Archive for February, 2000

Vision of Hang-Gliders

I think that all prophets have to go through a time of rejection
after accepting their personal calling as a prophet. I don’t know
if this period is a part of a prophet’s ministry, per se, (Jesus’
ministry began at age 30) but I believe it _is_ part of our training.
Our Lord is much acquainted with grief, and until we can enter into
that with Him, we don’t know that part of His heart. So, although
I’ve had some difficult years, some heart fruit, at least, is now
coming out of that.

Vision: Hang Gliding.

This is my first post to this list. This is actually new territory
for me. Not the idea of prophecy or hearing from God, but for me
it’s been difficult to accept the calling God has for me. Mostly,
I struggle with sin and I never believed that God would want to use
someone was wretched as myself.

I am sharing this partially in obedience to “not hiding my light
under a bushel” and partially in the hope that others may find it
helpful.

During March of 1997 I was crying out to God, asking Him
what His calling on my life was all about.

God answered me with a vision, one that took three days
to completely unfold. This is the most intense vision
I’ve ever received. I was not just watching it on a
“movie screen”, I was participating in it as though it
were actually happening. Even now, a year later, the
memory has not faded – it’s as though I am remembering
something that actually happened. I could see, hear,
touch, smell, and taste my surroundings — I even
developed vertigo.

This is that vision:

I am standing on the edge of a very high cliff. It’s
the dark of the night, and I can see thousands or even
millions of lights spread out below me. Some of the
lights are small, and some are large and spread out
across a wide area. Some are bright, while others are
so dim I can barely see them. The large lights were not
necessarily the brightest — in fact, some of the
smallest were also among the brightest. Overall I could
see no correlation between the size of a light and how
bright it was.

I knew immediately that the lights were churches in all
their denominations, sects, and varieties, and that I
was seeing churches all over the world. Some of the
lights were connected with others, like a string of
towns along a freeway in a nighttime satellite picture,
while others were isolated. Some were so close together
that I had to shield the brighter ones in order to see
the dimmer. My overall impression was of a vast
uncomprehendingly complex network.

I spent a long time — most of the night in the vision
– just looking at the lights and marveling at their
striking, almost unearthly beauty. As I looked at this
beautiful network of lights, I realized that something
was going to happen soon, and that after this event the
world below would be plunged into a darkness such as it
had never known.

As the sky started to brighten with the dawn, I noticed
some things nearby.

First, I realized that I was strapped into a hang
glider. I knew I was in that hang glider to take part
in some sort of battle — a rescue operation for the
lights (churches and people) below.

Next I noticed that there were people on either side of
me, also strapped into hang gliders. As I looked in the
ever increasing light, I realized that the entire cliff
section was lined with people who were ready — even
anxious — to jump off the cliff and begin the rescue.
There were many thousands of warriors on this cliff
edge, all straining forward, anxious to fight that final
battle. As I gazed farther and farther out to my sides,
I saw more cliff sections like the one I was on. Each
cliff was lined with people ready to go, just like the
cliff I was on. I knew that we were all waiting to
swoop down to those lights below to carry them back up
to this cliff and to safety.

I saw many Great Men of God there. Some were young,
some old, some had years of battle experience, while
others just seemed to have an anointing which prepared
them for the battle to follow. I felt humbled to be in
such company. My initial surge of excitement over the
glory of the coming battle dissipated as I realized how
many of these veterans were so much more qualified than
I. I began to wonder if God had made a mistake placing
me among such pillars of the kingdom.

After a while, I noticed that the hang glider of the
person on my right was not assembled quite correctly.
One of the tensioning wires that held it together was
dangerously loose. It would probably hold in normal,
sedate cruising, but I knew that in the stress and
strain of battle he was going to loose a wing. He was
going to fall to his death, or at the very least he was
going to be neutralized from the battle, right when he
would be needed the most.

The person on my left was a grizzled old veteran, with
the battle scars to prove it. Both his own body and his
craft showed signs of former damage, but both were
repaired and healthy. One wing spar was a different
color because it had been replaced, there were many
patches on the fabric, and the handlebar covering was
worn through to the bare metal in places. But the
overall craft was sound and ready for battle.

As I looked around, I saw other details about many of
the hang gliders. Some were assembled incorrectly , or
had something broken, or were not strapped on quite
right. A few were even being worn backward. But no one
seemed to notice. I grieved when I realized how many of
these warriors would be neutralized in the battle, and
that some would even fall to their deaths and be lost
entirely.

I was puzzled by this, so I asked the Lord, “What’s
going on Lord? Why are so many of these people so ill
prepared? Why do they care so much about the future
glory of the battle, and so little about themselves and
their neighbors?”

In reply He simply said, “Turn around.” I unstrapped my
glider, turned, and looked.

What I saw next broke my heart.

Immediately behind me was another row of people in hang
gliders. Behind these there were even more, and behind
those, more. Row upon row of warriors, all waiting for
the opportunity to move up to the cliff’s edge for that
final glorious jump.

But these warriors’ crafts were even less prepared than
the ones in the front row. The farther back I looked,
the more I saw hazards among the hang gliders. Some had
perfectly assembled and balanced frames, but no fabric
on their wings. Others had only half a frame, with the
extra fabric flapping uselessly in the wind. A few had
no frame at all, they simply had their fabric wrapped
around their bodies. There were many, many variations
on this, some obvious, like the missing frame, and some
more subtle, like the loose tensioning wire on my
immediate right.

A couple warriors even had no evidence of a hang glider
at all. Those ones were the most arrogant and boastful,
utterly confidant that their abilities and inherent
“goodness” would bring them great glory in the coming
battle.

Most, however, truly meant well but were simply unaware
that their craft was not ready.

Many of the warriors were prepared, or at least their
hang gliders were. But the number of those who were not
astounded and shocked me. Even more shocking to me was
the utter lack of concern each man demonstrated for his
neighbor. Each ill prepared craft had the potential to
neutralize two warriors in this vast army: the wearer of
that glider, and the one who was going to have to
abandon the harvest below to rescue him or her.

As I looked even farther back, I saw the rear edge of
those who were in place for the battle. There was a lot
of turbulence there as the people in the last few rows
were settling in.

Back further yet, almost at the limits of my vision, I
saw the most heartbreaking sight of all. I saw millions
of people running and leaping forward, all anxious to
get in line for the final battle. They were running
across a vast plain, but in places their progress was
impeded by large hills and even a few small mountains.
Most just ran around the hills and mountains. A few
climbed over, and just a few — a very precious few –
stopped long enough to investigate the mountains
themselves. Of those few who stopped and looked, most
soon gave up and rejoined the crowd rushing headlong to
the final battle.

Of all the hills and mountains out on the plain, a
couple had been exposed for what actually they were.
They were not really hills at all, but vast piles of
unassembled hang gliders covered by immense tarps. The
majority of the people were ignoring the very things
they needed to survive the coming harvest, much less
have an effective role in it.

When I realized this, I fell down sobbing in grief. For
someone who has rejected God to fall to their death is
one thing, but for the vast numbers of newly converted
who were going to lose their lives — that crushed the
breath right out of me.

As I lay there crying in grief and gasping for air, I
cried out in my heart to God “Why have you given me this
terrible, terrible burden? Isn’t it enough that you’ve
had me so many years in the desert? What can I possibly
do?”

He answered with words from Ezekiel 38:

“Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to
them: `When I bring the sword against a land, and
the people of the land choose one of their men and
make him their watchman, and he sees the sword
coming against the land and blows the trumpet to
warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet
but does not take warning and the sword comes and
takes his life, his blood will be on his own head.
Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did
not take warning, his blood will be on his own
head. If he had taken warning, he would have
saved himself. But if the watchman sees the sword
coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the
people and the sword comes and takes the life of
one of them, that man will be taken away because
of his sin, but I will hold the watchman
accountable for his blood.’

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the
house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give
them warning from me. When I say to the wicked,
`O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do
not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that
wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold
you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn
the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does
not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will
have saved yourself.

With that promise, the constriction in my chest eased,
my sobs slowly ebbed, and once again I could see some
hope.

I started telling the others there on the cliff’s edge,
making them aware of the state of their crafts. Even
more importantly — far far more importantly — I
started encouraging them to check their neighbors.
Eventually I was exhorting all of them to pass along
this Spirit of holiness, of critically examining oneself
and one’s craft in the Light of truth and love.

I watched as this spread out like a wave. As each
pastor came to understand the need for checking to make
sure their craft was O.K. — and why — they passed it
along to their neighbors. As I watched I saw similar
splashes in the vast army, where other watchmen had
sounded the same cry.

The final thing I and the other watchmen did was direct
the attention of the leaders to the hundred of thousands
of leaders behind them and to the millions of new
believers still running up to the battle formation. We
started exhorting the pastors to prepare their leaders
and this horde for what was ahead.

Interpretation

For me personally, this vision is has brought a lot of
clarity and definition about my role in God’s Kingdom.

Dad has spent many years teaching me who I am in
relation to Him, that I am His son, and that he takes
immense pleasure in me for that reason alone and not
because I “perform” to His satisfaction. I know the
fact the Dad says I am a watchman does not mean He loves
me more or less than anyone else. In fact, although I
can see indications of this calling as far back in my
life as early childhood, it was not until I got my basic
identity as Dad’s son and the Son’s bride settled that I
could actually be of any use to Him in this role.

I’ve always had a heart for unity, particularly between
churches that are geographically close but infinitely
separated by the wily ploys of the devourer…

If nothing else, this vision helps me realize that when
God tells me something and asks me to pass it on, there
might actually be a possibility that maybe He really
does want me to be obedient in following through. (I
think the bible refers to this as having a “mustard
seed’s” amount of faith.)

Almost as important for me in this vision is what I
didn’t see. In the vision I didn’t notice or
particularly care about the individual weapons and tools
which each warrior had. I was not concerned about their
skills at using them. Although I could clearly see the
personality and heart of each person when I looked at
them, the reason for that was not that I should somehow
“fix” who they are or teach them how to fight the
fight. Rather, by seeing each person’s heart, I could
more effectively communicate with them about the need
for tending to their craft and helping others do the
same.

For me, knowing this sets some boundaries that I know I
can only cross with the most extreme unction from the
Spirit. All my life I’ve struggled with the fact that I
“see” a person’s inner heart as easily as I see their
outer characteristics, their physical body and their
personality. I was always a social outcast as a child,
because I had no clue how to respond socially. I never
understood that others didn’t see people as I did. As
an adult I’ve had to learn how to respond to the social
cues that others seem to be able to handle naturally.
In the process of working this out, I’ve learned that I
can easily, almost naturally, manipulate people. I’ve
also learned that this is witchcraft, and is something I
need to run from.

Working out my prophetical calling has been as much
about learning where _not_ to go and what _not_ to do
as it has about learning what _to_ do.

As I’ve prayed about this vision, I’ve asked God if this
is just a personal word meant to encourage only me, or
if there is something in this for the greater body of
Christ. What follows is my best attempt to date figuring out
discern what, if anything, He may want to say to others
than myself through this vision.

First, to the prophets, the other watchmen (and women)
God is calling to sound this cry:

I believe that the measure of a prophet is not in how
loudly or boldly he or she proclaims the truth, nor is
it in how popular they manage to become. Rather, our
measure is in how effective we are at introducing
change.

Actually, our true measure is in our character and our
heart, and in our obedience to God. But change is
something a bit more tangible which can only flow from
our hearts as regulated by our character. Having a Godly
heart and a Godly character are inner fruit, while the
“change” I am speaking of is the external fruit of a
prophetical ministry.

So, if you as a prophet don’t see a lot of positive
fruit on the outside, take look at your fruit on the
inside. External positive fruit is not popularity.
Rather it’s the Father’s purposes being accomplished.

In this vision, if I’d gone around ranting and raving at
those pastors and cursing and condemning them to hell
because of the imperfections, far fewer would have
bothered to take note, except perhaps to encourage me
most strongly to move on to “wherever God may be calling
me.” I know this from very painful personal experience.

On the other hand, if I had been so fearful of loosing
my popularity, I would never have been able to approach
many of those pastors in boldness to speak the truth
with love. Again, been there, done that.

Believe it or not, prophets, many pastors _do_ actually
hear God on occasion, and most pastors really _are_ at
least a little sensitive in their spirits. If you
approach them with arrogance in your hearts, most
pastors will discern that. Or if you cower before them
with fear in your hearts, most of them will also see
that too. In either case many of those pastors will not
be able to receive what you have to say because the
“static” so overpowers the “radio station”.

Above all, remember that prophetical ministry is
absolutely _not_ about glorifying the prophet, but
absolutely _is_ about glorifying the bride.

Pastors and other leaders:

Please try to remember that prophets are people too. I
have found many times that pastors are afraid of those
with prophetical anointing. It seems like most people
tend to either fear and despise prophets, or they tend
to worship them. I don’t think that any pastor in their
right mind would want to release either of those
dynamics into their flocks.

But know that in the majority of cases these prophets
are completely on their own. Most pastors have a lesser
or greater amount of schooling — they almost certainly
have some specific training to learn how to be a
pastor. Almost all churches and denominations have
avenues for raising up and guiding young pastors, and
for keeping at bay the wolves in sheep’s clothing. And
every pastor I have ever known has _some_ sort of
support mechanism in place once they are actually out
pastoring in the real word.

In today’s greater Christian community, how many of
God’s prophets have the same preparation? How many are
trained? How many are recognized by their church’s
leadership and guided towards maturity?

Many whom God has called as prophets are a little (or
even a lot) rough around the edges. Please try to
understand what we go through as we try to be obedient
to God’s call on our lives. I have, at various times,
thought I was: worthless; the next John the Baptist;
certifiably crazy; the only sane person left; ready to
be used by God when I wasn’t; not ready when in fact I
was; and just about everything in between. But rarely
have I been provided guidelines and encouragement from
my _church_ leadership. Most of the other people I’ve
known who have prophetical anointing have had similar
experiences.

If you have someone in your flock who seems to exhibit
this kind of anointing, please don’t be afraid of them.
Whatever they may be like on the outside, every person I
have ever met with even an ounce of prophetical
anointing has started out with a very sensitive heart on
the inside. Some prophets have developed hard hearts,
but in my experience most of the time this is a reaction
to being simultaneously worshiped and feared by other
people.

If someone is coming to you claiming to have a
prophetical word from God, please try to look past their
pride and insecurity, and at the same time don’t be
upset or overawed by the idea that God my choose to
speak something through them some of the time. Just
take what they say and apply the discernment God has
given you to the content.

Above all, please, please try to work with them, setting
boundaries and guiding them as necessary, but also
encouraging them to become who God is calling them to be.

Many prophets would give their right leg simply to be
accepted as people who happen to have a particular
gifting or anointing. (Of course, a lot of the pastors
I’ve known would probably say the same thing about
themselves.)

To the new believers:

Hang on!

This is going to be the ride of your life. In fact,
it’s going to be the ride of everybody’s life. None of
us have _ever_ done this before, at least not on this
scale. While many leaders are experienced at hang
gliding (to use the metaphor from the vision), never
before has there been an operation in God’s kingdom on
this massive a scale.

To everyone:

This interpretation — all of it, but especially that
which is directed to others than myself — is composed
primarily of my thoughts as I’ve tried to come to grips
with this vision. As such, to me the interpretation
carries less weight than the vision itself. I’ve
certainly sought the Lord’s Heart in interpreting this,
but in the end I must confess that any interpretation has
been primarily my efforts at comprehension and
understanding.

Application

Absolutely the last way I want to apply this vision is
by rushing out on my own in an attempt to make it happen
by “helping” God along.

At the present time God has been very clearly and
strongly telling me to “Stop hiding my light under a
bushel.” That’s one of the reasons I’m sending this to
the list.

This vision is not an isolated event in my life; it
confirms many things that have happened before and
since. For years I’ve had an intense passion to see the
Son’s bride made ready for her Bridegroom. While this
vision has provided me a few more clues about what that
might look like, none of the essential elements or
underlying passions are new.

For me personally, I’m waiting, and watching in wonder
and awe as this is starting to unfold.

Timing

Since God almost _always_ seems to miss it on this one,
I will spare him the embarrassment of making yet another
mistake.

*grin*

Except for instances when God has _clearly_ told me a
specific time or date as part of a word or vision, I’ve
learned to be cautions about trying to attach a sense of
timing to what I learn in the Spirit, other than reporting a
sense of urgency if that is there.

My sense for this vision is that it is first and
foremost meant for the prophets, and I see it as a call
to allow God to make us effective instruments. ones that
He can use to bring about the change _He_ wants, _when_
He want’s it. That’s the other reason I’m posting it.

I also see here things which are coming (the second wave
of the harvest) and things which may be happening now
(the first wave)…

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War and Glory

Taken from MorningStar Journal Vol.4 No.2
Pages: 56-65 Published: 1994
MorningStar
Website:
http://www.eaglestar.org

War and Glory
By
Rick Joyner

In August of 1993, I had a vision of the church. It was represented as an
island in the middle of a sea. There were many different types of buildings
allover this island, each of which I understood to represent a different
denomination or movement. These buildings seemed to clash with each other
architecturally as there were very old ones next to very modern ones. There was
a war going on between many of the buildings, and most of them looked like
bombed out shells. People were still living in the buildings, but most were
starving and wounded.

The Controlling Spirits

There were two dark spirits over the island directing this war. One was
named Jealousy and the other one Fear. They congratulated each other every time
one of the builgins suffered damage, or people were wounded.

I then saw two powerful and frightening spirits rising over the sea. These
became storms. One was Rage and the other Lawlessness. They were stirring up
the sea and causing great waves to crash onto the island. Soon these storms
became so large that they seemed even more threatening to the island than the
war.

I felt that the people in the city had to be warned about these storms, and
several apparent watchmen were trying to do this, but no one would listen to
them. The people only debated and argued about whether the watchmen should be
trusted. This was remarkable because anyone who just looked up could see the
storms for themselves.

These wars had left so many people wounded that the hospitals were fast
becoming the largest buildings on the island. The hospitals were movements or
denominations that had given themselves to healing the wounded. As these grew,
the other warring factions had no respect for them as being a place where even
their own wounded were being cared for, but were instead more resolved to
destroy them than the other buildings.

As the war continued, even those who were not badly wounded had the
appearance of phantoms, or they became grotesquely deformed from the starvation
and disease. Anytime a building received a supply of food, which would attract
people, it would become a target. I could not comprehend how even a war could
be so cruel–and this was the church!

In the midst of the battle, men were still trying to add to their buildings,
or star new ones, but it was futile. Whenever one building would start to rise
a little higher than the others, or any time a new building was started, it
would become the main target of all of the other buildings, and it would quickly
be reduced to rubble.

I was then shown many powerful leaders who were conducting this war. All of
them had the same word on their forehead: “Treachery.” I was
surprised that anyone would follow someone with that written on them, but they
did. I was reminded of IICorinthians 11:20, “For you bear with you anyone
if he enslaves you, if he devours you, if he takes advantage of you, if he
exalts himself, if he hits you in the face.”

A Remnant

However, there were people who appeared as lights in almost every building.
These lights in almost every building. These lights refused to take part in the
fighting, but spent their time trying to repair the buildings, or nurse the
wounded. Even though it was impossible to keep up with the damage or the
wounded, they did not stop trying.

It was also apparent that each of these lights had the power to heal wounds,
and that power was increasing as they worked. Those who were healed became
lights just like those who healed them. It was obvious that these individuals
who were committed to healing the wounded were now able to do more than the
hospitals because of the ruthlessness of the attacks on the hospitals.
Understanding this, the hospitals dispersed their people as “healing teams”
which spread out across the island and moved in to many of the other buildings.
There were also small camps around the perimeter of the island. Some of these
were involved in the war between the buildings, and seemed intent on trying to
destroy all of the buildings so that they could bring people in to their camps.
The leaders of these camps had the same word “Treachery” written on
their foreheads.

There were a few of these camps which were not involved in the war, and they
too appeared as lights. These were also growing in authority, but it was a
different authority than the healing powers that the others had. They had
authority over events. They were praying to stop small battles, and to keep
small storms away, and it was happening as they prayed.

The two spirits over the city and the two storms became very intimidated by
these small camps. I felt that these intercessory groups were actually close to
having the authority to stop the major battles and big storms, which were
obviously the source of agitation of these large spirits.

The Tragedy

There were multitudes of boats and ships all around the island that were
waiting to enter the city as soon as the fighting stopped. Many of these boats
were full of refugees from other wars, and many were wounded. There were also
ships bearing kings, presidents and those who appeared wealthy and prosperous.
These were all afraid of the storms, but they could not enter the city because
of the fighting. Their groans and screams were so loud I was surprised that no
one in the city would hear them; no one even seemed aware that they were out
there.

In His Wisdom

Then I saw the Lord standing and watching. He was so glorious that I
wondered why I hand not seen Him before, or why everyone in the city did not
stop to worship Him. To my amazement, no one was able to see Him I then looked
in to the eyes of some of the people, and they were all so “blood-shot”
that I was surprised that they could see anything.

I then wondered why the Lord did not stop the fighting, and seemed content
to just watch. As if He had understood my thoughts, He turned and said to me, “This
My church. These were the houses men tried to build for Me. I knocked on the
door of each one, but they would not open to Me. I would have brought peace
because I will only dwell in the city of peace.”

Then He turned and indicated the people in the ships, saying: “If I
allowed all of the these people to come to the city now they would just be used
in the war. When their cries become louder than the war, I will build a place
for them.”

Then He looked at me with great earnestness and said, “I allowed this
to happen so that it would never happen again!” It is hard to convey the
power of this statement, but imparted to me a deep understanding that He allowed
this conflict to continue out of profound wisdom. He then said, “Until you
understand this you cannot understand what I am about to do.”

When the cries of those in the boats became louder than the conflict in the
city, the Lord gave a command and the sea was released. Great tidal waves arose
and began to sweep across the island until they covered the buildings. The
spirts that were storms joined the spirits over the island, and they all grew to
almost double their previous size. Then the island completely disappeared under
the darkness of the spirits and the raging sea.

The Lord did not move as this was happening. I knew that my only protection
was to stand as close to Him as possible. I could not see anything but Him
during this great storm. As I looked at His face I could see both hurt and
resolve.

The House Of the Lord is Built

Slowly, the storms died down and the tides receded. The individuals who
were the lights inthe buildings emerged and remained standing where the
buildings had once been. Then the Lord, who had been on the edge of the island,
moved to the center and said, “Now I will build My house.”

And all of those were lights started turning toward the Lord. As they
turned, they became even brighter, and each group as changed into a living
pillar right where they stood. Soon it became obvious that these pillars were
the framework of a building which would almost cover the entire island.

The pillars were different colors, shapes, and sizes. It was hard to
understand how all of these, being so different, would work as a single frame
work, However, the Lord seemed very pleased with each one, and they did
eventually all fit together.

The People Come

Then the ships and boats all started landing on the island. There were
multitudes of people. Each ship or boat was from a different country or race of
people. Soon I began to think that, even as large as it was, there were too
many people for the building. Then the Lord looked at me and said very sternly,
“We will build as many rooms as we need-no one will be turned away.”

This was said so sternly that I resolved to never again consider turning
people away as an option. I also pondered how the biggest problem before was
how to get people to come to the buildings. Now the big problem was what to do
with all of the people.

The Cemetery

When each ship arrived, the people on it were led straight to the Lord. He
looked into the eyes of each one and said, “If you trust Me, you will die
for me.” When one said “I will die for You,” He immediately
thrust His sword right through his heart. This caused very real pain. To those
who tried to avoid the sword, it was obviously even more painful. To those who
relaxed, it did not seem to hurt as much.

They were then taken to a cemetery with the words “Obscurity” over
the gate. I felt compelled to follow them. Those who had been stabbed were
checked to see that they were really dead before they were buried. Some clung
to life for a long time, and were laid off to one side. Quickly, those who were
buried began to arise as lights just like those who had survived the storm. I
noticed that they were not staying in their tombs the same length of time. Some
of them arose before those who were clinging to life were even buried.

When I first looked at this cemetery, it looked like a dreadful place, and I
did not think that it fit at all on this now glorious island. As I left the
cemetery, I turned to look back at it, and it looked beautiful. I could not
figure out what was different, when one of the workers said to me knowingly, “The
cemetery has not changed–you have.”

I then looked at the building and it was even more glorious than I had
remembered. I then looked at the island and felt the same thing–it had become
much more beautiful. I remembered the Scripture, “Precious the sight of
the Lord is the death of His godly ones” (Psalm 116:15). The worker, who
was still looking at me, then said, “You have not died yet, but were
changed just by being close to those who have. When you die you will see even
more glory.”

Those who were emerging as lights from the cemetery were each being led to
their own place in the building, which would have their name on it. Some joined
the walls, others joined the pillars, some became windows or doors. They
remained people even after they became a part of the building.

The Test

I returned to the Lord’s side. Standing in His present was so wonderful I
could not imagine why anyone would not be willing to die for Him, but many of
the people coming from the ships did refuse. These would all back away from Him
at the request. Many of these went back to the ships, some of which left and
some which remained in the harbor.

A few of the people who refused to die stayed on the island and were allowed
to walk about freely, and even enter the House of the Lord. They seemed to love
and bask in the glory of it all. Many of these began to shine with a glory too,
but they only reflected what was coming from the others.

As I was thinking that it was not right for these to be allowed to stay, the
Lord said to me, “My patience will win many of these, but even those that
never give me their lives, I love and am pleased to let them enjoy my glory.
Never turn away those who love My glory.” These really did enjoy the
house, and enjoyed the presence of the Lord that radiated from the house, but
they seemed timid, and retreated when the Lord Himself came close to them.

I then watched as those who had refused to die for the Lord began to act as
if His house were their own, and had been built for them. I wanted to be angry
at their great presumption, but I could not feel anger even though I wanted to.
I then understood that it was because I was standing so close to the Lord that I
could not be mad. This forced me to make the decision to stay close to Him for
move away so that I could be angry.

I was surprised that this was a difficult decision, that I would even
consider anting to move away from the Lord, but it honestly was. Out of fear at
what was arising within me, I stepped closer to the Lord. He immediately
reached out and grabbed me as if I was about to fall off of a cliff. As I
looked behind me I was astonished to find that I had been on the very edge of
one, and had I taken that step away from the Lord to feel the anger, I would
have stepped off of it.

He then said to me, “In this house I can tolerate presumption more than
that anger. That anger would start the war again.” I was then overwhelmed
with the knowledge hat I had not yet made the decision to die for Him either,
and that I too had been presumptuously feeling possessive of both the house and
the Lord. When I saw this great evil in my own heart I was appalled and
immediately begged the Lord to destroy my evil heart with His word.

Resurrection Life

When the Lord pierced My heart, I was surprised to feel so little pain when
it seemed to have been so hard on others. He then said, “Those who request
death die easier.” I remembered His statement in Matthew 21:44 “And
he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whoever it falls, it
will scatter him like dust.”

I did not remember being carried to the cemetery, but just as if no time at
all had passed, I was emerging from it again. Now the glory of everything I saw
was unspeakable. I looked at the rock and loved it. I looked at trees, the sky
and clouds, and could not believe how wonderful they were. A sparrow seemed
more glorious than any bird I had ever seen. I wondered at the great treasure
that this little bird was, and why I had not appreciated him like this before.

I then looked at the presumptuous people. Not only did I feel no temptation
to be angry, I loved them so much I would have let one each pierce my heart
again if it would help them. I then began to think of how blessed I was to be
able to meet them and be with them. Now I actually wanted them to stay and
could not even comprehend how I was ever tempted to be angry at them–they were
much greater treasures than the sparrow!

Then the Lord stood next to me. Though I did not think it was possible, He
was much more glorious than before, and I was able to bear it. He said, “This
is why the death of My people is so precious to Me. Those who seek to save
their life always lose it, but those who lose their life for My sake find true
life. Now you know true life because you know love.”

I then looked at the house and all of those who composed it. Everything and
every one that I looked at seemed to stir up this great feeling of love that was
more wonderful than anything I had ever felt before. I wanted to go look at or
talk to each one, but I did not want to leave the Lord’s side, Whose presence
was even more compelling. Knowing my thoughts, he said, “You need never
fear leaving My side, because I have made My abode in you and I will be with you
everywhere that you go.”

As I watched the presumptuous people, they were enjoying all of the
blessings, and even thought of themselves as the reasons for them, but they
really were not even a part of what was being built. Having just been one of
them I also knew how shallow their enjoyment was, compared to what it could be,
and a great compassion came over me for them. As I continued watching these
people, they gradually became thinner in substance until they were just like the
phantoms I had seen in the city that had been destroyed. Again I thought of the
Lord’s words, “Those who seek to save their life will lose it, but those
who lose their life for My sake will find it.”

No Limits

Then I looked at how the building kept getting higher, and the higher it
went the more glory it exuded and the further it could be seen. This resulted
in even more ships and people coming through the storms, which were still
raging, but seemed unable to affect the island. As I wondered how high the
building could get, the Lord turned to me again and, as if He were answering my
thoughts, said, “There is no limit to how high we can build this because I
am the foundation and love is the cement.”

This caused me to look at the cement, which was transparent but radiated a
great power. I wondered how I had not noticed this before; it was now so
obvious and captivating. I then started pondering how I seemed blind to even
the greatest wonders of this building until the Lord directed my attention to
them. It caused me to turn back tot he Lord and watch everything to which He
gave His attention.

The Lord then began looking at the people who now composed the building. As
I looked at them again I was immediately struck by the face that they were more
than people-I knew that they were the “new creation” that had
transcended this creation. They had bridged the gap between the physical and
spiritual realms, and were clearly a part of both. They were unquestionable
supernatural, which did not mean that they were more than natural, but far more
natural than anything “natural” I had ever seen. They were more real
than anything I had ever considered “real.” They made everything else
seem like a shadow, and this sense increased as they continued to change.

Soon the glory that was coming from them could be both seen and felt. The
feeling was not like a touch, but like an emotion, As I walked close enough to
this glory, it made me feel so good that the only way that I can describe it is
like a wonderful intoxication, not one that clouded the mind, but illuminated
it. I felt somehow ennobled, but with pride, but with a powerful sense of
destiny. I also felt a profound security, as if I were in complete harmony with
the ground, the air and especially the Lord and His house. The feeling was so
good I never wanted to move again.

With the addition of each new boatload of people, the transformation of
those already a part of the building would continue, and the glory of the whole
building would increase and expand. This made everyone in the building greatly
rejoice with the coming of each new group of people.

Sharing the Glory.

When those who came from the cemetery took their place in the building,
those who were already a part tried to give the new ones their own glory. As
they did this, the glory radiating from the Lord would increase, and He would
give even more to those who had given their own glory away. Those who were the
most devoted to this sharing would be the ones used to start the next level of
the house, which kept going higher and higher.

I thought of how opposite this was from the jealousy which had prevailed
previously in the city. I then tried to ponder the jealousy to understand it
more, but it was almost impossible to do. Because I could no longer feel
jealousy, I had a difficult time even understanding what it was–it seemed as
unreal as if it had only existed in bad dreams. The joy of sharing was so great
that not doing it now seemed incomprehensible. The more the glory was shared,
the more each one received to share.

The joy of sharing was so great that I knew that all of use would be
spending eternity just seeking others with whom to share the glory. I had a
strong sense of knowing that the Lord would be creating many new worlds just for
us to have new places to share His glory. I then knew that this was why He had
created the universe with such diversity, and why He created it to continually
expand at a rapid pace. Those who touched His glory were touched by a love that
had to share the glory, which caused them to expand. He had given us the
universe to share His glory with. He had set in motion a glorious chain
reaction that would never stop! There were no limits on time or space, and we
would need every bit of it!

The Storms Return

Then suddenly my attention was turned toward the storms that had continued
to grow in the sea. To my shock they had grown larger and faster than the house
of the Lord, and were now coming toward the island.

Great waves covered the island and the building disappeared from my view,
even though I was still very close to it. The fury of this storm was beyond
comprehension, but I felt no fear at all. I

knew that it was because I had already died to this world and had a life
that could never be taken from me. As wonderful as the island had become, I was
just happy to die physically so that I would be free to carry the glory of the
Lord to the rest of the universe that had so captured my attention. It really
would have been hard to choose to stay or go, I just rested and waited.

Gradually the storms abated and the building then re-emerged. Both the
buildings and the island were much smaller, but even more glorious. Then I
noticed that the storms were just off shore and were returning. This happened
several times, and each time the building would emerge it would be smaller, but
more glorious. Each time that this happened the storms were also much
smaller–they were wearing themselves out on the island. Soon the storms could
only generate small waves that posed no threat of any real damage. The glory of
the house was now beyond any human description.

Then the clouds dissipated altogether into the most beautiful sky I had ever
seen. As I gazed into the sky I began to realize that it was filled with the
glory that was being emitted from the house. As I looked at the house I was
amazed that there was no damage from the storm, though it was much smaller.
Even so, the glory now coming from the house was much greater than before, and
was reflected by everything. I felt that it was so great that it must already
be extending far beyond the earth.

Then the vision changed and I was alone with the Lord. All of the great
feelings were gone–even the love. He looked at me earnestly and said, “The
war is almost over. It is time to prepare for the storms. Tell My people that
no one with His brother’s blood on His hands will be used to build My house.”

I was trying hard to listen to these words in order to heed them, while
still thinking about the great love I had felt. He then said, “This was a
dream, but it is real. You have known everything that I have shown you in this
dream in your heart. Now believe with your heart and My love will be real to
you again. This is your quest–to know my love.”

Comments

The general interpretation of this vision is obvious, but I do think that
many of the feelings that I had during this experience are an important part of
the message.

In looking at the different buildings which I knew represented denominations
or movements, the architectural clash was so striking that it was grotesque. It
was as if they were all so intent on being different that the most hideous
skyline had been the result. I could not imagine anyone who happened upon such
a city having any desire to enter it, even if the conflict was not taking place.

The church is doing much more damage to herself through infighting than the
enemies without are able to do. At that time I was consciously surprised that
the Lord did not intervene in this destructive fighting. Those who were
fighting against the other denominations, or movements, were all disqualified
from being a part of the house the Lord built.

This reminded me of King David, who, because he was “a man of war and
had shed blood” (1Chronicles 28:3), was not allowed to build the temple of
the Lord. This did not disqualify David from salvation, or from being
considered one of the great men of God of all time. I felt that many true
saints, and even great men of God, were tragically disqualifying themselves from
this most wonderful work of all by becoming embroiled in this spiritual civil
war. This even caused them to lose the light that hey had; only the
peacemakers, and those who to trying to repair and build instead of tearing
down, radiated with light in this vision.

I think that it was significant that almost all, if not all, of these
buildings contained those who were true lights. These may appear as small
lights now, but they will be the foundation upon which the Lord will build His
house.

Because the sea sometimes represents “mass humanity” in Scripture
(see Revelation 17:15), the multitudes are going to rise up in great waves which
will destroy much of the present visible structure of the church. Those who are
true lights will not be swept away by the waves. Those who walk in this truth
have a foundation which cannot be shaken.

The Lord’s command to release the sea did not cause the sea to rise up, but
just removed that which was restraining it. The sea then came with fury against
the island, as if it were being controlled by a great hatred. I believe this
represented a great hatred against visible, institutional Christianity that will
arise, and the Lord will allow it to destroy these institutions.

When these great tidal waves had stopped, there were no Christian
institutions as represented by the buildings that men had constructed. However,
all of the real Christians remained. I do not think that it is wrong to keeptrying to repair these structures, as the Lord honored and preserved those who
did, but this vision affirmed deep within me the need to focus on building
people, rather than trying to build another institution that will be able to
stand in these times–none of them will stand.

Even though these present buildings were destroyed, they each contained
those who were to be pillars in His house. The house of the Lord was a brand
new building but those who became the main supports in it came from almost every
denomination and movement. The Lord is “the wise man who brings forth from
His treasures things both new and old.” The Lord does have new wine to
serve, but Isaiah 25:6 declares that the Lord will also serve “refined,
aged wine.” The Lord will not use either the old or the new, but both the
old and new.

The Lord’s house was built in the midst of the increasing storms of rage and
lawlessness. It radiated as an even greater light because of the storms. I was
encouraged that the Lord will build, on this earth, a church that really will
reflect His glory, and that this age will not end until He does.

It could not be any other way. Moses contended when the Lord threatened to
destroy Israel, that this would only leave the testimony that He could bring
people out of Egypt, but could not lead them into the Promised Land. The Lord
will have a testimony, through the church, that will last for eternity. That
testimony will be that He not only can forgive the sins of His church, but He
also has the power and wisdom to deliver her from her sins, and maker her into a
glorious bride without spot or wrinkle:

Mt 16:13 ¶ When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he
asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias;
and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the
living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona:
for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in
heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will
build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

(Note: In original article this last quote was in N.A.S.B.)

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Shaking to come

Recently, while spending time with the Lord, He showed me a picture of a very
beautiful, ornate church building. Inside and out, the church had the
appearance of excellence. Nothing but the best had gone into building this
house of God. .

The architecture that went into this church was determined by the interests of
those who did the building. There were very large ornate doors that graced the
entrance. They were placed there by those who felt the most important
ministry of the church was to welcome in the lost. To enter through these
doors would surely be the key of forgiveness to all those who were seeking
love and forgiveness.

There were many windows, and the sanctuary was filled with bright rays of
sunlight. They had been placed there by those who felt that the most important
ministry of the church was to shine the light and truth of Jesus on every part of
their lives.

Toward the front of the sanctuary was a platform on which many instruments
were lined up, waiting to be played to the glory of God. The platform was
placed there by those who saw praise and worship as the most important part
of the church.

Kneeling benches lined the platform, because some thought prayer was the
most important thing.

Many smaller rooms had been built to accommodate teaching of the Word.
Teaching was the key to those who had built these walls…..and on it went.

In pondering this picture, I saw many good and necessary things that people
saw as most important to the church, but I asked the Lord what He saw as
most important to the structure. Immediately I was taken to the basement of
the church. There I saw what on the surface seemed to be a very sound, and
secure foundation. The footings went deep, the cement appeared thick and
strong. Then the Lord showed me a cross section of the foundation.

Much to my surprise, I saw many things imbedded in the cement. I saw words
that had long ago been spoken, not by God, but by man. I saw sheets of
music, and instruments of praise. I saw religious people, and family members,
and I saw stacks of money imbedded into the rock hard cement. There were
many other things, all placed there by those who felt these things were
necessary for a firm, and solid foundation.

Then the ground started to shake. The pressure on the foundation became very
great. As the shaking continued, these “good” things that had made their way
into the foundation began to cave in under the weight and pressure of the
shaking. In the places where the foundation had appeared to be firm and
strong only minutes before, now were crumbling and caving in. Many found the
very ground on which they were standing began to fall away. As the ground
continued to shake, the weak places became traps to all those who were
relying on them to hold them firm in a time of trouble. Only those corners that
were truly undergirded by true foundation were safe. All those who found
themselves standing on places that had anything else added to the foundation
were in danger.

Then I heard the Lord say “I am coming to test the foundation of My church.”

There are many who have placed many good things in their foundation, but
none of these things will be able to stand in a time of shaking. Many people
were not even aware that what lay under their feet was not solid until the
shaking began. God in His mercy is shaking His church to reveal the weak
places that need to be repaired. No other foundation except Jesus will stand.

I Cor 3:11
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is layed,
which is Jesus Christ.

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Prepare Ye The Way

PREPARE YE THE WAY

by

Laura Bagley

John the Baptist was more than a voice. He not only echoed the words of Elijah, but he is representative of all the people who would receive Jesus. He is the fore-shadowing of what those people would become—the Church.

The sign that John was a milestone in God’s Covenant is seen in the circumstances of his birth. The first miracle of the Covenant God made with Abraham was the birth of Isaac. This set a precedent. The hallmark of the Covenant would be birth—specifically, life arising out of deadness and impossibility. Abraham and Sarah represented the condition of all mankind—spiritually sterile, and, because of their age, dying. God’s Covenant was the promise of new life. The token of the covenant—circumcision—indicated that this new life would come about without flesh. The child of promise—Isaac—was not born until after Abraham was circumcised.

Zacharias and Elisabeth, like Isaac’s parents, were barren and advanced in years. This fact alone points to special significance in the life of John. What we are told about them sheds more light.

Zacharias means, Jehovah has remembered. Elisabeth means, God of the oath, and is derived from the Hebrew word for seven, which means, to be completed. John means, Jehovah-favored, or beloved. These names put into a sentence is the Lord—the Covenant-making God—speaking to mankind: “Beloved, I have remembered and completed my oath.” This was John’s message—”The time has come.”

When Gabriel appeared to Zacharias to tell him God had heard and answered his prayer for a child, Zacharias was ministering in the temple, burning incense. We are also told that at the time this was occurring, the whole multitude of people were praying outside (Luke 1:8-17). If we are to really see John as the foreshadowing of the Church we should be able to see this pattern elsewhere.

In the book of the Revelation, there is an interlude between the opening of the seals and the sounding of the first trumpet. The seals show the completed work of redemption. Before the trumpets we are shown a picture of an angel with a golden censer offering prayers and incense to God. Since this is happening immediately after Jesus’ resurrection, this has to be the prayers of the one hundred and twenty gathered in the upper room awaiting power from on high. The angel then takes fire from the altar and casts it into the earth. This is Pentecost. The next thing we see is the sounding of the trumpets—the voice of the church.

In both of these scenes the same elements are present—prayer, incense, and an angelic presence. In both instances—the announcement of John’s birth, and the trumpets preparing to sound—we have evidence of a coming herald.

Gabriel told Zacharias that many would rejoice at the birth of John and that the child would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Many of the children of Israel would turn to the Lord because of John. He would speak in the spirit and power of Elijah. He would make ready a people prepared for the Lord. This is also the mission of the Church—to preach Jesus, preparing men’s hearts to receive him.

This prophesy about John is eclipsed only by that of Jesus in its magnitude. John was a blood relative of Jesus, which serves to show the very close relationship between the mission each was sent to accomplish. Jesus was the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29). The blood tie between Jesus and John is an indication of the Blood that would bring each believer into the household of God.

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and second only to that, John was baptized in the Spirit while yet unborn. This happened when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visited Elisabeth, who was pregnant with John. It was the proximity of Jesus that caused John’s in-filling. This is a beautiful picture of mankind carrying the Spirit of Jesus to those who will receive him. The fact that this happened between two unborn babies who could not possibly communicate physically demonstrates that salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit. John, born with the Spirit, is a picture of the new spirit-birth of the church.

John knew that Jesus was his cousin, but because he received the Holy Spirit from Jesus before he was born, he was able to recognize Jesus as the Messiah at the river Jordan. It was the Spirit that bore witness!

Jesus submitted to the baptism of John to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Just as Israel was baptized into Moses, thus becoming the figure of the church; Jesus coming to John for baptism was the figure of the believer, having received the Word, being baptized into the church.

John’s ministry was to prepare people to receive Jesus. He was the herald for the coming of the Lord. The Jews were looking for the Messiah, but they were expecting more of a political leader—someone who would overthrow the Roman Empire and set up headquarters in Jerusalem. They were looking for a bodily, materialistic rescue—-not spiritual freedom. Their focus wasn’t much different than that of denominational Christianity today. In both cases, people tend to look for a rescue from outward circumstances without inward change. Jesus’ mission was to liberate man from sin so that man could deal with the circumstances of poverty, sickness and the bondage of evil.

This is where the similarities between then and now are so striking. When John began heralding the coming of the Lord, he wasn’t referring to a dramatic event where the sky would split open and a huge shining figure would swoop down and throw lightening bolts. Jesus was already on earth in a body. The coming of the Lord heralded the beginning of Jesus’ work. Jesus the Messiah was concealed in a body, but John’s anointed vision saw the truth beyond the flesh. It was John’s revelation that identified Jesus to the world. The church must have the same revelation—Jesus is here!

The work of the church today is the same as what John preached—repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus—take on his identity—put on Christ! The church today preaches the coming of the Lord and just as when John preached—Jesus’ body is already here! Jesus responded to John’s heralding by beginning the work of his ministry. The same will happen today when we allow his identity to come into his body and continue the works he did before. John saw the spirit, in the form of a dove descending upon Jesus. He saw evidence of the Spirit! The church needs to show that same evidence!

The church’s eventual lapse into ineffectiveness was also mirrored in the life of John. Because of his message of repentance, John angered Herod and was imprisoned, and then beheaded. Likewise, Satan was not only angered, but afraid of the success of the early church, and through subtle and deceptive tactics managed to lure the focus of the church away from the simplicity of Christ. As a result, the church found itself imprisoned in the ornate, but powerless labyrinth of religion. This was the same thing that happened under the old Covenant, proving that Satan tends to use the same old tricks—because they work.

John was almost like two different people—bold and confident while preaching—and weakened by doubt in prison. It was while he was in prison that he sent his disciples to Jesus with the question, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” This doesn’t sound like the prophet who looked up to see Jesus at the Jordan river and proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” ( John 1:29). It seems unthinkable that this could be the same man. Instead of calling out to Jesus in confident assurance, John’s only words were a doubt-filled question—”Art thou he?”

By the same token, the church, once so bold, having begun in the power of the Holy Spirit, working miracles and saving people by the thousands on a daily basis, fell into the same doubtful posture within a century or so. John was beheaded while in prison and the church, locked within the same dungeon of confusion and unbelief, lost its head as well.

John’s question, “Art thou he?” sheds some light on the reason for his and the church’s decline into powerlessness. While preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit, John’s focus was singular and straight. He lived and breathed his conviction that the time had come for God’s promised redeemer to be revealed. This God-given vision was so real to John that he knew Jesus was the Messiah without being told by anyone but the Holy Spirit. (John 1:33) If he could ask the question, “Are you the one?” is evidence that his focus had veered.

This is exactly what happened in the church. The focus gradually shifted from Jesus to certain church leaders. Just as in the wilderness when the children of Israel preferred to have Moses hear from God for them, many of the early Christians became spiritually lazy, just like today, relying on pastors to do their praying and seeking God for them. This passivity led to weakness, and soon people were floundering in the dark having forgotten what they had lost sight of.

The very human—carnal—tendency to elevate men is a misplaced longing to see something rather than relying on faith in the unseen. The fact that God is Spirit and must be worshipped in spirit gets lost in the shuffle when people want to revere the men God uses. This can be seen in the account of the transfiguration. (Matthew 17: 1-13)

Jesus had been speaking to his disciples about his coming death and resurrection. Peter disagreed saying this should not happen, but Jesus, in turn, rebuked Peter for savoring the things of men more than the things of God. He went on to say that anyone who wanted to follow him would have to practice self-denial and take up his cross, or, die to self. This is a good way of saying, “Keep your focus.” Then Jesus spoke about coming into his kingdom in the glory and power of his Father. He wanted them to understand what his kingdom really was.

Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain apart. A high mountain designates the superiority of Divine Government, and apart signifies the status of the church—called apart. (Interestingly, the number twelve means Divine Government and can be obtained by adding two—which means separation—and ten—which means redemption.) The three disciples were a token of all the people called apart to populate his kingdom.

In their presence, Jesus’ face shined like the sun and his raiment became white as the light. Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus. Peter’s reaction was to suggest they set up three tabernacles, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Mark 9:6 states that Peter didn’t know what to say because they were so afraid. His remark was typical in a situation where one feels that something appropriate needs to be said, so Peter made a religious suggestion. The problem was that three tabernacles would put Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus. It would serve to scatter ones focus and encourage the reverence of men. Remember, just before this incident Peter had been rebuked for regarding the things of men more than the things of God.

While that rather lame suggestion was coming out of Peter’s mouth, a cloud overshadowed them and God spoke. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” God was not simply introducing Jesus as his Son. Peter already knew this. Before this incident took place Jesus had asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. God’s words, “This is my beloved Son…” was a response to the vision they had seen and Peter’s remark about the three tabernacles. God was telling Peter that this vision is my Son.

Moses and Elijah represent the Messianic aspects of the Old Covenant that Jesus became in the New Covenant. Israel was baptized into Moses, the deliverer. This was the church before Pentecost—set apart from the world, but not as yet empowered with the Holy Spirit. Elijah represents the spirit baptism—the power following Pentecost. Moses is the flesh buried in water baptism thus preparing the spirit for the in-filling. Moses died, but God buried him and the site remains a secret with God—just as the believer’s life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). Elijah never died physically but was taken up to heaven bodily. This represents the renewal and imperishability of the spirit. Also, Elijah left his mantle—his anointing —behind, just as Jesus did.

Another aspect of Elijah is his most well remembered act—the contest with the prophets of Baal to see whose god was God (1Kings 18: 31-38). Elijah took twelve stones and built an altar, and after laying the wood and the sacrifice on that altar he had a trench dug around it and ordered twelve barrels of water be poured over the sacrifice. Then the fire of God came and consumed, or received, the sacrifice. This sacrifice had been baptized! Jesus is the baptized blood sacrifice that paid the ultimate price of sin. (Note: Elijah laid the sacrifice upon an altar of twelve stones, and had twelve barrels of water poured over it. Twelve indicates the perfect order, or the government, arising out of sanctification and redemption which precede the fire of the anointing.)

This is my beloved Son. This vision is Jesus. 1John 5:7-8 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. The water baptism, the spirit baptism, and the blood all agree in Jesus.

In this account of the transfiguration, Matthew 17:8 gives us the focus for the church. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. If the church is to stay filled with the power of the Spirit, we cannot take our eyes off the source of the Spirit—Jesus only. Getting caught up in personalities is a deadly pursuit. The only cure for this is to put our eyes back where they belong—back on Jesus.

Peter, James, and John were told not to talk about the vision until after Jesus was resurrected. Why? Because the vision was for the church. Some things are better understood in retrospect, and once Jesus had left the earth, they would be more apt to comb their experiences for meaning.

The disciples asked Jesus why it was said that Elijah must come first. Keep in mind that the vision of the transfiguration occurred to illustrate what Jesus said immediately before the vision occurred: “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:28).

The vision revealed God’s covenant working in man, for man, and completed by the man Jesus. All these things happened on earth. They happened regardless of circumstances. Every facet of the Covenant was something good for man. All through the years before Jesus, God used the hearts, hands, and voices of many men to reveal, a little at a time, his intent for man. In the transfiguration vision, Moses and Elijah were two men who represented pivotal aspects of the Covenant—deliverance, and the anointing. God himself summed it up—”This is my beloved Son…”

Elijah was expected to return because he had never died physically, and because of his message that would herald the coming of the Lord. John came in the same Spirit and power as Elijah because there is only one Spirit, one source of power, and one message.

In Matthew 17:11 Jesus said Elijah shall come (future tense), and restore all things. Then in verse 12, he said that Elijah is already come and they didn’t recognize him—indicating past tense. He was speaking of the anointing of the Holy Spirit—the one Spirit that empowered both Elijah and John. The message was the same because God’s Spirit does not change. This is why John was representative of the future church—the people who would take up the same anointing and preach the same message—the message of the Anointed One.

The kingdom Jesus revealed in the transfiguration is on earth, not heaven. If his kingdom was to have been in Heaven, they would have seen a vision of Heaven. But the vision was on earth. The whole purpose of the Covenant with man was to re-instate on earth the Heavenly conditions that existed before evil was allowed to run free. Jesus came from God to the earth to settle the score. But he left his Spirit here—for us—for the church. If the message never changes, then the result doesn’t either.

Isaiah 60:1 is a command to the church. It is also an exact picture of the transfiguration. Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

We think we’re waiting on Jesus to decide to come. But his body is already here. He is just waiting on us to recognize him.

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What does it mean to be a Christian


This article was originally “Experience Christ again for the First Time”

First shared with a small bible school. Now revised.
Verse List

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Do you simply just “Accept Jesus in to your heart”?
Do you accept Christ and then live a life worthy of Him?
Is it by trying to follow Him?
Is it confessing your sin so that you can get forgiveness?
Is it some combination?
What does it really mean to be a Christian?

In my studies, I believe God revealed to me the mere beginning of what
it means to be a Christian.

It’s sad but I believe that most Christians have been subtlety duped by another gospel.
When most Christians state there beliefs in theory, they usually can agree on the
central precepts of Christianity. However the atmosphere of self righteousness, dead
works and unrighteous judgement reveals that what we believe in theory isn’t necessarily
what we believe in our hearts.

I know that God has begun a process in me to free me from my misconceptions about Him.
From what I have seen among my friends, in local congregations and assorted ministries
it seems that most Christians are mislead. On a personal level it bothers me. It
probably bothers me too much and starts to become my own form of self-righteous judgement.
It seems odd that much of the preaching and teaching that occurs puts people in bondage
as much as it leads them to freedom in Christ.

If you take a good 15/20 minutes and read through the first
handful of chapters in Romans, you’ll figure it out.
To be a Christian means to put your faith in Christ.
Read through the whole New Testament, you’ll see it absolutely
everywhere.

Faith and grace are Paul’s manifesto. Jesus said ‘believe in me’
so many times, it’s almost like a broken record.

Faith is mentioned 219 times in the New Testament, Believe 114,
Accept Christ 0.

So its faith then. Now let me define the faith the scripture talks about.
It is faith in Christ, the person. It is
a faith that draws our heart to Him so that we become dependant on His grace,
His Love, and His power. It is a belief that stems not just from your head
but from your heart as well.

(Added Feb 2000: My point here does seem a little strong. To say
that to be a Christian means to put your faith Christ is over simplified.
There is a whole bible written to describe and guide us through our relationship
with Christ)

Rom 10:10a
“for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness,”

Faith in Christ is not faith in principles, even spiritual principles. Even
biblical principles. One of the most common misconceptions is that believing in the
moral teachings of the bible is faith in God. It isn’t.
I’m not saying you can’t trust the accuracy and truth of God’s word. You should,
but you can’t live your life by mere principles. There is no power in rules. Ultimately
when you do this your faith lies not in Christ or in that word, but in your own ability to apply
truth in your life. You strive in the flesh, and ultimately fail.

This is what most Christians do. People “accept” Christ and try to live a good moral
life by following all the commandments in scripture. Unfortunately righteousness ceases
to be what we’ve received through the cross of Christ and becomes don’t swear, don’t
drink, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t have sex before your married, work hard, pray,
read your bible, go to church, and be good. Once your married, educated and have a good
job, you can serve the Lord by ushering, or teaching in Sunday school. You have kids,
you retire and die.

This is where we really get messed up it doesn’t work. There is no power in this life.
It carries a form of godliness but lacks the power. Many of us, with a genuine desire
to be good, find our selves failing time
and again. The reason why is also found in the scriptures. John 8:34 and few
other verses in Romans tell us we are in bondage to sin. We are slaves to it.
And it doesn’t matter how willing we are to fight it, we can’t.

We are so focused on what we are doing instead of who we are.
We run about, I have to do this, I have to stop doing that, what does the
Lord want me to do? We get nothing but a cycle of guilt, depression,
effort, and again more failure.

If you really want to know what Jesus wants you to “do”
I’ll tell the two “Commandments” that Jesus has given us.

IJohn 3:23 ¶ And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of
his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

I hate the word Commandment, because implies Law, and the Law has been set
aside as we walk by faith. But the word is used, and is used well to illustrate
the point that first and foremost you need to truly believe in God.

It is through faith we are united with Christ on the cross. We can give our very
nature over to Christ so that our flesh is crucified with Christ. Our bondage
is broken. We can live a life of the Spirit rather than the flesh.

If we hand our lives over to Christ in faith, we are changed by the power of
His grace. It is by Christ’s power our way of thinking, what we do, and say
and everything about us is changed. The doing, is taken care of, as well as
the being.

If this doesn’t make any sense to you. If you believe that faith in Christ is doing
the right things then you probably don’t know Him. You need to set yourself
on a quest to know Him more.

2Cor 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not
recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you indeed fail
test?

Is Jesus Christ in you. Has your Faith allowed Christ to fill you, and change you,
and make you in to a new person. If not, set yourself on a course to find God.
Read the word. For me, Paul’s letters were particularly good for laying out the
truth of salvation, and Christianity.

Come to the word without your blinders on. Many read the word of God because they
feel they are supposed to. And when they do, they see nothing but a big long list
of dos and don’ts. The bible is our guidebook for experiencing God, and gives
structure to our belief system. It isn’t another Law.

The more I read the word, the more I realized there are years and years of junk
that people have put on upon the word of God. People have literally twisted it
with there own little agendas and pet theories, with legalism, and humanism, and
feminism, and any other ism you can think of. It is one of the greatest evils
of the world, to twist the gospel of God for carnal ends.

You are going to have to let God out of your box for Him. Once you start reading
the word without your blinders on your going to discover a lot, that will
challenge many of your misconceptions.

Most of what you learn about God is caught, not taught. Regardless of how
well a preacher might hold to the gospel, if your fellowship is legalistic
your thinking will be legalistic. You just might find that most of your
beliefs stem from your experience, rather than the word of God.

To me, reading the word of God is like flossing my teeth. It might seem
gross to you, but I really like to get at those big clumps of gunk.
In the same way I like to let the word clean out my misconceptions, by
errs. After 10 years of “Christianity” there is lots to get rid of. It
is my joy now to discover how I’ve been wrong. I tell you, the truth
does set you free.

I used to have my agenda. I had a serious
axe to grind with the church. (The axe does pop up once in a while).
My agenda was to convince people that
being conservative wasn’t anywhere near to God as being charismatic,
that people should start to pray, that we should have a big revival,
and that the church structure should all change, and we should
adopt a New Testament style of ministry, etc… If God was in complete
control, some of that stuff might just happen. But its God’s job
to change people, and my job is to point people to Him and His word.

Now I say, look at the word of God, and read it for yourselves.
Let the Holy Ghost teach you. Give your lives to Jesus and let
Him take you. Abide in his grace, in his love, and his power.

Experience Him again, for the First Time.
Now, I’d really like to say that Jesus loves you. He really
really does love you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or
what your doing. It doesn’t matter whether
you went to far with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or whether
your addicted to porn, or whether you steal, or swear, or you
abused somebody. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.
You don’t have to become good before God accepts you. Everybody was
bad to the core, from the day they were born.

Many Christians have common life stories. They often say things
like the following. “I grew up in a Christian home, and I never
really went through the rebellion stage. I didn’t really do anything bad.”
They view there lives by the church’s standard of righteousness instead
of Gods standard of righteousness.

If you are descended from Adam, which we all are, you were born in sin.
You were born a slave to it. We are painted a picture that if you
don’t do certain things like drink, smoke and swear, then your good, and
if you do them your bad. Wrong. You are bad from day 1. The only
thing that makes you good is Christ. Whatever is not from faith is sin.

You don’t need to put a few days between your
are your sin before you can talk to God again. Realize this, that
everyone is bad, and the only way to righteousness is faith. Abraham
believed and it was counted to him as righteousness. The only way
to become righteous is faith.

Ok, let me sum up some of my main points. You may have some very
serious misconceptions about what it means to be a Christian.
Go to the word of God, without your blinders, and without your
agenda, let the Holy Spirit, guide you to the truth. Faith
in Christ, not faith in principles, is our first step in knowing
God. Righteousness comes to us through faith, and it is not
our goal to change our behavior, but to let God change us.

What I write here is some truths that have truly changed my life
for the better. They have opened me up to experiencing God in many
wonderful ways. Don’t take my word for it though. Go to the
scriptures yourselves. You will find out where I am
in error. Where I have misjudged or promoted misconceptions.
It is my sincere hope that what I write does bless people, and
the Spirit does use it and that it is His purposes that are
being served. That doesn’t mean it is perfect. Keep going back
to the word and the Spirit.

Leighton Tebay

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Evangelicals Sadden Me

Evangelicals Sadden Me

I will not mince words. I believe that the evangelical mainstream has become focused entirely on the wrong things.
We have become focused on externals instead of internals. “Good Christians” are judged by irrelevant issues, ones that
Jesus never addressed, like what we inhale, what we drink and the words we choose to use, while materialist greed
infests our Christian establishment. We are sterilized. We are comfortable in our pews. No one wants to get their
hands dirty anymore. We choose the sterile atmosphere of our churches to the smoky hazy of bars accompanied by its
faint smell of vomit. Hearing “bad” words and seeing “bad” things may make us uncomfortable, but certainly not unclean.
Mark 7:15 says, “Nothing outside of a man can make him unclean by going in to him. Rather it is what comes out
of a man that makes him unclean.” Instead of trying to foster a personal and sometimes mystical relation with GOD, we
are rushed into an artificial “ministry” while we ourselves are still swallowing pablum. A ministry that degrades people to the
significance of “targets for the gospel” is no ministry at all. And we wonder why we are so ineffective.
Sometimes I think we as mainstream evangelicals have missed the whole point of Christ. Christ came to show us who GOD is.
Christ was GOD. The religious people of the time were bound up in disagreement – how do we worship, how do we pray,
how do we live? When Christ came, they did not recognize him because they never knew GOD. Their god was their religion.
They rejected Christ because he was so contrary to their perceptions of who he should be. His message was of love, not
judgment. Forgiveness, not vengeance. We are now the whitewashed tombs. We’ve forgotten the true message of Christ.
It saddens me to see people take Christ and warp his life to achieve their own agenda. The Christian Coalition is attempting
to overthrow America with its right-wing pro-greed policies, all in the name of Christ. Not once in his recorded life did
Jesus speak about the government of his day, despite living under the Roman Empire, arguable the most brutal rule in all
of history. I look around me today, and I’m not sure if we know GOD either.
I’ve head so many people talk about the “Will of GOD.” I suggest this: GOD’s will for your life is simply to be
in right relation with Him. To reduce GOD’s will for you life to a specific course of actions is not only absurd, it
is impossible to follow. If I am always in right relation with Christ, if I have completely surrendered everything
I have, material goods or bads, lust, pride, fear, worry, then I am in GOD’s will. This is when GOD does beautiful things.
He changes us. He changes our pride to humility. He changes our rage to peace. He gives us unselfish love. This is where
Jesus’ ministry began. It was not based on a mental decision to change the world. He loved. He spoke on his passions. The
passions of GOD. He brought the kingdom of GOD to their lives. It is only when we begin surrendering everything that GOD
will change us. We will become a burning flame, devoid of self, completely consumed in the full life that GOD has to offer.
I’m afraid I see little of this in our world now. But the tides of fire are coming.
A wise man, I do believe it was me (ha ha), once said that life is continual process of avoiding ruts. Today’s Christians
end up following yesterday’s Christians instead of Christ. I challenge all who read this to grind out their salvation
with sweat and blood, in fear and trembling before an almighty GOD instead of getting stuck in our parent’s lifestyles.
Step into the fullness GOD has to offer.

Kyle Armstrong

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Faith vs. Works?

Faith vs. Works?

For centuries, the debate between emphasizing faith or works has raged in Christian circles. Some argue that our faith needs to be tempered by good works, so that we can discipline and train our sinful natures to get “used to” the idea of doing good. Then, as habits are formed, good works will eventually become a part of us as we mature. Others have chosen to look solely at faith, saying that works are the natural result of having faith. They have the right idea, but then they get bogged down by all of the supposedly contradictory behavioral “commandments” given in the Bible by Jesus, Paul and the other pillars of the early church. Once again we are caught in the never-ending circle of faith and works, seemingly so well matched in scripture, yet frustrating to reconcile in practicality. The above views have labored to conceive animals that cannot possibly survive against the test of scripture. They are theological constructs created by men who seek to put the God of the universe into a box, who they are comfortable dealing with. Fortunately, there are answers. Reading the book of Galatians is a wonderful place to start and I recommend that you start there. Hopefully, you will also find that the insights in this article make things as clear as Paul says that they really are.

So let’s start with the basics. As a result of man’s sin, some sort of vehicle was needed for his salvation. God gave us the law as that vehicle. He gave us the law for the purpose of revealing our sin. In Romans 7, Paul states that he would have not known what sin was apart from the law. Earlier on in 5:20 he even says that the law was added so that the trespass might increase. Galatians 3:19 states that “it (the law) was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.” Namely, that Seed is Christ. Christ was sent to fulfill the law. However, Paul does not stop there. He goes on to explain that “where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In Galatians 2:15-16 it says, “We who are Jews by birth and not ?Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” In saying all of this Paul does not say that the law is unspiritual, but rather it is we who are unspiritual. The law was a perfect means to become righteous, but one that we, as imperfect sinful people, were unable to use. The law was given to reveal that very inadequacy. And yes, it took thousands of years for people to understand, and many still do not. The law paved the way for our salvation by Christ.

Christ is the only one that can set us free from the law of sin and death. The perfect law showed just how far away we were from the ideal. Christ is the only one who could meet the righteous requirements of the law. In love, He made that free gift of God’s grace available to all through faith. Now here is the kicker that many know with their minds yet do not believe with their hearts. We are changed by Christ alone. We do not change what we do simply because we know that Christ died for our sins. We are changed by Him as we come to know Him. We cannot will our selves to act righteous, only Christ is righteous. Only He can change us. Paul illustrates this change by the most permanent of states, death. Galatians 2:19 says, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Our sinful nature is crucified with Christ and we live a new life with Him. The old is gone, the new has come! Paul further expounds on this in Ephesians 4:22-24. “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” We are “made new” by Christ. We cannot effect real change in ourselves. It says in Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works so that no one can boast.”

“That’s all very well and good,” you might say. “You still haven’t really moved to the heart of the issue.” It is necessary to lay this foundation before directly examining the relationship between faith and works. Despite all of this, the question that I was unable to resolve in my heart was “Why then do all of the New Testament writers give lists of behavioral guidelines, almost a second law as it were?” One minute they are talking about the free gift of God’s grace, and the next minute they are talking about how our behavior should be different. Is there a contradiction here? I mean, there seems to be an airtight line of reasoning in the Bible that says that faith produces works, that is the flow of things. First you have faith and then works come out of that. But why then do you have whole books like James that say that faith without works is useless? Why do we have lists of do’s and don’ts. Have we just been given a whole new book of rules to struggle with? To some, scripture like the Sermon on the Mount has become a “holy grail” for modifying one’s behavior.

Here’s the explanation. Just as the law revealed to us what our sin was, so what we do reveals who we are. Sound complicated? It’s very simple. Since through Christ our old selves have been crucified and we now live new lives, the law doesn’t apply to us any more. We have been set free from the law of sin and death and we live new lives in Christ! For that reason, we have been given new guidelines that are evidence of the presence of God in our lives. It is very important to note that this is a one-way road only. You cannot impersonate or invoke having the presence of God in your life simply by doing these things. There is nothing that you can do to take hold of righteousness. To do so is to elevate the written word above the Person who wrote it. The Jews exalted the law to point of worshiping it above Yahweh, and the problem continued on in the early church. In Galatians 3:1-5 Paul wrote,”You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothingif it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” Trying to be good is struggling by the flesh, and is a clear insult to the awesome gift of God’s grace in our lives, no different than being under the law again. If you have faith you are already being made into this kind of person by the presence of His Spirit in your life. If you struggle to wrestle your behavior until it resembles that of Christ by using the limited, flawed strength of the flesh, you are worse off than someone who doesn’t know freedom in Christ at all! You are a hapless prisoner who despondently goes back into his cell and sits in it while the door is standing wide open. There is nothing noble or profitable about making one’s lifestyle agree with a bunch of rules and principles, no matter how good they may be. It is wrong to do the right thing for the wrong reason. Only Christ can make these principles a reality in your life. Christ came to give us freedom!

The very nature of such things as the fruit of the Spirit argue for themselves. They aren’t called “the things that Christians should do to indicate that they are filled with the Spirit.” They are the fruit of the Spirit. Those that have the spirit, have these things in their life. A tree is recognized by its fruit.

Even James does not speak of doing good works apart from faith. He speaks of Abraham in 2:22, “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” James had no interest in laying down a second law to hold us in failure and bondage. 2:12, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom”! Freedom! Paul speaks in Philippians 2, that our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. He doesn’t tell us to act like we have Christ Jesus! In the same book, he goes on to say what is really important, 3:10 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Paul was motivated to act in line with who he was in Christ, not what he knew he should be doing. There was a definite change. Otherwise, he might as well be wearing a bracelet on his wrist with 4 letters to remind him that his behavior should be in line with the person that he claimed that he believed in! He acted different because HE WAS DIFFERENT!

Paul recognized the fact that he hadn’t achieved all of this, he just wanted to live up to what he already had. He wasn’t motivated by the fact that others were watching him, he didn’t do it because he felt guilty about doing bad things, he didn’t have an accountability partner that he would have to tell, he did it because he wanted to. He wanted to because he knew how much God loved him and genuinely loved Him back! We have turned into the very people that Paul describes in Romans 9:30-32, “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.”

It is ridiculous that as followers of Christ, we are still hung up on the basic truth of faith and works. Let’s not lay this foundation over and over again, but let’s move on to becoming mature! Faith in Christ produces works because Christ is the only one who effects real change in our lives. Otherwise we are doomed to the endless downward spiral of what we want to do and what we don’t want to do, just as Paul experienced. Seek to know Christ, not simply appear like you do. It is a new life that you are living. LIVE IT! Leave behind the old law, and the counterfeit lifestyle. Christ will change you if you allow Him. There is no magic prayer or secret formula. He has already done the work, just let Him.

Faith vs. works, they are not in conflict, but rather the two are inseparable. Faith produces the works that Jesus and Paul talk about. Why? Because we are new creations. The old is gone, the new has come! Leave your bondage and your bracelet behind, and embrace Christ!

Jeremy Kliever

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When God Hides His Face

When God Hides His Face
By Paul Cain

Version: NIV

God has His own peculiar way
of apparently disappearing at the times when we seem to need Him the most–times when He
seems to hide His face. I have experienced the Lord hiding His face from me.

Years ago when I first began a
public ministry, it wasn’t long before thousands of people were coming to hear me
speak. Within one year, we had 26 healing and revival services in Los Angeles, and
wonderful things were being said about me. It didn’t bother me, though, because my
humility was intact. I was very proud of my humility.

Believing I was immortal, I
would pray for hundreds of people in a single service, having had little or no sleep. I
would fast from food or water for long periods of time. Proudly boasting one night about
the accuracy of my discernment, I said, “I can tell every one of you what’s
wrong with you. I know your names; I can tell you who your children are and where you are
with God; whether you have been converted or not, and whether you are a spiritualist or a
New Ager.” I was so proud.

When I began the prayer line,
I said to the first lady, “I know who you are.” But I did not! The anointing was
gone. God had hidden His face from me, and it was terrible. I looked at all of those
hungry people lined up for prayer and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have made a
terrible mistake. His anointing is gone, so I’m leaving. If He comes back, I’ll
be back tomorrow night, but if He doesn’t, you won’t see me again.”

I stayed on my face before the
Lord all night. He had withdrawn from me the intimacy of His conscious presence that I
loved and along with it, the wonderful confidence and ability He had given me. He was
there, but I didn’t have the benefit of knowing His presence or feeling Him. I think
that John Newton understood this when he wrote these words in a hymn: “How tedious
and tasteless the hours when Jesus no longer I see. Sweet prospects, sweet birds, and
sweet flowers have all lost their sweetness to me.”

“Surely I Am with
You”

In biblical terminology, the
hiding of God’s face refers to this withdrawal of His conscious presence. Isaiah
45:15 says, “Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of
Israel.” David said in Psalm 13:1, “How long, O LORD, will you forget me
forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” In Psalm 10:1, he said, “Why,
LORD, do you stand afar off? Why do you hide yourself in time of trouble?” Psalm
44:24 says, “Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and our
oppression?”

When there is no conscious
presence of God, no visible means of support, no tangible way to see the Lord meeting our
needs, then it is time for us to rejoice and acknowledge that this is an opportunity to
trust the Lord to reveal Himself in an even a greater way when He shows Himself again. On
such occasions, God is really there. Just because we cannot see Him does not mean that He
is not present. He is with us all the time!

In order to survive the times
when God hides His face, we need to know Scripture. The New Testament speaks of reaching
out for God and feeling for Him so that we might find Him “not far from each one
of us” (Acts 17:27). Perhaps we may not feel Him at first, but when we persist in
reaching out and seeking Him, we will find Him.

The accuser of the brethren
will always try to separate us from the Lord by telling us that God is not with us: this
is not the truth. The fact is that God is present with us all the time. He is
testing us to see how we will react and what we will do under the set of circumstances in
which He has hidden His face from us. The Lord has said in His Word to us, “Never
will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Even when we cannot
feel and see and taste and handle the sweetness of God, He is still there.

In Joshua 1:5-6, the Lord told
Joshua, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As
I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong
and courageous.” He says in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you
always, to the very end of the age.” God never withdraws His promises, His power
or Himself from us; He may allow us to feel that He has withdrawn for a specific
purpose. However, He is always with us even when we do not believe that He is there.

When I was a little boy, I
would listen to “The Midnight Hour–Songs in the Night,” and God’s presence
would fill the room. It was a wonderful feeling that reminded me of Psalm 77:7-9, when
David said, “Will the LORD reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has
his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God
forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” The answer
is, “No!” Regardless of how bad we may feel, the Lord is still there. He is
omnipresent: He is here, there, and everywhere, all at the same time.

When Moses told Aaron and his
sons how they should bless the Israelites, he instructed them to say, “The Lord
bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26). The
“face of the Lord” became the symbol of a smile, approval, or a sense of His
presence. When it does not seem that the Lord’s face is turned toward us, the best
thing for us to do is acknowledge that He is there, even though we may not feel Him. When
the sense of His presence is withdrawn, we may not know the reason why, but God does not
have to reveal His reasons. He is omniscient; He knows why He is allowing us to have this
experience.

When God Shows His Face

Our desire must be to have His
presence remain and abide. When His presence and His power come, they are
worth everything. His presence is like having Jesus right there with us, just like a
husband or a wife. When the Lord reveals His face and shows Himself, it is like when the
Holy Spirit decided to reveal Himself and came on the day of Pentecost: the disciples were
there together, and suddenly the sound of a mighty rushing wind came from heaven (see Acts
2:1-2).

In Acts 3, there is a man,
lame from his mother’s womb, whom they carried and placed at the Gate Beautiful every
day. When God decided to show His face, He healed him. Rejoicing, the man leapt up and
went into the temple, shouting and praising and magnifying God. A crippled, mangled body
was straightened out immediately. This is what it is like when God decides to show
His face.

However, there is a warning in
II Chronicles 7:19 that we must remember:

But if you turn away and
forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and
worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will
reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object
of ridicule among all peoples.

It should not surprise us when
we commit blatant sins and lose the sense of God’s presence. When we sin, we must
repent and turn our backs on evil if we hope to experience His presence with us again.

Trials and Disappointments
Will Come

Each of us will go through
trials. Paul said in I Thessalonians 3:3, “So that no one would be unsettled by
these trials, you know quite well that we were destined for them.” In his letter
to the Philippians, he writes, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ
not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (1:29). The end of
every trial is at hand, though, because every trial has a built-in time limit. “And
no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a
harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews
12:11). God knows just how much we can bear. In I Corinthians 10:13 we read,

No temptation has seized
you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted
beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that
you can stand up under it.

The Lord is compassionate,
gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love. He will not always withdraw Himself, nor
will He harbor His anger forever (Psalm 103:8-9). We may think that God is never going to
show up again or that He is never going to come through for us anymore. Trials or
difficulties may seem like they will last forever, but they will not. We must understand
that God our Father has compassion on us, His children. “As a father has
compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for
he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust”(Psalm 103:13-14).

Many people only want the
brilliance of God’s presence–the fun, the spiritual food and the fellowship.
Christians tend to want to be happy and jovial all the time. When we are not, we sometimes
lie about it and don’t want others to know that we going through difficult times.

Let us be honest with each
other. Trials and disappointments will come, but Jesus is always standing nearby, ready to
step in. Just when it seems we cannot bear anymore, He will say, Your shoulders
weren’t built for more than you could bear, and I am going to shoulder this for you.
I am going to take your problems; I am going to take your burdens, and I will carry them
for you.

This is what happens when He
reveals Himself. In a moment, everything changes. Our Father is merciful and loving. “For
his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a
night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). “Those who sow
in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will
return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6). Seeing
Christ will make everything we have suffered worthwhile–all the midnight of the soul, all
the pain, all the trials. We will realize that all the suffering and adversity we
experienced were for a purpose; they will pay innumerable dividends in these last days as
we meet our Lord and our Savior.

With joy, we can thank the
Father for times of pain, the times of not enjoying His conscious presence, nor seeing His
face. In all things, we must seek His face and not His hand. When we take Him for granted
and believe that we should never feel bad or have a dull moment, we are acting like
spoiled children. We can thank Him even for painful times or dull times, for the times
when we aren’t gushing with joy or filled with happiness. At the end of our journey,
we will look back and be able to say, “It was all for a reason. It was all for a
purpose. It was all for my benefit, all to the glory of God.”

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Dipping Your Hand in the Bowl

DIPPING YOUR HAND IN THE BOWL

by Don Potter

And He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is
the one who will betray Me” (Matthew 26:23).

This scripture refers to the one man that betrayed Jesus, but it also represents a
characteristic that can be found in betrayers, and contains a warning for all of us,
especially those called to minister in the body of Christ. The bowl at the center of the
table contained oil which represents the anointing. I don’t believe anyone who loves
Jesus would ever consciously betray Him, but there are things that happen regularly in
meetings that do indeed betray His purposes, which in a sense is betraying Him. Certainly
it is good to want to dip our hands in the oil, and it is good to seek the anointing of
the Lord, but if we have a tendency to crowd in to get the anointing when Jesus is moving,
it reveals a presumption that can lead to our becoming a stumbling block to His purposes.

What Is the Anointing?

The oil is a symbol of God’s power manifested through the Holy Spirit. The oil
that was used at the last supper was for dipping bread to soften it and make it more
palatable. The other biblical uses of oil were for anointing a person for healing, setting
apart (sanctifying), appointment to an office, or embalming. God commanded Moses to anoint
the tabernacle of the congregation and its contents (Exodus 30:25-28). Anything that was
to be used unto the Lord had to be anointed for the job, representing the fact that
everything used in the service of God must be anointed by the Holy Spirit.
“Sanctified” or “set aside” is what anointing really means, and the
priests that would minister before the Presence had to be anointed before they could be
near the Lord.

The Lord gave very specific instructions about the ingredients used for the anointing
oil. Anointing oil was made by a perfumer (Exodus 30:25) and was used to pour over the
heads of those who were to come into the presence of God. One had to be anointed to be a
priest and to serve in the Tent of the Lord. As stated, even objects that were to be in
the Tabernacle had to be anointed to make them sacred. Moses, Aaron and Aaron’s sons
had to be anointed to fulfill the call on their lives (Exodus 28:41). The servants of God
will always need to be anointed in order to fulfill their call or walk out a task given by
the Lord.

There are only a few ways for the Lord’s anointing to come upon someone. Initially
God would reveal who would be anointed to be in His presence and carry out priestly tasks.
Another way to receive an anointing is to be prayed over and anointed with oil. This
prepares one for the service of God.

In these examples, the people anointed were chosen for the job. They did not choose
themselves to be anointed. As Americans, we often feel that we have only to choose what we
want to be in life, and in many cases we can bring that to pass. However, that may not be
how God wants us to operate concerning the anointing. We cannot fully know what God’s
purposes are for us until our hearts have been changed so that we are fully devoted to His
purposes and not just seeking our own desires. Since we are anointed to fulfill His
purposes, He is very serious about the anointing and the things or people who are to be
anointed. This is not something about which we should be casual or presumptuous. The Holy
Spirit is holy. Everything that He anoints is holy. The anointing is to be received
with thanksgiving, but it is not to be grabbed, which reveals a selfishness or ambition,
both of which will lead to a misuse of the anointing.

The Hand

It is significant that in Matthew 26:23 Jesus said “He who dipped his hand
with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me.” They were dipping bread in
the oil to soften it, but Jesus said “hand. “Luke 22:21 also uses
“hand” when referring to the betrayer. Mark 14:20 refers to the one who dips
with Me. The Greek word translated “hand” in these texts is cheir, which
means “literally or figuratively [power]; especially [by Hebraism] a means or
instrument; hollowness for grasping.” When we see “hand” in this context,
it means the instrument of power, or the hollowness for grasping.

Traditionally, the bowl at the center of the table filled with oil was called a common
dish, and anyone that dipped his bread in the dish was to do it in such a way as not to
let his finger touch the contents of the dish. If this happened, the oil would be defiled.
We, too, can defile the anointing oil if we put our hand into it presumptuously as Judas
did.

There is a difference between the presence of the Lord and the anointing of the Lord.
The anointing is applied to someone to complete a Spirit-led task and is to be done with
grace and power. His presence is assured when two or more gather in His name. When we
gather in His name, it is usually to honor and praise Him. Judas means “He shall be
praised.” His name is another name for Judah, which means “praise.” This
shows that it is possible to betray the Lord even when our intention is to praise Him.
This can happen when we begin to think that because of our praise, we have earned the
right to use Him.

Setting the Table

The job of a praise leader is, metaphorically speaking, to set the table and present to
the Lord the sacrifice of true praise that He will inhabit. The desire to bless God and
the faith of the people will make that praise inhabitable for the Lord. Once He arrives,
(usually in the form of the Holy Spirit) He will bring life and power to the event we are
having, but we must remember that He did not come to our event, nor is His presence
an endorsement of what we’re doing. He came to inhabit the praises of His people
(Psalm 22:3).

It’s when His presence comes that many get anxious and presumptuous, and often
reach for the oil. It’s like a large family at the dinner table, trying to patiently
wait for Dad to finish praying before the kids attack the food. If the Lord has anointed
someone for a task of His choosing, then that person will be able to do with grace and
power. The problem is that everything can seem to be anointed in the Lord’s presence.
That leads many to search for those moments of praise that God will inhabit so they can do
their thing and have what appears to be an anointing to do it. If someone stays on that
track, they will most certainly end up betraying the purposes of the Lord.

This is what happened to Judas. He thought he was making an improvement on the purposes
of God by betraying His Anointed, and the dipping of his hand into the oil was the act of
presumption that made him wish he had never been born (Matthew 26:24).

Oswald Chambers wrote in his book My Utmost for His Highest for January 25,
“As workers for God we have to learn to make room for God–to give God ‘elbow
room.’” He warns against looking for God to come in a particular way, rather
than just looking for God. I was surprised that he said we have to learn to make
room. This means that we do not do it naturally or automatically.

Because taking time to wait for God may create a seemingly unendurable tension, many
have tried to make a meeting go well. I know I have tried to say something when the
anointing was present that I thought would be a blessing, but I usually just quenched the
Spirit. After a few failures, I found that the Lord was willing to let us know who or what
He wanted to anoint for that gathering.

In one of the recent MorningStar conferences, the praise was high and there was a sweet
spirit in the air. Bob Jones got up in the middle of praise and said, “There’s
an anointing for healing here.” As soon as he said that, healing started happening
all over the room. His ability to discern the purpose of the anointing in that meeting was
key to making room for the Lord. Many were healed that night. I didn’t know what the
Lord wanted to do while I was leading praise, but Bob did. It will seldom be the
responsibility of only one person to discern all that the Lord wants to do in a single
meeting. There wasn’t much preaching that night, but there was a lot of healing.

“With Me”

When Jesus said “the one who dips his hand with me,” He was
making a statement about His relationship with Judas. Meta is the Greek word used
for “with” in this text, and is defined as “denoting accompaniment; amid;
occupying an intermediate position between, being close to something verses being
away.” This word indicates something between being close and being far away.
Lukewarm might be another definition. We can be close to Jesus and the things that He does
without being intimate with Him. Judas was familiar with Jesus, but John was intimate.
There is a difference.

In order to have a covenant meal with the Lord, one must be close with the Lord. The
only one that dipped and ran, so to speak, was Judas. We need to examine how we approach
the Lord in praise and in other ways in a meeting. Are we just dipping or grasping for the
anointing and then leaving to do what we want? Or are we waiting to see what the Lord
wants to say? Jesus was not just breaking bread with His friends to have another meal, but
He was establishing how all of mankind could enter into the covenant meal while bringing
to memory the life and sacrifice of the Messiah. This was the most important meal ever
served. It was certainly not the time to be casual or presumptuous. Those who would behave
this way in such a setting are in a danger of mishandling the anointing, or even worse,
like Judas, betraying it.

This is not to create a paralysis concerning the anointing or power of God, as the Lord
uses people to carry out His will all the time. In fact, He has made Himself strangely
dependent on His people. However, we must guard against the presumptuous act of continuing
on with our own agenda when the Holy Spirit is obviously present and working to do
something else. That is the place of sensitivity to which all who minister must come, and
it will only come through intimacy with the Lord.

The Greek word translated “betray” is very interesting. It is paradidomi
[par-ad-id-o-mee], which means “to give into the hands (of another) to give over
into (one’s) power or use; to use, to take care of, to manage.” It really means to
control someone else, and in this case, it meant to control the power of Jesus. This is
probably why many scholars and historians have believed that Judas betrayed the Lord in
order to force Him to take His authority as King. Obviously he did not expect the Lord to
be crucified because of the great remorse he demonstrated by taking his own life. This
probably seemed like a noble thing to Judas at the time, simply forcing the Lord’s
hand a little bit so that He would go ahead and take His authority, but the presumption of
thinking that we know better than God Himself will lead to the tragic opposition of His
purposes. The Lord has delegated authority to us, but it is never to be used to try to
control Him. We are His servants; He is not our servant.

If I were to paraphrase Matthew 26:23, it would read something like, “The one who
puts his grasping power into the anointing at the same time I do, is lukewarm, not close
or sensitive to Me, and he will presumptiously use that power for his own purposes.”

Giving Over the Power

When the day came that I realized I wasn’t the source of my gift from God, I was
convicted that I had been using this power to gain acceptance. The Lord was the power I
had even before I knew Him. I would give that power over to the control of men in the
world for what I could gain from it, and was in truth betraying Jesus every time I did. By
His wonderful mercy, I was forgiven for such misuse, but it left a lasting impression on
me. I never want to betray Him again, but I realize that this tendency can sneak in with
great subtlety.

Every time the anointing is present, we run the risk of acting presumptiously toward
that anointing. This is not a small matter. Again, Judas means “praise,” and
learning to minister with sensitivity to the Lord and not just the people is going to be
the most important issue facing the praise leaders of the next generation. In the past all
that was required of a musician was to make the people happy. Now what is required is
tuning to the Spirit of the Lord and hearing what is on the heart of the Father, and then
obeying what we hear. The word King David used for “skill” to describe the
musicians of the tabernacle meant “to discern,” or to feel what is right (II
Chronicles 34:12). Let us pray for this grace.

Conclusion

While it may seem that I am over spiritualizing this issue, I believe the Lord is
trying to warn all who are in ministry at this time. A greater anointing than we have ever
known is coming on all flesh (Acts 2:17). There is the saying, “What you can get away
with in the outer court will get you killed in the holy place.” Let us not by our
actions teach that we can act like rude children who don’t have table manners enough
to say “excuse me,” or, “you first.” If we are this presumptuous with
the anointing, we are in danger of following the same course as Judas. When the Spirit of
God is poured out on all flesh, that flesh will only do what it has been taught. This is
especially a warning for “worship leaders.” It is one of the basest of acts of
fallen human nature to try to use worship to gain attention or promotion for ourselves
instead of for our glorious Creator for whom it is intended.

When the anointing is strong during the praise time, I struggle with the fact that I
had nothing to do with the power that is in the room right then. I, too, have made
presumptuous statements after the meeting to make it appear that “me and Jesus are
real close.” It is a privilege to be called as a priest to help carry the ark of
God’s presence, but if people’s attention is on us instead of the ark, something
is wrong. When Uzzah stretched out his hand to touch the ark, he was struck dead as a
warning. Have we put our hand in the oil and touched it with our flesh instead of
patiently dipping our bread in it? This is a dangerous trap and I know many musicians in
the church have fallen to it. Now is not the time to feign a relationship with Jesus to
make what we are doing appear to have the approval of the God on it. Jesus, not us, is the
power. If His glory comes when we are privileged to be playing before Him, then let us not
presume that He came to endorse what we’re doing, but that He came for His own
purposes which we must discern and patiently learn to follow.

The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom
the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born
(NAS).

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Our Constitutional Crisis

Our Constitutional Crisis

by  Rick Joyner

Each year on New Years Eve we seek a word from the Lord for the coming year. For our
New Year’s meeting in 1997, I was given a word that “a constitutional
crisis” was coming to the United States. I was quite surprised when the Monica
Lewinsky affair sparked the series of events that by the end of 1998 were being called
“a constitutional crisis” on CNN and other networks. However, this is an
important revelation for the times.

A definition for a crisis is “the point in a disease in which it is determined if
a patient is going to live or die.” Although the impeachment trial of our president
is now over, the crisis is not. The implications of this will be more extensive than even
the most astute newscasters have perceived. It may be hard to believe that someone’s
“private sex life,” even if it is the president’s, could jeopardize our
very system of law, but it has. Even so, there is something greater at stake than the
piece of paper we call our constitution–the very fabric of our nation is in crisis. This
has been long in coming and it will be a long time before it is over. Our government is
entering a time when it will be in the greatest jeopardy since the Civil War.

The Linchpin

A linchpin is a key part of a machine or structure that holds all of the other parts in
place. For machines or structures that have a linchpin, this pin must be removed in order
to take the machine or structure apart. In world affairs, world order, and world peace,
there are many contributing parts, but presently America is the linchpin. If this pin is
pulled, a series of events will begin to take place that will quickly throw the nations
into the greatest period of chaos and destruction that the world has ever known, exceeding
that of World War II. Satan is desperately trying to pull the linchpin to unravel world
order and release a world war that will not just have one group of nations fighting
another group, but one in which almost every nation will be at war with many other
nations. The world will become like a city in which the entire government and police
department have left, allowing the gangs and any other groups that could form to fight for
control. The Bible calls this lawlessness.

The Root of Lawlessness

Biblical prophesies made by both Jesus and Paul repeatedly state that lawlessness will
be one of the ultimate problems at the end of the age. Even the anti-Christ is called “the
man of lawlessness” (see II Thessalonians 2:3). The apostle Paul gives us a
significant insight into the nature of lawlessness in Romans 6:19:

I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you
presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in
further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in
sanctification.”

Here we see that impurity and lawlessness are linked together. Was it not sexual
impurity the White House that led to the constitutional crisis which threatens to weaken
our whole system of law? Maybe the president did not commit the act of adultery, but
sexual “impurity” is sin and leads to lawlessness, one of the ultimate evils we
will face in the last days. Many Christians are under this same delusion. They think that
because they are not actually committing adultery, looking at pornography is not that bad.
What does the Lord Jesus say about this?

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery,”

but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed
adultery with her already in his heart.

And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is
better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be
thrown into hell.

And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is
better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go
into hell (Matthew 5:27-30).

The Lord emphasizes in the strongest terms just how serious this problem of lust and
impurity is. It would be better for us to lose members of our body than to have them drag
us down into depravity. However, Scripture goes on to show us a better way to deal with
this than cutting off our hands or plucking out our eyes! This is found in Romans 6:19,
which I will quote again, continuing with verses 20-23 which elaborate on this crucial
issue:

I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you
presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in
further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in
sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now
ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit,
resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus
our Lord.

The way that we overcome slavery to the corrupting influences of our flesh is to become
a slave of God. A slave belongs to another and lives only to do the will of his master. We
were bought with a price and cannot continue allowing sin to be our master or we will pay
a terrible price–death.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in
you?

If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is
holy, and that is what you are (I Corinthians 3:16-17).

“The wages of sin is death.” We are living in the times when the earth
will be filled to its full measure with sin. Sexual temptations and impurity are being
poured out like a flood. This is the primary reason why many devout Moslems call the
United States “the great Satan.” We put “In God We Trust” on our money
while filling the earth with moral and spiritual pollution through our movies and
television programs that are exported around the world. This is helping to set the stage
for “the man of lawlessness” even more than all of the political alliances and
secret human strategies combined. We must not be deceived: If we are partaking of the
spirit of lawlessness, succumbing to “impurity and to lawlessness,” we
are helping to prepare the way more for the anti-Christ than for Christ.

In Ecclesiastes 8:11 we are told that, “Because the sentence against an evil
deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given
fully to do evil.” In one way, the delay of judgment is the worse judgment of
all. Many Christians have fallen to the delusion that because they did not immediately
receive discipline from the Lord, He is overlooking it. This is a most tragic deception.
As we read in Matthew 24:12-13: “And because lawlessness is increased, most
people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.”
This warning is not addressed to unbelievers, but to believers. In no uncertain terms, the
Lord warned that we can call on His name, and even do great works in His name, but if we
have lawlessness in our hearts, we will be cast out on that great judgment day.

Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name,
and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”

And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who
practice lawlessness”
(Matthew 7:22-23).

When we compromise with lust and impurity, our spiritual lives begin to erode. Sin
separates us from God. God’s grace and patience is great, and if we repent He will
forgive us our sins. However, just saying that we’re sorry is not repentance.
Repentance means to turn from the sin and to turn to the Lord. If we have truly repented,
we will bring forth fruit in keeping with our repentance, which is explained in I John
3:3-4:

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

As this Scripture implies, when we neglect to purify ourselves it is because we do not
have a genuine hope in the Lord. If we practice impurity, we will lose our hope in the
Lord, which is why He said that the love of many would grow cold.

Let us also understand that God’s counter to lawlessness is not legalism. We are
not under the law, but neither are we above the law. We are to have the law written in our
hearts. Those who have the law written in their hearts remain faithful, regardless of what
they could get away with.

The primary motivation for legalism is guilt, but the motivation for “the
perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) is love. We do not purify ourselves just
because we are afraid of judgment, but because we are the bride who is so in love with her
Bridegroom that she is consumed with being perfect for Him, not wanting a single spot or
wrinkle on her gown. Jesus is worthy of that kind of love. How could we who have been
freely given such a great salvation do less?

Even so, as the Scriptures are clear concerning these times, the greatest enemy of
godliness and the greatest power of destruction that is coming will be released through
lawlessness. We must guard our hearts, not just our behavior, against the spirit of
lawlessness. When we start to compromise, our love will grow cold. If that happens to us,
we should fear, because we are certainly in jeopardy, just as the Lord warned in Matthew
13:41-42:

The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom
all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,

and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth.

The Lord also warned that He knows those who clean up the outside, being righteous in
their appearance before men, but who are full of corruption on the inside, as we read in
Matthew 23:27-28:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs
which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and
all uncleanness.

Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of
hypocrisy and lawlessness.

It is not enough that we appear righteous before others. We must be righteous before
God, and remain the same even when no one can see us. If we love God and are becoming like
Him, we will love what He loves and hate what He hates. God loves righteousness and hates
sin. Do we still harbor a love for certain sins in our hearts? If so, it can be an open
door for a slide into lawlessness as we begin to compromise over it.

One way that lawlessness creeps into our lives is through “unholy alliances.”
We must refrain from being joined to those who do not serve the Lord, as we are told in II
Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership
have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
We must not continue to form partnerships with unbelievers, regardless of how good the
business potential is. There is a difference between trading with unbelievers and a
binding legal partnership. If we continue to bind ourselves with unbelievers we may make
money, but will be in jeopardy of losing much more.

Discerning the Spirit of Lawlessness

The apostle Paul elaborated on this in II Thessalonians 2:4-17, which I will quote a
few verses at a time followed by a comment.

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and our gathering together to Him,

that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a
spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has
come.

We are getting closer to the coming of the Lord, but we must be discerning of messages
about the times that just disturb us and do not help to prepare us. The messages that the
Lord is sending to prepare us for the times will sometimes shock us if we have departed
from the course, but they will also bring the peace that comes with the truth that sets us
free to do His will.

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes
first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that
he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

It is interesting that the man of lawlessness exalts himself above every so-called god
or object of worship. These are obviously false gods and idols that need to be exposed,
but the man of lawlessness only exposes the false gods to exalt himself, not the Lord. We
must begin to recognize the self-exalting spirit and reject it.

We should also note that the man of lawlessness takes his seat in the temple of God to
display himself as God. Many believe that this will happen in a rebuilt temple in
Jerusalem, but the temple of the Lord is no longer one made with hands–it is the church.
It is in the church that the man of lawlessness will seek to take his seat, and it has
been in and through the church that almost every diabolical ruler who turned out to be
anti-Christ in the West has gained his power for the last seventeen hundred years.

Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?

And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed.

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now
restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

This mystery of lawlessness was already at work in the times of the apostles, and has
continued to work throughout history. It is therefore not hard to discern both its nature
and its progression to our own time. Righteous ones in every generation have been a
restraint, but when the church fails to discern the evil (as much of the German church
failed to discern the basic evil of the Nazis), the church is often duped into complicity
with the evil. We must discern this evil and restrain it.

And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the
breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

We can restrain, but the Lord will be the one who ultimately destroys the man of
lawlessness. It should be noted that the word that is translated “coming” here
is the Greek parousia, which is also often translated “presence.” It will
also be the presence of the Lord in our midst that destroys the lawlessness in our own
hearts. He is the King of kings, and when we see Him as the King above all rule, authority
and power, the lawlessness in our hearts will die. That is why the primary way that we
restrain the spirit of lawlessness is by preaching the kingdom, which is preaching Jesus
as the King.

that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power
and signs and false wonders,

and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not
receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.

It will not be those who just have truth who are not deceived by this lawlessness, but
those who have a “love of the truth.” We can seek truth for various and
evil purposes, such as to manipulate others. We must love truth because it is right and
worthy of our devotion.

And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might
believe what is false,

In order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure
in wickedness.

If it is in our heart to take pleasure in wickedness and the things for which the Lord
will judge the world, we are in jeopardy of being judged ourselves, regardless of how
often we went to church, paid our tithes, read our Bibles, or prayed. If we are drawn to
the things that the Lord is judging, we must repent now and seek the grace of the Lord to
see them with His eyes.

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God
has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and
faith in the truth.

In this text we see that sanctification is God’s antidote for lawlessness. We have
been chosen for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the
truth. The Holy Spirit was sent to convict the world of sin. If we want the Holy Spirit,
we must embrace the conviction that He brings, knowing that He came to lead us to
sanctification. As Hebrews 12:14 exhorts, “Pursue peace with all men, and the
sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” We will not see Him
without being sanctified. We must get to know the Holy Spirit’s first name, Holy.
Sanctification speaks of being separate, different, walking in purity before the Lord. We
cannot go on living according to the spirit of the world and expect the blessings of God.
This is an affront to the cross by which we were purchased by Jesus Christ. After his
warning about the man of lawlessness, Paul continued:

And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of
our Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught,
whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us
eternal comfort and good hope by grace,

comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

Another counter to the spirit of lawlessness is to honor the traditions that we have
been taught. Many who want to be on the cutting edge of what God is doing stumble over
this one. There are many dead traditions in the church that have become a substitute for
true life and power, but that is not an excuse to rejecting the honorable traditions that
have been handed down by our spiritual fathers and mothers. As is was written of Jesus,

But of the Son He says “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the
righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.

“Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath
anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions” (Hebrews 1:8-9).

If we are abiding in Him, we, too, will love righteousness and hate lawlessness. A good
reason why we should do this was powerfully articulated by Susan Page in her cover story
of the Senate impeachment trial of President Clinton in the USA Today newspaper of
January 15, 1999, quoted below:

For those closest to President Clinton, the humiliating Senate impeachment trial and
the prospect of ouster or censure seem almost beside the point when the consequences of
the Monica Lewinsky scandal are tallied…His marriage has become noticeably frosty at
times, his ability to enact legislation undercut, his reputation as a rake cemented.

And the Lewinsky affair has been damaging and even disastrous for others as well,
dominating the public lives and tarnishing the reputations of nearly everyone who has been
involved.

“The presidency is not the only institution that has been weakened in
Washington,” says Thomas Mann, director of governmental studies at the Brookings
Institution.”This whole sorry scandal and its prosecution have also weakened the
Congress, the Republican Party, the independent-counsel statute, the national media –
indeed, all of us who make up the Washington community. Washington has lost legitimacy
with the public, and we have lost respect for one another.”

These are the consequences of what may seem to some to be just a small indiscretion. A
few brief moments of carnal gratification and our whole system of government is weakened.
Compromising the standards of righteousness and morality which the Lord makes clear to us
in His Word will always cost much more than we ever think. That is why the Lord hates
lawlessness–it hurts everyone. Remember that impurity is lawlessness, and when we
compromise, we are destroying the very fabric, or constitution, of who we are. Impurity
will also wound, and sometimes even destroy, those whom we love the most.

Summary

We must recognize and resist any defilement of flesh or spirit, such as impurity, as
lawlessness, and lawlessness is not just one of the ultimate evils that the world will
face at the end: It is the very basis of the power of the anti-Christ. This one
thing will bring about a crisis that will determine whether we live or die as a people.
This is the time to turn from our wicked ways, seeking the grace and mercy of the Lord to
love righteousness and hate lawlessness.

As stated, God’s answer to lawlessness is not legalism, and His authority is not
authoritarian. Because of the rise of many authoritarian movements and cults that have
hurt so many people in the past, there has been an overreaction to authority in much of
the church that has pushed many to the other extreme–lawlessness. There is a ditch on
either side of the path of life. We must learn to exercise authority without control and
manipulation, and we must teach a respect for authority without being naive. Romans 13:1-7
is very clear about the relationship that Christians should have toward authorities:

Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no
authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have
opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have
no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same;

for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for
it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings
wrath upon the one who practices evil.

Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for
conscience’ sake.

For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting
themselves to this very thing.

Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to
whom fear; honor to whom honor.

We should note that nowhere does Paul say that we should have this attitude only toward
good, noble or godly authorities. In fact, when Paul wrote this, Nero was Caesar, who was
the most demented of the Roman Emperors who would eventually take Paul’s life.

This does not imply that we should not stand up to tyranny with the power of the truth
with which we have been entrusted. However, if we are to do this without sowing the seeds
of an even worse evil–lawlessness–we must treat all who are in authority with the utmost
respect and dignity, just as the Scripture above commands.

If we love righteousness, our hearts should be moved when evil is perpetrated or
permitted by any government, church or civil authority, but it is of crucial importance
that we confront the evil without undermining the respect for authority. The
greatest enemy of godliness and the greatest power of destruction that is coming will be
released through lawlessness.

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