Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt 12:38-40, ESV2011)
Have you ever wondered why Jesus equated seeking after signs as being equivalent to adultery? Paul tells us why:
Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day [the second coming of Christ] will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed… The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2Thess 2:1-10, ESV2011 – emphasis added)
There are a great many Christians today who run about from meeting to meeting hoping to see and experience signs and wonders. As we can see above, Satan is more than happy to give us a sign, and he can come with “all power.” This word power in the above text is dunamis, the same word used in the following verse:
But ye shall receive power [Grk. dunamis – miraculous power], after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses [Grk. Martus – martyrs] unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8, KJV)
Jesus made it clear that those who look for miraculous signs are committing spiritual adultery. Satan is the great counterfeiter of all things spiritual. Jesus said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe…” He did not say, “And them that believe shall follow after these signs.” The only sign we are to seek is signified by the prophet Jonah, Christ’s death and resurrection in us! Why is this so important? Because wanting to be conformed to His death makes way for us to know His resurrection life within us. Apostle Paul’s deepest heart longing was,
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Phil 3:10, KJ2000)
When he sought that God would remove his “thorn in the flesh” and God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul rejoiced and said,
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2Cor 12:9, ESV2011)
Oh, how our flesh loves signs and miracles! We want power and to be delivered from all suffering and anything that makes our lives uncomfortable. This is just the opposite of what Jesus said that is required if we are to be His followers.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matt 16:24-25, ESV2011)
James spoke of spiritual adultery as well.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4, ESV2011)
So on the one end of the spiritual spectrum we have spiritual adulterers who seek signs and miracles that feed their flesh and wish to be accepted in this world. Seeking signs and following after spiritual healers and miracle workers can be very dangerous and, believe me, I have seen demons manifest themselves in people in so called “Christian” meetings. Satan might even gain an inroad in our lives when we seek “spiritual gifts” instead of the cross. We have also seen false speaking in tongues, false prophecies and false healings and all with so much pride on display in Christian gatherings.
On the other end of the spectrum of what it means to be a Christian we have those who, like Paul, welcome the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings in their lives that they might be conformed to His death and resurrection. When we place ourselves under the hand of God for His cleansing work in our lives, through this process we will see Christ’s Resurrection power at work in us as well. Jesus said,
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matt 7:9-11, ESV2011)
True prophesies and healings and other spirituals by the hand of God do happen but only as HE wills in His timing (see 1 Cor. 12:18). Remember, God is Spirit and what He sees as the healing we need is most likely in the realm of the Spirit and not our physical things. When our wills supersede HIS will, Satan can come in. If we seek power and signs without the cross, we will end up committing spiritual adultery and find ourselves “in bed” with demons.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col 3:1-2, ESV2011)
Finally, after giving that warning in 2 Thessalonians, Paul went on to say this:
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. (2Thess 2:13, ESV2011)
In the last few days my heart was disturbed by news reports coming from the middle-east where people are dying as they try to leave Afghanistan. Why did the American administration pull the army and marines out first? I am a veteran of the Vietnam war and I see so many similarities to how that war ended with millions who were loyal to the American cause, “to save the world from communism,” were trapped in a ruthless communist takeover facing death or imprisonment. When this happened back then, all I could think of was “All those millions of lives wasted for nothing!” It was personal for me because I knew some of the men who died over there. After the fall of Saigon and months of being depressed, I finally came into my Father’s rest, believing that this was all part of what had to take place so that I would quit seeking the political answers the kingdoms of this world provide and turn to Christ for everything needed in my life.
This time around, after being pulled down into that mess in the middle-east and feeling anger and depression set in, through the prayer of myself and others I was set free before that crisis was over. It is here in this victory that I am able to see what Isaiah was prophesying about in a personal way.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. (Isa 60:1-2, ESV2011)
Susanne Schuberth recently posted a blog article  that focused on the following verses,
“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20 ESV)
“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16: 23-24 ESV)
“In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” (John 16:26-27 ESV)
She wrote somethings in that article that got my attention.
“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Can it be that simple? You and I ask God something, whether it is a prayer or a question that bothered us for a long time already, we receive an answer, our prayer is answered shortly and therefore our joy increases with every additional request answered. While our joy is increasing, we somehow automatically turn away from our old ways of thinking and reasoning since we realize that in God’s person alone ALL questions that could ever be asked are answered. Furthermore, He provides everything we might ever need because He is a loving Father! His presence is so breathtaking to our own spirit that our whole life on earth turns into a shadow of sorts, compared with His wonderful light, life, and love that keep drawing us further and further upward…
I commented the following on her blog,
Susanne, thank you for sharing those wonderful verses from Jesus’ words [and what you learned from them]. I had to read them again and again for they are deep. I was reading T. A. Sparks and He was pointing out that the Father is ours to have a personal relationship with if we are IN Christ as the Father is in Him. We who are living and walking in the Spirit are one with Him in all that we ask and do. His will is our will. It is no longer living like we are earthly orphans left behind to be alone because Jesus went to be with the Father. This is why Jesus called the Holy Spirit our Comforter. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to live lives inside the Holy of Holies in Heaven [which is Christ Himself].
In Hebrews we read:
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus ,by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body washed with pure water: (Heb 10:19-22, ERV)
In That Day You Will Ask In My Name…
Jesus said in the verses above that we should ask anything of the Father in His name. What does this mean? Some teach that we can ask for anything we want and it will be ours?. This reminds me of the story of Aladdin who found a magic lamp with a genie inside. All he had to do was rub the lamp and out popped the genie saying, “Yes, Master, what can I do for you?” I’m sorry, but James had something to say about this kind of carnal thinking in the church.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? … You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you… (Jas 4:1-8, ESV2011)
God does not feed our flesh with all its worldly desires. To do so would be to inhibit our spiritual growth IN Christ. So often I have heard church people add on to the end of their requests from God, “And we ask all these thing in Jesus’ mighty name, Amen!” To ask anything in His name, J-E-S-U-S, is not some kind of magic incantation that God has to obey! He is not our private genie! To pray this way is all so shallow and worldly, bordering on superstition. I continued to comment the following on Susanne’s blog:
As I meditated on this I could see that we first have to be IN Christ in all that that relationship means. To be “IN Jesus’ name” is to be in His very person-hood and thus in ALL that HE is in our relationship with the Father. Here all that the Father wishes for Him and for us is the same for we are one with them. It is not to use “magic” words that get God to move according to our own fleshly desires. All three of the verses [from John’s gospel] you shared are speaking of a believer’s relationship with the Father IN Christ in which we are “keeping that channel open” by being quick to listen to the Spirit and obey the will of the Father and confessing our faults when we miss it. Jesus’ words in this verse come to mind and they say it all,
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [the needs of our lives as human beings] will be added to you.” (Matt 6:33, ESV2011)
It is a matter having the mind of Christ operating within us and our lives and wants redirected accordingly. With God it is all about us living according to HIS good pleasure (living in HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness), not the pleasures of our old natures. This is the very attitude of Jesus Himself (both here on earth and in heaven) the one who lives IN HIS name.
Speaking of what the phrase “in that day” means, someone pointed out that God does not tell time with a clock or calendar in view, but rather He goes so by eras. The previous spiritual era was the era of Moses, Israel and the Law. Some say that the era of His grace came in with the advent of Jesus Christ.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines Era – a fixed point in time from which a series of years is reckoned.
When Jesus said “In that day…” The day He is speaking of is the one in God’s time table we are living in at present. It started when the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell in those who believed in Him on the day of Pentecost. Before that day the Spirit would move on different vessels of God, but up until that time He never llved in them and this makes all the difference with the level of intimacy we enjoy with our Father and Jesus today. We who believe in Christ and have His Spirit within us we are IN that day.
Growing IN Christ As We Learn of Him
As I thought on this issue of the Father answering all our questions as they come up, it occurred to me that the He could not answer all that is entailed in each of our questions in one fell swoop. Even answering one question about His kingdom spread over time would take longer than our time here on earth. He sees from His infinite perspective and we have to grow into each portion He shows us before the next facet of the answer can be given us. That growth requires experience and sometimes trials and suffering. Paul wrote:
…But we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom 5:3-5, ESV2011)
The natural man learns by accumulating knowledge and so often pride wells up with it, but when God teaches us, it requires a change in our hearts. This is why it is such a delusion to think that we can get a degree in theology and a title to go with it so we can have it all figured out and go out and teach others. As Paul said, “If any man thinks he knows something let him know this, he knows nothing at all as he should.” We have all known teenagers that we have tried to talk with and no matter what the subject is they think they already know all about it. When we think we know all about things, we quit learning and become unteachable.
As we grow in Christ we come to understand that the call of God is an upward call and that growth in the Spirit requires not only spiritual knowledge, but being released from the downward pull of this world. Until that release has been worked in us, we will never know what it means to dwell in heavenly places in Christ (see Ephesians 2:4-7). Being lead into all truth is a life changing process that should start in our lifetimes. What we may have learned from reading a verse in the Bible ten years ago is not what He is showing us from the same verse today. As we grow into a thing He shows us, we are no longer the same person with the same perspective of God because His truths take hold in us and change us and we grow to know Him more perfectly. I believe Isiah prophesied of this very thing.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor… of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end… (Isa 9:6-7, ESV2011)
To grow into our heavenly place IN Christ is to welcome the increase of His governing influence in our lives. And living in His perfect will for us is to know His wonderful peace within. When He answers a question, especially when the answer involves the increase of HIS kingdom, it becomes a seed that keeps growing inside us. This is why Paul, after many years of being taught by Jesus Christ was able to write from his heart, “Not that I have yet attained or were already perfected, but I press on for the HIGH calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Yes, Paul was given a “high calling” right from his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road. In fact, after many years he met with the other apostles who were still in Jerusalem and he as able to say afterwards, “…they added nothing to me.” Nobody knew Jesus after the Spirit like Paul. He knew that the Jesus who had confronted him was so big that in his lifetime he would never be able to encompass that Infinite Being and all that it means to be IN Christ.
Susanne Schuberth wrote in the comment section of her blog article:
“I [have] asked God things about my personal life, about trials, and similar things about which I was not so sure I had heard from Him rightly before. When He allows these questions to be raised in His presence, then He answers them as it was the Holy Spirit who nudged us to ask. Moreover, God’s presence is so calming that our questions seem to disappear most of the time. That reminds me of the following Scripture, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10 ESV)
This is a profound discovery. I think that these two states of being–“in His presence” and “In His name,”– are referring to the same thing. When we are abiding in His rest, our panicky, restless and questioning natures are calmed to the point we can hear our Father’s heart for us. It is here we commune with Him in the quietness of our souls, Spirit to spirit. David wrote of this very thing.
Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. (Ps 131:1-2, AKJV)
Years ago a pastor asked me how I was doing and I answered, “Not too bad under the circumstances.” To this he replied, “What are you doing under there?” We spend way too much of our lives living under what is being thrown at us by Satan and the world. Imagine the spiritual reality that Paul and Barnabas must have been dwelling in. After being flogged and chained to a prison wall in total darkness, they were able to sing praises to the living God. In that moment of heart felt love for Jesus, their praise literally brought the house down and broke the chains that bound them! Now, THAT is living above one’s circumstances! When Paul was imprisoned by the Emperor Nero in Rome, he was able to write, “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ…” He might have been a prisoner of Nero as the world saw it, but he was in heavenly places IN Christ Jesus. It is in this place of resting in His loving presence that all those things that were so important in our daily lives seem to melt away and by faith they are placed under HIS authority. It is here that we find perfect faith, joy, peace and perfect love that casts out all our fears. It is here that we can arise and shine and have the glory of the Lord rising upon us.
Dear Father, please do whatever it takes in our lives to bring us into your heavenly reality IN Christ Jesus. Amen.
We are familiar with the saying, “It is the darkest just before the dawn.” This is also a spiritual truth. Look at the account of creation.
And the earth was without form [chaos], and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light:” and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Gen 1:2-5, KJ2000 – emphasis added)
The above passage is rich with spiritual meaning. God is all about light because He is the Father of it. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas 1:17, KJ2000). The story of creation begins with darkness but ends with light. Notice how it starts with spiritual darkness, but ends with His spiritual light shining forth from His people.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. (Isa 60:1-2, ESV2011)
One might read the above verses about creation and think that it is talking about an absence of photons that made all this darkness. Yet, the sources of light as we know them–the sun, moon and stars–were not created until the fourth day! The darkness we read about here is caused by a lack of spiritual light, the presence of God’s Spirit, yet the earth begins in darkness. (I believe that this darkness and chaos on the earth was the result of the battle between the archangel Michael and his angels and Lucifer and those seduced by him when Satan was cast down to the earth [see Revelation 12:7-9]). Into this situation God said, “Let there be light” and there was light and God saw that it was good.” The word good in a spiritual context is always descriptive of God and His will. When Jesus was called “Good Master” by a Pharisee, He stopped him in his tracks by saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” So you see when God calls something “good,” it is because He is in it. He is our source of Light, and without His light we dwell in darkness. Also notice that God counts time differently than we do. He starts out with the evening and darkness. Our days start at midnight. They start in darkness and end in darkness. Not so with God. So we read in the creation account, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” His Light always “gets the final word” with God. He and those who are His are always victorious in anything He does. Darkness never prevails if we abide in Him instead of getting sucked in by the Prince of Darkness.
When we come to Christ, it’s because our Father has said, “Let there be Light” It’s the life of Christ that gives us light. John wrote about Jesus saying,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4, KJV – emphasis added)
But all things, when their true nature is seen, are made manifest by His light: because everything which is made clear is light. For this reason he says, “Be awake, you who are sleeping, and come up from among the dead, and Christ will be your light.” (Eph 5:13-14, BBE)
We were once dead in our sins, but now we have been made alive IN Christ. We started out our lives in spiritual darkness and God set out to reclaim us from the domain of the devil. He is the father of darkness and Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God by following the incitements of Satan against God’s command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent said to Eve, “For God knows that if you eat of this tree you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” He was offering them a short cut to be gods without being in submission to their Creator. But Eve saw that the tree was pleasant to look upon, that it was good to eat and it would make her wise, so she ate of its fruit and gave it to Adam and he did eat and immediately they saw that they were naked. Guilt entered into their lives for the first time. This was the first fruit of this new knowledge that they acquired. So they hid themselves from God and mankind has been in darkness ever since.
But God had a plan in mind to circumvent Satan’s ploy from the beginning. He would send His Son in the form of a man to die for our sins in our place. And not only that, He would put His Spirit within us and write His laws upon our new hearts (See Jerimiah 31:32 and Ezekiel 11:19). Paul wrote,
Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Rom 5:18-19, KJ2000)
At some point in our life’s journey we discover that we are bankrupt and can’t live our life without making mess of it and we call out to Him for help. And by His grace we become born again and His Spirit is placed within us. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
This “evening and morning” in our lives is our first day in His Spirit realm. But His creation process continues on in us. The light of God within us is forever taking new ground and the increase of His government within us never ends. God said in the beginning, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” He created Adam and Eve in His own image, but the likeness part is a process and needs our cooperation if we are to be made like Christ. The Apostle John wrote,
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1John 3:2-3, ESV2011)
And how do we go about purifying ourselves when we are so helpless? Paul gave us the answer.
Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Rom 6:13, ESV2011)
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (2Thess 2:16-17, ESV2011)
It is all done by Jesus Christ Himself and our Father. All we can do is yield to them while they do the work, This is what it means to walk by faith and to enter into His seventh day rest.
Why Must We Go Through a Spiritual Wilderness?
At some point by His grace, God has to do a deeper work in us than was done at the point when we became born again. We start out thinking (or are told), now that we are born again, that we need to join a church. Never mind that according to the scriptures all who are born from above and have the Spirit within them ARE the Church of God! Soon, we find one and as we attend that church the teachings of the pastor become our all. But the scripture says that Christ is our All in all. The problem with all this is knowledge puffs us up and makes us proud (see 1 Corinthians 8:1). Then pride starts to grow within us and God has to resist the proud, even as He gives grace to the humble. Darkness starts to cast its shadow over us once again because Jesus warned,
But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. (Matt 23:8-10, ESV2011)
David knew that God was His all when he wrote, “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” But our church leaders insist that we need human shepherds and teachers even though God has put His Spirit within us. Men can be a help in our walk as long as they don’t take the place of Jesus in our lives, but all too often this is what happens. In our immaturity we sit in our padded nests with mouths open, expecting the holy man up front to give us all we need. Yet, Jesus told us that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, would lead us into all truth not man. About this usurping of the Holy Spirit in our lives, Apostle John warned,
I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing [the Holy Spirit] that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. (1John 2:26-27, ESV2011)
In order to do this deeper work in us He has to dislodge our need for human teachers and all that we have learned that was not from Him. These things block His light from going deeper within our hearts. I think it was A. W. Tozer that said, “God seems to be more interested in un-teaching us than filling our minds with new information.”
It is here that our Father has to take drastic action. Dislodging false teachings of men from our souls is especially difficult when we think they were put there by God. He has to put us back in a time of darkness where no new input comes into our souls from the outside. During this time we are cut off from all Christian fellowship. Even reading the Bible seems blah to us. Our soul is starved of any new input that could puff us up. But during this time He teaches us in a way that our flesh cannot capitalize on it. He subliminally gives us His spiritual food that we can draw from later. If He were to do anything overt in us, our flesh would seize it, get puffed up and try to minister to others once again The flesh would even try and package up what He is teaching us so it can be sold! All that old self centered motivation has to die. He cuts us off from all external support and we find ourselves in what has been called a wilderness experience or the dark night of the soul. As we try to search out what has happened to us, we soon find that the Bible is full of God’s people who had to dwell in a time of wilderness and being a prisoner in their lives; Moses, David, Elijah, John the Baptist, many of the prophets, Paul of Tarsus, the Apostle John and even Jesus had to suffer being cut off from the land of the living and their own people for a season. I never heard this truth from any pulpit ministry because it is strange to most of them. Like Jesus said, “Your time is always, but my time is not yet come.” No, God has to teach each of us these things by His Spirit if we are to go on in Christ and not just spend our lives in a lukewarm Laodicean church. Isaiah spoke of this spiritual condition among those who fear the Lord,
Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay on his God. (Isa 50:10, AKJV)
There are many “evenings and mornings” in our spiritual lives in Christ because our God is like a refiner’s fire. His gold (the righteousness of Christ) within us is heated and let cool seven times in the fire to remove all the soulish human dross that mingles with it. But the first firing we go through is the worst because it is totally strange to us and we think that Father has cast us out and forsaken us. Like David and Jesus on the cross, we cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!” But somehow the faith of Christ within us sustains us through this terrible time of testing. T. Austin-Sparks wrote,
“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Then said Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended in me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee” (Matt. 26:30-32).
Here the Mount is the place of the eclipse of all the earthly. It is rather remarkable and impressive how one thing moves into another like this. It is as though you are in one continuous, unbroken movement; the Mount of Olives bringing out in clear revelation this thing which has to go [Jesus had just spoken the words found in Matthew ch. 24 and told them that the whole temple system would be destroyed and eventually much of the earth and its people before the end comes], and the Mount of Olives again showing how it is going [to be], and bringing them right into the eclipse of all that. They were still clinging, still holding on for something here. Now it is shown that that is going into midnight, going to be blotted out, and so far as they are tied up with it, they are going to be blotted out, they will go with it if they are bound up with it, and their only hope is that they come out on to other ground altogether.
What a terrific thing is the breaking of the earthly and the natural things! Just look at these men when this word was fulfilled – all made to stumble, offended because of Him, scattered abroad, disintegrated in every way; personally in themselves, broken to pieces, shattered; among themselves, scattered, no one trusting the other’s report. Nobody is being trusted. Yes, a real scattering in every way. What a shattering thing it is to be delivered from the old, earthly attachment, even in the things of God. Your world goes to pieces. When God brings you into view of His real spiritual order of things, the real nature of His work in this dispensation, your world eclipses, disintegrates, and you go into the dark, you do not know where you are. You have lost one world and so far you are not [gone] right through into the other. It is midnight. 
This pretty well describes what I had to go through starting in May of 1980 when Mount Saint Helens blew up and we were downwind and covered with ash. But that was only the start of Him blowing away all that I thought was of Him in my life, because my wonderful church fellowship disintegrated shortly thereafter and I was soon cut off on every side, even financially.
Just a few hours earlier before Jesus let them know that all they related to as the kingdom of God would be done away with, these disciples wanted to take Jesus on a tour of the temple buildings to show Him their wonders, but to this Jesus replied, “You see all these things? I tell you not one stone will be left upon another until it is all thrown down.” Before the last one of them would die, Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed and raised to the ground by the Roman army. Their religious beliefs still had a hold on them. They were still enamored with the things of this world, earthy things like “my ministry” in His new earthly government arguing over who would sit on His right and who would sit on His left. And on top of all that Jesus, their Messiah, told them He was leaving them and not setting up an earthly kingdom at all, but that God’s kingdom was spiritual and was within them and it would not come with outward observation. In fact He prophesied against that bloody city that they worshiped in saying,
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matt 23:37-39, ESV2011)
It was no different for me. After some time He made it clear to me that I would never be a platform speaker in front of the masses in Christendom as I had envisioned. Like Jesus said about a seed, unless it falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone, but if it does it will bring forth much fruit. That which falls into the ground and dies is not the same thing that springs forth. I never dreamed that He would have me write what He had been showing me since 1980. In the natural, writing and the English language were my weakest subject in school and He would not have it any other way. All that book learning and any degrees I had accumulated were worthless in His sight along with most of what I had learned sitting at the feet of Christian teachers. It only got in the way. Not one stone would be left upon another in my life. It all had to go so there could be a NEW Easter rising in me. If you want to read my testimony about this period of my life it can be found here.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:4, ESV2011)
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come… (2Cor 5:16-18, ESV2011)
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new…” (Rev 21:5, ESV2011)
As I was praying and seeking the Lord this morning, I was lead to the following passages about the time when Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus on the holy mount. First we have Peter’s account.
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2Pet 1:16-21, ESV2011)
And Matthew gives the following account of what happened on that day,
And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matt 17:3-8, ESV2011)
Prophesy from the mouth of God was spoken from heaven in their presence. It was so powerful that they fell on their faces and were terrified.
True prophesy comes when “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” To the extent that we are “carried along by the Holy Spirit” when we write or speaks determines whether it is “prophesy.” No it is not on the level which is recorded in the Bible, but it should always agree with what is there. Peter wrote,
If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man ministers, let him do it as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1Pet 4:11, KJ2000)
Upon seeing Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus, Peter felt compelled to say something religious. In effect he was saying, “Oh wow, Jesus! This is really great. How about I build three tabernacles, one for each of you so we can capture the moment!” Here we have the flesh of Peter speaking out from his carnal mind when he should have been listening in silence to what was being said. As Jesus said, “The flesh profits nothing. My words they are Spirit and they are Life.”
Part of the reason God rebuked Peter was for him putting Jesus on the same plain as Moses and Elijah by building three tabernacles. In the first place, the Father was not interested in enshrining and bringing down to an earthly level what was going on in His heavenly realm. Rather, He was wanting to bring the thoughts, minds and hearts of those men up into His heavenly viewpoint. Men love to build shrines around God’s special spiritual moments. They want to capture what God is doing and bring it down to earth under their control. I was raised in the Catholic church and they, along with their Protestant counterparts, have built a shrine around everything they can think of that could be construed as a spiritual event here on earth. In Israel there are churches built over where they think Jesus was born, where they He died on the cross, and where He was buried for three days. There is even a monastery build on Mount Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments, and another where they figure Elijah was fed by the ravens! There is no end to religious man’s efforts to pull what is heavenly down to an earthly level. It’s all about control, men trying to control and package up what is of God and make a profit while they are at it. I have seen it happen time and again. It sickens me to see on the opening page of a Christian blog or website a “Donate” or a “PayPal” button. Peter warned us about this.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not. (2Pet 2:1-3, AKJV)
Another thing I have observed on the internet is when Christian blog writers go around and steal what other inspired writers share. The other day a man with a very large following put an article I wrote about my testimony on his website without including the web address where he got it.  Even worldly writers know that leaving this information out when quoting others is considered plagiarism. And even worse, people have put our books for sale on Amazon and it distinctly says on the back covers of each of them, “This book is not for sale.” We have never sold or asked for donations for anything we have written. We have freely given what God has freely given to us. Peter was right, “many shall follow their pernicious ways… and make merchandise of you.” When man puts his hand on or tries to make a profit on what God is doing, the Holy Spirit leaves and that move of God and prophetic word dies.
The other lesson I see in God’s rebuke of Peter that day is that he was putting Jesus on the same level of importance as the law and the prophets. Moses represented the law and Elijah represented the prophets. But look what God has to say about their purpose and place:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Heb 1:1-3, ESV2011 – emphasis added)
The writings of Moses and the prophets have one purpose – to testify about Jesus Christ (see Luke 24:25-27). Yet, today there are churches who totally focus on the law, and others focus on prophets and prophesy to the point that they exclude the words of Christ. Yet how many are totally given to listening to the Spirit of Christ and obeying His leading?
Peter wrote, “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…” The Holy Spirit is that lamp shining in dark places in our hearts and Jesus is the Morning Star who is rising in our hearts as we grow in Christ by listening to His voice and obeying Him.
Dear saints, we would do well to heed the warning from God in this age when lying spirits abound “This is my beloved Son, HEAR YE HIM!”
I have met many Christians who have grown just so far in Christ and have stop growing in their spiritual walk. In most cases they have found a denomination, doctrine or teacher on which they have settled and the adherence to them become an idol. Quite often they have found a teaching that allows a comfortable compromise with the kingdoms men in this world. They become familiar with the truth they found and stop seeking the Holy Spirit as their Teacher. Some have only known other humans as their teachers and have been counseled by them to not listen to God for themselves because “that is too dangerous.” Yet, this teaching in itself is where the danger lies. There are over 41,000 different Christian denominations and sects on earth today with each of them claiming they have “the truth” while they disagree with one another. Talk about deception! In the three opening chapters of the Book of Revelation Jesus repeats the same phrase to the seven churches, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.” It seems that by the end of the first century when this was recorded, the Church had already becoming spiritually deaf. Jesus is the Word of God and His Spirit is still speaking, but are we listening?
This week I was seeking the Lord and meditating on the following verses:
But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father has are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you. (John 16:13-15, KJ2000)
This guiding us into ALL truth by the Spirit of God is an ongoing process because of the limitations of our own minds and ability to assimilate information. The more we adhere to human teachers, the more cluttered our minds get so that when the Holy Spirit does speak to us we filter it through all we have learned from our human teachers. We tend to latch onto something and quit listening, thinking we have arrived. But when the Spirit teaches us, so many things that we once thought we knew are either done away with or they are expanded and suddenly verses in the scriptures that we are familiar with take on a deeper meaning. Because of this, Isaiah’s prophesy about Jesus took on a deeper meaning for me.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end…from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isa 9:6-7, ESV2011 – emphasis added)
“Of the increase of His government there shall be no end… from this time forth and forevermore.” Yes, more and more people will yield to His oversight and leading in their lives, but in God’s kingdom that oversight and dominion continue to grow in each one of us as well. His zeal for His kingdom within us won’t let us be satisfied with a doctrine that teaches that once we’ve said a “sinner’s prayer,” we’re in! Paul wrote,
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13-14, KJ2000)
If we are spiritually alive in Christ the Kingdom of God is ever expanding within us, taking over areas in our hearts and lives that He has not yet had dominion over. If we think we have found “the truth” and have fulfilled its purpose by giving mental assent and need not grow any further, we deceive ourselves and we become like the nation of Moab, who settled on their dregs.
Moab has been at ease from his youth and has settled on his dregs; he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile; so his taste remains in him, and his scent is not changed. (Jer 48:11, ESV2011)
God’s rule, his government, is ever expanding and He won’t let us just “get saved,” join a church, attend our Sunday services regularly and rock on into His kingdom. No, if we continue to follow Christ we will soon find that He pours us from one vessel to another to remove the dregs that we have settled into. I cycled through many churches and denominations and gleaned a bit in each along the way, but he always had more He wanted to show me and so I had to move on to avoid being trapped in their fixed limitations. Sometimes He even forces us into exile away from all such Christian mediocrity and trains us for a period of time in His spiritual wilderness where our souls are weakened so HE can teach us. John wrote about the need to be taught by the Spirit instead of men saying,
I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. (1John 2:26-27, ESV2011)
God is not satisfied with the smell and taste we pick up as we settle into a Christian system. He only is content with the smell and taste of His own Son, Jesus Christ, thus all the refining we have to go through.
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. (Mal 3:2-3, ESV2011)
Without all this purifying work being done by Him in us, none will stand before Him in the righteousness and purity of Christ when the end comes. God isn’t Tinkerbell. When we are saved He doesn’t just wave His magic wand over us and “POOF,” instant Christian! No, it is a process. James put it this way:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jas 1:2-4, ESV2011, also see John 16:33)
Science has found that God’s universe is ever expanding. Not only that, it is accelerating against the laws of physics. His creation takes after His own nature. He has done this so that we can look at the created things, learn about Him and know what He desires (see Romans 1:19-21). Only the black holes in space defy this expansion. There is a spiritual lesson in all this. If we refuse to grow IN Christ but rather live in our fleshly ways, we will become sucking spiritual black holes no light can escape from. Sad to say, I have known Christian leaders like this. God’s universe is always expanding and so is His life in us… “and of the increase of His government their shall be no end.” Where there is no steady increase of Christ within us, the Father’s governing power won’t be found. “Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish…: (Prov 29:18, AMP)). When John saw heaven he saw a multitude of people standing before God’s throne and was told,
“…These are they who came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sits on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more… .For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rev 7:14-17, KJ2000)
In our natural ways, we avoid trials and tribulation at all cost, but we who are Christ’s are purified by being washed in the blood of the Lamb. In His suffering on the cross He led the way saying, “If any man would be my disciple, let HIM take up HIS cross and follow me.” There is a great deal of difference between a personal soul-killing cross and having our ears tickled Sunday after Sunday in our nice, warm, padded pews. As written above, It is my desire to be with Jesus day and night as His servant as He also serves me. If it requires tribulation in my life, so be it! I want to drink from His fountains of Living Water, not from the stagnant pools of Christendom, so I press on toward the high calling of Jesus Christ.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.” And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death. (Rev 12:10-11, KJ2000)
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Rom 8:37, KJ2000)
Dear saints, if we continue to abide IN Christ we will never stop growing as His kingdom expands within us. The intensity of His love will continue to enlarge our hearts and our faith in Him will continue to grow in spite of what the enemy throws at us. His hand upholds us through it all and hope in Him becomes greater and greater as a result. As Jesus feeds us spiritual food and as we drink from His fountains of Living water, our spiritual eyes will behold the wonders of His kingdom as it ever enlarges before us.
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. (Isa 30:20, ESV2011)
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1Cor 13:12-13, ESV2011)
Just yesterday during my prayer time I had a short vision of Jesus Christ I want to share with you. To start off with, I know that there are false visions and dreams of which we might think they were from God, yet they were not. The enemy is able to produce all kinds of misleading stuff that might seem to have come from God and Jesus Christ. However, if God really shares a message with us, it won’t leave us unaffected, to say the least. From reading the prophets of the Old Testament, we might have realized that they did not always like it at first when the Lord had told them to speak up for Him. Sometimes it was even the contrary! If we think of Jonah, for instance, he actually ran away from the presence of the Lord.
In our modern industrial culture, we seldom have to wait for much of anything. Everything is about speed and efficiency. If we want carrots we don’t need to go out and plant carrot seeds and wait two or more months to pick them. We just go down to the corner market and buy some carrots. When we want our prepared meal done fast, we go to a fast food restaurant and order it. Five minutes later we are eating! Years ago we would turn on our TV sets and then have to wait for a minute or more for the tubes to warm up before we had a picture and sound, but now with flat screens the picture comes on in less than four seconds. In the past a couple who wanted to get married waited a minimum of six months during what was called the “engagement period,” while they got to know one another better before they married. Here in my town, two people can meet in a tavern, go down to the city hall the next morning, fill out the papers, plop down a filing fee, walk across the street to the Hitching Post with two witnesses and the deed is done. They will even provide the two witnesses! But there is a saying, “The best things in life come to those who wait.” There is more wisdom to that than we might know.
In Isaiah there is a verse about waiting that most of us have read many times. We would all like to soar like an eagle, run and not become weary, etc… but waiting… not so much.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:31, KJV)
Several years ago I was seeking the Lord about what it means to “wait upon” Him. It turned out to be much deeper than the KJV translators revealed. I understood that it is dangerous to get an idea or read something in the Bible, claim it, and run out and try to make it happen on my own. I have known Christians in the so-called “Faith Movement” that post pictures of material possessions on their refrigerator doors and pray to get them every time they walk by. You know that teaching, “Name it and claim it.” “Blab it and grab it.” I soon learned that praying and waiting on God to make things happen could be a test to see if He would do what He had promised. Or I could be like Abraham, the “father of faith,” who got tired of waiting for his wife to get pregnant, went to bed with Sarah’s slave girl, and got a son. This Ishmael was born 13 years before God moved to finally heal Sarah’s womb and Isaac, the child of promise, was born. During this time the slave girl mocked Sarah, and when Isaac was still a baby Ishmael persecuted him. We know how all that ended up. As my dear wife has often said, “Act in haste, repent at leisure.”
As I was looking up Isaiah 40:31, knowing that there was more here than meets the eye, I was amazed at what I found. The Hebrew word translated “wait” meant so much more than it does in our English language.
In the above photo we see shocks of grain bound together with ropes made of twisted stalks the way grain was harvested in biblical times.
So what is happening to us while we wait on God? He makes us wait so we will grow up spiritually until we are bound together with Him in His will in the matter we pray about. More importantly, that we are bound together in the love of the Father and the Son that we might be one in them even as they are one (see John 17:20-23). Only those who are bound together in His love are truly free, because Satan is constantly tempting us to be bound to his will. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36, KJ2000)
The Father and Jesus not only want to bind us together with them, but the same is true of two of His dear saints that are bound together in the love of Christ. Why? In Ecclesiastes we read, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their work. And if one has a fall, the other will give him a hand; but unhappy is the man who is by himself, because he has no helper” (Eccl 4:9-10, BBE). And this, “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccl 4:12, ESV2011). It’s no wonder Jesus sent out the disciples by twos with His authority to heal, cast out demons, do miracles and announce, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This “threefold cord” is not easily assailed by the devil.
Almost eight years ago Susanne Schuberth  shared the following quote from T. Austin-Sparks on our blog and its truth is more evident to me today than ever.
Two saints, simple, humble and unimportant in this world, but really meeting together in the Spirit, can be a functioning instrument of Him to whom has been committed all authority in heaven and on earth. With them all these old limitations can be dismissed and they can at one moment touch all the ends of the earth. Do you believe that? That is really the meaning of our glorying in Christ risen. It has to be something more than emotion, and more than glorious doctrine; yes, more than a truth to which we give some assent…. If it is true that we are one with a risen, enthroned Lord, it ought to have tremendous repercussions. May it be so! 
Our enemy loves to pick-off those in ministry who think they have everything in themselves that is needed to minister to God’s people. We see those who have unquestioned authority in the churches fall one after another, because in their own minds they are above listening to the council of others. Once I had seen the danger of being alone I started praying that He would send another believer that I could walk together with in His light. He has been progressively answering this prayer. When we are joined together by Jesus the other person often sees a pitfall that we can’t and when it comes to spiritual revelation, they often have another piece of the picture that we haven’t seen. When both parts are allowed to be joined we see the whole. I have found that God had been working in both lives to bring them to a place where He could fit them together. Once again we see His timing at work. These things cannot be rushed because it is a spiritual house He is building, not one made with human hands.
Another thing I discovered about Isaiah 40:31 was the meaning of the word “renew” in “shall renew their strength.” With a superficial reading of this, one might conclude that if we wait on Him, God will renew our existing strength and make us stronger. Not! This word in the Hebrew is:
H2498 חָלַף chalaph (chaw-laf’) v. Often translated to change or be changed.
God is not interested in renewing our old natural strength that is often demonstrated by our strong self-will. He is after a NEW creation IN Christ! Paul understood this. He wrote that when he was weak that Christ was made perfect within him. Consider this verse:
Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! (2Cor 5:17, AMP)
If we wait for the entwining of ourselves by the Spirit with the Father and the Son, we will truly be made into NEW creations. If we get ahead of His leading and try to accomplish His work by our own might and abilities (that of our natural man; the emotions, will and intellect), He will let us run ourselves into the ground by exhaustion trying to get things done. Remember Jesus’ words, “The flesh profits nothing” and “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
So, dear saints, it is in His will that we mount up with wings as eagles and walk and not faint from that of trying to do His work without Him, but this will only happens if our old nature of relying on self is broken and we have come to rely totally on Him. Our Father wants many sons and daughters who exist by His strength for His glory just as Jesus did here on earth for He only did the works He saw His Father doing (see John 10:37&38). We can only do His works from a position of spiritual rest, believing that He will accomplish what HE wills once we get out of the way.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his [own] works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (see Heb 4:9-11, ESV2011)
Yes, if we do not abide in His rest but run ahead of Him or do His work by our own strength, it is considered by Him as disobedience. As Paul wrote, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
And having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God is coming, He responded to them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with observation, nor will they say, ‘Behold— here it is’, or, ‘There it is’. For behold— the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21, DLNT)
All of Israel was waiting for a Messiah who would come and set up an earthly kingdom on Mount Zion, the city of the Great King, and the Pharisees and Saducees were expecting to be made His heads of state and rule with Him. When Jesus made it clear that His Father’s kingdom was not going to fulfill their desires, they had no use for Him and looked on Him as an impostor. Even until the very end He was trying to get His disciples to see that the Kingdom of God was not a government setup like those of men on this earth. Even two of them who were brothers were hoping to sit at His right hand and the other on His left. Imagine what the others felt when they made this request? Is our motivation any different today as we vie for positions on the pastor’s staff or seats of power in our denominations? Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt 10:39, ESV2011). We spend way too much time trying to establish our earthly lives instead of our lives in the Kingdom of God. He went on to say, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt 23:11-12, ESV2011).
The Kingdom of God is a family not an organization and He is our Father, the Son of God is our brother and who believe in Christ are all the Father’s children. In light of this consider the following verses.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3, ESV2011)
Notice that He said, “I will take you to myself, that where I AM there you will be also.” Where was Jesus in that moment? Yes, He was in Jerusalem, but He was IN the Father and His Father was in Him. It was God’s design for us to have the same relationship that Jesus has with the Father for He is the Firstborn of many brethren (see Romans 8:29). In His final prayer for those who would believe into Him He said, “That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21, KJ2000). The sickness of organized religion is manifest in the fact that there are over 41,000 different Christian denominations and sects. Our hope for heavenly unity has to be outside that system if we are to love one another in the unity of Jesus and His Father. The disunity of the Christian religion has destroyed any unity in heavenly love that could be a witness that Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus was going to the cross in a few short hours from the time He said these words. By dying for our sins and releasing the Holy Spirit to be poured out within us, He was preparing a place in the Father’s “house” for us. The Greek word translated as “mansions” or “rooms” in chapter 14 simply means abode. With that in mind consider His following words:
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:18-21, ESV2011)
We who abide in His love are each the abode of the Father and the Son and it is here that we abide in one another. We do not have to wait until we die to abide with them in their love. All too much of Christian thought and doctrine is all about “pie in the sky, by and by.” The deep truths of the Kingdom of God are always put off in our thinking for another time after we are dead and another place. His kingdom is not on the other side of the universe. It is in the middle of us, in our hearts if we abide in their love.
So many Christians read, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” as I once did and all they can see is their garish mansion they will live in for eternity that is waiting for them. The kingdom of Heaven is a Spirit kingdom, not one made of bricks and boards. We are all members of Christ’s body. The Christian life is all about a loving relationship with the Father and the Son as they abide in us and as such our relationships with one another are filled with their love. Love is our whole motivation when it comes to sharing the Gospel of His kingdom.
Jesus said, “If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23, KJV). Here the word translated “abode” is the same one that was translated “mansions” in verse two. We who love Jesus are the house of God and this experience is totally life changing. He is constantly drawing us ever higher into the reality of heaven here on earth.
Jesus also said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21, ESV2011). Once again we see that in His kingdom ours is a love centered relationship with the Father and the Son. Love is the one unifying force that streams out from the Father for all His creation. Without His love for us and in us, there is no family of God and there is no unity among us as their abode. And how does Jesus manifest Himself to us? It is by His love abiding in us, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35, ESV2011). Yet, there are many cases where Jesus has appeared in visions and dreams and in person to those who love Him and are seeking Him. He is the Light of the World and He is also the Son of Man and in most of these cases, He appears as a bright and shining light in the form of a man who radiates the love of God. One time in the beginning of my Christian walk when my life was being threatened by Satan, Jesus appeared this way to me and immediately that demon was gone. I was most impressed by the tender love I felt radiating from Him for me as He manifest Himself to me. All I had prayed was, “Jesus, HELP!” and Satan was gone.
You might be asking how we keep the commands of Jesus when so much hinges on this? He explained:
As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:9-12, HCSB – emphasis added)
I know of no greater joy than to be in a relationship with the saints of God who love Him and walk in His love for one another. Yes, it is a rare thing in our culture, but it is truly heavenly when we experience it. I hope you have also known this love and that you are complete in the Father and the Son. Dear saints,
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1Thess 3:12-13, ESV2011)