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THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
God created man to rule. The Scripture defines man as a son of God whose destiny it is to govern the works of God's hands. This destiny has not been assigned to the angels. Rather they are helpers sent by God to assist the rulers of the world to come. But each one whom God has chosen to rule in Christ must lay hold upon his calling, for there are those who would steal his crown.
THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6NIV)
Here is an astonishing verse of the Scripture. If the tense of the verb raise were future or even present, God will raise us up, or God is raising us up, it still would be utterly astonishing. But raised!
Where are He and we at the present time?
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:18-21NIV)
Where are He and we? "Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."
Have these verses always been in the Bible? Yes. Why haven't we paid more attention to them? I don't know. Perhaps it wasn't God's time.
When we think of going to Heaven we picture going to Paradise. Jesus Christ came to bring us to Paradise, we believe. What will Paradise be like? It is thought that the word Paradise means garden. So we picture a beautiful park with grass, trees, birds, and little children playing on the lawn.
An archaic translation of the Greek term for room, or dwelling place, has added "mansions" to our vision. When we go to Heaven we will have a mansion in a beautiful natural setting.
But it appears, from the Scripture, we already have been lifted up past the garden and the children and are at the right hand of God, far above all other rule, authority, power, dominion, and title. We have been raised, not to Paradise but to a position of enormous authority and power.
Now this certainly is something to think about.
It goes back to the definition of "man."
But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. (Hebrews 2:6-8NIV)
"You crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet."
God created man to rule. The Scripture defines man as a son of God whose destiny it is to govern the works of God's hands. This destiny has not been assigned to the angels. Rather they are helpers sent by God to assist the rulers of the world to come.
The right hand of God, the position to which the sons of God have been raised, is the place of supreme authority.
"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:654NIV)
The Lord Jesus will not appear until His brothers are ready to appear with Him. Then He and they shall appear "at the right hand of the Mighty One."
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1NIV)
Notice again the tense of the verb: "you have been raised."
We already have been raised. In fact, it is likely we were raised, in God's timeless vision, to the right hand of Christ when the world began. It is by grace we have been assigned this position of supreme authority, not by our efforts toward righteousness.
Yet we must, as Paul, press toward the mark, the heavenly calling. God has given the song but we must sing it. We press toward the mark by counting everything of this world as garbage, relatively speaking. The highest throne was given us by grace from the beginning, and yet it must be attained. There is a balance here between our predestined rank in the Kingdom and our response to our calling. To neglect that balance, either on the side of God's work or our work, is to insure we never will grasp that for which we have been grasped.
Please keep this balance in mind because there is tremendous error being preached in our day. One error is that it is useless to try to attain such glory because "we are only human." The other error is that God "sees us through Christ" and it doesn't matter what we do because once we take "the four steps of salvation" we can never be removed from our high place in God.
One could understand how believers could accept such error if there were no Bible to be had. But in countries with an abundance of Bibles people are still being taughtand are believingdoctrines that are totally unscriptural and destructive of our moral transformation in Christ. This is tragic!
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:3,4NIV)
The above truly is an extraordinary passage.
We have not just been raised, we have been raised "with Christ." It is not that we just die and are raised, it is that we are crucified "with Christ" and are raised with Him to walk in newness of life.
In light of this oneness with Christ we are commanded to think constantly about the things that are above. All the pressures of life on earth conspire to bring our attention down to our situation in the world. Much discipline is required if we are to keep our mind fastened on the right hand of God.
We experience many feelings, many emotions, many spiritual experiences during our discipleship on the earth. But the believer who is successful in pursuing the way to eternal life is the one who sets his mind on what God has said and follows the Scriptures consistently and diligently, day by day, year by year. The feelings and experiences come and go. It is the disciplined mind and will that bring us victoriously to the finish line. We must choose, choose, choose whom we will serve. Our mind and will must be razor sharp, unswerving, or we will be distracted and pulled down from our high position in God. We are to rule with a rod of iron, and that rod of iron is formed in our personality during our sufferings and tribulations on the earth.
"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."
We died with Christ on the cross. We were crucified with Him. Our death with Christ is the origin, the source of all that takes place in our transition from an adamic soul to a life-giving, Christ-filled spirit.
The reason so many believers go through life without making progress in Christ is that they do not view themselves as having died. Perhaps they are trying to "die." Perhaps they are viewing with dismay their behavior and are attempting to "do better." But the Bible states we have died with Christ and we are to live in this light.
When sin arises in our life we are to put it to death by confessing and turning away from it with the help of the Lord. We always are to act as though our sin and self-will already are dead, confessing them and turning away from them. In this manner what we are claiming by faith becomes a reality in our personality.
We start at the top, at the Throne of God. Now we are fighting our way downward. We are bringing our throne-life down into the remainder of our personality.
Until we count ourselves dead with Christ we remain under the authority of the Law of Moses, for the Law has jurisdiction over the living.
Until we count ourselves dead with Christ we cannot pass before the Judgment Seat of Christ, because it is appointed to men once to die and after this the judgment.
No work of Kingdom significance can commence until we die with Christ on the cross.
The Christian salvation is death and resurrection with Jesus Christ. But for two thousand years Christianity has been made a religion in which people hope to go to Heaven by believing certain things. This actually is Gnosticism, not Christianity. Here and there there have been genuine Christians, but most individuals who think of themselves as Christians are not true Christians at all but members of a manmade religion.
The longer I live the more convinced I become that the greater part of Christianity is actually the work of man and not the work of God. Jesus Christ said He would build His own Church on Himself. What we think of as Christianity was never built by Jesus Christ but by well intentioned religious people. Perhaps the issue of the difference between the Christian salvation and the Christian religion has not been raised before to any great extent, but in the days to come, as God calls Satan to account and shakes all rebellion from those whom God has called to rule with Christ, we will see the true Church separated from that which we view today as the Christian churches.
The true Christian has been crucified with Christ and now it is not he who is living but Christ. How many believers do you know who live as though they have been crucified and have risen with Christ?whose life is Christ? These are the Christians. The remainder, and most of these are decent, God-fearing people, are members of a religion. They have not died. Therefore they have not been raised to the right hand of power.
"When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Is Christ our life? Christ becomes our life as every material prop is knocked out from under us and we are living by His body and blood. "Yet not I but Christ lives in me." We are to take this position by faith. Then the Holy Spirit will make it a reality as we cooperate with Him.
The reason Christ has not appeared as yet is that the ordained number of rulers have not been prepared. The rulers are being prepared today. They are being prepared on earth, and I suppose in the spirit realm also. I think more takes place in the spirit realm than we understand. We know God is judging both the living and the dead, and that Divine judgment consists of fiery trials that burn the sin and self-seeking out of us.
But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (I Peter 4:5NIV)
Our tradition states that when he dies the troubles of the Christian are over. There is little scriptural support for this. In view of the fact that the Scripture states the ministries of the Spirit will operate until we all come to the unity of the faith, to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ, it appears likely that our moral transformation will continue whether we are living on earth or living in the spirit realm.
All of God's heroes of faith will come to perfection as a body, and then will appear with Christ.
Again, "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Why will we appear with Christ in glory? Because we are the Body of Christ, the fullness of the Servant of the Lord who will bring justice to the nations.
The current teaching is that Christ will return to catch up His Church and bring it to Heaven. This is unscriptural. Christ will return with His brothers, the rulers of the world to come, and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. This will be done with violence, as we notice from several verses in both the Old Testament and the New.
At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. (Joel 2:6NIV)
"Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 4:3NIV)
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 1:14,15NIV)
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:14,15NIV)
The above describes the coming of the King followed by his brothers, the lesser kings. He is King of these kings and they are coming as the morning of the Day of the Lord to destroy all wickedness from the earth. They are God's judges, the saints who dwell at the right hand of the Mighty One.
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:16NIV)
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. (Revelation 16:12NIV)
We have established thus far that God by grace has raised us to His right hand in Christ and that this is the realm of supreme authority. When the great King, the Lord Jesus Christ, appears to the world, His lesser kings will appear with him and assist in the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
We have spoken also that our position and role were determined before the beginning of the world and are activated when we choose to die with Christ and be raised with Christ. Our death and resurrection with Christ must be grasped by faith every moment of our Christian life. It is entirely possible to be brought down from our high position, if we do not follow the Holy Spirit and cooperate with Him in order to overcome the love of the world, the lusts of our flesh, and especially our self-will and self-seeking.
We must realize these issues are being pressed on us now because the conflict of the ages is upon us. God is preparing to shake the earth and the heavens. I have no doubt Christianity as we have known it will change dramatically over the next few years.
We were given our crown of rulership from the foundation of the world, it appears. Now our task is to keep people from taking it.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so no one will take your crown. (Revelation 3:11NIV)
Can our crown be taken? Absolutely. Otherwise the Lord would be speaking foolishness to the angel of the church in Philadelphia.
In the closing days of the Church Age, Antichrist will be given great authority and power in the spirit realm and also over the nations of the earth. He even will be able to attack the host, the stars of God, and cast them down to the earth.
Satan does not have the power to force down those who are at the right hand of God, and so he works in terms of deception.
Some he tempts with money, with the comforts and luxuries of civilization. There actually are believers who have been at God's right hand but have been lured away with the promise of riches. There is no quicker way to lose one's spiritual life than to become occupied with the things of the world. This is what happened to the rich young ruler, to Judas, to Ananias and Sapphira.
Those who succumb to the world of Antichrist, the world whose image is money, will be tormented in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
Some Satan tempts with the lusts and passions of the flesh. In our own day we have seen prominent ministers torn down and cast to the earth by the tail of the dragon. At one time they had been among the stars of God. But they were deceived and their lusts overcame them.
Some Satan tempts with self-will and rebellion. This by far is the most deadly of the weaknesses of the human personality. God will shake, shake, shake all those destined to appear with Jesus Christ until He is certain there is no self-will, self-love, self-centeredness remaining in them; that their heart is solid in the Lord; that their utter obedience to God has been established beyond question.
God wants to be sure of everyone who is at His right hand, for such are destined to rule with Christ throughout the endless ages of eternity. Only those who have been thoroughly cleansed from self-will shall be allowed to appear with Christ. Such soldiers can fall on the sword and not be wounded. This means the Word of God has tested them until it can no longer slay them. When Satan comes he can find no door in their personality. Christ has accomplished stern obedience in them.
There are many preachers who will take our crown if we let them. Do you remember how the old prophet lied to the young prophet, resulting in the death of the young prophet?
We always are to venerate our parents in the Lord, and also our natural parents and family. But the Lord Jesus brings a sword. There are times when we have to hold onto what God has given us in spite of what anyone says. If we do not, someone may succeed in taking our crown without realizing what he or she is doing.
Many active "Christians" have never died to their adamic personality, it appears. They are imitators, just as Absalom desired to imitate the Divine appointment of King David; as Korah desired to imitate the Divine appointment of Moses and Aaron. They are religious people acting in the flesh. They profess faith in the blood atonement. They may have spoken in tongues, prophesied, and performed mighty works in the name of the Lord Jesus. They are stars. They, like their father, Satan, desire to be preeminent in the Kingdom of God.
But Christ does not know them because their first personality is still alive. They are religious people, the deadliest enemy of Christ and God. Satan is in them and because of their envy they will seek to kill the true people of the Lord, those whom God has called.
They are the members of the synagogue of Satan. They refer to themselves as Jews, that is, as God's people. To all appearances, and in their own eyes, they are of the elect. But they are of Satan.
How can you tell when seeming Christians are of Satan? You can recognize them because they slander and accuse the true saints, just as Satan, their master does.
Whenever you hear someone slandering a Christian you know Satan is in that person.
The Pharisees who accused Jesus were of the accuser, Satan.
Such self-filled believers, and there are millions of them, will tear down the true saint from the right hand of God if they can. They are envious of God's people because they can see God is with them. The Satan-filled look for the faults of the Lord's sheep, and when they find them they publish them. They slander and gossip.
Satan hopes the elect will respond with anger, will fight back. If the saints do respond with anger they give Satan opportunity to accuse them before the Lord. Those who attempt to defend themselves against their accusers place in jeopardy their own position at the right hand of God.
If we will commit our way to the Lord, making sure we are pleasing Him, and ignore the synagogue of Satan, God will bring forth our righteousness as the light and our judgment as the noonday. Jesus did not respond to His accusers. He trusted in God to vindicate Him.
One way Satan seeks to tear down American Christians is by diverting them from their determination to dwell at God's right hand. America is a land of riches, of opportunity, of a myriad of interesting, challenging things to do. There are educational, scientific, technological, business, and entertainment opportunities begging to be exploited by the old as well as the young. There also is ready access to the most vile of the sins of the flesh.
Many of the diversions held before Americans would not be considered sin, such as proficiency in the developing of a comprehensive computer system when a much simpler arrangement would serve. But the time and energy devoted to this hobby can seriously or fatally impact our position at the right hand of God. Paul commanded us to set our mind on things above!
American Christians often are deeply involved in the stock market, in starting a business, in professional sports, in the development of a hobby or talent. They see nothing wrong with this. The problem is, their calling is to the Throne of God and they are neglecting it.
If we are called to be a saint, a holy one of God, we have no other calling!
It is in the context of a discussion concerning the royal authority of the sons of God that the writer of Hebrews asks, "How shall we escape if we ignore or neglect such a great salvation?" This warning was written to seasoned Christians who were neglecting to press past the Pentecostal experience and enter the rest of God. To enter the rest of God, the abiding place at the right hand of the Father, we have to overcome every enemy that comes against us. To obtain such perfect victory demands that we give our full attention to our position in God, not being distracted by any earthly situation.
Satan seeks constantly to take our crown by diverting us from our steadfast seeking of the heavenly mark.
In the last days the stars of God will be torn down. It appears to us that the stars referred to are ruling saints. They may be angels, but this seems unlikely. Perhaps the reference is to both people and angels, the host of warrior angels and the host of ruling saints.
All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree. My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed. (Isaiah 34:4,5NIV)
It is not likely that the interpretation of "the stars of the heavens" in the above passages is referring primarily to the physical stars. How could physical stars fall? They certainly cannot fall to the earth for they are many, many times larger than the earth.
His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so he might devour her child the moment it was born. (Revelation 12:4NIV)
Physical stars simply cannot be flung to the earth. It is difficult to believe these are a third of Satan's angels, because after this event Satan and his angels fight in the heavens against Michael. Why would Satan cast down a third of his warriors?
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. (Revelation 12:7NIV)
I think Satan would be more interested in casting down the members of the Lord's army than he would his own troops. We have seen this happen in our day as ministers of the Gospel have been trapped by the spirit of pornography and other forms of lust, including a lust for riches. They have fallen from their place at the right hand of God.
It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. (Daniel 8:10NIV)
"Immediately after the distress of those days "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29NIV)
We Christians often speak of ruling with Christ, of being members of a royal priesthood. Do you suppose we have given careful thought to what this would entail?
Paul says we will judge the world and angels as well. This leads me to believe Christ and His brothers will be seated on the great White Throne, at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. When He judges the nations according to how they treated His brothers, Christ will be referring to His brothers who will be surrounding Him in that day.
"The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40NIV)
Notice the following:
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13,14NIV)
Three times the interpretation was given as to the identity of "one like a son of man." The interpretation is, the one like a son of man comprises the saints who will ascend the thrones of judgment.
Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. (Daniel 7:27NIV)
It is clear in both the Old and New Testaments that in the last days Antichrist will be permitted to overcome the saints. But after the saints have been given into his hand, and all rebellion has been shaken from them, they finally will ascend the thrones that control the works of God's hands.
If we are destined to govern in Christ at the right hand of God we must realize we are going to be sifted by Satan until every part of our personality has been brought to the light, until we have been converted from our self-will to God's will. Peter had to be sifted because he and the others had been arguing about who would be greatest in the Kingdom of God. God will not permit any self-seeking individual to be part of His Throne!
Jesus Christ will not prevent our being sifted by Satan. But He will pray for us that our faith does not fail.
If we are to sit in the Throne of Christ, as He sits in His Father's Throne, then we must overcome every enemy just as He overcame every enemy. He will enable us to overcome if we refuse to be diverted from our position at the right hand of God.
The purpose of the next return of the Lord is to place His purified saints on the thrones in the air that will be vacated when Michael throws Satan and his angels from their places of rulership in the heavens. The challenges to be overcome, as described in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, are steps to the first resurrection from the dead.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4NIV)
These are awesome thrones! Throughout our Christian life we have been wrestling against the present occupants of these thrones.
The saints have been given authority to judge. The authority to judge is the right of a king.
The saints have been "beheaded" because of their testimony for Jesus. This means they have forsaken their own thinking that they might obey the Lord in every matter. In order to bear a true witness of Jesus we have to forsake our own plans and ambitions. Only the true Christians will do this.
The saints have been "beheaded" because of the Word of God. This means they have forsaken their own reasoning in order to say "Amen" to the Word of God. They are sternly obedient to the Father.
They no longer are living according to their carnal mind but by the mind of the Lamb and the mind of God. This is revealed by the writing of the name of the Lamb and the name of God on their forehead.
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Fathers name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1NIV)
The future judges refused to worship Antichrist, that is, the spirit of the world that says to people "You are your own god. The only god there is is within you."
They refused to worship the image of the Antichrist. The image of the Antichrist is worldly wealth, in particular, money. Money is worshiped in America in our day. We do not trust in God but in money.
They did not receive the mark of Antichrist on their forehead. They refused to think according to the spirit of the world, the spirit of human togetherness that is determined to bring peace and joy to every person by human means.
They did not receive the mark of Antichrist on their hand. Their actions proved to be incomprehensible to the people of the world and also to the members of Babylon the Great, the huge religious establishment that will embrace the religions of mankind, including Christianity. Therefore they will be persecuted viciously by the members of the Christian religion.
All religions, including the religion of Christianity, have much in common. (Please understand, I am not referring to individual Christian assemblies, many of which are splendid, only to the religion of Christianity as a whole.) The religions of the world are man-directedguided by the human mind. None of them teach we are to die on the cross with Jesus Christ and be raised with Him to the right hand of the Father. Therefore they are the enemies of Christ and will murder Him when they can, just as was true of the leaders of Israel. They are as high hills leaping in order to gain recognition. But God has chosen Zion.
Only those who have been called, chosen, and proven faithful will be raised from the dead when the Lord appears from Heaven. They will be caught up to their Commander-in Chief and assigned their places on the white war stallions. This is the first resurrection of the dead and the time of the attack of Armageddon.
No other individual will be raised until the thousand-year Kingdom Age has been completed.
The Bible is a book of war. Throughout the Bible, just as throughout world history, there are found wars and rumors of war. The Book of Psalms, it may be noted, has much to say about war.
God is at war against every personality, angelic and human, that has not surrendered totally to His will. Most Christian people will tell you that no one can do God's will. We ought to try but we are condemned to fail. Therefore God is saving us by "grace." By this they mean we can continue to rebel against God and His Word but will be brought to Paradise in any case.
Such thinking comes from the arrogance of the human race and is supported by Satan.
It would not solve God's problem if every person on earth were brought to Heaven. There is war in Heaven because there is rebellion there. God will shake the heavens until all spirits that are not doing His will are cast down from their position of authority.
How deeply self-will is rooted in the human personality can be seen by the fact that after a thousand years of the rule of Christ and His saints, Satan still is able to deceive the nations until they are willing to go up and attack the camp of the saints. This after a thousand years of righteous government! Think of it!
God will never stop shaking the earth and the heavens until all angels and people have ceased their rebellion, their self-will, their stubbornness, and total victory has been gained through the Lord Jesus Christ and His firstfruits who follow Him.
You and I can, through the Lord Jesus, maintain our position at the right hand of God in Christ. But we must realize we will be tested, tested, and tested again until God is certain no evil way remains in us. It must be true of us that Satan can find no opening in us when he comes.
Only then are we assured of participation in the first resurrection and of our eternal placement at the right hand of God.