of Life is WEAKER than the Law of Sin and Death?
That God has allowed Satan to bring his evil devices to the fullness of maturity, and the mystery of iniquity to perfection... BUT WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BRING TO FULL EXPRESSION THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS?
The New Law Of Life... That Will Nullify The Old Law Of Death?
"For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the Law of Sin and Death" (Rom. 8:2).
Gods people have been very quick to lay Gods Word to one side, if it doesnt "work." Theoretically they are compelled to believe it, for after all they are Christians. But they are not going to get carried away with it-if it is unreasonable--if it doesnt "work."
But God tells us that when He sends forth His Word into the earth He will not take it back, until it has performed the desire and the intention of His heart (Isa. 55:10-11). If much of it doesnt seem to work, we need to know Gods patience. We need to understand the law of the seed. It may lay dormant for many years, BUT IN THE RIGHT SEASON WHEN IT IS PLANTED IN THE EARTH IT WILL GERMINATE AND GROW, AND BRING FORTH THE FRUIT THAT GOD INTENDED.
Gods plan is that sin and death are to be totally dealt with and subdued in His people, by the outworking of the Cross of Christ in their lives, by the Holy Spirit. We are not talking about coming to a state of immortality in this present life. Nevertheless, even in the midst of our mortality it is Gods desire that our bodies are quickened with more and more of His life. It is a case of the resurrection life of Jesus taking hold upon us, even as we walk in an environment that has been overcome by sin and death and corruption.
"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness" (Rom. 8:10). Now is the apostle really saying, especially in this wonderful context of the life of the Spirit, that "sin is operating in your bodies, but no matter... the Spirit of God is your righteousness, and He dwells there as well"? Is he really saying that we must continue to walk in sin, even though our spirit partakes of His righteousness?
Suppose a fire sweeps through the city, and the buildings are weakened and left tottering because of the fire. But help is on the way. Firefighters come on the scene and extinguish the blaze that did the damage; and then other rescue teams arrive, bringing food and clothing, and they begin the work of restoration, and renewing of the city. The buildings are weakened because of the fire. But extinguishing the fire does not restore the buildings to their original soundness. This will happen later; but first of all the fire must be put out.
And so, because of the invasion of sin into the human family away back in the beginning, all in Adams family DIED; and our bodies remain "dead because of sin"--dead because of the sin we inherited from Adam. We have a little problem, emotionally speaking, when we see that innocent little babe snatched away in death. It did nothing wrong. It was so beautiful and innocent! Why did it happen? This little one was born with the Law of Sin and Death that he inherited from Adam, and he did not die because he himself was living in sin. He died because of the "fire" of Adams sin. And so our physical bodies, whether we be Christian or otherwise, are in a state of mortality because of the devastating "fire" of Adams transgression. It is all over now, for those who are in Christ Jesus. Sin has been fully dealt with, and the fire has been extinguished by the fires of the Cross of our Lord Jesus. But our bodies remain in a state of mortality and death, because of the sin we inherited from the Fall.
The redemption we have in Christ Jesus is full and complete. And there is a new Law of Life that begins to function within us, when the Holy Spirit is given His Lordship in our lives; so that even now there is not only a renewing of our spirits, there is also a quickening of these mortal bodies:
"He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11).
Paul makes a distinction between the mortal body, and the corruptible body. He is not talking about the resurrection of our bodies that have gone back into decomposition. The mortal body is a living body, undergoing a process of death. But the corruptible body is a dead body, that has undergone the process of decomposition. Hence our Lord Jesus did not see "corruption," for His body had lain in the grave somewhat less than three days, and corruption begins on the fourth day. You will recall Marthas statement to Jesus concerning her brother Lazarus, that his body was now corrupt, "for he hath been dead four days" (Jn. 11:39).
Even now, then, it is Gods desire that His people begin to partake of this new Life, that will bring not only healing, but strength and life to these mortal bodies. The "sting of death is sin," and the sting has been removed, but the restoration and the renewing of these devastated "buildings" is an ongoing process. God has a certain order that He is following in His wisdom: first He would quicken our spirits, then our souls, and finally our bodies. (See 1 Thess. 5:23.) This is Gods order, and He purposely leaves us in a state of mortality that we might have the capability of experiencing in our mortal flesh, "the dying of the Lord Jesus," and His resurrection life.
In the history of the Church we have observed a lot of presumption in this area, as men have "claimed" this new life, and sought to reach out for immortality here and now. God does want to liberate His people from the Law of Sin and Death, and from all the "diseases of Egypt"; but His intention is not to make us immune to death in the days of our flesh. He leaves us rather in a state of mortality, so that we may experience what Paul describes as "the dying of the Lord Jesus." Do we really want to escape this "dying of the Lord Jesus" in our mortal flesh? And be denied the fullness of life that He has for those who would suffer with Christ?
"For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4:11). Where does God want to manifest the life of Jesus? "In our mortal flesh." And Gods purpose is this, that by death working in us He might bring forth life in others. (See 2 Cor. 4:12.)
But how could we presume to say that dying of tumors, and cancers, and heart diseases--and we could go on naming a host of other diseases of Adams family--how could we say that in succumbing to these we are experiencing "the dying of the Lord Jesus"? Rather, it is simply a case of the Law of Death that we inherited from Adam exercising its power and its authority in these bodies that are not yet changed and made immortal. We are quite aware that we are in the process of dying, even as we live. But I do not believe God wants His Church to be victimized by "the diseases of Egypt." We are partaking of these sicknesses in the Church equally as they are in the world. Even in the Old Covenant God made a very clear promise to His obedient people: "I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee" (Ex. 15:26).
The Dying Of The Lord Jesus
What is this? We know He died for us in a substitutionary way, and in that sense we cannot die for others. Nevertheless, the SAME LOVE THAT DROVE JESUS TO HIS CROSS IS INTENDED OF THE LORD TO BE IN OUR HEARTS, THAT AS HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR US, SO "WE OUGHT TO LAY DOWN OUR LIVES FOR THE BRETHREN." (See 1 Jn. 3:16.)
If we are going to lay down our lives for others we must first of all become partakers of the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. THE CORN OF WHEAT THAT FALLS INTO THE GROUND AND DIES MUST BE ALIVE BEFORE IT CAN DIE AND BRING FORTH FRUIT. It may remain dormant for many years, and unable to reproduce itself. But if it is alive and planted in the earth in the right season it will come forth in new life. We can only bring forth life in others if we ourselves are walking in this new Life of the Spirit. Then we are OVERCOMERS, even in death. Our pursuit would have to be a very selfish one if we just wanted to enjoy this abundant Life of Jesus, and go on living in immortal flesh, while multitudes of men and women, in the Church as well as in the world, are held in bondage under the Law of Sin and Death. If the true Spirit of Jesus filled our hearts we would consider the "dying of the Lord Jesus" to be our highest calling.
Our "Dying" Should Be "Sacrificial"
"Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus..." (2 Cor. 4:10).
Pauls death was a sacrificial death because of the Law of Life that brought him to a death that was fruitful for the Body of Christ.
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand" (2 Tim. 4:6). The Greek word for "offered" is "spendo," meaning "to devote ones life as a sacrificial offering." Paul used the same word in Philippians 2:17, "Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all." He would rejoice if he could pour out his life in death as a drink-offering unto God--poured out on the sacrificial offering of faith that was rendered to God by the saints at Philippi. He would rejoice if his sacrifice in death was mingled with the same sacrificial spirit that was manifested by the Philippians in their faith and service unto God. Some of Davids mighty men risked their lives out of love for David, as they broke through the Philistine ranks to fetch David a drink of pure, refreshing water from the Well of Bethlehem. They had procured this water for David at the risk of their lives. They had poured out their lives for David whom they loved. It was a great sacrifice to God, and David felt he must make their sacrifice still more meaningful, by pouring the water they had brought him back unto God as a drink offering. How could David consume this fresh water for his own thirst, in view of their great sacrifice? And how can we hope and pray for good health and long life merely to enjoy it for ourselves when we consider how others in the Church have given their lives in martyrdom that we might enjoy the life of Christ flowing forth in our midst as a river of living water?
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1). Paul calls this a "living sacrifice." I believe God wants to give us health and life-physical as well as spiritual. It is our heritage in Christ Jesus. The only time the children of Israel suffered sickness and evil diseases in their 40-year pilgrimage in the wilderness, was when they walked in rebellion. God was their strength and their life. He was the LORD that healed them, and kept them healthy. Moses testimony was that they "lacked nothing" (Deut. 2:7). Are we not to expect greater things under Grace, than under the Law?
But because of Gods abundant grace, and because of His mercies, He bids us to present our bodies unto Him as "a living sacrifice"--these mortal bodies-but bodies that are quickened with the life of Christ.
God help us to understand that we are only pursuing "the power of His resurrection" if at the same time we are pursuing "the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Phil. 3:10). Once we understand Gods way, we lay aside any selfish hopes for our own spiritual or physical well-being, and seek only the welfare of others. The corn of wheat can only find true fulfillment as it submits to the process of "dying." And so the physical and the spiritual life that God wants to impart to His people is not for our own selfish enjoyment, but a life that is to be laid down in sacrificial love for others.
Whenever God quickens the truth to the hearts of His people, invariably we have ambitious teachers who presumptuously begin to "claim" the promises "by faith" and some kind of disaster inevitably follows. Can we not claim "the promises of God"? We can, if it is by "the faith of God." But there is a vast difference between the "faith" we presumptuously claim, and the "faith of God" that comes to our hearts when we hear Him speak a LIVING WORD. We are always totally dependent upon God--and His timing, and His purposes--for the measure of faith that He is pleased to impart to us. And our hope in this writing is not that men and women will be inspired to reach out and appropriate "faith" to do signs and wonders and exploits in His Name, or to experience immortality in the days of their flesh, BUT TO START WALKING IN OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD.
When God begins to deal with a corporate people, as He is doing today, we are no longer an island unto ourselves. When one man sinned in Israel THE ARMIES OF ISRAEL WERE ROUTED IN BATTLE. (See Josh. 7:5-12.) It should not seem strange, then, that many of Gods people are being tested and tried beyond measure in this matter of sickness and disease, and all kinds of devastation of one kind or another. We thank Him for His mercy, and for what He is doing in the lives of many, but we are not going to see any real measure of spiritual and physical health in the Body of Christ until God deals with the sin and the folly of His people in forsaking Him, the Fountain of Living Waters. And so we should not judge any individual for their failure to appropriate the full blessing of redemption, by way of walking in physical or in spiritual health. We have to come back to the Fountain. We have to make Him to be the Lord IN OUR HEARTS AND IN OUR ASSEMBLIES, before that Fountain of Life can flow freely from one member to another in the Body of Christ.
TWO MEN-TWO KINGDOMS
Paul speaks in Romans 5 of TWO RACES OF MANKIND--JUST TWO. And the one is the figure or type of the other. Nor is it left to our imagination as to the manner in which the first Adam prefigures the Last Adam, for the apostle expounds all this in great detail. But as we consider this let us note the COMPARISON as well as the CONTRAST, in all that the apostle is saying. Just as we might compare the darkness to the light, a blade of grass to a mighty tree, a pebble on the beach to a rocky mountain dazzling in its splendor, a shooting star to a galaxy, so does the apostle mention the attributes of the first Adam, and how we inherited all this from him, and then he proceeds to magnify the contrasting attributes of the Last Adam, and all that we inherit from Him.
The Two Men (v. 14)
Sin and death entered the world through the first man, so that in the first man all are afflicted with his sin and death... But Adam was a "figure" of another "Adam," who would likewise birth a generation of men, in whose family all would partake of Life.
Two Initial Causes (v. 15)
One trespass was the first cause, and this brought death to the whole race of Adam... But the grace of God was the second cause, and this brought the gift of life to all in the new race of the Last Adam.
Two Effects (v. 16)
The effect of the one trespass was condemnation to the whole family of the first Adam... But the free gift follows on the heels of condemnation, with the free gift of justification to all who are born anew into the family of the Last Adam.
Two Dominions (vs. 17)
The first mans offense brought into being a kingdom in which death became supreme lord over all in Adams realm... But grace and righteousness have overtaken the old kingdom, and have brought into being a kingdom of life, so that now life becomes the Lord and Monarch in the new realms of the Last Adam.
Two Judgments (v. 18)
It took just one act by one man to bring a sentence of condemnation and guilt on the whole family of man... So also it took just one act of righteousness by One Man, who by His sacrifice on the Cross brought a decree of justification to the whole family of the New Man.
Two Pathways (v. 19)
This one offending act sprang from disobedience, a deliberate choice by the first Adam... and this made sinners out of the whole race... So one act of righteousness sprang from obedience to the will of the Father, a deliberate choice by the Son, and this brought forth righteousness to all in the new race of the Last Adam.
Two Chain Reactions (v. 20)
The chain reaction of sin and death was greatly accelerated by the law, so that sin abounded in still greater dimensions of its dominion... Gods ultimate design being that when sin had abounded beyond all imaginable proportions, then He would reveal His grace that would abound far beyond all the realms of the dominion of sin and death.
Two Reigning Monarchs (v. 21)
In consequence of all this, SIN became the KING, and he would co-reign with DEATH as lord on the throne, and would overtake and consume the whole family of Adam...
BUT GODS DESIGN WAS THAT WHEN SIN HAD RUN ITS DEVASTATING COURSE, AND HAD CONSUMMATED ITS REIGN OF TERROR--THEN GRACE WOULD FOLLOW ON ITS HEELS AND REIGN IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND CONSUMMATE HIS KINGDOM IN ETERNAL LIFE, IN THE WHOLE FAMILY OF THE NEW ADAM!
How can we miss the "logic" of the Holy Spirit as He sets forth in this comparison the overwhelming attributes of the Kingdom of Grace and Righteousness and Life that is inherent in the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus?
What is our problem then? Simply this: We know the power and the authority of the Law of Sin and Death. We know from experience how effective it is. But the other Law--the Law of the Spirit of Life--well, it still seems to be rather vague, impractical, unworkable, and intangible. We would probably be very happy to discover the Law of Life working within us that would be EQUAL to the authority and the power of the old Law of Sin and Death. But can we not hear what the apostle is saying--NOT ONCE, BUT FIVE TIMES IN THIS CHAPTER--
This is the way it is in Adam--there is a chain reaction of overwhelming, devastating dimensions-Then, if this be so, WE ARE TO HAVE MUCH MORE EXPECTATION--TO BELIEVE AND TO ANTICIPATE THAT THERE WILL BE A CHAIN REACTION OF LIFE, THAT WILL HAVE FAR GREATER DIMENSIONS THAN WE HAVE SEEN IN THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH.
For not only did the old law have great power... IT HAD DOMINION! IT RULED AND REIGNED! But now we have been delivered from that old monarch, and have become the subjects of a new Kingdom, ruled over by a new Monarch, and subject to a new Law-a Law that functions in grace and in truth. God tells us that His grace is not only to be revealed--IT IS TO REIGN IN RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO LIFE! GRACE IS TO BE IN SUPREME COMMAND AND CONTROL! WHERE SIN WAS ONCE IN CONTROL, RIGHTEOUSNESS IS TO BE IN CONTROL! WHERE DEATH ONCE HAD DOMINION-LIFE IS NOW TO HAVE DOMINION!
Now it is for this very reason that God sent His Holy Spirit to abide in His people in the earth, THAT HE THE HOLY SPIRIT MIGHT TAKE FROM CHRIST AND BESTOW UPON HIS PEOPLE IN THE EARTH, ALL THE RICHES AND TREASURES THAT ARE HIDDEN IN CHRIST JESUS, THAT AS MEMBERS OF HIS BODY WE MIGHT HAVE THAT DIVINE ENABLEMENT TO MINISTER LIFE ONE TO ANOTHER, ACCORDING TO THE EFFECTUAL WORKING OF THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE THAT FUNCTIONS IN EACH MEMBER.
AND THE TRAGEDY OF ALL THIS IS THAT GODS PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO BOW TO THE KINGDOM OF SIN AND DEATH, AND GIVE THIS CRUEL LORD ALL GLORY AND HONOR, AND YET REFUSE TO BOW TO THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST, WHO DESIRES TO BRING ABOUT A CHAIN REACTION OF LIFE THAT WILL FLOW FROM ONE MEMBER TO ANOTHER--AND STILL ANOTHER--BY AN OPERATION OF THE SPIRIT THAT FAR SURPASSES IN ITS EFFECT THE AUTHORITY AND THE POWER OF THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH.
Are we saying, then, that if Gods people will humble themselves and BOW TO THE KING OF LIFE, AND GIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT HIS LORDSHIP IN THEIR LIVES, AND IN THEIR GATHERINGS TOGETHER IN HIS NAME, THAT WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE THIS KIND OF CHAIN REACTION THAT WILL PERMEATE THE WHOLE BODY OF CHRIST? AND MAKE THEM TO BE A PEOPLE WALKING ACCORDING TO A NEW LAW, IN A NEW REALM, AND IN A NEW ENERGY OF SPIRITUAL LIFE? Yes, this is what we are saying, for I believe this is what God is saying. And the reason we are not seeing it is because we are content to move in dimensions of REVERSE ACTION, to merely drift along with the momentum of a Church that is drifting--drifting further and further away from the ways of God, and trying to draw our attention to their vain promotional schemes, rather than having us focus on the ONE THING THAT REALLY MATTERS, THE ONE AND ONLY THING THAT WILL REVERSE THE TREND OF OUR APOSTASY--SUBMISSION TO THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST IN HIS HEAVEN, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT IN OUR MIDST.
DISCOVERING OUR CROSS
The Holy Spirit, when He is Lord in our lives, will cause us to focus on the Cross as the pathway of life. Not merely on that cruel instrument of torture that brought Jesus to His death, BUT ON THE CROSS AS THE PATHWAY OF LIFE.
God "condemned sin in the flesh" when Jesus died on the Cross. But our struggle has always been to find how to put an end to sin in our flesh, here where we are now--2,000 years removed from the Cross on which Jesus died, And the answer is clear. It is by the functioning of the Law of the Spirit. And we can be sure that NOT UNTIL WE GIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT HIS LORDSHIP IN OUR LIVES, AND IN OUR GATHERINGS TOGETHER IN HIS NAME, ARE WE GOING TO EXPERIENCE THIS MIGHTY WORKING IN OUR MIDST.
Now the Law of the Spirit will lead us IN THE SAME PATHWAY OF OBEDIENCE THAT JESUS WALKED IN, AND THIS WILL MAKE HIS VICTORY OVER THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH TO BE EFFECTUAL IN OUR LIVES. The victory is in His Cross, but it is the Spirit who makes it effectual in our lives. This is what our baptism in water is all about--"Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). Do we hear what He is saying? "THAT LIKE AS CHRIST- EVEN SO WE ALSO..."
But how can we expect to discover this vital witness of the Spirit in water baptism, if in our baptism we are not experiencing the life of the Spirit? If in our baptism we are not experiencing "the washing of water by the Word"? If in our baptism we are not saying, "From this moment on, Lord, I am Yours. I hereby die to my own thoughts, to my own will, to my own desires, to my own way of life. Lord, this is what the Cross meant to You, and this is what it must mean to me, from this day forward."
The "water" is a witness. The "blood" is a witness. For the "water" is our witness that we believe in the "blood" and in the "cross" which caused the blood to flow, BUT THE SPIRIT OF GOD MUST QUICKEN TO OUR HEARTS AND MINDS WHAT GOD DID AT THE CROSS IF WE ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE AN EFFECTUAL CLEANSING OF THE BLOOD IN OUR LIVES.
"This is He that came by WATER AND BLOOD, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by WATER AND BLOOD. And it is THE SPIRIT that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth" (l Jn. 5:6). Oh, that we might be caught away in THE FLOW OF THE SPIRIT, IN THE FLOW OF THIS CLEANSING STREAM!
We know what Jesus accomplished at the Cross, because we believe His Word. BUT ONLY HIS SPIRIT CAN MAKE IT VITAL AND REAL IN OUR LIVES. For just as a bird was slain for the cleansing of the leper, and its blood mingled with pure, running water in an earthen vessel (and this became a cleansing stream for the leper in Israel)--so when the blood of the Lord Jesus was shed, there issued forth from His sacrifice a cleansing stream of BLOOD AND WATER: "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out BLOOD AND WATER. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true..." (Jn. 19:34-35).
BLOOD AND WATER! BLOOD AND WATER! This is the stream that cleanses--not the sterile water of the baptismal tank or font. ONLY THE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD CAN MAKE OUR BAPTISM IN WATER TO BE EFFECTUAL AND MEANINGFUL. In saying this I am not minimizing the importance of water baptism, but seeking to elevate it. MERE RITUAL ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING. Whatever we do in obedience to the Lord must be accompanied by His Presence and Spirit if it is going to be effectual. The water that the children of Israel drank in the wilderness was "spiritual," because it was impregnated with the Life of Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). The bread they ate in the wilderness was "spiritual" because it was prepared in Heaven and endued with the Life of Christ (1 Cor. 10:3). The Water of the Word is "spiritual" when it is endued, impregnated, and anointed with the Holy Spirit. If it is a mere doctrinal position it is all in vain. It must be a flowing stream. The water of purification that God ordained for the cleansing of the leper had to be "running" water, or "living" water. And it was effectual because the living bird was dipped in the water and in the blood, and released to soar into the heavens and over the fields. (See Lev. 14:4-7.)
Now our baptism in water is a testimony to all that we are washed in the blood, and are committed to walk in the way of the Cross. The Holy Spirit is the faithful Witness, as He soars in the heavens... with Blood and Water dripping from His wings. Hear Him, as we soar with Him in heavenly places. "There is cleansing, perfect cleansing from all sin and defilement! His blood has made us clean! The water of truth applies the blood to our hearts!" And the Spirit is witness to the truth, for He was there when Jesus died, and He bears witness "that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." He knows that there is nothing more pure, in Heaven or in earth, than the sinner who is washed in the water and the blood of the Lord Jesus.
Now I am confident that God wants His Holy Spirit to bear witness to the cleansing of the blood in our hearts and minds, AS TRULY AND AS EFFECTIVELY AS CHRIST BEARS WITNESS BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD THAT OUR REDEMPTION IS COMPLETE. BUT HOW ARE WE GOING TO HEAR THAT CLEAR WITNESS THAT STANDS BEFORE THE FATHER IF THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS NOT GIVEN HIS LORDSHIP AND AUTHORITY IN OUR MIDST TO SPEAK TO OUR HEARTS THAT SAME LIVING WORD THAT CHRIST OUR MEDIATOR SPEAKS BEFORE THE THRONE?
The Three Witnesses
The blood and the water flowed from His side,
And sprinkled the earth below,
For earth was the vessel that God did provide
To receive this cleansing flow.
And the Spirit of truth was there on that day,
Gods Witness, so faithful and sure
That our sins are removed and taken away,
And the heart of the leper made pure.
His pinions are stained with the blood of the Son,
As He soars oer the hills and the fields.
O hear His clear witness, "The work has been done,
You are cleansed in the stream that heals!"
For the Spirit is witness that water and blood
Flowed from His wounded side,
That we might be cleansed in the streams of God,
Ever with Him to abide.
There is nothing more clean on the earth below,
Nor in Heavens pure realms above,
Than the children of men who abide in the flow
Of the streams of His mercy and love.
O plunge and be clean in the River of God,
And soar on the wings of the Dove,
Immersed in the Fountain of Water and Blood,
Redeemed by the Son of His love!
I am confident that there are multitudes of believers who have the witness of the Word that they are "accepted in the Beloved," but who lack that clear witness of the Spirit that they are buried with Christ, cleansed by the Blood, and risen with Him to walk in newness of life. Submitting to another baptism will not do it. Knowing more about the doctrines of the Word will not do it. Understanding more of the mysteries of the New Covenant will not do it. We must return to the Lordship of Christ! His Spirit must become the Lord in our midst!
"IT IS THE SPIRIT THAT BEARETH WITNESS BECAUSE THE SPIRIT IS TRUTH."
When Gods people, even just a nucleus of them, will come to this kind of commitment: "Lord, I will do what You say--I will go Your Way--as You give me the grace and the power to do it," then we are going to see a "nuclear" spiritual reaction that will set in motion THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE in the Body of Christ, in ways that will exceed our fondest expectations. But where is that passionate longing and desire for the return of His Lordship to our midst? As long as we are content to know that blessed state of justification by His blood--without having a passionate desire for Christ to be Lord of His Church, without knowing that earnest commitment to walk in His way and become identified with His Cross--we are not going to experience that mighty presence of the Spirit in our midst that will bring cleansing and deliverance and holiness to the people of God.
I am confident that the Lord is rising up in His Church in this hour with those burning "eyes of fire" to sweep away the dross from His people, and to bring us back to the Cross from which we have strayed; and that He is going to set in motion the forces of resurrection life in the Body of Christ that we might know and experience in our daily lives the blood of His Cross, and the power of His resurrection. But do we really desire this to happen? Do we really desire to discover our cross?
If we do, this must bring us to the place where we are ready to cancel our plans, desires, pursuits, ambitions--be they base and worldly, or noble and spiritual. THE ONE MOTIVATING PRINCIPLE THAT GUIDED OUR LORD JESUS WAS NOT GODS PLAN FOR THE WORLD, OR GODS PLAN FOR THE KINGDOM, OR GODS PLAN FOR THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL--IT WAS SIMPLY AND ONLY A PASSION AND DESIRE TO WALK IN THE WILL OF THE FATHER. Everything that He did--everything that was good and righteous and beautiful--sprang out from this simple commitment:
"I CAN OF MINE OWN SELF DO NOTHING: AS I HEAR, I JUDGE: AND MY JUDGMENT IS JUST; BECAUSE I SEEK NOT MINE OWN WILL, BUT THE WILL OF THE FATHER WHICH HATH SENT ME" (Jn. 5:30).
I am confident that the heart of God is heavy and grieved as He listens in to the cries of a very zealous, but a very wretched and miserable Laodicean Church, for more preachers, and more church buildings and temples, and more seminars, and more television, and more radio, and more music, and more money, money, money, "to get the job done." If we had ears to hear what He is saying, we would sense the grief of His heart, and His longing for a people who would come to stillness, and hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches...
"My son, give Me thine heart."
"My people, will you not become broken bread in My hands, that I might do as I will?"
"Where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? For all those things... have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My Word" (Isa. 66:1-2).
The Accusation Of The Lord Jesus
"And they crucified Him... and set up over His head His accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS" (Matt. 27:35, 37).
Jesus seemed to be a little evasive when Pilate asked Him if He was a king. Not because He was unwilling to tell the truth but because His Kingdom was vastly different from what Pilate understood about kingdoms. But when Pilate insisted, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" Jesus gave a very direct answer: "My Kingdom is not of this world: if My Kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth..." (Jn. 18:36-37).
Our Lord Jesus never promoted His Kingdom except as it related to proclaiming the Truth, walking in the Truth, living the Truth; for this is the whole character and ultimate essence of the Kingdom of God.
Once again as in the days of Jesus there is a lot of expectation concerning the Kingdom of God; and it is still as greatly distorted and misunderstood by Gods people as it was back then. Jesus made it clear that His Kingdom did not relate to eating and drinking, to the economy, to political movements, or to externally getting involved with the kingdoms of this world. On one occasion they even tried to force Him to be their King. BUT WHEN THEY FULLY UNDERSTOOD THAT HE CAME TO CHANGE THEIR HEARTS RATHER THAN THEIR GOVERNMENT, THEY WERE QUICK TO CRUCIFY HIM. The Jewish Sanhedrin understood the nature of His mission much more than most of our Christian leaders do today:
"If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation" (Jn .11:48).
And then there was a very remarkable prophecy by the High Priest in which He not only prophesied the death of Jesus, but went on to say things that he himself did not understand: that this One would not only gather together the people of God there in their own nation, but would reach out and gather together the people of God wherever they were in all nations.
THIS PROPHECY BECAME THE CRUX OF THE WHOLE MATTER, for we are told: "Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Him to death." (See Jn. 11:48-53.)
What was the sentence, and what was the accusation of the Lord Jesus? THAT WHICH JESUS CLAIMED TO BE, THAT WHICH HE ACTUALLY WAS--THIS BECAME THE ACCUSATION AGAINST HIM. Pilate wrote it out in bold letters for all men and all nations to read, for it was written "in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin" (Jn. 19:20). I believe the Lord wanted it in the language of all men, for His Cross was to have great implications for the whole world. Pilate would not change the reading of it, even though the Jews pressed him to revise it to read: "This is Jesus who claimed to be the King of the Jews."
For here was One crucified for an apostate but very religious people--the Hebrews.
Here was One crucified for the intellectual and the wise--the Greeks--and by His Cross He would bring all their wisdom to nought.
Here was One crucified for the strong and the mighty--the Romans--but by that Cross He would bring all their power to nought.
For the Hebrews professed to have knowledge and truth, yet walked in darkness.
The Greeks were noted for their quest after wisdom and knowledge, yet they never found God in all of their searching.
The Romans had become that powerful empire that Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his vision-strong as iron--but by the Cross their kingdom would be crushed and scattered like the dust of the threshing floor.
"THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS."
This became His accusation.
I emphasize these things, because once again there is great expectation for the Kingdom of God, and rightly so. The truth of God is beginning to shine afresh in the hearts of men. But once again it is shining forth in the darkness. God knows how to sort it all out. He still knows how to divide the light from the darkness, as He did in the beginning. It looks like a polluted mixture-and it is. Nevertheless God is preparing a people for His Glory. He is preparing--
A Glorious Church...
A Holy and Cleansed Bride...
A Godly Remnant...
A Firstfruits People...
Sons of God...
Kings and Priests...
And perhaps we should mention one more, although no one is laying claim to it, But the great apostle Paul used it much--Bondslaves! Jesus Himself took this role, even though He was the firstborn Son, and highly exalted over all creation. Not that we as Gods people are called to be "bondslaves." We are called to sonship and to liberty--and foreordained to be conformed to the image of the Firstborn.
But what we are by calling--And how we attain to this high calling--These represent two different things.
For the "calling" is according to Gods plan and purpose...
But the attainment of it is according as we learn obedience and walk in His ways.
How important it is that we recognize Gods WAY. Certainly God wants us to know the "hope of His calling." BUT HE ALSO WANTS US TO KNOW THE WAY INTO THAT CALLING. Our Lord Jesus was KING, but He took the position of a bondslave, and discovered in this pathway of obedience THE HIGHWAY TO THE THRONE. "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and gave Him a Name which is above every name--" Why? Because He emptied Himself, made Himself of no reputation, and came in the form of a BONDSLAVE. (See Phil. 2:8-9.)
Getting involved in "the ministry" is not the high calling. This could very well lead to conceit, high-mindedness, and a sense of superiority and achievement--especially if one is successful. But the "high calling" is achieved by seeking out the pathway of God that would identify us with the sufferings of Christ. (See Phil. 3:8-10.) In this pathway you might find yourself walking in a very unexciting, very ordinary, very unpretentious, very restrictive, very unfulfilling pathway. If you had to write your biography it could be very boring, as you would talk about working in shops and factories, about tending the children, about washing pots and pans, about tilling the field, or hammering nails, or bending tin. And in it all, of course, experiencing the ordinary joys and sorrows of ordinary people. BUT IF THIS BE GODS WILL FOR YOU, IT IS GOING TO BE RIGHT THERE IN THE PATHWAY THAT GOD ORDAINED, THAT YOU WILL COME TO KNOW HIM IN A VERY MEANINGFUL WAY, AND BECOME THAT SPECIAL TREASURE THAT HIS HEART IS LONGING FOR.
On the other hand, you might choose to walk in some kind of a "spiritual ministry," and if you have certain ministerial qualities you might become very successful in that. BUT IF IT IS NOT BY GODS APPOINTMENT YOU WILL NOT COME TO KNOW AND EXPERIENCE THE HIGH CALLING OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS. FOR THIS "HIGH CALLING" IS RESERVED FOR HIM THAT IS PREPARED TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE, IN ORDER THAT HE MAY FIND THE LIFE OF CHRIST THAT PROCEEDS FROM A WALK OF TOTAL OBEDIENCE TO HIS WILL.
But we are talking about the accusation of the Lord Jesus, because it is in this context that we want to speak about our accusation, if we truly walk in identification with Him.
What Jesus was, a King of righteousness and truth, this became His accusation at the hands of a world He came to reprove. It was a perverted charge, of course; but it was because of who He was, and who He claimed to be, that He was crucified.
Now who are you? Who am I? Part of a glorious and triumphant Church? Members of the Holy Bride of Christ? Overcomers? Sons of God, being prepared and groomed for manifestation? Kings and Priests unto God? I trust we are...
BUT IF YOU AND I ARE ANY OF THESE, NOT IN OUR DOCTRINE ONLY, BUT BECAUSE WE HAVE COME TO VITAL UNION WITH CHRIST, THEN THESE TITLES OF THE HIGH CALLING WILL BE THE CAUSE OF OUR ACCUSATION. AND IF WE WALK IN THE PATHWAY OF OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD, THESE TITLES OF HONOR WILL BE NAILED ABOVE OUR HEAD ON OUR CROSS BY MEN WHO SEEK TO PERVERT THE TRUTH IN ORDER TO BRING ABOUT OUR DESTRUCTION. It is not because we live in a "democracy" that we are free from persecution. It is because we are bringing no vital reproof to the world of darkness about us.
"But we had the SENTENCE OF DEATH in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead" (2 Cor. 1:9). Paul was sentenced to death. He was on death-row. Not by the Roman Government-not yet. But right there in His walk with God--the word he preached, the word he lived, brought him into collision with the world about him; with his brethren in Judaism, and with false brethren in the Church, He was "crucified unto the world." The world was "crucified unto him" (Gal. 6:14).
For men of truth, who not only know the truth but walk in it, are always nailed to the very cross they are constrained to declare. Paul carried his cross around with him wherever he went--NOT BECAUSE HE MINISTERED DEATH, BUT BECAUSE HE MINISTERED LIFE. He didnt carry a gold cross on a chain about his neck; but he was nailed to one wherever he went. It had to be this way because he spoke the truth and walked in it. He didnt try to make a cross so he could boast he was like Jesus. The world made it for him, and nailed him to it, because he walked as Jesus walked.
We might continue on as we are--teaching, preaching, evangelizing, establishing churches, healing the sick, writing books, singing songs--and we could go on and on enumerating the various areas of service that God has committed into the hands of His servants in the House of God--And all this may be bringing joy and blessing and deliverance to many of Gods people--BUT BE PREPARED, IF YOU WANT TO BE TOTALLY COMMITTED TO THE WILL AND THE WAY OF GOD--BE PREPARED FOR THE DAY WHEN MEN WILL TAKE DOWN YOUR BANNER OF HONOR, AND NAIL IT ABOVE YOUR HEAD ON YOUR CROSS--Because the truth of God is sterile as long as it remains a teaching or a doctrine; but it becomes offensive to the world about us when we begin to walk in it.
LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14).
Being led by the Spirit of God is the sign of sonship. Not to say that we are not born of God if we have not come to this kind of sensitivity in the Spirit where we are flowing along in the movements of God. But this is Gods desire, and this is the sign of being a mature son of God--simply to flow along in the movements of His Spirit, in the winds of His guidance and influence.
We are "born again" by the blowing of the winds of God. We know not whence they come, or whither they go. (See Jn. 3:8.) How then can we plan and arrange and predetermine our course of life? We are born into the Kingdom of God in a way we cannot understand; and the same winds of Heaven will carry us along in the currents of His will--if we are not afraid of those heavenly currents. We can neither plan the day of our birth, nor choose our calling in life. It is all according to the sovereign moving of His Spirit in our lives, revealing Christ, and making us to know that we are born into an entirely new realm that is not subject to natural law.
But there is growth in this realm, and there is much need for the discipline of the Lord to bring us away from the old man we are in Adam, and to cause us to walk in the new life that we find in Christ. And so the apostle John speaks of a three-fold expression of those who are born into the Kingdom of God--Little Children, Fathers, and Young Men; and he wrote loving words to all of them. (See l Jn. 2:12-14.)
You will notice in this order set forth by the apostle that the category of "Young Men" is last on the list, and not second as most people would make it to be. And he repeats this same order, giving us a double witness. This is different from the natural order, for Gods desire for His children is that their last days should be their strongest, their very best. True, their mortal frame may be in a state of decline; but God has provided a quickening by His Spirit, where our weaknesses are overshadowed with His strength, and the resurrection life of Jesus actively functions within us. And as the "outward man" perishes; so there is to be a renewal of the "inward man... day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16).
"Young Men." These are the sons of God. They are "strong" because like the Son of God, their elder Brother, they can do NOTHING OF THEMSELVES. They are totally dependent upon the Father for the direction, the guidance, and the strength they need in all that they do. They do not walk in this way for lack of wisdom, but because of it. The wisdom of God teaches them that if they want to find themselves flowing along in the eternal purposes of God they must lay aside all their own desires, thoughts, pursuits, and ambitions in life. They know they must walk with God if they are to discover what the mind of the Spirit is. They know that God ordains all things according to His own plan and purpose, and that if they are going to become an integral part of that plan, then they must be moved to flow in it by His Spirit. The Word of God abides in them, nurturing them with truth and understanding. And because they understand a little about Gods ways they know that men of faith all through history were men who waited for God and were quick to respond to His voice when He made Himself known. The Word of God was always their lodestar. Yet each in his own generation recognized that he must sail his troubled seas according to Gods specific dealings with him. And because he is led by the Spirit he finds himself apprehended in the pathway of God, and becoming a part of His eternal purpose.
It is so important that we understand this, if we are going to walk in a way that coincides with Gods eternal purposes. The plans and purposes of God are vast, complicated, and incomprehensible--and we must never try to meddle with that. We rejoice in what He shows us. It gives vision and hope--and this hope cleanses and purifies. But we cannot say, "I know this is Gods plan so I am going to seek to fulfill it." It is enough that we simply learn to do His will, and find grace to walk in His way. Only then will we begin to relate and to coincide with the eternal purpose of God as it relates to ourselves--and to others who are likewise being led by His Spirit. As we are committed to do the will of God, God will be faithful to show us what His will is. But if we start working on Gods objective, rather than seeking to discover His explicit will for our lives, we are seeking to do Gods work, and will end up in distress, perplexity, frustration, and dismal failure. Why do we say this?
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD" (Isa. 55:8).
We as the Church have totally failed in this area, not recognizing that Gods WAY is to come before Him with much heart-searching and repentance, and wait till we are consumed with His love and His truth. Then God is able to send us forth by the Holy Spirit to invade the kingdoms of darkness, The New Testament Church never got involved with all manner of human programming to get the job done. THEY WAITED UPON GOD TILL THEY WERE FIRED WITH THE BREATH OF HEAVEN-FIRED WITH HIS LOVE AND TRUTH--AND THEN GOD SENT THEM...
AND BECAUSE THEY WERE SENT OF GOD THEY SET OFF A CHAIN REACTION OF LIFE WHEREVER THEY WENT.
Any true child of God must be grieved and pained as he beholds the horrendous conditions in the world about us--the hunger, the poverty, the spiritual darkness that holds mastery over the bodies and souls of men.
BUT IF OUR CONCERN IS AS GREAT AS WE PROFESS IT TO BE, WE WOULD CANCEL OUR PLANS AND CALL UPON GOD FOR THE POWER AND THE AUTHORITY AND THE GLORY WE NEED TO BREAK THE BANDS, AND SET THE PRISONERS FREE.
God is bringing forth a masterpiece of His wisdom in the redeemed sons of men, and He alone knows how to interlace the threads of His purposes in the lives of His chosen ones. We as Gods sons know very little about all this. Sometimes the little understanding He gives is overwhelming, and we wonder how we could comprehend any more. Nevertheless, our pursuit is not to acquire more and more of this kind of knowledge, BUT TO KNOW HIS WILL AND TO WALK WITH GOD IN THE WAYS OF TRUTH. FOR ONLY THEN CAN HIS PURPOSES BE FULFILLED IN OUR LIVES, AND IN THE LIVES OF HIS PEOPLE.
Horse And Mule Guidance
"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee [or, to make them submissive]" (Ps. 32:8-9).
Now we thank the Lord for the restraint of the "bit and bridle" when we need it, but the disciplined son of God does not require it, for the reins of God are in his heart and his delight is in doing the will of the Father.
"Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee" (Prov. 6:21-22).
What is he saying? Let the Word of God be close to your heart, and not just a doctrine that delights the intellect. "Tie them about thy neck," to keep you from being stiff-necked and rebellious, and from turning in this direction or in that as the winds of doctrine might blow. Then truth is wrought "in the inward parts," and your desires are motivated toward God. You will not fall into deception, for He will guard you in your times of "sleep" when you are not aware of the dangers that the Enemy is about to unload in your pathway. Suddenly you are awake, and you realize what has been going on, and the Truth talks with you, and reveals to you more and more of the hidden treasures of His grace and wisdom and knowledge.
David prayed, "Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart" (Ps. 26:2). Or, "Test my motives, O LORD..." For God is looking for a "willing" people whose hearts are motivated toward Him.
Constrained By The Anointing
This is entirely different from the "bit and bridle" that God has designed for the horse and the mule. God liberates us from the bridle, but not so we can go our own way and indulge in our own ambitious pursuits. He liberates us from ourselves, and from the ways of men, in order to bring us under His yoke--His yoke of learning Gods ways: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me." In ourselves we can very easily become contaminated with fleshly desire and ambition. That is why we have to know such a discipline of His Spirit, and be so committed to His will, that we will know how to survive the "pull". For out from our own hearts or from others there is going to be that pressure that would seek to move us in a direction that points to greater enlargement and fulfillment. God tries the reins of our hearts to see if we are looking for success and achievement, or simply for Him--and for a way of life that will be a delight to His own heart. The Spirit of the Lord is a liberating Spirit; but as we walk in the Spirit we will soon discover that the pathway of true liberty is a pathway which liberates us from ourselves, and constrains us to walk in the ways of God.
Led By The Spirit Of God... Into Realms Of The Heavenlies
Let us not emphasize this matter of being led by the Spirit, in the context of things temporal or geographical. These are important too, but if we are faithful to be led of the Lord into living truth, and into realms heavenly and spiritual, then I am sure we will find ourselves doing the right things regarding the temporal, and being in the proper place geographically. If we are moving in the Spirit, and walking in Gods will, we will always discover that we are in Gods place at Gods time. I believe all this is a vital part of Jesus promise: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
The purpose of the Holy Spirit coming to abide in His people is to guide us "into all truth..." (Jn. 16:13). It is to lead us into spiritual realms, where we are seated with Christ "in the heavenlies" (Eph. 2:6)--a place in God where we recognize we are "dead" as far as this world is concerned, and our life is "hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:8). God would lead us to His own heart and into "perfect love," for this is the ultimate end of our journey, Gods ultimate desire for His own:
"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made PERFECT, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but PERFECT LOVE casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made PERFECT IN LOVE" (l Jn. 4:16-18).
This is the "end" of the journey for those who are led by the Spirit--an "end," of course, that is swallowed up in eternity. He brings us to the heart of God, and we struggle no more with the tangled underbrush of the wilderness way. The Law of the Spirit of Life working in His people, has brought us into the full desire of Gods heart. We find our home in God. And God finds His home in our hearts.
THE LAW OF LIFE IN OUR LORD JESUS
Before we go into greater detail concerning the Law of Life as God would have it function in the Body of Christ, we want to consider the outworking of this Law in the life of our Lord.
"In Him was LIFE; and the life was the light of men." (Jn. 1:4).
The fullness of LIFE was in our Lord Jesus--not only life, but a Law of Life. Life reigned. Life was in charge. He lived in such intimate union with the Father that there was a projection of His life unto others. There was a Divine interaction of His life with the lives of others because the life that was in Him became a RULE, a LAW working from within and shining forth to men and women whose lives He touched.
"For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" (l Jn. 1:2). Light must shine forth--if it is truly light. Life must project itself--if it is truly life. It is not only life, it is life-giving, if it is the shining forth of the Life of God.
We have observed why and how this life was manifested in our Lord Jesus. It was because He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. It was by coming to that place where He would seek only the desire of the heavenly Father--ready to cast aside all temptations to pursue the thoughts, ambitions, desires, programs, and pursuits of men. The pressure was always there from the religious world about Him and even from His own disciples: "If you are going to succeed, if you are going to do anything productive, anything of value for the people, you have got to be active, energetic, ambitious; you have got to get involved." This is the thinking of the natural man.
Jesus totally conquered because He held firmly to the commitment of incarnation: "Lo I come to do Thy will O God." It was His commitment to do the will of the Father THAT MADE THE LIFE THAT WAS IN HIM TO BECOME A LAW, AN ENERGIZING FORCE, A DYNAMIC POWER WORKING WITHIN HIM.
But the pressure is always there to do it this way, because it is the only logical thing to do; to go in this direction, if you hope for success and enlargement.
We have the life of God in us now by new birth, by the renewing of our spirits. And because we have this life we are constantly being exhorted as to how we can release that life for the blessing of the Church or the world about us. But usually GODS WAY IS TOTALLY REJECTED, or presented in a sort of theoretical way. THE CORN OF WHEAT MUST DIE IN THE GROUND IF IT IS GOING TO BE FRUITFUL. THERE IS LIFE IN THE KERNEL--BUT THE LIFE CAN ONLY GROW AND GERMINATE AND BRING FORTH FRUIT IF IT IS WILLING TO SUBMIT TO THE PROCESS OF DISINTEGRATION AND DEATH. HE THAT TRIES TO PRESERVE HIS LIFE SHALL LOSE IT, BUT HE THAT IS WILLING TO LET IT DISINTEGRATE IN THE WILL OF GOD, SHALL FIND AN ABUNDANCE OF FRUIT.
It is a difficult lesson to learn--it is so unreasonable. We would prefer to enroll in "discipleship" seminars that are designed to show us how to become the Lords disciples the easy way, the more logical way. But if we discover an easy way to discipleship be assured we have missed it entirely. When all is said and done we are brought back to the pathway that Jesus so clearly set forth to His disciples of old: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). This is the pathway to discipleship: LAY ASIDE ALL THESE VERY LOGICAL SCHEMES AND SIMPLY AND ONLY DO WHAT THE FATHER SAYS. And if we pursue the will of God with intensity of commitment and devotion, IT WILL CULMINATE IN THE TOTAL DISINTEGRATION OF ALL OUR PLANS AND SCHEMES FOR SUCCESS AND ACHIEVEMENT.
This was the way of the Son of God; and because He walked in this way, earth harmonized with Heaven wherever He went, and responded perfectly to His every desire, His every request, His every Word, And it was this that brought about a chain reaction of life in the hearts of men and women whose lives He touched.
Let us consider certain facets of the Law of Life as manifested in our Lord:
1. Turning Water Into Wine
Jesus had to gently rebuke His mother on the occasion of the very first miracle that He performed in His earthly ministry. The rebuke simply stated was this: "Mother, do not seek to pressure Me--I must move according to Gods time and direction." (See Jn. 2:4.) She then said something that was very wonderful, and right: "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it" (v. 5). The Church of Jesus Christ would have ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM MEETING THE NEEDS OF HUMANITY IF WE COULD COME TO THIS VERY SIMPLE COMMITMENT--JUST DO WHAT HE SAYS. But this requires waiting for God, and this is a lesson that we find very difficult to learn. Sure, we will wait-as long as it doesnt take too long. How long does God expect us to wait anyway? WAIT... WAIT... WAIT TILL HE ANSWERS.
How long Jesus waited we do not know. BUT WHEN THE RIGHT TIME CAME HE DID THE RIGHT THING, SPOKE THE RIGHT WORD, AND THERE WAS A CHAIN REACTION OF LIVING ENERGY THAT PERVADED THE WHOLE WEDDING SCENE. And the new wine was much better than the old wine they had been accustomed to. The testimony of the governor of the feast was one of great surprise: "Thou hast kept the good wine until now" (v.10).
Can we believe this? THAT GOD HAS KEPT THE BEST WINE UNTIL NOW? Read up on all the revivals of Church history--all those glorious workings of God in past days, and be assured of this: GOD HAS KEPT THE BEST WINE UNTIL NOW!
What really happened? Here was a Man walking according to the Law of Life-the Life of God was in control, motivating, energizing, reigning. There was a chain reaction of life taking place. Every time the cup was dipped into the waterpot it came forth in LIFE, and new wine was created in another vessel... and another... and still another. For how long? TILL EVERY NEED WAS BEAUTIFULLY SUPPLIED!
Be assured brethren! God knows all about the needs of mankind, and His desire to do something about it is far, far greater than our desire. Many of you have done your best--I know--to meet those needs. BUT WITH EVERY PASSING DAY, WITH EVERY PASSING YEAR, WITH EVERY PASSING DECADE THE NEEDS ARE PILING UP IN MASSIVE PROPORTIONS. DONT YOU THINK IT IS ABOUT TIME WE SOUGHT GOD EARNESTLY FOR THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS TO BEGIN FUNCTIONING IN OUR MIDST? HE IS WAITING FOR THAT! HE IS NOT WAITING FOR SOME BRAND NEW PROGRAM FROM ZEALOUS CHRISTIANS TO GET THE JOB DONE. HE IS WAITING FOR A PEOPLE WHO WILL CANCEL THEIR PLANS, WHO WILL FORSAKE ALL THEIR OWN DEVICES, AND LET THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD RULE AND REIGN IN HIS CHURCH.
2. Living Water For The Samaritans
Jesus did not decide it was time to go and evangelize Samaria. He was simply responding to the Law of the Spirit, in which He had learned to walk. "He must needs go through Samaria." He sat there by Jacobs well as the disciples went into the city to buy food. Then what? "There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water" (Jn. 4:7). It just happened! No doubt we have all known experiences like this, when things "just happened," and yet when we look back upon it we just know GOD HAD PREDETERMINED THE HAPPENING! And we thrill to know that God went ahead of us and prepared the soil for a fruitful planting of the word of truth. But I am afraid we look upon such things as "coincidental" RATHER THAN AS GODS ONLY WAY FOR THOSE WHO WOULD WALK IN THE SPIRIT. He gives us an experience as a sample and foretaste of how He desires to move, and we think of these as very unusual, perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Rather it is the Lord urging us to walk in the Spirit and to give Him no rest till He establishes this wonderful Law of the Spirit in the hearts of His people. When we learn to simply walk in Gods will it is God that works at this end, and at the other end, to bring about this divine coincidence of one chosen vessel with another. God had in mind a chain reaction of life that would begin in the broken and wasted life of this poor Samaritan woman. He did not try to arrange a great crusade in Sychar. He simply did what the Father wanted Him to do. He "sat thus on the well," and waited for God to complete the picture. It was God who arranged the meeting of His Son with ONE DEVASTATED LIFE. Rent a hall to seat 10,000 people and bring in the fiery evangelist to hold a "revival"? Mans way, yes. And I am not saying God doesnt use things like that. BUT OH THAT GODS PEOPLE MIGHT RETURN TO THE SIMPLICITY OF GODS WAY! See the simplicity of it! There was a divine interaction of the Son of God with one devastated woman AND THIS BROUGHT ABOUT A CHAIN REACTION OF LIFE IN THE CITY OF SYCHAR. Jesus was "fused" with the Father. Jesus brought forth a word that "fused" the word into the heart of the Samaritan woman. And because she was fired with the breath of Heaven she brought a word that was "fused" into the lives of many of the Samaritans. This is Gods Way! It works! It is not a slow-motion way of reaching nations. It is Gods WAY! And He is preparing a people in this hour who will go His way, that all nations might be impacted with the life and the energy of the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
3. Born Of The Spirit
Here we have the Law of the Spirit declared very clearly by our Lord. IT IS LIKE THE WIND. "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" (Jn. 3:8). You cannot understand it. You cannot predetermine either its origins or its endings. You cannot control it. AND I FEAR THIS IS WHY WE ARE QUICK TO REJECT IT. IT IS BEYOND OUR ABILITY TO MANIPULATE. We were born anew by this kind of law. BUT GOD WANTS US TO LIVE AND MOVE BY THE SAME SPIRIT AND LAW BY WHICH WE WERE BORN INTO THE KINGDOM.
4. At The Pool Of Bethesda
A multitude lay there in their misery: "Impotent folk... blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water" (Jn. 5:3). You see those multitudes in their distress and you want to run there and throw them into the pool? It has not worked! It is not working! Read the statistics of the evangelization of the world in this century and you are compelled to admit, mans way does not work! But in walked a Man who was motivated by a different kind of law, the Law of Life. He did not go down to the pool because He heard there were a lot of sick people there, and it would be a good opportunity to hold a "Revival." I know this, because He only healed one devastated man there at the pool. But because He was motivated by the Law of Life He was helpless to work in the realm of natural law:
"I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me" (Jn. 5:30).
This was His secret. He was moving in harmony with Heaven, and Heaven always responded--NOT BECAUSE HE WAS THE GREAT MESSIAH AND MIRACLE WORKER, BUT BECAUSE HE WALKED IN THE WILL OF GOD, AND GOD WAS TOTALLY GLORIFIED IN ALL THAT HE DID.
Some people say, "If I had a gift of miracles I would go to the hospitals and heal everybody." Well, you might try to do that. But Jesus didnt FOR OUR LORD JESUS WAS NOT ACTIVATED BY THE GIFT HE HAD, BUT BY HIS COMMITMENT TO WALK WITH THE HEAVENLY FATHER.
5. Feeding The Multitudes
It was Passover time and Jesus was about to perform a great miracle by feeding the multitudes with "five barley loaves, and two small fishes" (Jn. 6:9). Jesus didnt do things like this every day, nor did He try. He didnt try to do anything BECAUSE IN HIS COMMITMENT TO THE FATHER THERE WAS NOTHING HE COULD DO. The Church continues to cry, "Do what you can... Do what you can...! But God continues to work in the hearts of disciplined sons till they are able to respond: "I CAN OF MYSELF DO NOTHING." The needs of mankind are accelerating much faster than our ability to make any visible impact in meeting those needs. And God wants us to know that He is concerned far more than we are, and that HE HAS A PLAN TO REACH ALL NATIONS WITH THE BREAD OF LIFE IF WE WILL BUT HEAR WHAT HE HAS TO SAY:
"And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down" (Jn. 6:11).
What happened? A chain reaction of life permeated every piece of bread that Jesus broke off and handed to the disciples.
NUCLEAR FUSION FADES AWAY IN COMPARISON TO THE MIGHTY REACTION OF LIFE THAT IS SET IN MOTION WHEN OUR LORD JESUS FUSES HIMSELF WITH THE HEARTS OF MEN. From His hands to their hands-and then to all the people--all along the way THERE WAS AN IMPARTATION OF CREATIVE POWER THAT MULTIPLIED ITSELF OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN, SO AS TO MEET EVERY NEED OF PERHAPS 15,000 PEOPLE WHO SAT THERE ON THE GRASS--about 5,000 men, besides women and children.
Do we hear what God is saying? That the bread of the Passover is SUFFICIENT FOR EVERY HUNGRY HEART, AND THAT AS WE BECOME ONE WITH HIM, AND ARE TAKEN INTO HIS HANDS AND BROKEN AND BLESSED, WE CAN MEET EVERY NEED OF THIS FAMISHING WORLD BECAUSE OF THE WORKING OF THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS!
But we must be thoroughly identified with the Passover Lamb that was slain, if we are going to he that broken bread in the hands of the Master. Lets not excuse ourselves by saying Jesus is that bread, and He is no longer here--"FOR WE BEING MANY ARE ONE BREAD, AND ONE BODY: FOR WE ARE ALL PARTAKERS OF THAT ONE BREAD" (1 Cor. 10:17).
True, our Lord Jesus is that bread, but God wants us to become one with Him that the chain reaction of His redemptive life might flow through us, making us to be ONE BREAD AND ONE BODY for the life of mankind. We will spend our energies in walkathons and marathons, and do our best to raise millions or billions to meet the needs of men--and please understand what l am saying--a few crumbs from our tables are meeting the needs of some in a very small way. BUT ARE WE WILLING TO BECOME BROKEN BREAD IN THE HANDS OF THE MASTER TO MEET EVERY NEED OF THE HUMAN RACE? This is Gods Way! Gods only way to reach the masses!
6. The Raising Of Lazarus
Consistent with the ways of the Lord Jesus He waited for the Father to speak before He would act. And consistent with the ways of the Father He seemed to wait till it was too late. It wasnt that Jesus overstayed His time, and then decided He had better rush His way into this very needy situation. Rather, He DELIBERATELY WAITED FOR LAZARUS TO DIE. And the purpose is briefly stated: "THAT THE SON OF GOD MIGHT BE GLORIFIED." (See Jn. 11:4-6.)
We know, and surely God knows, that the needs of mankind are far beyond our human resources to even faintly deal with. NOW IT IS GOOD IF WE RECOGNIZE THE NEED, BUT IT IS FATAL TO THE MULTITUDES WHO ARE PERISHING IF WE DO NOT KNOW GODS WAY TO MEET THOSE NEEDS.
It seems terribly cruel, I know, for the Lord to abide "two days still in the same place" when the need was so great. But let us hear these words of assurance: IT IS THAT THE SON OF GOD MIGHT BE GLORIFIED. Gods tardiness to respond to the needs of His people has in all ages been most grievous to the hearts of His servants. It was the cry of the children of Israel in their bondage. It was the cry of Moses. It was the cry of David. It was the cry of all the prophets: "O God, why do You not come down and do something about it?" Be assured, beloved, God does see and He does understand and care, BUT HIS PROBLEM HAS BEEN TO FIND THOSE YIELDED, OBEDIENT VESSELS WHO WOULD WAIT UPON GOD FOR THE ANSWER. It is believed that the word "Lazarus" is from the Hebrew word "Eleazar" which means "God is our help." And when God would do something very special He will WAIT till the situation is one of utter hopelessness, THAT HE ALONE MIGHT BE GLORIFIED. When the Lord finally comes to Bethany all the grieving sisters can do is lament His tardiness: "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died" (v. 21).
I am not saying that the Lord has not been doing some very wonderful things in the earth since the beginning, or that He is not doing some great things today. BUT IN SPITE OF IT ALL THE NEEDS ARE GREATER TODAY AND THE BONDAGE IS MORE SEVERE THAN AT ANY TIME IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND. FOR GOD HAS DETERMINED THAT IN THIS HOUR OF UTTER HOPELESSNESS AND DESPAIR HE WILL REVEAL HIMSELF IN THIS END-TIME AS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE TO A WORLD IN UTTER CHAOS.
"Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?" (v. 37). Of course He could have! BUT HE HAS WAITED FOR HIS SERVANTS TO COME TO HOPELESSNESS THAT HE MIGHT RADIATE HIS GLORY IN A DEMONSTRATION OF THE RESURRECTION LIFE OF JESUS SUCH AS THIS WORLD HAS NEVER KNOWN.
HE WAITS TILL DEATH IS RAMPANT...
HE WAITS TILL DEATH IS IN SUPREME CONTROL...
HE WAITS TILL THE KINGDOM OF SIN AND DEATH HAS REACHED ITS ZENITH OF POWER AND AUTHORITY IN THE EARTH...
TILL THE WHOLE WORLD STANDS ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION...
TILL MAN CAN BOAST THAT HE HAS IT IN HIS POWER TO ANNIHILATE ALL LIFE ON THIS PLANET...
TILL MAN HAS SET IN MOTION A CHAIN REACTION OF SIN AND DEATH THAT HAS ENGULFED THE WHOLE WORLD, AND NOW SEEKS TO ENGULF THE CHURCH...
BEFORE HE RELEASES THE CHAIN REACTION OF LIFE THAT WILL DESTROY THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH.
"Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (v. 40).
"And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth, And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go" (v. 43-44).
Now notice this. It sounds strange that men should love death rather than life, and darkness rather than light. But thats just the way it is--for the one is the enemy and the antithesis of the other.
Do you really think that when Gods servants start performing miracles of resurrection life the world is going to run after them?
NOT UNLESS THEY CAN MANIPULATE THE MIRACLE WORKER INTO THEIR SYSTEMS.
They would gladly have received Jesus as their King, IF HE WOULD BUT COME INTO THEIR SYSTEM. In fact they tried to force Him into that role.
What, then, is so noteworthy about this display of the Resurrection and the Life? It is this: THE DISPLAY OF THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE IN LAZARUS BECAME THE CATALYST THAT ACCELERATED THE SIN, THE DARKNESS, THE DEPRAVITY, AND THE HATRED OF THE HUMAN HEART.
And so His enemies gathered the council together and aired their problem:
"What do we? for this Man doeth many miracles. If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation" (Jn. 11:47-48).
WHEN JESUS MULTIPLIED THE LOAVES AND FISHES THE JEWS APPOINTED A DELEGATION TO COME TO JESUS, AND FORCE HIM TO BE THEIR KING (Jn. 6:15). BUT WHEN JESUS REVEALED THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE IN A MAN THAT WAS NOT ONLY DEAD, BUT ROTTING IN THE GRAVE, THEY TOOK COUNSEL TOGETHER TO SLAY HIM!
It was this display of resurrection life which set in motion the decree to crucify our Lord: "THEN FROM THAT DAY FORTH THEY TOOK COUNSEL TOGETHER FOR TO PUT HIM TO DEATH" (v. 53)
Charismatic blessing and power to provide easy access to loaves and fishes poses no problem with the most apostate of our religious systems. But when God begins the chain reaction of the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, ITS ULTIMATE END IS THE SETTING ASIDE OF MANS WAYS AND MANS KINGDOMS, IN THE WORLD AS WELL AS IN THE CHURCH. THE ENEMY KNOWS THIS AND WE CAN EXPECT AND ANTICIPATE THE FULL MEASURE OF SUFFERING FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST WHEN THIS BEGINS TO HAPPEN.
Now we can avoid the Cross if we choose to cooperate with the worldly systems of men, and seek to get involved with the kingdoms of the world.
BUT IF WE TRULY LEARN GODS WAY, AND BEGIN TO MOVE ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS, THERE WILL BE AN ACCELERATION OF THAT LAW WORKING WITHIN US THAT WILL BRING US INTO BROADSIDE CONFRONTATION WITH THE KINGDOMS OF DARKNESS.
But let us know and understand the wisdom of the Cross, and Gods purpose in all that will come upon Gods people in that hour:
IN THE PURPOSES OF GOD THE WISDOM OF THE CROSS WILL BRING HIS PEOPLE INTO LIFE-LIFE MORE ABUNDANT, RESURRECTION LIFE THAT WILL SWALLOW UP DEATH IN VICTORY!
FIRST OF ALL IN OUR MORTALITY...
AND THEN EVENTUALLY MORTALITY SHALL BE SWALLOWED UP BY THIS SAME SPIRIT AND LAW OF LIFE, AT THE SOUNDING OF THE LAST TRUMP! (1 Cor. 15:52). What a strange paradox is this? THAT JESUS, THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE, WAS NAILED TO THE CROSS FOR MANIFESTING LIFE TO A WORLD OF SIN AND DARKNESS!
BUT IN THE WISDOM OF THE CROSS GOD HAD BROUGHT THE PRINCE OF LIGHT AND LIFE INTO CONFRONTATION WITH THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS AND DEATH, "THAT THROUGH DEATH HE MIGHT DESTROY HIM THAT HAD THE POWER OF DEATH, THAT IS, THE DEVIL; AND DELIVER THEM WHO THROUGH FEAR OF DEATH WERE ALL THEIR LIFETIME SUBJECT TO BONDAGE" (Heb. 2:14-15).
And what is the outcome of all this?
"THAT AS SIN HATH REIGNED UNTO DEATH, EVEN SO MIGHT GRACE REIGN THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO ETERNAL LIFE BY JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD" (Rom. 5:2 1).
Be assured, beloved, when the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus begins to function under the lordship and dominion of Christ, Gods people will be propelled to their cross as surely as our Lord Jesus was to His.
But let us not seek to escape that cross. Rather let us embrace it. Let us not hesitate to take up our cross today, and every day, and walk in the pathway of discipleship as Jesus admonished. The cross that you and I hope to exchange for a crown is not the one that Jesus died on, but the one He has provided for you and me to die on, and which we will discover as we cling to His.
THE LAW OF LIFE IN THE EARLY CHURCH
We have observed how beautifully the Law of Life functioned in the Lord Jesus when He was here. But we forget that He made provision for the same law that was in Him to be transmitted to His people; so that the Resurrection Life that He is might become the energizing principle and law in those who come into union with Him. This is why He went away. He came to crucify the Law of Sin and Death; but having accomplished this there was no need for Him to remain any longer in the earth.
FOR BY HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS, AND HIS ENTHRONEMENT IN THE HEAVENS, HE WOULD BE ABLE TO RELEASE THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE TO THE MEMBERS OF HIS BODY IN THE EARTH.
He would go away, but He would come again in a new energy, a new force, a new principle, a new Law of Life in His people. And this new law would be as effectual in the people He left behind, as it was in Him when He was here. This is the clear teaching of our Lord, and this was the burden of His heart when He told the disciples that He must go away. BUT HE WOULD COME AGAIN IN A NEW WAY, IN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, TO ABIDE WITHIN THEM AND TO RULE AND REIGN IN THEIR LIVES IN A NEW PRINCIPLE AND LAW OF LIFE. There would be released from the throne a new energy, a new dimension of glory that would be as effectual in them as it was in Himself when He walked in the earth. This is what He prayed for:
"I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me" (Jn. 17:23).
Jesus was not talking about us being ONE in any other way than in becoming ONE WITH HIM, AS HE WAS ONE WITH THE FATHER. It has nothing to do with ecumenicism, getting all the churches together in one great organization. Satan is even promoting that, as surely as he promoted the building of the City and the Tower of Babel. For this union or "fusion" with one another is possible only as we are FUSED TOGETHER by renewing grace, and come into union and harmony with the Lord Jesus. Mans way (brick for stone and slime for mortar--Gen. 11:3) only ends in confusion. Going along with mans way will only strengthen the Law of Sin and Death, and give it greater acceleration in the lives of the unregenerate. Jesus went away to His exalted throne in the Heavens that He might perpetuate in the earth the very same life, the very same glory, the very same Spirit of Truth, that He was when He was here. His people would do the same works that He did, and even greater, because of His enthronement in the Heavens as the High Priest in a "more excellent ministry."
This, then, is the secret of the early beginnings of Church life. The same law that functioned in Jesus was now in His Church. The Holy Spirit was Lord in the midst of His people, just as Jesus was Lord on the throne of Glory, For it was not another Lord, but THE SAME SPIRIT OF JESUS. God began the Church in great simplicity of spiritual movements in the earth AND HE IS GOING TO FINISH THE WORK IN RIGHTEOUSNESS--NOT IN FAILURE. Very quickly the Church got away from Gods way as they grew weary of the Cross and succumbed to the temptation to trade it in for a crown of worldly glory and honor. The Cross in which they once gloried was exchanged for a cross that Constantine carried on his battle standards. As long as we carry a cross on our banners or a gold one around our neck we are no threat to the kingdom of darkness. Satan knows this and when his ravings as a roaring lion prove to be ineffective against a suffering Church, he is quick to change his garb for that of an angel of light.
On many occasions in the history of Gods people, whether in the Old Testament or the New, God has risen up in great power and brought mighty deliverances to His people. God would raise up judges in Israel and as long as the judge was judging righteously God gave precious seasons of deliverance and rest. But it would not be for long. Just a generation or two later and Gods people were back in their old bondage, doing their own thing. Then God would intervene again and would apprehend a chosen vessel, one that was totally devastated, weak, frustrated, impoverished--yet in it all crying out to God in their great hour of need.
But these mighty workings of God seemed to be of short duration, and in succeeding generations it has happened according to the lamentation of the prophet:
"Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten" (Joel 1: 34).
The sad part is that we are all prepared to look back to our glorious beginnings, or to some of His glorious visitations in later generations, but we fail to believe that it is Gods desire for His Church to continue moving in that realm, in that kind of glory. And now in this hour of great chaos in the Church as well as in the world we seem to be content to do the best we can with the little we have, instead of recognizing that this is not Gods Way.
The Church has been overwhelmed with sin and iniquity in our generation far beyond anything that Gods people could have imagined even a few decades ago. The same iniquitous and rebellious spirit that fills the earth has engulfed the Church, and Gods true servants are overwhelmed with their inability to cope with it.
BUT GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THAT HE HAS PROVIDED GREATER GRACE FOR THIS TIME OF GREATER EVIL: "THAT AS SIN HATH REIGNED UNTO DEATH, EVEN SO MIGHT GRACE REIGN THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS..." (Rom. 5:21).
We blame the times, the "evil day" in which we live, BUT THE KINGDOM OF GRACE CAN COPE WITH ANYTHING THAT SATAN OR EVIL MEN CAN BRING TO BIRTH.
OUR REAL PROBLEM, THEN, IS NOT THE EVIL DAY IN WHICH WE LIVE, BUT OUR REFUSAL TO HUMBLE OURSELVES AND ADMIT WE HAVE MISSED THE WAY, AND SEEK GODS FACE AFRESH THAT HIS HOLY SPIRIT MIGHT BECOME LORD IN OUR MIDST ONCE AGAIN!
Where Is Our Baptism Of Wind And Fire?
The early disciples were told to "WAIT FOR THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER." This is the key to the whole matter. But now we can boast: "The Comforter has come. We no longer have to wait." There are millions today who boast they have the Acts 2:4 experience. But where are the cities set aflame with the power and the glory of God by these "millions" of "Spirit-filled people"? What is the problem? We have somehow instilled in the hearts of the people the thought that if they have the Acts 2:4 experience nothing else matters. They have got it all! But let us be assured of this: Acts 2:4 will be meaningless if we do not have Acts 2:1, and Acts 2:2, and Acts 2:3. What about the Winds of God? And what about the Fire of God? These expressions of Gods presence can somehow be very easily forgotten, to our own shame and nakedness. It was the FIRE of Gods presence and anointing that consumed the handful of disciples who waited upon God in those early days, and caused them to become involved in a mighty chain reaction of the Spirit that brought multitudes into the Kingdom, and set cities aflame with the presence of God.
But the fire of God also kindled a fire in the hearts of their enemies. Be assured, the one will produce the other. You cannot escape it if you are truly walking in the ways of God and are filled with His presence. The world cannot hate us as long as we are very much like them. But Jesus they hated, and Paul they hated, because they released a light and a glory that penetrated the realms of darkness, and sought to consume the rebellious ways of men. Evil spirits no longer cry out in our presence, "Let us alone," for we are doing little to bother them. But when a people begin to walk in the light and the glory of His presence, the darkness cannot stand it, and the spirits of darkness will cry out in fear.
Let us briefly observe the functioning of the Law of the Spirit in the early Church.
Twelve men moving in God set Jerusalem aflame with the gospel of Christ. Not by their organizational ability but by the fire of God. A chain reaction of spiritual movements started in their midst, one life touching another... and another... and still others, till the whole city was filled with the "doctrine" of the living Christ.
Five men, at least five who are expressly mentioned by name, were earnestly seeking God in Antioch; and as a result the Holy Spirit spoke clearly and said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:2). These two men went forth to start a fire wherever they landed. The fire of God will always spread rapidly wherever and whenever there exists the dry tinder of broken and devastated lives. When Gods Spirit is Lord there is a mighty chain reaction of spiritual movements, as one life touches another... and another... and still an-other. But you are not going to start this kind of fiery reaction without the fire of God. You are not going to do it with the fire of human zeal, human eloquence, human organization, or any kind of entertainment. You might gather crowds with these, and leave behind some books and cassettes. But you are only going to start a fiery chain reaction when the Holy Spirit is there, to send forth a consuming Word by the breath of His mouth.
Then God scattered the Church in Jerusalem by another kind of fire-the fire of persecution. BUT THE SCATTERING OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD WAS BUT THE SCATTERING OF THE PRECIOUS SEED. Everywhere they went the gospel of the Kingdom was proclaimed in power and in might. God grant that we might partake of a goodly measure of the fire of God before the fires of persecution break forth upon us. Then we will be able to handle it. Then it will produce a beautiful, cleansing work in the midst of His people. We need the fire of God to prepare us for that day but we can be assured if we move in the fire of Gods anointing, it will bring about the persecution. Stephen burned with such a flame of the anointing that his enemies gnashed on him with their teeth. But Gods fire was burning, and no man could quench it.
Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ, and the whole country was stirred as the Holy Spirit moved mightily in the hearts of people. But Philip knew it was the Holy Spirit in charge, and when God sent him down to the desert, for reasons known only to God, he did not hesitate to leave this mighty revival in Samaria fearful that somehow in his absence things might get out of control. The Lord was in control, not Philip. God knew what He was doing, and Gods servants were content to let Him be in charge.
There in the desert Philip waited for the next step...
IN THE MOVEMENTS OF GOD WE ARE NOT INDEPENDENTLY DOING THE BEST WE CAN, AND HOPING SOMEHOW THAT GOD WILL BRING SOMETHING FRUITFUL OUT OF IT ALL. AS WE LEARN TO MOVE IN THE BREATH OF HIS MOVEMENTS, IT IS GOD WHO ARRANGES THE INTERACTION OF HIS SERVANTS WITH THE LIVES OF MEN AND WOMEN, TO BRING ABOUT THIS MIGHTY CHAIN REACTION OF THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE.
Philip simply waits for God to complete the picture; for what God is doing in His servants who are moving in the Spirit is a beautiful masterpiece of His own wisdom and genius.
Here comes a man of Ethiopia, returning from a time of worship in Jerusalem, sitting in his chariot and reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip is immediately prompted to join him in the chariot, and he begins right there where the eunuch was reading, and "preached unto him Jesus." What beautiful and masterly coincidences "happen" when Gods servants learn to walk in His way! The Church at Jerusalem was not meeting together in committees trying to solve the problem of reaching the nations with the gospel, or organizing task forces to fulfill the great commission. The Holy Spirit was Lord of the Church, and He told His waiting servants what to do, where to go, when to speak. And as they walked in His will all Heaven was mobilized in full battle array to stand by the servants of God, and to coordinate the forces of the spiritual world with the workings of an obedient people.
Enter Saul of Tarsus, breathing out hot flames of slaughter against the Lord Jesus. But he did not know that the fire of God was much hotter than anything he could exhale from his smoldering breast. God revealed himself in a blaze of glory that was MORE BRILLIANT THAN THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE NOON-DAY SUN. Suddenly he was apprehended by the Lord. Thats the word Paul used later, when he mentioned what had happened. God had apprehended him. God had arrested him and conscripted him for service in the army of the Lord. Here was a chosen vessel of God, for "many are called, but few are chosen."
The Holy Spirit wants to be the Lord in our midst, as the Lord Jesus is Lord on the throne. It is He who initiates Gods plans and purposes in the earth, and ordains the walk of His servants who are committed to do His will. And so here in Damascus is a trusted servant, and the Lord tells him to go down to Straight Street, and lay hands on a man named Saul, that he might be healed. He reminds the Lord that this man has a very bad reputation among Christians but the Lord assures him He knows what He is doing. Ananias finds Saul and lays hands upon him, and restores his sight, and then gives this chosen vessel a little indication of Gods purpose in all that He has done: Paul was to KNOW GODS WILL, AND SEE HIM, AND HEAR HIM SPEAK. (See Acts 22:14.) That covers a lot of territory, but immediately Paul knows he is under military orders. HE IS TO BE TOTALLY RESTRICTED TO THE WILL OF GOD. And as this great apostle walked in the will of God, how wonderfully do we see the release of the Spirit of Life through his ministry, causing a fiery chain reaction of spiritual life wherever he went--lighting a fire here, and another one there, and then going on his way while the fire continued to burn.
We could go on and on all the way through the book of Acts and observe the mighty things that were accomplished, but we want to make the proper emphasis. We are not just talking about great and wonderful miracles. We want to emphasize the Lordship of Christ in it all, and how it was the Holy Spirit in control--CONSCRIPTING CHOSEN VESSELS, LEADING, MOTIVATING, ENERGIZING THE PEOPLE OF GOD TO DO THE WORK THAT THE RISEN LORD HAD IN MIND AS LORD OF THE CHURCH.
NOBODY WAS TRYING TO DO ANYTHING...
NOBODY WAS TRYING TO FULFILL THE GREAT COMMISSION...
THEY WERE THE PEOPLE OF GOD, SERVANTS OF THE MOST HIGH COMMITTED TO DO GODS WILL, AND WALKING IN HIS POWER AND ANOINTING.
How we thrill at these mighty movements of Gods Spirit, as He walked in a cleansed and holy people in the days of the Churchs early beginnings. BUT HOW SAD IT IS THAT HIS PEOPLE DO NOT RECOGNIZE THAT GOD WANTS HIS LATTER-DAY CHURCH TO WALK IN THE SAME LIFE, AND IN THE SAME ANOINTING!
FOR GOD HAS NEVER ORDAINED HIS CHURCH TO MOVE THROUGHOUT THE EARTH IN ANY OTHER WAY, BY ANY OTHER POWER, BY ANY OTHER METHOD, THAN THE ONE HE ORDAINED IN THE BEGINNING-THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS. HE IS ALWAYS DOING NEW THINGS, BUT ALWAYS BY THE SAME LAW OF THE SPIRIT. MISSING THIS, AND DOING IT OUR WAY, WE MISS EVERYTHING.
GODS DESIRE FOR THE LATTER DAY CHURCH
Gods people have committed the two evils mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah:
"They have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters... and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can... hold no water" (Jer. 2:13).
I wonder which is worse of the two evils: to forsake Gods way is bad enough; but rather than returning to God they replace the flowing river for leaking cisterns, and this seems to be even worse.
Gods provision for His people in this wonderful era of the Holy Spirit is clearly stated by the Lord:
"HE THAT BELIEVETH ON ME, AS THE SCRIPTURE HATH SAID, OUT OF HIS BELLY SHALL FLOW RIVERS OF LIVING WATER (BUT THIS SPAKE HE OF THE SPIRIT, WHICH THEY THAT BELIEVE ON HIM SHOULD RECEIVE: FOR THE HOLY GHOST WAS NOT YET GIVEN; BECAUSE THAT JESUS WAS NOT YET GLORIFIED)" (Jn. 7:38-39).
God wants to flood His Church once again with rivers of living water. It is our heritage in Christ: "For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills" (Deut. 8:7).
Do you feel you are one of those who dwell in low places? Thank God for it. This is where the living waters desire to flow. An old hymn of the Church goes something like this:
"Just as the stream finds a bed that is lowly,
So Jesus walks with the humble and holy..."
The streams of God always seek out the low places, as they flow from the heart of God. We must humble ourselves that the water of life might flow once again. To forsake these living streams is a great evil; but the second evil shows a total disregard for the God we profess to serve. Mans way cannot retain the refreshing streams of the water of life. Mans cisterns can hold no water. We need to repent of both evils, and especially of the second one, that the streams of life that once flowed from His Church might once again be released from the throne. That the clutter and the debris of the Philistines might once again be removed from the wells that Abraham had dug, and begin to flow forth again in the midst of His people as a fountain of Life. We have built many denominational reservoirs and cisterns, or independent ones--hoping to maintain a supply of pure refreshing water, but soon they become stagnant. Everybody knows that if the pool of water does not FLOW it becomes stagnant.
God asks His people to forsake the building of cisterns, and then come back to the Fountain. Mans efforts to get things "moving" in the Church are exhaustless, and what we are getting from it all are "broken cisterns that can hold no water."
But God is on the scene to do something about it. It is for His glory that He is going to arise in the earth in power and in might. He is exceedingly jealous for His own Names sake, His glorious Name that has been polluted among the nations:
"So will I make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let them pollute My holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel" (Ezek. 39:7).
God has promised that "the glory of this latter house shall be greater of the former..." (Hag. 2:9). God says He is "waiting for the precious fruit of the earth," so we can be confident the fruit for which He is waiting is going to be of the highest quality, and exceedingly precious in His sight (Jas. 5:7).
Jesus promised us that the gates of Hell would not "prevail" against His Church--so I know for sure that the final battle of the Church age is going to be a glorious, and triumphant one (Matt. 16:18).
God "hath set" ministries in the Body of Christ for the express purpose of bringing the Church "UNTO A PERFECT MAN, UNTO THE MEASURE OF THE STATURE OF THE FULNESS OF CHRIST," so I know for sure it is going to happen (Eph. 4:13).
And So What Is God Doing Today?
He is doing everything He needs to do to bring to fullness the very desire of His heart. He will do it in spite of the unbelieving multitudes in the Church. But we teach these things and we write these things that those who believe might have renewed confidence and assurance to rise up in the strength of their Lord and follow the Lamb whithersoever He may lead us.
For all of mans plausible endeavors to set up the Kingdom of Heaven are going to crumble when the simple, the weak, the base, and the despised of men-those whom the apostle Paul calls "the nothing ones"--shall arise in the strength of their Lord and go forth clothed upon with the armor of God, and with beautiful feet prepared with the shoes of peace. (See 1 Cor. 1:28.)
The world and the Church are in for a rude shock when they see these "nothing ones" in our midst, clothed upon with the glory of God. functioning in priestly ministry before God; and bringing healing and mercy and grace and love and truth to those who sit in darkness.
For it is true that God set special ministries of "apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers" in the Church--but it was not that these ministries should be glorified. Their purpose and calling is to so minister truth that the Body of Christ might be knit together, SO THAT EVERY MEMBER MAY BECOME A VITAL LIVING MEMBER OF THAT BODY, MINISTERING THE LIFE OF CHRIST TO OTHERS. This is scarcely happening anywhere, BUT THIS MUST COME ABOUT IF THIS BODY IS TO BECOME THE ONE BREAD AND LOAF THE APOSTLE SPEAKS ABOUT.
I fear, for the most part, that the present-day ministry is quite happy to leave matters the way they are, as long as they can depend upon the people to stand behind them. But this is not what God wants. He wants a ministration of the Spirit among the people that will fuse one member to another in the Body of Christ, in order to bring about a chain reaction of the Law of Life throughout the whole body. The "ministry" itself cannot do that, nor were they intended to. They are set there in the body, to bring about fruitful ministry in the rest of the body (Eph. 4:12). Saul kept everybody busy in his kingdom, but this is not what we are talking about. This is not what God means when He says He has "tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another" (1 Cor. 12:24-25). True ministry will share the burden of Gods heart and will earnestly seek God for that ministration of the Spirit that will bring about this glorious life in the Body of Christ; for it is in and through this body, and not merely through special ministers, that the mighty workings of God are going to be performed in this last hour. Just throwing a meeting open for everyone to speak their mind is not what we are advocating: but a sensitivity to the Spirit, that each one might minister the life of Christ to the others.
"From whom the whole body fitly joined [framed] together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:16).
Let us go over this verse slowly:
The body is "fitly joined." It is not a case of trying to make the members to be compatible with one another, trying to make them "fit" where it is obvious they do not "fit." Only God can remove those rough edges, those areas of self-will and self-pity and all that rebellion to the ways of God in order to make us "fit together." But as the ministry of the Spirit of truth ministers grace to the hearts of the hearers, and Gods people desire to walk in obedience and in the will of God, then how beautifully will He place member to member in the corporate whole. I am not saying there can be no meaningful fellowship with one another until all this happens; but the Body of Christ will not be effective and powerful in God until it is "fitly joined" by His Spirit.
"And compacted." In another place these words are translated "knit together" (Col. 2:2, 19). It is God who does the knitting together, for it is His garment that He is weaving for His own glory. Only He knows how to interlace the threads of His purposes into the lives of His people, and how to join one life to another--and still another--because of His spiritual dealings in their hearts and lives, and because of His own purposes. We are all "one" in Christ. But there are special joinings between certain members according to Gods plan. You do not choose that particular member that you feel you would like to be effectually joined to in the Spirit. This is Gods prerogative, for God is weaving a pattern of His own wisdom and purpose. He does not specially join an ankle bone with a bone in the arm, though they are "one in Christ." The finger bones are joined each to its own fellow-member, and so forth throughout the whole body. Our God is the Potter. He is the Weaver. He is the Master Builder and Architect. He is the Gardener. He simply asks us to be yielded in His hands, to be faithful in obeying Him and doing His will; for He chooses our distinct place and calling in the Body of Christ. He knows what He is doing and He will continue to shape and fashion us according to His will. He will continue to chisel away at the rough, hewn rocks of the quarry until we are fitted and compacted together by His wisdom and grace and power. He will continue to weave the pattern of His beauty and wisdom in the lives of His people, as He knits them together by His Spirit.
"By that which every joint supplieth." The joint is the place of attachment. Perhaps we could liken it to the ligament, for this is the thing that joins the one member to another. Each bone must have its spiritual "ligament" to be joined to its fellow member in the body. Each board in the Tabernacle that Moses built had its golden ring to receive the connecting boards, and to join one board to its fellow, that the structure might be steadfast and firm.
In vain do we go about trying to create this kind of spiritual relationship that we know God desires. Let us be content to simply and only do the will of God as it relates to us personally, and leave it up to God to determine how and in what manner and to whom in particular he would join us together in His glorious body. If we are faithfully doing the will of God in our place of appointment, somewhere in the pathway of God we will discover this divine coincidence, this converging with others, this joining together with kindred spirits in the beautiful framework of what God is doing. It is not something I have anything to do with by way of arranging, promoting, or manipulating.
"According to the effectual working in the measure of every part." Every part has its particular "measure" of ministry to impart to the others. Paul says it "worketh effectually." This is what the anointing is for. If the anointing is not there the burden will fall on one or two individuals whom we have been taught to consider as Gods "anointed ministry." But their place as anointed ministers is to minister truth by the anointing that the same anointing will flow throughout the rest of the body. We cannot make this happen. And oftentimes there is disappointment when the fellowship is left "open" for ministry, as some of the more aggressive ones seek to emphasize some issue that has no real bearing upon the ministration of life and truth. Nevertheless, those who see the importance of every member becoming a vital organ in the living Body of Christ will continue to minister the anointing to the hearers until they rise up in the strength and in the beauty of Christ.
But we must be prepared, brethren in ministry, as this chain reaction of life begins to permeate the Body of Christ--we must be prepared to see the DECREASE of the greater ministries, for the INCREASE of the whole body. Moses and Elijah had a special part to play in the introduction of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. But suddenly the Cloud of Gods presence overshadows them, and Moses and Elijah fade away THAT CHRIST ALONE MIGHT BE GLORIFIED--THAT MEN MIGHT SEE JESUS ONLY.
THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF THE BODY OF CHRIST IS NOT TO EXALT MINISTRY, NOR TO EXALT ANY SPECIAL MEMBER, BUT TO EXALT THE LIVING CHRIST.
And God wants every member to be "special"--everyone to be a "member in particular"--in order that in the full manifestation and display of the Body of Christ, all men might see Jesus only.
We are not at this time seeing anything remotely like this, BUT THIS MUST COME--AND IT WILL BE THIS THAT WILL ELIMINATE THE SCHISMS IN THE BODY OF CHRIST:
"But God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO SCHISM IN THE BODY; BUT THAT THE MEMBERS SHOULD HAVE THE SAME CARE ONE FOR ANOTHER" (1 Cor. 12:24-25).
"Maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." It is Christ who builds His Church, but the Christ is in His body, and considers Himself to be one with the body. And so because of the Anointing (who is Christ) it is said that the body "edifieth itself." In the same sense it is said that "the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself..." (Mk. 4:28). We know it is not just the earth--it needs the rain, the sunshine, the watchcare of the gardener, and all that. But the ingredients of the life of the garden are there in the earth, and the divine capability is there in the seed to receive the moisture and to absorb the minerals and the virtues of the sun. And the life that is in the seed is nurtured with every ingredient it needs for germination and growth. So it is in the Body of Christ.
OUR LORD JESUS, BY HIS ASCENSION INTO THE HEAVENS, BY HIS ENTHRONEMENT ON THE THRONE OF GLORY, AND BY THE ADMINISTRATION OF HIS SPIRIT IN THE CHURCH, HAS PROVIDED US WITH EVERYTHING THAT IS NECESSARY TO BRING ABOUT IN THE EARTH A CHURCH THAT IS FILLED WITH THE FULLNESS OF GOD, AND ENDOWED WITH ALL IT NEEDS TO COME TO THE FULL STATURE OF CHRIST.
The secret of it all still remains a hidden formula as far as our ability to make it happen is concerned; but "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him," and Gods way is right, and it will work. It has already worked in great measure in the time of the sowing of the good seed in the earth in the time of the Churchs early beginnings; and it has worked in small measure many times throughout her history. BUT THE CLIMAX IS YET TO COME. THE FULL HARVEST IS YET TO COME. THE HUSBAND-MAN CONTINUES TO WAIT FOR THE FULLNESS OF IT ALL--FOR THE PRECIOUS FRUIT OF THE EARTH. HE IS WAITING FOR IT BECAUSE HE KNOWS HE IS GOING TO HAVE IT. HE WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED; AND HE HAS SET IN MOTION A CHAIN REACTION OF ANOINTING THAT WILL QUICKLY BRING HIS PURPOSES TO GLORIOUS FULFILLMENT.
HE IS WAITING FOR A PEOPLE, BUT HE IS NOT WAITING FOR MORE ACTION ON OUR PART. HE IS WAITING FOR A PEOPLE WHO WILL LEARN TO BE STILL AND WAIT FOR HIM. HE IS WAITING FOR A PEOPLE WHO WILL SIMPLY COMMIT THEMSELVES TO THE DOING OF HIS WILL. HE IS WAITING FOR THOSE WHO ARE PREPARED TO FORSAKE THEIR VISION AND BE WHOLLY OCCUPIED WITH HIS.
In emphasizing this corporate relationship in the Body of Christ very often there has been a failure to minister the living Christ in such a way that ones individual freedom in the Spirit is magnified and enlarged. Aggressive and ambitious leaders have often wrought havoc in the Body of Christ by bringing the people under subjection to their ministry, rather than into a more meaningful union with the Lord Jesus Himself. And they accomplish all this by misrepresenting what God has in mind regarding divine order, and divine government. As we become "members in particular" in the Body of Christ there will be an increase of the flow of Christ through us, not a diminishing of it. The more we are joined in vital union with one another in the Body of Christ, the greater will be our individual appreciation and love for the Lord Jesus Himself, and the more meaningful will be our personal walk with Him. And our peace and rest and liberty in the Spirit will be greater. If this is not the way it is we had better search our hearts--ask God to search our hearts--and then ask Him for the grace to leave this little Babylon we have become entangled with, thinking all the while we were getting farther away from Babylon, and getting more and more involved with His divine order. Our God is exceedingly Jealous for His Bride, and He will not tolerate any ministry, no matter how great his office, or how powerful he might seem to be-God will not allow ANY MINISTRY TO COME IN BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR PERSONAL WALK WITH THE LORD JESUS. A TRUE MINISTRY, LIKE THAT OF THE APOSTLE PAUL, WILL HAVE A PASSION AND HOLY DESIRE TO PRESENT GODS HOLY BRIDE UNTO CHRIST, AND UNTO HIM ONLY--AS A CHASTE VIRGIN.
Our love for Christ must never be replaced with a love for the body, or a love for the ministry, or a love for the "covering" that some would seek to bring us under. Our banner over us continues to be the LOVE OF CHRIST. Our covering is nothing less than His overshadowing wings of glory.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER IN THE BODY OF CHRIST WILL BE OVERSHADOWED WITH A GREATER MEASURE OF THE GLORY AND PRESENCE OF GOD IN OUR LIVES--NOT A LESSER GLORY. THE CHAIN REACTION OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN OUR MIDST WILL MAKE THE LIFE OF JESUS TO BE MORE PRECIOUS, AND MORE MEANINGFUL TO EACH INDIVIDUAL MEMBER.
If in our emphasis on the corporate character of the Body of Christ we do not individually experience a greater flowing of His love in our hearts and lives, and an increasingly greater appreciation of the Lord Jesus Himself, but are caught up with the enthusiasm and the excitement of the glorious body of believers that we are associated with, I fear there is something very wrong with it. I fear all we have is a self-glorifying Babel, with multitudes coming together to do great things, to build cities and towers and temples, and to make for themselves a name of renown--BUT EFFECTUALLY CROWDING CHRIST COMPLETELY OUT OF HIS TEMPLE. So much of this is happening today--all under the guise of "building up the Body of Christ."
I want to exhort those members in the Body of Christ who are weary of the cries that are emanating from prominent ministries to "Come join us... come get involved with the real Body of Christ" and who have been tossed to and fro in their efforts to find this meaningful fellowship that you know God wants to bring forth. It is Gods prerogative to join you in a meaningful way to fellow-members in the Body of Christ. Your responsibility and mine is simply to seek His face and walk in obedience before Him. Quit being tossed about--wandering to and fro looking for rest. Be still and know that He is God. Somewhere in your great desire to do Gods will there will come about a meaningful fellowship with others, as God arranges it. And when this takes place there will be an increase in your life, and in theirs, because of this divine coincidence. You do not have to go to all the unity conferences, or read all the books, or listen to all the rapes, to somehow discover what the Body of Christ is all about. Just do the will of God where you are... on the job... at your place of business, and look to God to join you effectually to the body that He is forming by His Spirit. He knows exactly where you are. Dont be afraid that you might get lost in the streams of daily responsibility as you seek to make an honest living, and care for your family. And at the same time take care that you are not carried away with the burden of increasing earthly possessions; for, as Jesus said, "a mans life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Lk. 12:15). God knows where you are. And He is especially looking for you, if your heart is right toward Him:
"For the eyes of the LORD
Run to and fro throughout the whole earth,
To shew Himself strong in the behalf of them
Whose heart is perfect toward Him..." (2 Chron. 16:9).
Many are out in the front, looking for recognition....
"I have the end-time truth, Lord, use me."
"I believe in the Kingdom message, Lord, use me."
"I am part of the firstfruits company, Lord, use me."
"I am ready to fight in Gods army, Lord, use me."
"I know the Word, Lord, and have taken a course in theology, use me."
But His eyes continue to search out the hearts of men, not looking for volunteers, but ready to conscript the helpless, the weak, the nothing-ones, whose hearts are perfect toward Him.
The Valley Of Dry Bones
I think we have a beautiful picture here of the very sovereign way in which the Lord brings together the glorious Body of Christ:
"The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, Thou knowest. Again He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them" (Ezek. 37:1-8).
We have heard a lot of NOISE, and we have seen a lot of SHAKING, as the prophetic voice has gone through the land. For when God speaks from Heaven there is always a shaking as God strips man of all his ideas and exposes his folly in trying to unite the people of God under the banner of UNITY.
NEVERTHELESS IN THE MIDST OF IT ALL THERE IS COMING ABOUT A JOINING IN THE SPIRIT THAT MAN WITH ALL HIS CHARISMATIC RESOURCES KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT--A JOINING TOGETHER OF INDIVIDUALS OF LIKE HEART AND MIND AND SPIRIT. Many are weary of the "unity" they have sought to acknowledge as they lay together in the open valley, and are tired of being pushed together first by this apostle, then pulled apart by that prophet, to be joined somewhere else.
BUT THE SOUND OF THE SPIRIT FROM HEAVEN WILL JOIN MEMBER TO MEMBER ACCORDING TO THE PLAN AND THE PURPOSE OF GOD, BY A MIGHTY CHAIN REACTION OF ENERGY RELEASED FROM HIS SERVANTS WHO ARE BEING FUSED TOGETHER BY THE WISDOM OF THE CROSS, AND BY THE LIFE OF CHRIST.
The anointed, prophetic voice has been very much in evidence in this present generation. I know there has been a lot of the human element in many cases, and a lot of false anointing. But through it all Gods people who are truly walking with Him have heard the voice of the Spirit, as they have tuned their hearts into God, and they have been able to come away from the bleaching sun of the open valley to be joined together with fellow-members in the Body of Christ. This really has nothing to do with geographic location, and I always discourage people from going about trying to discover meaningful relationships with others in the Body of Christ. Oftentimes our present geographic location seems to be a hindrance, and we feel we are not able to find that kind of spiritual fellowship that we must have. There may be an ongoing realization of helplessness, of futility, of fruitlessness, of barrenness, and of DEATH. Ezekiel noticed that too: "THERE WAS NO BREATH IN THEM."
What are they waiting for? Why are they lying there in their distress--doing nothing, saying nothing--when others are apparently very successful and prosperous and doing great things for God? Simply because THERE IS NO BREATH IN THEM, and they know there is nothing they can do without THE BREATH OF GOD! Oh yes, they could do a lot of things perhaps in their natural strength, but God calls it "dead works," because they are works produced without the breath of God. I wish we could believe what Jesus said, that apart from vital union with Him, where His life and His strength flows through us, WE CAN DO NOTHING.
A Prophecy To The Wind
"Then said He unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army" (Ezek. 37:9-10).
I believe the voice of the Spirit is about to come forth in a new way, in a new dimension of life and of energy, in a mighty chain reaction in the Body of Christ, as one member begins to edify the other, and that the mighty operations of God will multiply and increase in His people. But man will receive no glory out of this. God has already so dealt with His chosen ones that they are extremely aware of their futility, their helplessness, their barrenness, their death. They have learned, what many have yet to learn, that ANY WORK ENERGIZED BY HUMAN DEVICE AND ENGINEERING IS FRUITLESS AND FUTILE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. And so they continue to wait for God. They must PRAY, PRAY, PRAY--YES! BUT THEY MUST ALSO LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN! For surely God is about to speak again.
But it is not enough that earth hears the sound of His Voice. IF HEAVEN DOES NOT HEAR THE SOUND OF HIS VOICE THERE CAN BE NO RESPONSE OF HEAVEN TO THE CRY OF HIS SERVANTS IN THE EARTH. If Heaven is not alerted to what we are saying, we are not able to bring forth the life and the energy that is needed for the breathless members of the Body of Christ. And so God commanded the prophet--"Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD, Come from the four winds, O breath, AND BREATHE UPON THESE SLAIN, THAT THEY MAY LIVE."
Oh that Gods people might come to stillness, that they might hear His voice, that they might come to know His way! Then we would know and understand that it is ONLY AS WE ARE SILENT BEFORE HIM, TOTALLY HELPLESS IN OURSELVES TO DO OR SAY ANYTHING, THAT WE CAN EXPECT THE RESPONSE OF THE HEAVENS TO BREATHE LIFE INTO OUR STONY HEARTS. AND ONLY AS WE MINISTER UNDER HIS ANOINTING ARE WE GOING TO ALERT THE HEAVENS TO THE CRIES OF THE EARTH, AND CAUSE THE HEAVENS TO RESPOND TO THE NEEDS OF MEN.
While We Are Waiting, God Is Working
This is why He asks us to wait for Him. God knows we can do nothing unless it is He that is doing it. But it takes us a long time to learn that. God knows that unless He brings the spiritual realm down into the earthly realm nothing is going to happen. And so God is working--working in the lives and hearts of the Ezekiels, the Isaiahs, the Nehemiahs, the Davids, the Gideons, who see and know and understand that unless God comes on the scene and reveals His way, and conscripts a people whom He has prepared through much testing and trial, THE WORK WILL NOT BE DONE--because there will be no interaction between Heaven and Earth. There will be no chain reaction of life from one to the other. And so He keeps us waiting, while He is working--Working all things together for good to them that love Him...
Working humility and brokenness in the proud and the rebellious...
Working patience, longsuffering and grace in the lives of His chosen ones...
For only then are His chosen ones prepared to interact in the lives of Gods people who are brought low in the furnace of affliction, and who are crying unto Him for help and deliverance.
And when Gods servants have come to the end of their strength and of their resources, then do they begin to discover the resources and the riches of Heaven. Then are they prepared to move in coordination with the movements of the heavenly realm. And only then is there any accomplishment for God of eternal significance.
And While We Are Waiting... We Are Seeking To Do His Will
We are not talking about sitting down in ease, and comforting ourselves with great revelations of truth. But while we are waiting for God TO DO WHAT HE ALONE CAN DO, we seek to be faithfully DOING WHAT HE HAS TOLD US TO DO, AND WHAT HE HAS ENABLED US TO DO. WE SEEK ONLY TO DO HIS WILL. We are not formulating plans to do anything.
JESUS WOULD HAVE TOTALLY MISSED GODS DESIRE FOR HIS LIFE IF HE HAD TAKEN IT UPON HIMSELF TO FORMULATE PLANS FOR THE EXTENSION OF HIS MESSIANIC KINGDOM IN THE EARTH. BUT HE WAS TOTALLY SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE HE CAME TO THE PLACE WHERE HE COULD DO NOTHING OF HIMSELF, AND SOUGHT ONLY TO FULFILL THE DESIRE OF THE HEAVENLY FATHER.
We have to keep emphasizing this, because we are slow of hearing. If we know God wants to feed the multitudes, we will go ahead and raise the funds to do it. If we know God wants to send an army to the nations, we will go ahead and mobilize that army. If we know He wants to deliver a nation from slavery, we will start sniping at the enemy, and content ourselves with the thought, "Well, at least I am trying." And in doing all of these things and more, WE ARE TOTALLY MISSING WHAT GOD HAS IN MIND.
Surely it has not been in vain that men and women through the Church age have prayed:
"Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
In earth as it is in heaven..."
Over and over again has this prayer been answered in the lives of men and women who sought God earnestly in the hour of great need. But never yet has it been answered in its ultimate fullness.
But let us never forget THAT IT IS ALWAYS GOD WHO INITIATES THE MEETING OF THE HEAVENS WITH THE EARTH. It is never initiated by zealous individuals who read history and say, "Moses did it, so I can do it... Joseph did it, so I can do it... Wesley did it, so I can do it... Finney did it, so I can do it." Everytime God moved in the earth in these mighty sovereign workings it was something new, something fresh from Gods storehouse--for He has never yet exhausted all the hidden treasures of His heart.
I believe Heaven and Earth are about to meet again, and in the midst of all of earths distress and bondage we must wait to hear from Him that we might be able to respond in the only way that will glorify God. Heavens plan is never accomplished by the new carts, the new programs, the new initiatives, the new methods that are pouring forth from the Church in this hour.
For God gave us His Spirit--not just to bless us and comfort us; not just so we could have a powerful One we could use in the ministry. GODS INTENTION WAS THAT THE SPIRIT OF GOD WOULD IMPART WITHIN US A NEW LAW, A NEW ENERGY, A NEW PRINCIPLE OF LIFE BY WHICH WE ARE TO LIVE. (See Jn. 17:21-22.)
While we are waiting for God to come on the scene, and do what He alone can do, let us simply be faithful TO DO WHAT HE SAYS. If it be just to stay at our job in the menial tasks of daily routine, let us do what He says. If I seek to be out there doing something "spiritual" when God wants me to learn faithfulness at my job, I have missed Gods Way. And if God wants my brother to leave his job, and go forth at His direction, and he chooses to have the security of a comfortable home and business, then he has missed Gods Way.
WHILE WE ARE WAITING FOR GOD TO ACT... LET US FAITHFULLY DO WHAT HE SAYS.
CHAIN REACTION IN JEZREEL
"Yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. And it shall come to pass in that day,
I will hear, saith the LORD,
I will hear the heavens,
And they shall hear the earth;
And the earth shall hear the corn,
And the wine, and the oil;
And they shall hear Jezreel.
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" (Hos. 2:19-23).
Now notice Gods provision in the earth to bring forth true FRUITFULNESS. In harvest time we are looking for fruit--not just any kind of fruit, but top quality fruit. Now God is the Husbandman, and He is looking for TOP QUALITY. He calls it "the precious fruit of the earth," He is waiting for that. He has waited for many centuries. We would think He would have reaped the harvest long ago, when revival fires were sweeping over many places in the earth. BUT GOD CONTINUED TO WAIT, SO I AM ASSURED THE HARVEST FOR WHICH HE IS WAITING IS GOING TO BE TOP QUALITY--THE VERY BEST THAT HE, THE GREAT GARDENER, CAN BRING FORTH!
This all starts with the "betrothal" of the Bride to the Bridegroom. It is this that sets in motion this tremendous chain reaction, this intricate series of movements in which Heaven and Earth respond the one to the other, and react and interact the one with the other... and another... and still another--Gods intention being that there will come forth a great and a precious harvest, for the delight and the pleasure of the Husbandman. We must go through this passage carefully.
God says, "I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment." For He must cleanse and purify His people. This is the first stage of the "betrothal." Then "lovingkindness and mercies" follow after that.
This produces "faithfulness" on the part of the Bride. God is always faithful, but it is going to take an administration of righteousness and judgment to make His Bride faithful.
And then she comes to KNOW THE LORD. Oh yes, before all this she knows the LORD--AS one thing or another--AS Savior, AS Healer, AS Blesser, AS Giver--AS... AS... But this falls short of Gods desire. Do you want to know the LORD because of what He does to you, OR BECAUSE OF WHO HE IS, THE GREAT AND THE OMNIPOTENT AND THE SOVEREIGN LORD OF THE UNIVERSE, AND OF YOUR OWN HEART?
All this starts in the heavens--the earth is apprehended and a chain reaction of life is set in motion:
"I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth." Heaven wants to pour forth of her blessings upon a needy world, and it seems to be her cry: "Give me rain for the earth, Oh Lord--the earth is famishing--give me rain for the earth."
"And they shall hear the earth." For the earth has finally realized her plight. God said He was going to send a famine on the earth, not of bread or water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. The famine is fast approaching. I think it is here, but Gods people are not quite aware of it yet. But there are some, and there will be a lot more who will cry out: "God we are in a state of famine! Come, Oh Heavens, and pour righteousness upon Your people! We are perishing for lack of the living bread!"
And the Heavens hear, and they respond to the cries of the earth. The apostle tells us that the whole creation is groaning and travailing in birth-pangs-perhaps in great ignorance of what the groans are all about-but she groans for deliverance, And the heavens are alerted to the cries of the earth, and God is preparing sons, in the same school of obedience in which He prepared His only begotten Son, to be revealed in the day that He has appointed for earths deliverance. (See Rom. 8:19-22.)
And because Heaven has responded to earth, earth is able to respond to the corn and the wine and the oil. Their granaries are empty. The winepress is empty. The oil vats are empty. And they cry to the earth: "Fill us with wine fill us with oil... fill us with corn..."
And so there is a chain reaction of life. There is new growth in the barren and desolate earth. There is the corn of the living bread. There is the "wine that maketh glad the heart of man." There is the oil of His anointing, that causes the face of man to shine with His glory, And the shining forth of the anointing from the face of His people will bring about the mighty workings of God in the earth.
But there is a further reaction. Jezreel begins to cry out:
"Let truth be planted in the earth...
Let truth be planted in the earth...
Let truth be planted in the earth..."
And then the Bride cries out to the heavens, "SOW ME IN THE EARTH... SOW ME IN THE EARTH... SOW ME IN THE EARTH..."
And God hears the cries of His beloved Bride, and sows her RIGHT THERE IN THE EARTH THAT SHE MIGHT REPRODUCE HER KIND IN THE EARTH.
"Jezreel" means "God will sow."
Jezreel is Gods promise to the earth that He will have a faithful Bride, and that when He finds her, HE WILL SOW HER IN THE EARTH.
Jezreel is Gods promise to humanity that His holy Name shall no longer be blasphemed among the nations because of the unfaithfulness of His people-because of the unfaithfulness of an adulterous Bride.
And Jezreel is Gods promise to the world that when His Bride is cleansed and made holy HE WILL SOW HER IN THE EARTH, THAT SHE MIGHT REPRODUCE HER HOLY SEED IN THE EARTH. GOD DOES NOT SOW DEAD SEED. HE SOWS A LIVING SEED. AND IF GOD SOWS A LIVING AND RIGHTEOUS SEED IN THE EARTH, HE DOES SO THAT HE MIGHT REAP A HARVEST AFTER THE KIND OF THE SEED THAT HE PLANTED.
How long will our God leave this holy Bride and this holy Seed in the earth? We do not know. BUT IF GOD IS PLANTING THIS HOLY BRIDE AS GOOD SEED IN THE EARTH, WE KNOW HE WILL LEAVE HER THERE LONG ENOUGH TO REPRODUCE HER KIND IN THE EARTH, FOR THE GLORY AND HONOR OF HIS GREAT NAME!
I mentioned above that the Bride cried out: "SOW ME... SOW ME... SOW ME IN THE EARTH." Perhaps some of you are wondering where I get that from. I get it from the word of truth, and from the Spirit of truth. Certainly the Bride of Christ longs for the day when she shall be clothed upon with immortality and caught up to be forever with her Lord. BUT FIRST AND FOREMOST, IF YOU KNOW THE SCRIPTURES AND THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, YOU KNOW THAT GODS HOLY BRIDE LONGS TO BE FRUITFUL IN THE EARTH.
She is not selfishly looking forward to an easy way of escape from this sinful old world. She longs to be sown in the earth that she might bring forth fruit in the lives of others.
She cries out with Rachel in her barrenness: "Give me children, or else I die" (Gen. 30:1). It is in the nature of a bride to desire fruitfulness. She cries out for children. And God heard her cry. Even in her birthpangs as Joseph was brought forth we hear her yearning for another son. She called him "Joseph," which means "God will add," as if to say, "I want another one... I want another one." And God gave her another one; but she had to die to bring him forth. She didnt know when she cried out in desperation, "Give me children, or else I die" that in the full answer to her prayer, she would have to die. Do you want to be fruitful unto the Lord? Jesus said, "The corn of wheat must DIE... or it abideth alone."
Then we hear Gods faithful Bride moaning with Hannah in her barrenness:
"And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget Thine handmaid, but wilt give unto Thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head" (1 Sam. 1:10-11).
Or she complains with Abraham:
"Lord GOD, what wilt Thou give me, seeing I go childless... Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed..." (Gen. 15:2-3).
Many of us have complained with Isaiah the prophet... and many more should be complaining:
"We have been with child,
We have been in pain,
We have as it were brought forth wind;
We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth;
Neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen" (Isa. 26:18).
How many of us have prayed, feeling that sense of utter futility, utter hopelessness, utter helplessness: "Lord, why do You not take me away from the earth? Why do I cumber the ground? Lord, make me to be fruitful in the earth or let me die."
Take courage, if you have found this to be the prayer of your heart! He keeps you barren and fruitless BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU, AND BECAUSE HE WANTS TO BRING YOU TO HELPLESSNESS, THAT IN YOUR TOTAL HELPLESSNESS HE MIGHT REVEAL HIMSELF AS THE STRONG AND MIGHTY ONE--
Who breaks the bows of the mighty men,
And girds the faltering one with strength.
Who gives the bread of life to the hungry,
And causes the self-sufficient ones to hire
themselves out for a crust of bread.
Who causes the barren woman to give birth to SEVEN, and makes the strong and the fruitful woman feeble, because she trusted in her own strength.
Who KILLETH, that in their death He might reveal the power of resurrection life.
Who maketh rich, and lifteth high, and brings the self-sufficient ones to poverty and rags.
(See 1 Sam. 2:4-7.)
AND SO THE HEAVENS ALWAYS RESPOND TO THE CRY OF THE WEAK AND THE BARREN AND THE HELPLESS, FOR IT WAS HEAVEN THAT MADE THEM THIS WAY, THAT GOD MIGHT BE GLORIFIED IN GIVING LIFE TO THE DRY TREE, AND SONS AND DAUGHTERS TO THE EUNUCH. (See Isa 56:3-5.)
Our loving Father only withholds His promise to bring us to helplessness, that He might be glorified in revealing Himself as the resurrection and the life in a devastated and barren people in the earth.
God says, "I WILL SOW HER." This is what His holy Bride is for! He does not kidnap her as soon as she becomes perfect, lest she be defiled by the world in which she is planted. For the seed that contains the life of God is not defiled by the evil world in which it is sown.
RATHER, THE POLLUTED EARTH IN WHICH SHE IS PLANTED BECOMES THE GOOD SOIL FOR THE GOOD SEED OF THE LIVING TRUTH, AS SINFUL, DEVASTATED, CORRUPTED, AND BROKEN LIVES ARE TOUCHED WITH THE GENTLENESS AND THE MERCIES AND THE LOVE OF THE HOLY BRIDE OF CHRIST.
SHE IS SOWN RIGHT HERE IN THE MIDST OF ALL THE EVIL, AS A LIVING EXAMPLE OF WHAT GOD CAN DO BY WAY OF CHANGING, TRANSFORMING, AND CREATING ANEW THE FALLEN SONS OF MEN.
The Sounds Of Heaven
And so the sounds of Heaven--and let us never forget this, these sounds begin in Heaven--they resound again and again, and re-echo again and again and again in the earth, as Heaven speaks and earth responds. The Bride speaks as Rebekah did to Abrahams servant, and she says, "I will go with this Man." She responds to righteousness, to faithfulness, and to truth. It strikes a chord in her heart. It does not sound like some far-out doctrine that she must beware of, in her great desire to "get the job done." She is willing to forsake all TO BECOME THE BRIDE OF THE LAMB.
I believe the Heavens are astir with great emotion as they look down and try to understand what God is doing in the earth; because they know little of what God has accomplished and will accomplish in His great work of redemption. Peter tells us they "desire to look into these things." (See 1 Pet. 1:12.)
And then the angels respond to minister to Gods servants in the earth, who are seeking to know Gods will, and to walk in His way.
The Cherubim of glory respond to the people who stand before the Lord in priestly ministry; because the Cherubim, too, are there at the mercy seat (as you will discover in the Tabernacle of Moses, and in Solomons Temple). They stand where Gods people stand, declaring Gods righteousness, and hearing words from His mouth. They too are exceedingly jealous for Gods glory, and exceedingly jealous for the Church which is His body; and are part of the array of "ministering spirits" sent from Heaven to minister on behalf of Gods elect.
"The wheels of the Cherubim" likewise respond to the Cherubim, for they are one with the Cherubim, and equally zealous for the glory of God. When the Cherubim are lifted up from the earth, so are the wheels lifted up; for "the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels" (Ezek. 1:20). I believe they must represent the ministry of the Body of Christ in the earth which in the purposes of God will move in beautiful coordination and harmony with the heavenly hosts. That is why it is SO IMPORTANT THAT WE FIND OUR PLACE IN THE EXPLICIT WILL OF GOD, FOR THE HEAVENLY HOSTS FUNCTION IN THIS REALM, AND IT IS ONLY IN THIS REALM THAT WE ARE GOING TO DISCOVER THAT THE RESOURCES OF HEAVEN ARE SENT FORTH TO MINISTER ON OUR BEHALF.
And so Gods servants must be very attentive to respond to the Spirit, and this will not be difficult as they become more and more attentive to the will of God. These mighty movings of God are not limited to the days of Old Testament prophets. This dispensation is far greater, and surely God will move as mightily in the days of the Churchs apostasy as He did in the time of Israels apostasy. Gods servants today will be caught away in the Spirit, as Ezekiel was, to see and to know all the abominable things that are going on in the House of God. Gods trusted servants do nothing of, and out from themselves. They feel the impulse of the heart of God, and move only in response to His movements. They speak, as God bids them to speak. They remain dumb, like Ezekiel, as God bids them to be dumb. They know that they are not free to prophesy, just because they are prophets. Ezekiel had to learn this kind of discipline before God sent him to prophesy to the nations. God literally tied him down--for 390 days on one side, and then for 40 days on the other. He could not move except as God released him to perform the needful duties of the day, and prepare his daily portion of bread. His burden and zeal was not of human origin. It came upon him--this clear and powerful Word--after eating "a roll of a book." John the beloved likewise had to "eat the little book." It is because of this that they are able to prophesy to nations and tongues and people, in a way that would be chain-reacting, mighty, and powerful. The nations must respond to this kind of Word, not because these servants of God are famous in the list of earths great ones, (for Gods prophets are never famous until they are dead); but those who hear this kind of Word must react, in a chain reaction for good or for evil, because they know that ordinary men cannot speak this way. This is the voice of God, and they will receive it or hate it, all depending on the response of their own hearts.
Then he speaks with a powerful creative voice to "dry bones" in the open valley. And they come together in a mighty chain reaction of energy that causes a noise and a shaking. Flesh comes upon them, and sinews cover them, and they are endowed with organs that are prepared for the life of God. Up till then "THERE IS NO BREATH IN THEM."
And so he must speak again, this time to the winds of Heaven. It is not enough that earth hears your teachings, your prophecies, your expositions of scripture. Multitudes of men and women might thrill at the words they hear from powerful sermons or prophecies, but if the Heavens are not stirred to action THERE IS NO CHAIN REACTION OF LIFE IN THE EARTH.
And so he speaks again, in that same prophetic anointing, BUT THIS TIME HIS PROPHECY IS A STRONG INTERCESSORY PRAYER FROM THE DEPTHS OF HIS SPIRIT, AND FROM THE DEPTHS OF GODS SPIRIT:
"COME FROM THE FOUR WINDS O BREATH, AND BREATHE UPON THESE SLAIN, THAT THEY MAY LIVE."
FOR NO MATTER HOW POWERFUL YOUR PROPHECY MIGHT BE, IT MUST PENETRATE THE HEAVENS BEFORE THE KINGDOMS OF MEN ARE TORN DOWN, AND THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN ESTABLISHED IN THEIR PLACE.
Earth fears no words from mere preachers, nor from self-styled prophets. But earth fears when an Ezekiel speaks--and prays. Kings feared when Elijah spoke--and prayed. Felix trembled when Paul spoke. When Gods glory rested on the Church in Jerusalem, people feared to be around, unless their hearts were repentant before God.
For men cannot forget how Ezekiel spoke with Gods words, and a leader in Israel dropped dead. They remember how a humble and broken Peter, moving in harmony with Heaven, spoke by the Spirit and two members of the Church dropped dead.
And yet they glory not in this, but rather in the lives of men and women who have been drawn to repentance. They fall on their face, as Ezekiel did, and cry out to God to have mercy upon the self-willed and the rebellious. They glory not in the God of wrath, but in the God who delights in lovingkindness, and mercy, and righteousness. But they must speak with Gods words, because they are moving in the "wheels" of Heaven, and they know that Gods purpose in pouring out His judgments in the earth is that "the inhabitants of the earth may learn righteousness." They delight in mercy. They cry out for God to remember mercy, even as He reveals His wrath. (See Hab. 3:2.)
And so they hear, and they speak--and they hear and they speak again--and the chain reaction goes on and on until the heavens are totally occupied with what God is doing in the earth. And the earth is shaken to its foundations because of the VOICE that thunders forth from the throne through humble, insignificant, broken, but approved, vessels of mercy.
"Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, YET ONCE MORE I shake not the earth only, BUT ALSO HEAVEN" (Heb. 12:26).
And what does this mean, YET ONCE MORE? Paul tells us clearly what it means: IT MEANS THE SWEEPING AWAY OF ALL THE KINGDOMS OF MEN, THAT ONLY THE UNSHAKABLE THINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD MIGHT REMAIN.
The Law Of The Seed
We have been talking about "Jezreel" ("God will sow"); and before we go on we must speak a little about the power and the potential of the "seed." Let us not underestimate the POWER OF THE SEED, and the LAW OF THE SEED. It is staggering beyond our comprehension.
There is always a joy when one finds himself ministering in the anointing of His Spirit. For the word that goes forth not only refreshes the hearers, it strengthens and refreshes the one who speaks.
But God has a way of keeping His servants in a state of total weakness and dependency upon Him. FOR IF WE ARE CALLED TO BE A SOWER OF SEED, THEN WE MUST BE PREPARED TO GO INTO THE GROUND AND DIE IF THE WORD WE SOW IS GOING TO BE EFFECTUAL IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS. This is what Paul stated in his letter to the Corinthians: "So then death worketh in us, but LIFE IN YOU" (2 Cor. 4:12).
He rejoiced that he could be so identified with the truth that he could bear about in his body "the dying of the Lord Jesus." He understood the Law of the Seed. Others in his day were at liberty to go about preaching the gospel, some of whom were even contentious enough that they hoped they were adding to Pauls affliction. (See Phil. 1:1546.) Perhaps they boasted a little that Paul "had missed it." But who were those men? What were their names? And what do we know of their work and their accomplishments? We know nothing about them now, But the apostle Paul, faithful to sow a few seeds of Life here and there, and ending up in prison, and eventually as a martyr, HAS BROUGHT ABOUT A HARVEST IN THE LIVES OF MANY MILLIONS, PERHAPS HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS; FOR HE HAS MINISTERED TO EVERY GENERATION FROM HIS DAY UNTIL NOW, IN THE WORD THAT GOD GAVE HIM FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH AGE. AS A FAITHFUL STEWARD HE NOT ONLY PLANTED GOOD SEED-HE BECAME GOOD SEED; HE BECAME IDENTIFIED WITH THE VERY WORD HE PREACHED, AND LAID DOWN HIS LIFE AS A TRUE DISCIPLE.
I want to give you an illustration of the Law of the Seed. I have chosen the seed of the common corn, or maize. In times of normal productivity there can be two or three ears on one stalk, from the one seed. Some varieties can produce as many as 1,000 kernels on one ear, but we are just going to talk in terms of a 100-fold increase from each seed. We will assume that we receive 100 kernels of good seed-corn reproduced from ONE seed. And then these are sown in each succeeding season in the earth. So in the first season we have 100 kernels reserved for planting in the second season, In the second season we will have l00xl00, or 10,000 kernels. (We are not talking about the total harvest, just the 100-fold increase from the good seed-corn that was planted.) The next season will again produce 100 times that, and so forth.
NOW IN JUST FIVE SEASONS WE WILL HAVE: l00xl00 xl00xl00xl00--or 10,000,000,000 (TEN BILLION) KERNELS OF SEED-CORN, which is about DOUBLE THE PRESENT POPULATION OF THE EARTH!
I know our vision must be high. But let us never suppose that our vision is high as we pursue the worlds idea of greatness, enlargement, and success. Or that our vision is high if we seek to assemble the biggest crowds into the biggest auditoriums or send out our books from the biggest distributing outlets or hold the biggest seminars... or the biggest evangelistic out-reaches...
Whatever the Lord bids us do... this we must do. BUT WE MUST NEVER LET THIS BECOME OUR VISION. THEN WE ARE FREE TO DROP IT ALL, IF THAT SHOULD BE GODS WILL, without screaming our protests before God in Heaven: "Lord, this is Your work! Lord, You started this work! Please Help us, we are in trouble!" We can save ourselves a lot of frustration and anxiety if our vision is simply and only to COME TO KNOW HIM, AND TO WALK BY HIS SIDE. Then when the ravens stop bringing their daily supply, and the brook dries up, we can simply wait for further instructions. Because God sent the ravens is no reason for us to get excited when they stop their daily shuttle service from the tables of the rich to our table. Quit screaming at God to activate the ravens, and look to Him for the NEXT STEP. God has far more glorious things in mind than you and I can dream of, if we are praying right--and listening. We must pray, pray, pray... I know. BUT WE ARE NOT GOING TO PRAY RIGHT IF WE ARE NOT LISTENING TO WHAT GOD HAS TO SAY. We have got to quit commanding God. He knows what He is doing. (As you may know there are no "question marks" in the original scriptures, and if you read Isaiah 45:11 in the context of verse 9 and 10, you will know that the prophet is continuing to ask the same kind of questions he asked in the previous verses: "Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, are you questioning me concerning My sons? And are you going to command Me concerning the work of My hands?")
There is one thing, I am sure, that God is going to bring to nought, and it is this idea of your money being "seed-money," and the more you give to the Church the more you will prosper. God does love and reward the cheerful giver, and increases their resources so they can give in more abundance (2 Cor. 9:8-11). But He makes it very clear in the Word THAT HIS PEOPLE ARE TO BE THE SEED THAT IS PLANTED IF WE ARE GOING TO BE FRUITFUL IN THE EARTH. Gods true disciples are those who FORSAKE EVERYTHING out of love for the Master they serve (Lk. 14:26-27). THE TEACHING THAT YOU CAN GROW PROSPEROUS AND RICH BY GIVING MORE TO THE CHURCH IS A PERVERSION OF TRUTH. You cannot be His disciple unless all you have, all you are, all you ever hope to be, is laid before Him that He might do with you and through you as He will.
The Church of the living God will continue in slow motion, or RATHER SHOULD I SAY IN REVERSE MOTION, until she recognizes these very clear and very scriptural principles of discipleship. The "give and grow rich" doctrine may have filled the coffers of the Church, BUT IT HAS LEFT THE MINISTRY AND THE PEOPLE STERILE. IT HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO ACCELERATE THE MOVEMENTS OF GODS SPIRIT IN THE CHURCH, OR IN THE WORLD. And our God continues to look for those who are willing to abandon their plans for the knowledge of Him, and for the glory of His Kingdom. He wants us to know that apart from Him we are severed from the Vine, AND CAN DO NOTHING! Dont point to what you see and try to refute this. God sees it more clearly than you and I may see it, AND HE LOOKS DOWN UPON IT AND SAYS, IT IS NOTHING! For only that which has come to birth and grows and increases "by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus" will stand the test of His all-seeing, consuming eyes of fire.
I am confident that in this body that God is raising up in the earth there is going to be released all the power and all the energy that is needed to meet every need of mankind, and that He will be able to send forth THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM to all nations in a matter of a few days, or a few weeks, or a few months, IN AS MANY SEASONS AS GOD HIMSELF MAY DESIGN.
BUT THE SEED-CORN HAS TO BE PLANTED BEFORE IT CAN PRODUCE GRAIN FOR THE MILLS; AND BREAD-CORN HAS TO BE BRUISED AND CRUSHED, BEFORE IT CAN BE LIVING BREAD FOR THE HUNGRY.
The Law of the Seed is simple, yet awesome in its working. Do you recall how the Lord Jesus mentioned "TWO OF YOU" in the context of causing Heaven to respond to the cries of His people (Matt. 18:19)? For TWO is all it takes to begin this dynamic "fusion" of like hearts and minds in the Spirit. How Jesus spoke of ONE GOOD SEED reproducing itself ONE HUNDRED FOLD (Matt. 13:8)? And what Moses said, how ONE OBEDIENT SERVANT OF THE LORD could put a THOUSAND of the enemy to flight? And how TWO could rout an army of TEN THOUSAND rather than just TWO thousand (Deut. 32:30)? How TWO SERVANTS of God, led by the LORD, routed the whole army of the Philistines, and drove them to utter confusion (1 Sam. 14:13-15)? How God whittled down the little army that Gideon had been able to muster till he had only THREE HUNDRED tested and tried soldiers, and how God used this little band to rout all the hosts of the Midianites who were "as grasshoppers for multitude"? And how Gideon was able to do this AFTER he had demobilized his army--not after he had mobilized them for battle (Judg. 7:7)? How FIVE BARLEY LOAVES and TWO FISHES IN THE HANDS OF JESUS caused such a massive chain reaction that they were multiplied many times over--who knows how many? Perhaps FIVE THOUSAND LOAVES AND TWO THOUSAND FISHES? All because of the touch of the Masters hands (Jn. 6:11).
How can our preachers take such delight in making sermons about these things, and Gods people thrill at hearing them, AND YET TOTALLY IGNORE WHAT GOD IS TRYING TO TELL US?
THAT IT IS NOT BY MIGHT...
THAT IT IS NOT BY POWER...
BUT IT IS BY MY SPIRIT
SAITH THE LORD!
We are talking about Gods Way--GODS ONLY WAY TO REACH THE MASSES AND BRING DELIVERANCE TO NATIONS. There is no other way. Mans way always reverts to slow motion, and then to reverse motion. AND RIGHT NOW THE CHURCH IS IN REVERSE GEAR! I am talking about plain, legible statistics--about Church statistics. A recent publication stated that it was probable there are more Muslims born into the world by natural birth, than there are Christians born into the Kingdom of God. And we are just talking about one religion of earths many. THE CHAIN REACTION OF THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH IS WORKING AT FULL SPEED IN THE CHURCH, AND IS ACCELERATING WITH EVERY PASSING YEAR. IF IT SHOULD CONTINUE TO ACCELERATE THE WAY IT IS NOW, IN A VERY FEW GENERATIONS THE CHURCH OF CHRIST WOULD BECOME EXTINCT IN THE EARTH, WITH NOTHING BUT THE BONES OF RITUALISM LEFT TO SHOW FOR IT.
But we know this will not happen, because God is not going to let it happen. Why then do we speak with such emphasis, and with such horror at the ways of the Church? The answer is simple: IT IS THE ANOINTED WORD FROM THE MOUTH OF THE LORD THAT BRINGS LIFE TO THE HEARTS OF THE HEARERS. GODS SERVANTS MUST SPEAK IT FORTH. THE CROWDS WILL NOT HEAR IT--BUT THE FAITHFUL WILL--FOR IF IT IS AN ANOINTED WORD IT WILL NOT RETURN UNTO GOD VOID. IT WILL ACCOMPLISH THE DESIRE OF HIS HEART, AND FULFILL THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH HE SENT IT FORTH.
This is harvest time, the day for which the Husbandman has long waited. Then why do we spend a lot of time talking about the sowing of good Seed?
IT IS BECAUSE IN THIS HARVEST SEASON GOD IS FINDING SEED-GRAIN THAT IS SO PRECIOUS, SO DELIGHTFUL TO HIS HEART, THAT HE IS SAYING TO THE PLOUGH-MEN: "DIG UP THE SOIL AGAIN. THIS IS PRECIOUS SEED. I MUST HAVE MORE LIKE IT!"
AND WE ARE GOING TO SEE SUCH A MASSIVE ACCELERATION OF THE LAW OF THE SEED, THAT EVEN AS THE HARVESTERS ARE BRINGING IN THE GRAIN, THE SOWERS ARE RIGHT BEHIND THEM, TAKING SOME OF THAT GOOD SEED AND PLANTING IT IN THE EARTH,--EVEN AS THE PROPHET SAID:
"BEHOLD, THE DAYS COME, SAITH THE LORD, THAT THE PLOWMAN SHALL OVERTAKE THE REAPER, AND THE TREADER OF GRAPES HIM THAT SOWETH SEED" (Amos 9:13).
God has promised to do a "quick work in the earth," and the days will come when the time of reaping will also be a time of sowing! A time of sowing even in harvest time! And God will quickly bring to maturity a people who are newly born into the Kingdom of God in this last hour!
THE LIGHT OF SEVEN DAYS IN ONE
The thought of our Lord Jesus having a people in the earth like Himself is abhorrent in the eyes of most of Gods people. They cry out that we are seeking to rob Christ of His Glory. Rather it is the very opposite that is happening. It is when Gods people refuse to walk in the full array of Gods glory that God is being robbed. The glory that God gives always redounds back to Himself. "The woman is the glory of the man," and the virtuous woman, because of her virtue, causes her husband to "safely trust in her... she will do him GOOD..." (Prov. 31:11-12). God wants a holy and a virtuous Bride in the earth to reflect and show forth the glory of Christ; for she is to be THE GLORY OF THE MAN. She is to be His like, His completeness, His glory in the earth. Speaking of the glory of the heavens the psalmist says:
"In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber..." (Ps. 19:4-5).
He is seen as coming forth from His chamber, radiant with expectation as He goes forth to receive His Bride--this One who is to radiate and express His own glory in the earth. The moon, as we know, has no glory of its own. It only reflects the glory of the sun. And the radiant Bride of Christ is said to be,
"Fair as the moon, Clear as the sun, And terrible as an army with banners" (Song 6:10).
Strange as it may seem, she is going to be clothed in battle array and engage the Enemy in strong spiritual conflict. But her battle garments do not change; they are one and the same, "arrayed in white linen, clean and white," for she must "overcome evil with good." (See Rev. 19:7,14; Rom. 12:2 1.)
Now Isaiah saw this glorious moon shining with the same brilliance as the sun:
"Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun..." (Isa. 30:26).
Did Jesus not say, "And the glory which Thou gayest Me I have given them?" (Jn. 17:22). And is this robbing Christ of His glory? FAR FROM THAT-IT SIMPLY MULTIPLIES THE GLORY, SO AS TO MAKE HIM ALL THE MORE GLORIOUS! For Gods glory is not only that which is inherent in His own Being--it is that which He becomes in increasing splendor and brightness in the eyes of all creation. Angels give Him Glory. Celestial hosts bring Glory to His Name. The inhabitants of the earth, when they fulfill their destiny in God and return to Him-they give Him Glory! For the shining forth of His Glory is designed of God to bring about a radiancy and a brilliancy in His creatures that makes the All-Glorious One to be more, and more and still more glorious, as they reflect the wisdom and the knowledge and the love and the beauty of the One who created them. It is only as we fail to return to Him the glory and the honor that He has put upon us that we, like Lucifer, totally frustrate and defeat Gods purposes and end up in darkness. As long as we abide in His will, and thereby fulfill the purpose for which He created us, we are giving glory to His Name:
"Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, Give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His Name" (Ps. 29:1-2).
And so God says to His own: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, And the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee" (Isa.60:1)
It is the passion of Gods heart that His people partake of the fulness of His Glory; for God wants His people to show forth His Glory in the earth the same way Jesus did when He was here. THAT IS WHY HE WENT AWAY! (See Jn. 17.) To make us like Jesus? Yes! Because Jesus was the First Man of a New Creation order--the First Man WHO TRULY GAVE THE FULLNESS OF HONOR AND GLORY TO THE HEAVENLY FATHER. AND GOD WANTS A WHOLE FAMILY LIKE HIM IN THE EARTH. So it is by Gods decree that "THE LIGHT OF THE MOON SHALL BE AS THE LIGHT OF THE SUN..." (Isa. 30:26). A people radiating the very light and glory of the Lord Jesus in the earth! A holy Bride, radiant with His holiness, His splendor--GODS DESIGN BEING THAT WHEN THIS HAPPENS THE LIVING CHRIST WILL SHINE WITH A SPLENDOR SEVEN TIMES GREATER THAN WHAT HE HAS NOW! AS THE LIGHT OF SEVEN DAYS!
"Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, AND THE LIGHT OF THE SUN SHALL BE SEVENFOLD, AS THE LIGHT OF SEVEN DAYS..." (Isa. 30:26).
No! We are never going to come to equality with Jesus! The more we love Him and serve Him and glorify Him the more do we partake of His Glory--AND BY SO MUCH MORE IS HE GLORIFIED!
Great and glorious, but sometimes shameful and disgraceful, have been the "seven days" of Church history. Many have been her days of darkness, and many her defeats, But in every hour of darkness and of calamity God has been faithful to rise up on behalf of His Church, and manifest still greater and greater Glory. If we have eyes to see, we cannot imagine any greater hour of darkness than the kind that permeates the earth, and that has overwhelmed the Church, in this hour. But God is crying out WITH CREATIVE VOICE: "Arise, shine, for thy LIGHT is come." And when His people partake of the glory of the Sun of righteousness THE LIVING CHRIST SHALL BE SO BRILLIANT AND SO RADIANT IN "HIS GOING FORTH" THAT HIS GLORY SHALL BE AS THE LIGHT OF SEVEN DAYS! I believe the glory to be revealed SHALL EQUAL THE TOTAL EXPRESSION OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST THROUGHOUT THE SEVEN DAYS OF HER WHOLE HISTORY.
For now we have come to the seventh day--the SABBATH DAY of Gods great working in the midst of His people. This is what the book of Revelation is all about, and I believe God will give increasing revelation concerning this wonderful book as it unfolds before our eyes. I am confident it applies to the whole Church of Jesus Christ from her beginning until now; otherwise the Lord would not have pronounced a "blessing" upon those who would be reading it all these centuries. But now we have come to the "seventh day," and the "seventh day" must shine not only with the light of THIS DAY in which we live, BUT WITH THE LIGHT OF ALL PREVIOUS DAYS OF THE CHURCH, SO THAT THE GLORY OF THE SEVEN DAYS ARE GOING TO FOCUS TOGETHER IN THIS FINAL HOUR OF THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST. For we must remember that this book is not the Book of Revelations; it is not just a book of things, of happenings, and so forth. These happenings take place, it is true. But it is the BOOK OF THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, in the seven days of His glory; AND THE SEVENTH DAY IS TO SHINE WITH THE FULL GLORY OF ALL SEVEN DAYS!
This is why the book of Revelation is replete with the number "SEVEN." It is all through the book. It is everywhere. And central to the whole book is NOT ANTICHRIST, NOT JEWISH TEMPLES AND PRIESTS, NOT WARS AND TURMOILS, NOT FAMINES AND PESTILENCE. Great are Gods judgments. and great the conflict that rages against the Enemy. BUT CENTRAL TO THE WHOLE BOOK IS THE GLORY OF THE CHRIST WHO RISES UP AS THE LAMB IN THE MIDST OF THE THRONE IN HEAVEN... AND WHO RISES UP IN THE MIDST OF HIS CHURCH IN THE EARTH, WITH THE SEVEN-FOLD SPLENDOR OF THE NOON-DAY SUN.
And finally in the consummation of it all there is a Holy Bride, walking in union with Him, AND CRYING ALOUD IN THE EARTH. "COME! COME! COME! THE SPIRIT AND THE BRIDE SAY COME!"
In what day does the prophet Isaiah see this brilliant Sun of Righteousness arising in the glory of seven days? "IN THE DAY THAT THE LORD BINDETH UP THE BREACH OF HIS PEOPLE, AND HEALETH THE STROKE OF THEIR WOUND" (Isa. 30:26).
And how is all this going to happen?
"And His breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity " (Isa. 30:28).
God says He is going to send forth His breath as an overflowing stream, to sweep away all the vanity of the nations.
And are Gods people huddled in a corner, like sheep being marauded by the wolves? No! They are rejoicing in what God is doing!
"Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel, And the LORD shall cause His glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of His arm, with the indignation of His anger, and with the flame of devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones" (Isa. 30:29-30).
And do you really want to miss this brilliant display of the glory of God? Do you want to miss this song in the night when God rises up on behalf of His Church? Let us be confident of this: "the indignation of Gods anger" and "the lighting down of His arm" is against His enemies, not against His precious people! Imagine the children wanting to run away and hide when Father comes on the scene to rescue them from the cruelty of the strong bully! I am not insinuating that the days of trouble that lie ahead are going to be easy sailing for us. There are going to be many troubled waters which Gods people will have to pass through. But when the Lord Jesus told His disciples to "go over unto the other side," He meant that. When the storm arose they thought they were going to go "under," but the Lord told them to go "over," and His faithful eye was upon them in their distress. We anticipate great and awesome and fearful times, but God is our refuge in every time of trouble.
Your doctrine of "missing it all" will very quickly be shattered, as it was in Russia and in China and in other places of the earth, when great tribulation settled upon those lands.
And your doctrine of "going through it all" will have to be translated into an abiding place in Christ, or your doctrine will rise to haunt you in that Day.
God wants His people to have the same confidence, the same trust, the same faith that good king Jehoshaphat had when the people of God were harassed by enemies far more numerous and more powerful than they. Listen to his prayer: "O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: BUT OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE" (2 Chron. 20:12). God showed them clearly what to do. The battle was the LORDs! All they were to do was to go down and watch the battle! They were not to fight! But to sing songs of triumph, and trust in their God, as He routed their enemies!
Let us not fear to seek the same glory that Jesus had when He was here. He went away so we could partake of it! BUT LET US FEAR RATHER THAT WE DESPISE THIS GLORY, AND THIS TRUTH THAT GOD WANTS US TO ENTER INTO, AND GO IN OUR OWN REBELLIOUS WAYS SEEKING TO RADIATE OUR OWN GLORY. FOR THIS WE INEVITABLY DO IF WE ARE NOT RECEIVING THE RICHES OF HEAVEN AND BESTOWING THEM UPON HIS PEOPLE. Jesus said, "HE (the Holy Spirit) SHALL GLORIFY ME How? "HE SHALL TAKE OF MINE, AND SHALL SHEW IT UNTO YOU" (Jn. 16:14-15).
IF WE FAIL TO COME TO THIS WE ARE ROBBING OURSELVES. BUT WORSE THAN THIS, WE ARE ROBBING CHRIST OF HIS GLORY!
REND THE HEAVENS, OH LORD, AND COME DOWN!
This was the heart-cry of the prophet Isaiah in a time of great distress in Israel; and it is the heart-cry of Gods people today, who are sensitive to the heart of God. I find it most encouraging to know that Gods prophets were moving in the winds of His Spirit--not only when they uttered great and glorious prophecies, but when they wept and lamented in great anguish of heart. In either case it was the heart of God that was being moved and torn because of the need of His people, and the prophets were simply expressing the burden of Gods heart.
The needs are so great, Lord! The problems are so severe! Your people are in great distress! Your holy and glorious Name is blasphemed among the nations! You came down before in the sight of men, and You did great and wonderful things--even when we were not expecting them! But Lord, the needs are greater now than they have ever been! Your holy cities are a wilderness! Our beautiful house where our fathers worshipped You is burned up with fire! All our pleasant things are a heap of rubble! Zion is a desolate wilderness! How can You be silent, Oh Lord, when You know Your people are in great distress and affliction?
And Gods answer is the same today as it was to Isaiah. God says, "I still have precious, unseen things that I am going to reveal and make known. I have not yet exhausted all of My wisdom and My riches. I have thoughts in My heart that no man has yet imagined. AND I HAVE GREAT THINGS PREPARED FOR HIM THAT WAITETH FOR ME."
"For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard,
Nor perceived by the ear,
Neither hath the eye seen,
O God, beside Thee,
What He hath prepared
For him that waiteth for Him" (Isa. 64:4).
When Heaven Touches The Earth
"O that our God would the heavens rend,"
So we cry with the prophet of old...
"Let the mountains melt and the hills dissolve,
And make Your Name known to men.
When our resources are gone and our strength is small
And we patiently do His will,
And we give Him our all, and cancel our plans
And lay it all before Him.
When we come to the end of out own resources,
And have learned to wait and be still,
He has gone on ahead and will meet with us there,
And Heaven will touch the earth.
For eye hath not seen, nor ear has heard
The wonders that He will do,
In vessels that are prepared of God
And have learned to wait for Him.
But waiting for God let us never suppose,
Is sitting around in ease;
For all the while we are waiting for Him,
We must faithfully do what He says...
Laboring in the menial tasks,
In shop, or in the mill,
Or gathering fruit from the sycamore trees,
Or walking behind the plow,
Or preaching to crowds in the forums of earth
And traveling far and wide,
Or sitting at home with no words to say,
Dumb--when He says to be still.
All the time I am doing His will,
I am waiting for God to work.
And I want to be there in the pathway of God,
When Heaven draws nigh to earth.
I thought my part was to do great things,
Lest I stand at His throne undone.
But now I have learned my part is to wait,
His workmanship to become.
And while I am waiting I trust I am learning
That His ways, not mine, are the best;
That His ways and my ways are one and the same,
When I learn to enter His rest.
That His part is my part, and His burden mine,
When I walk in the yoke with Him.
So working for God is no longer my quest,
But working together with Him.
I can no longer say, "I have done my part,
Now come on the scene and do Yours";
But abiding in Him as the branch in the Vine,
The fruit is entirely His.
And so men of all ages who walked by faith,
Were men who waited for God.
And as they waited they did what He said,
In patience, longsuffering and trial.
Dwelling in caves and holes of the earth,
Refusing to run and go free
Preferring to die by flame or by sword,
Than to have the approval of men.
And as they walked in the ways of the Lord
They earnestly longed for the day
When God would come down and mountains would melt,
As the heavens responded to men.
So now I have learned that walking by faith
Is walking with God in His way;
That doing His will is all He requires,
And to leave all the planning with Him.
Whether it be to shepherd the sheep,
On Horebs barren slopes,
Or tending the children with loving care,
And washing the pots and pans,
Or gathering fruit from the sycamore trees,
Like Amos the prophet of old;
Or hammering nails, or bending the tin,
Or walking behind the plow,
Or filling my days with meaningless deeds
In shop or assembly line...
If this be His will, to learn how to serve,
In faithfulness, honor and trust--
Then this I must do, and be faithful and true,
If I hope to hear His "Well done!"
If I rush to the front, when God says to stand,
If I build, when God wants to tear down;
If I seek to enlarge, when God says "Decrease"
Or run, when God says to be still;
If I want to expand because needs are so great,
When God wants to keep me small--
For He seeks to refine the ore that I bring,
Till nothing is left but the gold--
And I stand all aghast at the havoc I see,
Scarce anything left but the ash--
Then He is so faithful to show me His Word,
And whisper assurance so clear:
"Your thoughts are not Mine and My ways are not yours,
Behold the great work that I do,
When men lose their strength and I clothe them in Mine,
And they walk in a way that is new."
Then the Word becomes real as it settles within,
And knowledge gives way to the Truth,
And hope rises fresh from the ash of despair,
When I know what the Potter would do.
He tells me of Joseph and how he was trained
In prison cell lonely and bare,
To sit on a throne and minister bread
To a people who lived in despair.
He reminds me of Moses and the vision he had,
How his failure was turned into strength,
How in walking with God he grew gentle and meek,
Approved in the Furnace of Time.
How his meeting with God had all been arranged
In the secret councils of Heaven.
And how God remembered the cry of the slave,
As He spoke from the burning bush.
O how we would try to make Heaven respond
To our needs, to our prayers, to our woes;
And we plan and connive and arrange and promote,
Like Jacob a man full of guile.
Yet we long for Him, and He patiently waits
Till we come to the end of the road,
And all of our loves and our treasures and flocks
Have been driven beyond the ford.
And we stand all alone in the dark of the night,
To be smitten and crippled of God:
No longer to walk in the wisdom of men,
No longer to get, but to give--
For here was a man that was chosen of God
Even from birth--but defiled;
And God would now change him, and make him anew,
As He challenged him there at Peniel.
Again and again the heavens were moved
To respond to the cries of the earth.
He came to reprove and He came to bless,
And to sift the hearts of men.
He came to convict the couple who sinned,
And were hiding among the trees,
And atoned for them by the blood that was shed,
And clothed them with coats of skins.
He came down at Babel to deal with the crowd
Who builded the City and Tower.
And when Abraham walked up Moriahs slopes
To give his son back to God--
God was already there and waiting for him,
His patience and faith to reward.
He appeared to Moses in a wilderness shrub,
And to Joshua as a Captain strong.
He came to Samuel while yet a young child,
And stood at the foot of his bed,
To make Himself known to a chosen man
Who would nurture the people of God.
But He came again in the fullness of time,
To a world in the darkness of sin
To show a great light, to be a great Light
That would lighten the hearts of men.
The earth did not quake, nor the heavens shake
As He lay in a cradle of hay,
But when Jesus our Lord hung on Calvarys hill
To atone for the sins of men,
The last words He spoke made the earth to shake,
And the heavens to darken their face.
"It is finished" He cried, and with that He died,
With the work of redemption complete.
Then after three days He arose from the dead,
And the hopes of His people revived.
"Will You stay and be King?" is what they implied,
As their broken dreams sprang into life--
But No! He must go to a heavenly throne,
And from there He must rule and reign,
Till the earth is subdued, and the heavens are purged,
And He scatters the kingdoms of men...
And so there He now reigns, not from temple or throne
That men have erected on earth,
But from Heaven itself, with power and with love
To transform the hearts of men,
To minister grace by the Spirit of Truth,
Through men in the earth who are true,
And who walk with Him, and abide in the Vine,
That their words might be His--not their own,
To birth a new race, through mercy and grace,
To beget His own kind in the earth.
And He comes again, and for this we must wait
Till His work at the throne is complete.
He comes for a Church that is cleansed and made pure,
For a Bride--adorned and made clean;
When the precious fruit of the earth is ripe,
And the tares are ready to burn...
To gather the harvest for which He is waiting,
And to trample the grapes of His wrath.
"Fear not, little flock" is the Word that He speaks
To those who would suffer with Him,
Who go forth from the camp to walk by His side,
Rejected and hated of men.
Once again as of old, the prisoners groan,
And creation still longs to be free,
And God is preparing a people of Truth,
Who are humble and meek as He,
To minister life as they walk in the earth,
As they hear a pure Word from the throne--
To create a new nation, a new generation,
Joined by one Spirit to Him...
To send forth a light that will lighten the earth,
As they walk in the shoes of peace.
When God spake on earth old Sinai quaked,
Midst the thunder, the fire, and the smoke.
When He spoke from the Cross the earth again shook,
And darkness covered the land...
Yet once more saith the Lord, His voice shall go forth
Not speaking from earth, but from Heaven,
That the things that are shakeable might be removed
With earthquakes and heaven-quakes strong,
That the kingdoms of men might be brought to an end,
And the heavens rolled back like a scroll;
For He comes again, on a white horse of power,
Not riding the ass with its foal:
Still meek and lowly, but strong and almighty,
For the Lion of Judah is the Lamb.
That the earth once destroyed with water and flood
Might then be destroyed by fire,
As the elements melt, and the heavens dissolve,
Consumed by the breath of His mouth;
And a new world is birthed from the ash of the old,
Holy and righteous and pure.
No eye hath seen, nor ear has heard
What God has prepared for him
Whose heart has been stilled to wait for God
When the light of the way grows dim;
When he cries for Heaven and Earth to meet,
And for mountains and hills to flow,
And he feels so sure that the time is ripe
For God to come down and show
His might and His power and make bare His arm
To a people oppressed and made low.
"You have done it before please do it again"
Is the cry of the bleeding heart,
"O why do You wait, when the need is so great,
Why do You tarry so long?"
But the cries and the prayers of the anguished soul
Are all stored in the vials of Heaven,
Preserved for the day that He has prepared,
To make Himself known to men;
When vessels of clay who have waited for Him
Shall arise in the strength of their Lord,
And go forth in the splendor and power of His Name,
And clothed with the armor of God:
With the helmet of salvation upon their head,
And their loins girt about with Truth,
Guarding their hearts with a breastplate pure,
And carrying the shield of faith;
With beautiful feet, prepared of the Lord,
With the shoes of the Gospel of Peace,
And a two-edged sword going forth from their mouth,
With a piercing, consuming Word.
For the hearts of men are only changed
When the Master comes on the scene,
And the heavens respond to the cries of the earth,
And His servants have learned to be still.
THESE WRITINGS ARE PRESENTED BY:
NEW LIFE MINISTRY
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