FROM EGYPT TO CANAAN
Copyright © 1993 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The exodus of Israel from Egypt, the wandering in the wilderness of Sinai, and the entrance into Canaan constitute one of the greatest of the Old Testament types of the Christian salvation. Traditionally, Egypt is regarded as a type of the world, the wilderness wandering is viewed as a type of our life on the earth, and Canaan is considered to be a type of Heaven. We believe these views to be incomplete and misleading.
God’s grace given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ is a temporary suspension of the Kingdom principle that sin results in death. Because of our faith in the blood of Christ, God chooses not to see our rebellious nature and sinful acts during the period of time in which Christ is changing us.
The concept that we never shall be anything but rebellious sinners who are saved by God’s mercy, and that our eternal life, sonship, participation in the New Jerusalem, and overcoming status are eternally imputed to us independently of any change of what we are and do, comes from Satan not from God. Satan’s intention is to keep us rebelling and sinning; to hide from us the actual deliverance from sin which is possible to us through Christ. For the end of Satan’s kingdom comes, not when we are forgiven but when we are delivered.
God has no intention whatever of changing the Kingdom principles of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping. Rather, God is changing us so we begin sowing in such a manner that we are reaping life.
It requires a certain amount of love and mercy to forgive us sinners. It requires exceedingly much more love and mercy to come down among us and pour out One’s own holy Nature and Virtue until we are worthy of life.
Divine mercy suspends the Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping until we are able to “go and sin no more.” The suspension required that God Himself suffer the consequences of our rebellion and sin.
FROM EGYPT TO CANAAN
The exodus of Israel from Egypt, the wandering in the wilderness of Sinai, and the entrance into Canaan, constitute one of the greatest of the Old Testament types (symbols) of the Christian salvation.
Traditionally, Egypt is regarded as a type of the world, the wilderness wandering is viewed as a type of our life on the earth, and Canaan is considered to be a type of Heaven. We believe this understanding to be incomplete and misleading.
Egypt is a type of the world system, but not a type of the earth itself. The world system is wicked but the earth itself is not wicked. The wilderness wandering is to some extent a symbol of the life we live on the earth in that our instruction and testings take place here. But by no means is Canaan a type of Heaven, unless by “Heaven” one means the Presence of God in Christ.
We Christians begin as members of the world system. The world spirit is made up of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life. People of the world are full of malice and wickedness. Their eyes have been blinded to the Glory of the Lord by Satan, the God of the present age.
The Spirit of the Lord speaks to us of the need for accepting the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. We are instructed to sprinkle by faith the blood of God’s Lamb on ourselves so God will “pass over” us when He destroys the gods of the world. We are baptized in water as a sign we have entered the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
This is as far as many believers get. They sit in Egypt “by faith.” They have never been taught that it is necessary for them to begin a “wilderness wandering.” They do not understand the Christian way, believing they are required only to maintain a mental grasp on the facts of redemption and wait to die and go to Heaven so they may enter eternal life there.
There are other believers who, having better teaching, understand that to be a Christian one must leave the world, take up his cross, and follow the Lord Jesus every day. Leaving the world means, among other things, not becoming involved with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, and spending time in prayer and meditation in the Lord’s Word. The television is today’s main purveyor of the things of the world.
The wilderness wandering is not a type of life in the world as such but of following the Lord Jesus throughout the many strenuous disciplines to which He subjects us. It is a life of coming to know the Lord, His holiness, His righteousness. In the wilderness of temptation we learn strict obedience to the Father. We no longer are part of the present age. We are pilgrims and strangers on the earth, looking for the city that has foundations.
It appears that the true Christian disciple is fairly rare today. There are numerous people who attend Christian churches but are not Christians. They never have left the spirit of the world. They are living primarily in the lusts and desires of the flesh and soul because in their heart they have not left Egypt. We do not know what their end will be but it is certain they are not entering the Kingdom of God.
We will devote the remainder of this booklet to a discussion of the land of promise, of Canaan, as it applies to the Christian discipleship.
One reason for the lack of proper Christian orientation to God’s plan of redemption is a misunderstanding of the goal of salvation. As long as one views going to Heaven as the goal of redemption there is not a clear understanding of cause and effect in living the Christian life. If we are required only to wait to die and go to Heaven, and if we go to Heaven by a mental assent to doctrinal truth, then there is no vital reason why we should count everything as dung that we may “win Christ.” Why should we go to such painful lengths when every believer will receive the same reward?
But going to Heaven is not the goal of the Divine redemption. The goal is the fullness of God in Christ and the relationships, roles, responsibilities, tasks, and other opportunities that result from being part of the fullness of God. That goal is not attained by waiting to die and go to Heaven but by the most arduous, sincere, disciplined, and concentrated effort to follow the Master. Apart from a sternly disciplined effort it is not possible for the believer to please God or to march in the front ranks of those who are commissioned to bring the Kingdom of God into the earth.
The true Christian discipleship is typified by the journey from Egypt to Canaan. The Christian life is not one of static mental assent to doctrine but of daily pressing forward in faith. The just do not live by doctrinal faith but by personal, experimental faith in the living Lord Jesus. They are pressing forward to the saving of their soul.
Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition [destruction], but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:38,39)
The issue is not one of believing or not believing in theological facts but of pressing forward towards God’s will or drawing back from God. Faith lives only in works. There is no such thing as abstract faith, a faith that does not live and move and have its being in works. Faith apart from works is dead.
The current understanding of the goal of the Christian salvation is incorrect. Our goal is not to make our eternal home in the spirit realm.
It is true that the Lord Jesus made an atonement for our sins and that through Him we are saved. There is no name other than that of Christ through which people can be saved.
But salvation is not directed primarily toward “going to Heaven” when we die. There indeed is a Heaven and the righteous do go to Jesus when they die; but going to Heaven is not the goal of the Divine redemption.
We are in a time of restoring understanding of the Scriptures. The seals are being removed from the Book. The Spirit is speaking to the churches. Let him who has ears to hear, stop and listen to the Lord. We are entering a great hour in the Kingdom of God.
Let us think for a moment. How could Heaven, the place where God, Christ, the elect angels, and the saints are abiding in the present hour, be the spiritual fulfillment of the land of promise, of Canaan, of the inheritance, of the goal of our pilgrimage?
In order for us to consider an event or place to be the spiritual fulfillment of a type, two conditions must be true: (1) the Old Testament type must portray physically (not in every detail) the spiritual fulfillment; and (2) there must be direct New Testament teaching of the spiritual truth being presented.
For example, the Lord Jesus on the cross is the spiritual fulfillment of the animals offered on the Altar of Burnt Offering of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The offering of the animals prefigured the offering up of Jesus at Calvary. The animal offerings portrayed physically the spiritual fulfillment of the atonement made by the Lord on the cross.
Also, there is direct New Testament teaching to the effect that Jesus was slain for our sins in order to make an atonement for us in the sight of God.
The physical and the spiritual correspond and there is direct teaching in the New Testament. The spiritual application we are making is in agreement with and does not contradict New Testament doctrine.
But this is not true when we regard Canaan as a type of Heaven. The facts do not apply reasonably well, and there is no New Testament teaching that our goal is to go to Heaven or that Heaven is our rest, our inheritance, our land of promise.
Canaan was occupied by the enemies of the Lord. The Canaanites were worshipers of several demon gods.
When Israel came to Canaan the first time they were turned back into the wilderness because of their fear of the giants. How can this be interpreted as a type of the saint entering Heaven?
Israel was formed into an army while in the wilderness and then was required to fight its way into Canaan. The Hebrews never did conquer the land to the extent that the Lord commanded. Several areas were subjugated rather than destroyed. There was intermarrying with the Philistines. How, then, can Canaan be a type of going to Heaven when we die?
Also, there is no New Testament teaching that Heaven is the goal of the Christian life.
Canaan is not Heaven. Egypt is not the earth. Our lifetime on the earth is not symbolic of the wilderness wandering unless we are following the Lord closely and are learning and being tested by the Spirit of God.
The Christian church is not making its way from earth to Heaven but from the power of Satan to the power of God.
‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ (Acts 26:18)
We are coming to a period of greater understanding of what the Kingdom of God is all about.
The transition from Moses to Joshua is a type of the change at hand. We are beginning to behold a new dimension of the Lord Jesus, and the Spirit of God is pointing out to us the land we are to conquer. The closing hours of the present age are upon us. It is time to take the Kingdom.
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: (Joshua 1:1)
In the Kingdom of God, as well as in the physical realm, major changes occur. Much that has gone before dies, as it were, but not before bringing into view a new horizon. The old brings the Kingdom of God to a certain point and then steps aside so the Messianic burden may be developed further in the new.
The Dispensational model of Scripture interpretation sometimes gives the impression that God’s workings proceed on a trial and error basis, as though God experimented with one method of helping mankind, and when that method did not work went to another program.
In actuality, God understands fully the end from the beginning. All that is, is founded on that which has gone before; and all that will be, will be founded on that which now is. An understanding of the continuity of the Divine plan is essential to our comprehension of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
The purpose of the things and events of the Old Testament is to help us understand spiritual truth, and this is why they occurred.
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (I Corinthians 10:11)
It often is true that great changes are made in the Kingdom of God, such as the calling of Israel out of Egypt, the entrance of Israel into Canaan, the making of the Word flesh, and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the waiting disciples. These all are parts of one whole work of God.
The death of Moses and the anointing of Joshua marked the end of one epoch and the beginning of a new age in the lives of the Israelites. The change in the Body of Christ that is typified by the death of Moses and the anointing of Joshua is even more significant in the Kingdom of God.
Moses was the revelation of God to the Hebrews. The Law was given through Moses, as were the Tabernacle of the congregation, the animal sacrifices, and the Aaronic priesthood. The Shechinah dwelled with Moses until he was compelled to wear a veil over his face. With the sole exception of the Lord Jesus, never before or since has a nation of people been led by a man who revealed in his person the Glory of God to this extent.
Under God, Moses was the shepherd of Israel. His words and judgments were Divine law. Those who opposed him became leprous or were swallowed up by the earth. There never has been another man like Moses to whom the Lord spoke face to face.
For forty years Moses bore the load of the grumbling Jews as they made their way through the desert country between Egypt and Canaan. God taught the Israelites many lessons, using their thirst and hunger and the other desolations and deprivations of their surroundings as instructors. The Wilderness of Sinai was a terrible environment in which to spend forty years. But at least the Jews had the Presence of God with Moses to comfort them.
Then Moses died and Joshua took his place.
There was no need for Joshua to wear a veil—he did not dwell in the Holy Place speaking face to face with God. No law or tabernacle or animal sacrifice or priesthood was ordained by the hand of Joshua. Although it was true that God gave directions through Joshua, Joshua simply was not the Presence of God among the Hebrews in the same way that was true of Moses.
The Jews of Jesus’ day boasted, “We are Moses’ disciples.” But none of them claimed to be Joshua’s disciple. This sums up the difference in prestige, in faith, in love, that the Jews feel toward Moses as compared to their attitude toward any other patriarch, prophet or king of Israel with the possible exception of King David.
“Moses my servant is dead.” Great change indeed. But the spiritual change in the Kingdom of God typified by the death of Moses is much greater.
For two thousand years the Christian Church has known the “Moses” aspect of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is our great Shepherd who has called us out of “Egypt” (the spirit of the world) and has led us through the wilderness (a desolation of soul while we are making the transition from our sin and rebellion into the rest of God).
The commandments that Jesus has given us are binding on us. Although our pilgrimage from Satan to God is bleak at times as the Spirit of God teaches and transforms us, we have the Presence of God in Christ to comfort us.
Now we have come to a further step in the plan of redemption—a step that we never thought we would witness or experience this side of physical death.
“Moses” is dead and “Joshua” has been anointed to lead Israel.
This indicates that a dimension of Christ we have not known previously, Christ as the Lord—strong and mighty in battle, is beginning to be emphasized by the Spirit of God.
If we will take the time to pause in our busy schedule long enough to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches we will discover that the Spirit is speaking of war and of victory in the spiritual, and eventually in the physical, realms. It is time for the saints to enter the land of promise. The Scriptures are unfolding. The goal of redemption is being defined by the Lord through the Holy Spirit.
“Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. (Joshua 1:2)
Precisely what “land” has the Lord given to us? If our goal, our inheritance, is not Heaven, then what is it? If salvation and eternal life have little to do with going to Heaven, what then is salvation and what is eternal life?
Because two thousand years have passed while the Lord has been building His Body, His Bride, from those persons whom He has called out from the nations of the earth, the tradition has come into being that portrays the Wilderness of Sinai as typical of life on the earth and Canaan as being life in Heaven, in Paradise in the spirit realm.
As a result, Christians understand salvation to be the removal of the believers from earth to Heaven. We accept Jesus as our Savior so we may go to Heaven when we die. This is a widely believed, venerable tradition. But it is detrimental to the maturing of the believer and the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
We have come to the time in the development of the Kingdom of God when the Lord Jesus is ready to show Himself as the Lord of Hosts, the Lord strong and mighty in battle. Therefore our land of promise, the goal of the Divine redemption, is being defined by the Spirit of God.
Egypt is a type of our spiritual bondage in the kingdom of Satan, in the world. The journey through the Wilderness of Sinai is a type of our struggle to learn the ways of the Lord and to overcome our love of the world and our love of sin and self-will.
Canaan is a type of life lived in the center of God’s will in the fullness of eternal life. It is a type of our rest in God’s will, in the Kingdom purposes of God. Our immortal state will include our transformation from a living soul to a life-giving spirit, the redemption of our physical body from the image of the first Adam to the image of the Lord from Heaven, our being filled with the fullness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, participation in the numerous aspects of the Kingdom of God, and rulership over all the works of God’s hands.
This is “the land that I do give to them.” Our land of promise is the acquiring of the fullness of incorruptible resurrection life and participation in all the Kingdom purposes of God. God’s Kingdom purposes include our becoming the Temple of God, the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem that will rule over the nations of saved peoples of the earth, the Lord’s priests who will bring His Presence and ways to the nations, the removers of the curse from the earth, the judges of men and angels, and the rebuilders and restorers of all that has been destroyed by sinners.
God is not calling us out of the earth but out of the spirit of the world, out of the kingdom of Satan. The sins and enemies against which we are wrestling originate in the heavenlies. The earth, and our own flesh and bones, are good. The physical creation is good. But the spirit in the world, and in our own flesh also, is wicked.
God has called us out of the wicked spirits that control the world—and that control our flesh if we allow them to do so. Our life in the wilderness is our struggle against sin and unbelief in God. We are striving to serve God in a rebellious, unclean spiritual environment while we yet are limited by a physical body in which the spirit of death is dwelling. Our inner man is alive in Christ but our physical body is dead—cut off from the Life of Christ by the sin abiding in it.
Our land of promise includes the whole creation of God, especially the earth; for it is the earth and the nations of the earth that are the inheritance of Christ, and our inheritance also because we are coheirs with Him. One day the kingdoms of the world will be ruled by Christ and His saints.
We are not marching from the earth to Heaven, we are marching from eternal death to eternal life.
The original message of salvation preached by the Lord and His Apostles was the offering of the gift of eternal life to a spiritually dead mankind. Since that time the Gospel has been changed into a means of entering Heaven after we die.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
This is what was preached by the Lord Jesus. The gift is not Heaven but life—the eternal life, spiritual and physical, that was lost to Adam and Eve because of their disobedience.
One might inquire, “But what difference does it make whether we say ‘Heaven’ or ‘life’?”
It makes a great difference!
If we conceive of Heaven as the goal of our salvation we may live our life in the pursuit of fleshly goals, waiting to enter Heaven when we die. If we accept Jesus and are saved by grace we will go to Heaven. We obtain salvation and life by dying. Tomorrow is the day of salvation. These are the concepts held currently.
But if we conceive of eternal life as our goal, then we are not waiting for our physical death to usher us into salvation. We are making the transition from spiritual death (the absence of God) to spiritual life (the Presence of God) now. We are conquering sin and attaining the resurrection (the spiritual aspect of the resurrection) from the dead now—today. Eternal life is eternal living in the fullness of God’s Presence and Glory.
Indeed it does make a great difference whether we view our goal as Heaven or eternal life.
We must understand that we do not gain eternal life in order to enter Heaven nor do we enter Heaven in order to attain eternal life. We strive to enter eternal life so we may live in the Presence of God; so our growing and learning and serving and participating in all the areas of the Kingdom as a son and servant of God may continue unabated throughout the endless ages that stretch before us. He who lives and believes in Jesus will never die.
Some may explain that such continuity of growth and service is what people mean by “Heaven.” If so, then all is well.
But the danger is that the believer will conceive of “Heaven” as a place where he will go one day, a land in which he is free from dread, pain, and all responsibility. It is an escape from difficulties based on “being saved by grace.”
The current concept is that it does not matter whether we are sanctified and in God’s image just as long as we arrive in Heaven. This is to say, it does not matter whether or not we are redeemed just as long as we go where people are happy.
The Christian redemption is not an escape from the battle but victory in the battle. It is the conquering of sin and rebellion so righteousness, peace, and joy can be brought into our own lives and finally into the entire creation of God.
There is a practical difference between the concept of the goal of the Divine redemption as eternal existence in a land of delights, and the concept of the goal of the Divine redemption as growth and development in eternal life, as the restful union of God in Christ in the victorious saints.
Whether one views the goal of redemption as going to Heaven when he dies, or holds to the scriptural goal of eternal life in the Kingdom of God, can make a difference in the degree of fervency and diligence of one’s discipleship.
We enter into life, into victory, now—today!
Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:16,17)
“If you will enter into life.”
First of all, let us establish the fact that eternal life, in the Kingdom sense, is not eternal consciousness. The rich man of Luke 16:19 was conscious in Hell but he did not possess eternal life.
Second, eternal life is not, as we have stated previously, the same as going to Heaven. Heaven is a place in the spirit realm. Eternal life is a state of being that we reap, a state that must be attained (Galatians 6:8). Christ Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. As long as we confuse Heaven and eternal life we will not be able to grasp the concept of eternal life; neither will we be able to understand the reason for the total demands the Lord Jesus makes on us.
In addition, eternal life is not existence in the spirit realm. The fallen angels and the demons exist in the spirit realm but they do not possess eternal life.
Eternal life is the knowledge of the true God and Christ in the sense of entering God and Jesus. It is not theological knowledge but the knowledge that is union with and participation in Divine Life. Eternal life is the development in us of the Life of God in Christ.
Eternal life can be formed in an individual only as he is willing to die to his first personality.
In order to enter “Canaan,” into eternal life in the Kingdom of God, we must die to the world (cross the Red Sea); die to sin (receive the Law at Mount Sinai); and die to self-will, self-love, self-centeredness (cross the Jordan River). We must die to the world, to sin, and to self. Our entire first personality must enter the death of Jesus on the cross.
Eternal life can be formed in an individual only to the extent that he is willing to die to his first personality. It is not possible to be governed by our first personality and abide in Jesus at the same time.
A human being can live, move, and have his being only by one life. Either he is living his customary flesh-and-blood existence or else he has submitted to crucifixion and now is living in Christ and by Christ. Either he is living or else Christ is living in him. Time and experience are necessary as we make the transition from self-life and Christ-life.
We pass from death to life, not when we die physically and go to Heaven but when we die to the world, sin, and self-will and enter the Life of Christ in God. This is what Paul meant by attaining to the resurrection from among the dead (Philippians 3:11).
Gaining eternal life is the converting of our life force from what is rebellious, lustful, and perishing to that which is obedient, holy, and eternal.
One can view the current misunderstanding in the statements of some who claim that whether or not we sin we cannot lose our eternal life. This statement contains a contradiction in itself. The truth is, the presence of sin is evidence of the absence of eternal life just as the presence of darkness is indicative of the absence of light.
Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (I John 3:15)
To be walking in sin while claiming we have eternal life is to be walking in darkness while claiming we are in the light. This contradiction arises from the fact that eternal life is being viewed as synonymous with going to Heaven when we die.
The individual who states that though he sins he has eternal life means that though he sins he will go to Heaven when he dies. He thinks that eternal life and going to Heaven are synonymous. If we would understand the statements of the Scriptures, such as John 3:16 and I John 3:15, we must realize that eternal life and going to Heaven are not the same experience. The difference between the two is not merely an abstract theological idea, it is a fundamental understanding that has a direct effect on our success in entering the Divine redemption.
Eternal life is the Life of God in Christ. In order to gain eternal life we not only must receive Christ at some point in time, we also must live in Him daily. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We must be changed into His death if we would be filled with His Life. We cannot live by our first personality and by Christ at the same time.
The gate to eternal life is narrow and the way is restrictive. We cannot bring our first personality along the road to eternal life. There are few who are willing to enter in. However, multitudes are on the broad road that leads (they think) to Heaven.
Eternal life is closely identified with the Kingdom of God because the Kingdom of God is the rulership of the immortal saints—those in whom the Life of Christ has been developed and perfected—over the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
There are at least two stages in gaining the Kingdom of God:
- Perfecting the Life of Christ in us.
- Entering our own inheritance, into our unique participation in the Kingdom of God.
As the Life of Christ is formed in us God begins to reveal to us our inheritance. We ourselves enter life, and then our destiny unfolds.
This twofold process starts the moment we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, placing our faith in the atonement made by Him. It begins then provided we recognize that our entire first personality has by faith been placed on the cross, and that we abide in Him continually and learn to lean on Him and to live by His power and wisdom.
If we “accept Christ” and then continue on as we always have, living our own life and waiting to go to Heaven, we have not begun to enter the eternal life of the Kingdom of God. We merely have assumed a theological position. There is no life in this.
We enter eternal life as soon as we are ready to do God’s will, and our life in God’s Presence then will continue throughout eternity. It is not interrupted by physical death. Eternal life lays down the flesh and takes it up again according to the will of the Lord Jesus.
We conclude there is a great difference between the state of the nominal Christian and the state of the Christian who has gained eternal life, after each dies physically. Since the nominal Christian lives in the flesh, when he dies physically his life also dies. Paul warned us of this when he wrote to the saints, “For if you live in the appetites of the flesh you shall die” (Romans 8:13).
We do not mean that the nominal Christian will cease to exist when he dies physically; we mean that the blessing and Presence of Jesus will not be with him. He is dead spiritually.
But when the Christian dies who has arrived at “the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:11) he continues as always. He cannot cease living and serving God because he already, while yet in the world, is living by Christ—by the Resurrection and the Life. He who lives and believes in Christ will never die.
There is a great difference between the post-death experience of the nominal Christian and the post-death experience of the Christian who has been crucified and now is living in and by Christ. By the expression “has been crucified” we mean the Spirit of God has brought him through death to the world, death to sin, and death to his self-will and self-centeredness.
These spiritual principles are made invalid when we view the goal of redemption as our going to a place. If eternal life is a place, then the personal spiritual growth of the believer is of little consequence. The fleshly and the diligent both go to the same place “by grace.” The concept of all believers going to the same reward in the same place has contributed strongly to the destruction of the moral and spiritual life of the churches of Christ in the world of today.
Would some believers live differently if they truly believed their personal spiritual growth is their salvation?
The entering of the Hebrews into Canaan is the major Old Testament type of the Christian entering eternal life, entering the Kingdom of God.
Because there are two principal stages in the gaining of the Kingdom of God, Canaan has a double application as a type:
- Canaan is a type of the believer entering into eternal life in his own personality.
- Canaan is a type of the believer entering into his inheritance as a king and priest over the creation of God.
The story of Israel’s entrance into the land of promise can be used as a portrayal of the Christian entering his unique inheritance in God. This is a highly personalized experience, some aspects of which will be known only to the recipient. It is a private understanding between him or her and the Lord. No one else knows the new name written in the stone.
Overcoming and the receiving of rewards is a personal matter between God and the individual saint. However, the general boundaries of the land of promise of the Christian are pointed out in the Scriptures and serve as a guide so we do not fall into the snare of the devil.
The major boundaries of the land of promise of the Israelites are set forth in the Book of Joshua, as are the areas assigned to each tribe. However, the individual farms and fig trees of each family are not described but were a matter of individual faith, determination, and fighting on the part of the Hebrew invaders.
The events of the Book of Joshua are a type of our attaining eternal life in our personality, and also of our entering dominion over the creation of God. Now we have come to a time of moving forward in the Kingdom of God. Many of the passages of Scripture that have been sealed throughout the centuries of the Christian Era will be made plain to us.
“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. (Joshua 1:3)
When the Scripture teaches that every place that the sole of our foot will tread on has been given to us as our personal inheritance it is not signifying, obviously, that every place that the sole of our foot will tread in Heaven has been given to us as our inheritance. It is true, rather, that every place that the sole of our foot will tread in laying hold on eternal life in our personality, in attaining total union with Christ, and then in attaining rulership over the creation of God as the Lord directs, has been given to us as our eternal inheritance. We begin to enter our inheritance now—today, as our heavenly Joshua brings us from victory to victory.
It is important for Christians to understand that the victories in Jesus being gained now will affect our lives for eternity.
The victorious saint will inherit all things.
whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours.
And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (I Corinthians 3:22,23)
We are to be entering our inheritance now. To desire to be with the Lord is a righteous and scriptural attitude. But in many instances God has great riches that are available to us now, and we must look carefully to Him if we are to be able to take full advantage of the present opportunities.
We must remain ever watchful in prayer, for it is time now to take the Kingdom. That which God has for us is being set before us or soon will be set before us, and we must march into that area and conquer it through the grace of Christ.
If we are busy in the perishing things and duties of the present world we may miss the coming of the Lord to us through the Spirit. We may find ourselves attempting to prop up a “dead Moses” when the Lord Jesus has come to set the stage for the climactic battles that finally will bring the Kingdom of God to the earth.
God has something wonderful for us to inherit, but we must give ourselves wholly to Christ in order to determine His will for our life. If we are absorbed in what we are doing (even in church work) we may miss the hour of our visitation. We are to enter the Kingdom now, as the Lord leads us. Watch carefully and pray much, for He comes when we least expect Him.
“From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. (Joshua 1:4)
God notified the Israelites of the main boundaries of their land of promise, their inheritance. Later on the possessions of the several tribes were outlined. As we have said previously, the individual farms and fig tree of each Hebrew settler were not described in advance. The inheritance of each person came about through his own faith, diligence, and courage.
So it is in the Christian inheritance. The Scriptures describe the main boundaries of what we are to possess. But the inheritance of the individual saint depends to a certain extent on his own faith, diligence, and courage.
“Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.” (Joshua 14:12)
The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation have much to say about the inheritance of the conquering saint.
Generally speaking, the inheritance of Christ and His Body consists of all the works of God’s hands, including and especially the nations of the saved. The overcomer inherits everything. Our land of promise is all that God has created, but special emphasis is placed on inheriting the earth and its nations.
Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. (Psalms 2:8)
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul to death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:8)
“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. (Revelation 21:7)
The victorious saint inherits all things. But, as we have been stressing, each saint has a particular inheritance to which he has been called—something for which he or she as an individual has been selected. A goal has been placed before each of us (Philippians 3:12-14). Therefore, while we are able to outline the general boundaries of the Christian land of promise as being all the works of God’s hands, the individual inheritances are as many and varied as there are individual believers.
We have stated that there are two principal stages of gaining the Kingdom of God, of entering eternal life and service:
- Entering life in our own personality.
- Entering our own possession as a king and priest over the creation of God.
Israel was, at this point in our study, preparing to cross over the Jordan river. The Jordan River typifies the third death that the believer must die as he seeks to enter the fullness of that eternal Life that Christ is.
The first death we must die is that of crossing over the Red Sea. This is death to the world. When we are baptized in water we are stating that our entire first personality has been assigned to the cross with the Lord Jesus and that our new personality in the Lord has been assigned to the resurrection, to eternal, incorruptible life with and in the Lord Jesus.
The second death we experience is death to sin. Death to sin is typified by the Law that was given on Mount Sinai. A major portion of the Christian experience consists of our putting to death through the Spirit of God the many sins and rebellions that dwell in our flesh. It is only as we are willing to work with the Lord in throwing off the yoke of sin that we can enter the Life of Christ.
The third death we must die before we are able to enter fully into life is typified by the Jordan River. It is death to self. We must be crucified with Christ. We must endure patiently in faith as God brings us through all kinds of tribulations and prisons until what we are as a person has been brought down to death and Christ has taken His rightful place on the throne of our personality.
We must die to the world (Egypt) in order to begin our journey into life.
We must die to the sins of our flesh (Sinai) in order to escape from the spiritual death of sin. Sin is of Satan, and Satan is eternal corruption and death. It is impossible for us to dwell in the Light and Life of God and serve Satan at the same time. Eternal life can enter our personality only as eternal spiritual death (sin) is cast out.
The third death is death to self (the Jordan River). We must die to our own self-will and be living in and by the Lord Jesus Christ before the Father in Heaven will trust us to rule His creation.
Death to the world brings us into the family and Kingdom of God. Death to sin brings us into eternal life.
Death to self-will enables us to become part of the Lord Himself. God never will give His glory to another. In order to become part of the ruling family, of the Kingdom of God, we must become one with Christ as He is One with the Father. In order to become one with Christ we must experience the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
The three deaths, and eternal life, begin to be developed in us the moment we truly receive Christ into our personality.
Our Christian pilgrimage consists of a continual dying to the world, sin, and self-centeredness and a continual living to Christ. Our task is to maintain our confidence in Christ as the Holy Spirit brings us continually through death and resurrection.
The task of the Holy Spirit is to slay every vestige of the world, every vestige of sin, and every vestige of self-rule in us; and to fill every area of our personality with eternal resurrection life—the Life that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead and by which He lives today.
Christ has come so we may possess eternal spiritual life and possess it in abundance. We receive abundant life as we are willing to die to the world, to sin, and to our self-will. We trade our natural, adamic life for the Life of God.
Trading our natural life for the Life of God is not a figure of speech or a doctrinal position or textual affirmation. It is an actual destruction of our first personality and the entrance into us of a new life resulting in a new creation. This is what is meant by being “saved by grace.”
Precisely how is Divine grace, which is God’s mercy and virtue flowing toward fallen man, related to eternal life?
Divine grace is best defined as Christ helping us work out our own salvation. Divine grace is not an alternative to righteous behavior but the Virtue, wisdom, and power that enable us to live righteously. Divine grace includes forgiveness of our sin but is primarily deliverance from sin and transformation into righteous behavior.
God’s grace given to us through Christ is a temporary suspension of the Kingdom principle that sin results in death. Because of our faith in the blood of Christ, God chooses not to see our rebellious nature and sinful acts during the period of time in which Christ is changing us.
God’s grace is a suspension of the law of sowing and reaping. This does not mean God’s forgiveness of our sins is temporary, for our forgiveness is eternal provided we abide in Jesus. However, it is not an eternal amnesty if we do not perform our part of the contract, which is to follow the Lord Jesus in diligent discipleship.
The problem today is that God’s forgiveness through Christ is being viewed as a permanent, unconditional waiving of the Kingdom principle that sin results in death. Grace is seen as an alternative to righteous behavior. This would be a change in God, a new manner in which God relates to His creatures. This would be the worst disaster conceivable.
God’s grace is not only a forgiveness of our past sins, a suspension of the law of sowing and reaping, and an eternal forgiveness for those who abide in Christ, but it includes also the giving of Divine Virtue to us that changes us until our personality and behavior are worthy of eternal life; until that which we are and do result normally and naturally in eternal life.
The concept that we never will be anything but rebellious sinners who are saved by God’s mercy, and that our eternal life, sonship, participation in the new Jerusalem, and overcoming status are eternally imputed (ascribed) to us independently of any change of what we are and do, comes from Satan, not from God.
Satan’s intention is to keep us rebelling and sinning, to hide from us the actual deliverance from sin that is possible to us through Christ. For the destruction of Satan’s kingdom comes, not when we are forgiven but when we are delivered from spiritual darkness.
God has no intention of changing the Kingdom principle of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping. Rather, God is changing us so we begin sowing in such a manner that we are reaping life.
God is not altering the Divine law that sin brings death and that obedience brings life. Rather, God is altering us until what we are and do brings life instead of death.
A suspension of the Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping is necessary if we are to have the opportunity to be redeemed, to become a new creature. A permanent revocation of the Kingdom principle, however, would represent a change in the Nature of God Himself and would bring chaos into the creation.
Salvation is not the bringing of us into another land where no demands of any kind are made on our ability to reject sin and choose righteousness. It always will be possible to sin in the new world of righteousness that is coming. God wants to change us now through Christ so that we always will choose not to sin.
The soul that sins will die. The soul that keeps the commandments of God will live. This principle not only is in both the Old Testament and New Testament, it is from eternity to eternity. It proceeds from what God Himself is.
God did not give Christ to the world so an individual can be rebellious and commit sin and yet live in God. This would be in direct violation of the eternal laws of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping. Rather, God gave to us Christ who Himself is Life so that through Him we can obey God and live.
When the Apostle Paul was laboring to throw off the yoke being imposed by the Judaizers he stressed that under the old covenant men gained life by doing the works of the Law, but under the new covenant life comes by faith in Christ.
This is true. But Paul was not contrasting godly and ungodly behavior, saying that under the first covenant men gained life by godly behavior and under the new covenant ungodly men gain life by professing faith in Jesus. This would make Paul and the Lord Jesus defenders of sinful behavior.
Rather, Paul was pointing out that under the old covenant men gained life by acting according to the righteous principles of the Law and statutes of Moses, whereas under the new covenant men gain life by becoming new creations in Christ, the evidence of the transformation being righteous, holy, and obedient behavior.
Righteousness and the resulting life are gained under the old covenant by obeying the letter of the Torah.
“But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:21)
“Shall surely live” in the above verse probably is referring to blessed, prosperous physical life.
Paul never contrasted righteous behavior and Divine grace. This would be confusion! Throughout the Epistles Paul contrasted the Law of Moses and Divine grace. This is especially true in the Book of Romans and the Book of Galatians. Righteousness, and the resulting life, are gained under the new covenant by dying to the world, sin, and self and walking with Jesus in newness of life.
But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end [result is], everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)
Whatever the covenant may be, God’s intention always and forever is that men walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. To suppose that God has given us a covenant that permits eternal life to abide in those who are continuing in unrighteousness, uncleanness, and disobedience to God is to dishonor God’s Character.
Paul’s epistles contain many stern warnings to Christian people that if they continue in sin they will not inherit the Kingdom of God. These warnings are rendered invalid by the current Christian doctrine that we gain eternal life by “grace” apart from any change in our behavior.
It requires love and mercy on God’s part to forgive us sinners. But it requires much more love and mercy for God to come down among us and pour out His own holy Nature and virtue until we are worthy of life.
We cannot eat of the tree of life in the midst of the Paradise of God until the Life of Christ in us has enabled us to overcome the world, sin, and our own self-will and self-centeredness.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’ (Revelation 2:7)
Divine mercy suspends the Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping until we are able to “go and sin no more.” The suspension required that God Himself suffer the consequences of our rebellion and sin.
The grace of God in Christ enables us to escape from the person and works of Satan so God can have fellowship with us. That fellowship is eternal life.
The blood of Christ provides a suspending of the consequences of our sinful personality and behavior until we are able, through God’s grace, to do the will of the Lord.
Jesus does not “give” us eternal life. Rather, He Himself, who is eternal Life, enters us and is Life in us. This Life, which is Christ, begins to cast death out of us if we are cooperative. We must allow Christ to remove from us the love of the world, the love of sin, and the love of self-will.
As we die and Christ lives in our personality, we enter our land of promise, into eternal life. We enter our inheritance, our rest, as the inhabitants of the “land” of our personality are cast out. Entering eternal life is an invasion of territory presently occupied by unclean spirits on whom the judgment of God has fallen.
God knows in advance who will be filled with eternal life. He knows those whom He will glorify. This predestination based on Divine foreknowledge. It is a prophetic vision referring to things that will come to pass.
“as you have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him. (John 17:2)
Eternal life has nothing to do with location. When we are filled with eternal life we are dwelling in the Person of God whether we are located in Paradise, on the earth, or in Hell—should we be sent there on Divine assignment for some reason.
The second death, the Lake of Fire, has no authority over nor can it harm the individual who is filled with eternal life. God’s fire destroys only that which is flammable—wood, hay, and straw. God’s fire refines, it does not harm, that which is of God’s own Being and Glory.
The original problem presented in the Scripture was disobedience and the resulting death. Adam and Eve were driven from the garden, from Paradise, so they could not eat of the tree of life and live forever in their bodies while in a state of rebellion against the Lord God.
If Adam and Eve merely were forgiven they would return to Paradise and eat of the tree of life—for it still is in the midst of the Paradise of God. Now they would be immortal but they themselves would not have been changed. The danger of another rebellion would be present. The Kingdom would have come externally before it had been set up internally.
Because the forgiven Adam and Eve have not been transformed through the indwelling Presence of Christ they will sin again. They are ignorant of the ways of the Lord. They still do not possess the power and the wisdom to resist rebellion and sin. The willingness of untransformed man to lapse into sin and rebellion, even after he has been taught well, is revealed in the nations that after having been taught by the saints for a thousand years are deceived by Satan so readily (Revelation 20:8).
In actual fact, the Divine redemption gives Christ Himself (not just forgiveness) to Adam and Eve. After being forgiven they are not prepared as yet to reenter Eden. First they must spend time in a wilderness of instruction until they become willing to allow Christ to enter them and rule them from within their personalities. The inner kingdom must be established before the outer kingdom can come.
Adam and Eve are not ready to return to the garden until the Lord has developed in them the Divine resistance to rebellion and sin. Christ intends to create in people His own love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity, filling them with His own Life and bringing them into perfect union with Himself.
Now Adam and Eve can return to Paradise and eat of the tree of life. They are ready to put on immortality, having been proven in the wilderness.
God never will give immortality to any human being until God has been assured beyond doubt that Christ is in control over that individual. This is God’s love. If God were to give immortality to a human being, and that person then were to sin, God would be compelled to bind him in chains in Tartarus with the fallen angels.
It was God’s love and mercy that drove Adam and Eve from the garden. Otherwise they would have eaten of the tree of life, received immortality into their bodies, and then would have lived forever in their fallen condition. Their redemption no longer would have been possible. At the last judgment they would have been cast into the Lake of Fire with the devil and his angels.
Our new personality begins to be formed the moment we receive Christ. Every place that the sole of our foot treads on (under the direction of the Holy Spirit) is our possession for eternity. New horizons of spiritual life open before us continually as we press forward in the Lord Jesus.
We keep laying hold on what is being set before us. We are changed from glory to glory as we behold the Lord in the written Word and in the experiences that the Holy Spirit brings to us. As we come to maturity in Christ some of our beholding of the Lord has to do with the inner vision of the Kingdom, with the inner Presence and rule of Christ that are developing in us.
The end result of the new covenant is a new creation that is of the Life Substance of the Lord Jesus. Our redemption is brought to perfection when, at His appearing, the Lord Jesus clothes us with a body fashioned from the substance of eternal life.
Our goal, that which is typified by the entrance of Israel into Canaan, is to arrive at the resurrection from the dead. When we arrive at our goal we can die no more. Spiritual resurrection has been formed in us. Should we then die physically before the Lord returns we will discover that no actual death has taken place but only the laying down of the one remaining part of our death-filled personality—our mortal body. But spiritually we are alive eternally in the Presence of the Lord.
It often is true for the person who has passed from death to life in Christ that physical death is a release from prison.
Egypt typifies our bondage in spirit, in soul, and in body. We are dead because of the absence of the Life of Christ and the presence of the life of Satan.
When we receive Christ, eternal life enters our spiritual nature. But our physical body still is dead because of the presence of sin in it.
And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit [spirit; inner man] is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)
We notice in the above verse that sin results in death, and righteousness results in life. Our body is sinful and under the sentence of death because the Holy Spirit of life, of righteousness, does not dwell in it.
The righteousness of Christ has been imputed (ascribed) to us because of our faith in His atonement. Therefore God has caused the Holy Spirit of life to enter our inner man.
Now the battle is joined. Our inner nature has been renewed in Christ. Our inner man is alive with God’s Life and rejoices in righteous behavior.
Our body, which is part of the physical world, is as Canaan. It is filled with the enemies of the Lord. Our very mind is an enemy of God.
The resurrection from the dead has commenced in our inner nature, but our physical-soulish nature still labors under the curse that rests on the earth.
If we continue in the grace of the Lord, living as a true disciple and saint of Christ, the eternal Life of Christ in us begins to subdue that part of us—especially our body—that still is attempting to rebel against God. Little by little the Spirit leads us to victory in each area of rebellion.
If we arrive at the resurrection from the dead, meaning that every aspect of our spirit and soul has been filled with Christ and is living by Christ, we are ready for the donning of bodily immortality when the Lord comes.
We already have been revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ by confessing our sins, repenting of them, and gaining victory over them by the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We can die no more and we cannot be injured by the second death, for we have arrived at the resurrection from the dead (Leviticus, Chapter 23).
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power [authority], but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
When we die physically we shall continue in various aspects of life, including growth, service, learning, and enjoying the Presence of Christ. We also shall enjoy relationships with spirits of like attainment.
The Spirit of resurrection life was given to us and we sowed to it. Now we are ready to reap eternal life in our flesh—to become immortal. The goal is to attain immortality. Immortality is the fulfillment of John 3:16. This is the hope, the end result of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the promised redemption. This is what the Scripture means by “life.”
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (I Corinthians 15:22,23)
As soon as the Kingdom of God has been perfected in us we are ready to enter the external kingdom of God.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)
Because we are hoping for the redeeming of our mortal body we choose to not live according to the desires of our flesh and mind, for to do so brings about spiritual death.
If we live in the appetites of the flesh, that is, if we choose to emphasize the appetites and needs of the physical body rather than to spend time in prayer, the Word, and other activities that build up the spiritual nature, we will not make the transition from natural life to Christ-life that is necessary for making alive our mortal body. It is the forming of resurrection life in our spirit and soul that provides the basis for receiving immortality in the body when the Lord comes.
If we choose to live in the appetites of the flesh we truly will die when we die physically, because the life we have been living, even though it is Christian in name, is mortal and not eternal. All that has been our life on the earth will perish with the ceasing of our heartbeat. We will be left a naked spirit—similar to Adam and Eve when they died. We will be made manifest at the Judgment Seat of Christ and will receive the things done in our body. Whether or not Christ will choose to restructure our personality and bring us into His new heaven and earth is His decision entirely. The Father judges no individual but has committed all judgment to the Lord Jesus.
If we would attain to the resurrection from the dead we must be diligent in following the Spirit of life into putting to death the sinful, rebellious deeds of our mortal body.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)
Notice that the Holy Spirit leads us in putting to death the works of our flesh. We put them to death through the Spirit of God.
The tribes of Israel were not required to fight in order to escape from the power of Pharaoh—God did it all for them. But the tribes did have to fight in order to enter Canaan.
We Christians did not have to fight in order to escape from the authority of Satan’s kingdom; Christ prepared the redemption by Himself on the cross of Calvary. But we do have to fight in order to enter eternal life in our mortal body. We must put to death the satanic lusts that dwell in our flesh. Through Christ’s power we are enabled to overcome the power of Satan.
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)
But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:5)
The Apostle Paul was pressing with all his strength toward the goal that God had set before him. Also, Paul warned the churches repeatedly that if the saints did not put to death the deeds of their body they could not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The Epistles of the Apostles, and the four Gospel accounts as well, are filled with dire warnings concerning the consequences of continuing in sin after we have received Christ as our Savior.
For if, after they [Christians] have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. (II Peter 2:20)
‘And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:30)
The New Testament does not offer a gift of Kingdom glory to every individual who makes a profession of Christ as Savior. Rather, the New Testament teaches in many places that the saint must exercise total diligence in pressing into his inheritance.
To whom, then, is the Apostle Paul referring when he proclaims repeatedly that salvation does not come about by works of righteousness that we have done?
Paul is referring to the Jew (or other religionist) who attempts to please God by the Torah while knowingly rejecting Christ and the Divine salvation that comes only through Jesus.
The Jew is taught that life comes by means of keeping the statutes of the Lord.
If he has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully — he is just; he shall surely live!” Says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 18:9)
Now that God has instituted His own plan of righteousness and redemption, all efforts to obtain righteousness and redemption apart from God’s plan in Christ are dead religious works. This is what Paul meant when he wrote that salvation does not come about by works of righteousness that we have done.
The entering of the Life of Christ into an individual always results in good works. There can be no argument that whether or not a believer lives a godly life he still is saved. This would be to claim that whether or not a sick person recovers he still is healed.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
If Christ is dwelling in an individual a new creation is coming forth. The proof that Christ is in us is that we are changing from sin to godliness. If Christ is not in us we are not entering life; we are not being brought from Satan’s kingdom into Christ’s kingdom.
There are several reasons why Paul’s doctrine of grace has been misinterpreted:
Paul taught that righteous works outside of Christ cannot bring us into eternal life, and also that the entering of Christ into us always produces righteous works and these righteous works result in eternal life and are the essential evidence that Christ is in us and we in Him. It is easy to regard these two concepts as contradictory and to select the one we prefer and ignore the other.
We Gentiles do not have the experience or perception to appreciate fully the temptation to pursue life according to the Law and statutes of Moses. To us, when Paul refers to righteous works he is speaking of godly behavior. Paul’s actual topic, that of striving to attain life by adhering to the letter of the old covenant, is not in the forefront of our mind; and so we have made receiving Christ an alternative to living righteously. But faith without righteous works is dead.
We are living in an age when people are persuaded they can obtain (and deserve to obtain) things of value apart from paying the price associated with such value. The concept that all the glory of the Kingdom of God can be ours without any effort on our part (except for raising our hand and stating our assent to certain scriptural facts) is appealing and reasonable to contemporary thinking.
There is not enough pressure being placed on us to cause us to probe the subtleties of Paul’s doctrine. The simplistic, superficial interpretation of Paul to mean that it doesn’t really matter how we live is enough for busy, “happy” people who trust that their minister has examined the whole counsel of God. The problem is, their minister is as busy and “happy” as they are.
The types of the Old Testament and the exhortations of the New Testament demonstrate beyond doubt that entering immortality is not accomplished by a profession of doctrinal belief. Entering immortality requires a prolonged warfare against the enemies of God and man that at present occupy the territory that has been given to us: namely, our own bodies and then the earth and its nations of people. This is the antitype, the spiritual fulfillment, of the tribes of Israel entering Canaan.
Romans 8:10-13 announces that the believer who continues to live in the appetites and needs of the flesh slays his own resurrection. Christ has placed resurrection life in us. Now we are to sow to that life, to learn to make our decisions and derive our energy from the new, eternal life in us.
Our hopes, our goals, our relationships, our wisdom, our knowledge, our joy, our service, and every other dimension and aspect of our being, thinking, speaking, and doing are all to be in Christ and by Christ. When we die physically our hopes, our goals, the relationships that are eternal, our wisdom, our knowledge, our joy, our service, and every other dimension and aspect of our being, thinking, speaking and doing (with the exception of what is possible only in the adamic, animal body) will continue on an infinitely superior level. This is what it means to live, and the Lord Jesus promised us that if we live and believe in Him we will live forever.
The dimensions and aspects of Christ-filled personality will continue into the next age and beyond because they are of Christ. “He who lives and believes in me shall never die.” The part of us that is worthless in that it is not righteous and does not bring peace and joy to us will be left in the grave, provided that in this present world we have brought all of our personality to Christ for judgment.
When the Day of the Lord comes, Jesus will give to each overcomer a body that reflects in itself his transformed character. The Day of the Lord will reveal that which he has become in Christ. It will be a day of revelation, of unveiling.
If after having received Christ we choose to continue to live our customary life in the desires and energies of the flesh and soul, not experiencing death to the world, to sin, and to self-will, we truly will die when we die physically. Our hopes, our goals, our relationships, our knowledge, our joy, our service, and every other dimension and aspect of our being and thinking will cease. They will cease because they pertain to our untransformed nature. Christ, who is the resurrection and the life, is not in them.
Our spirit will survive and exist somewhere because it is eternal. But all that the adamic nature views as “life” will perish. When the Day of the Lord comes there will be no Christ-filled personality on which to place an immortal body. As Paul declared, “For if you live in the appetites of the flesh, you shall die.”
Notice carefully the following statement:
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
Now, let us consider the implications of the above verse. The father of mankind, Adam, was a living soul. A living soul is a kind of creature.
A living soul is not a life-giving spirit, and a life-giving spirit is not merely a living soul. These are two different kinds of creatures.
The purpose of God, as far as His elect are concerned, is not to bring them to Heaven. The purpose of God is to change what they are from one type of creature to another.
Because the purpose of God concerning His elect is that they be transformed from living souls into life-giving spirits, the new covenant is a covenant of transformation, not of a change in location. We must die to the old in order that we may receive the new.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18)
It is vain to argue that God loves us and saves us by His grace, if we mean by this argument that God will bring our untransformed nature to Paradise; that God’s will is accomplished in us whether or not we cooperate with the daily program of death and resurrection. God does love us; and because of His love He is not seeking to save what we are, He is seeking to change what we are. What we are brings misery and doom on ourselves and the rest of the creation. Flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God. It is only the new creation that can enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, the new creation is the Kingdom of God.
The final act of converting the believer from a living soul into a life-giving spirit is the changing of his mortal body into an immortal body. But the prerequisite condition for such change is the change of what the believer is in personality into a life-giving spirit. Such change takes time. It is obvious that the believer cannot live an untransformed life in the world, in sin, and in self-seeking, and then in a moment be clothed with life and become a life-giving spirit.
Not only do we have the bulk of the writings of the Apostles to assure us that it is what we do with Christ after having received Him that determines our destiny in the Kingdom of God, but in addition we have the type of Israel moving from Egypt to Canaan.
We Christians must understand that our transition from mortality to immortality signifies victory. It means that through Christ we have conquered the last enemy.
The last enemy that will be destroyed is [physical] death. (I Corinthians 15:26)
The first resurrection, the resurrection that will occur when the Lord returns, must be attained (Philippians 3:11).
If it were true that receiving the immortal, glorified body is a sovereign act of God based on imputed (ascribed) righteousness and unrelated to any change of what we are in personality, there would be no “wilderness experience.” In that case, Israel would have left Egypt and entered immediately into Canaan—with no opposition.
The truth is, it is in the wilderness that our entrance into Canaan is decided. It is in the wilderness that we are proven to be either worthy or unworthy of the Kingdom of God. God tests us in the wilderness before He allows us to commence the warfare that drives the enemy out of our land of promise.
Canaan represents our entering the fullness of eternal life—especially in our body. In order to enter eternal life, recovering that which was lost in Eden, we must battle against the spiritual enemies of sin and rebellion that dominate the material creation, including our material bodies.
We are not ready to don immortality in the body, that is, to eat of the tree of life, until our spiritual personality, our body and soul, have arrived at the resurrection from the dead. It would be foolish of God to put the new wine into old wineskins.
As soon as the Son sets us free from the bondages of sin we are ready to enter fullness of life in the Presence of the Father and the Son. We now are living in eternal life. All that we are in personality and in living (barring the residue of the adamic nature) is in Christ and is eternal.
All aspects of our personality, since they are the products of resurrection, having died to the world, to sin, and to self-will, are alive forever. They never can die again. They are not subject to the second death. Abraham has Isaac and his seed forever because Abraham gave them to God and then received them back again.
We have entered life. The judgment of the Lord came on our sins in this present world as we confessed our sins to God, repented of them, and through His grace overcame them. We have washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
When Christ who is our Life appears we shall appear with Him in glory. Our flesh and bone body will be raised from the dead and clothed with our new body of life from Heaven. We no longer shall have to drag about a body filled with sin and death.
We shall be crowned with glory and honor and given a kingdom. Through Christ we shall tread on all the enemies of righteousness and shall lift the curse from the earth so its intended beauty and utility can break forth as an eternal springtime.
As for the believer who does not pass from death to life in his personality, we cannot say what provision God has made for him when he dies physically. He has not passed from death to life in that he still is walking in the world, in sin, and in self-seeking. His life is physical and soulish, so when he dies physically there is little or no eternal life present in which to carry on his activities.
To our understanding, the Scriptures do not describe the post-death experience of the fleshly, lukewarm Christian except to emphasize that it will be quite unpleasant (Hebrews 2:3).
If we would live as Jesus intends for us to live we must keep His commandments (I John 2:3). Christ’s commandment is that we lay down our own life for His sake and the Gospel’s, take up our cross, and follow Him. This is how we enter eternal life in our whole personality.
What does it mean to “live”?
For a human being to live is to do the following:
- To serve his God—whoever or whatever that God may be.
- To communicate and enter relationships with others.
- To be fruitful, reproducing his personality in others.
- To grow in wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.
- To overcome difficulties and accomplish what he has set out to do.
- To benefit other people.
- To enjoy himself.
These are some of the behaviors that we practice as part of our “life.” While some or all these possibly could be conducted in the spirit realm, we customarily think of them as taking place on the earth while we are in a material body.
Christianity, perhaps having been influenced by non-Christian philosophies, has come to regard matter as evil and spirit as good. This attitude toward the material realm, including the physical body, is misleading as far as God’s plan of redemption is concerned.
The truth is, God regards man in his body as one whole. God regards man as “dust.”
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)
If Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree of life, their “dust” would have become immortal.
John 3:16 (“should not perish”) is referring to our dust, our material body. It is impossible for the spiritual nature of man to perish since it is spiritual and not material. That which was lost in Eden was our “dust,” our mortal body, our means of expressing our spirit and soul.
It is not God’s intention to do away with our mortal body and replace it with another body. Rather, it is God’s purpose to bring us to the point where we can reclaim our mortal body from the chains of spiritual and physical death.
As the Lord said, “the flesh profits nothing.” The flesh of man practices only that which the indwelling spiritual nature permits or commands. The body apart from the spirit is dead.
Adam and Eve possessed perfect physical bodies but their spiritual natures were quite imperfect, not being rooted in Christ. Therefore, they led their “dust” into death.
Had God permitted them to eat of the tree of life, receiving eternal life into their flesh, it would have been impossible for God to redeem them.
Instead, God permitted them to die.
Then, through Christ, God began the redemption of people by placing a “heaven,” as it were, between their bodies and their spiritual natures. This reminds us of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis where the Lord divided the waters by means of a heaven.
When we receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior, and are born again, God raises our new spiritual nature to His right hand in Christ. Our eternal life is hidden with Christ in God.
Our dead body remains on the earth while our new spiritual nature is located in the highest Heaven. A heaven divides our spirit from our body.
Now the Lord begins the process of perfecting our spiritual nature. He uses prayer, the Scriptures, the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit, tribulation, the fellowship of fervent saints, persecution, and every other device and circumstance for driving the world, sin, and self-centeredness from our spiritual personality. Meanwhile our mortal body remains in a state of death because of the sin that dwells in it.
If we are successful, through Christ, in driving out of us all that is satanic, all the darkness of Hell and self-centeredness, then we are ready to drive the last “Philistine,” the last enemy, out of our “land.” We are ready to be trusted with a body. Down from Heaven we will descend with the Lord Jesus and into our flesh and bones.
Because we have been made life-giving spirits, our material remains will burst into the immortal form dictated by that which we have become in spiritual personality. For Paradise is the expression of the spiritual personalities that inhabit it.
Now our spiritual personality is clothed with flesh and bones, following the example set for us by the Lord Jesus. If we are members of the royal priesthood there is a glorified body formed from the substance of eternal life that the Lord Jesus will place over our flesh and bones.
This is the crown of life. The crown of life signifies that we are the rulers, under Christ, of the ages to come. The crown of life is a body of life with which our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed.
We always shall retain our original physical body of flesh and bones. But its energies will come from incorruptible resurrection life. The substance of our mortal body will be hidden because it will have been overlaid, as well as covered within, with the “gold” of Christ’s own eternal Substance.
Now we have a perfect vehicle through which we can “live,” that is, through which we can perform that which our life-giving personality commands.
We can do the following works in our new body:
- We can serve our God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- We can communicate with others and enter relationships with them to an extent impossible in our present “prison.”
- We can be fruitful, giving out from our personality the Life of Jesus so others can have formed in them what has been formed in us and has also matured to the place that it is ready to cast forth seed.
- We can grow eternally in wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.
- We can overcome difficulties and accomplish the tasks God has set before us.
- We can benefit other people immeasurably.
- We can experience the fullness of joy.
The Scriptures promise fullness of joy, the desires of our heart, the withholding of no good thing from us. We must cling to these promises, hoping against hope as God causes us to experience the sufferings of Christ. His Bride must know His sufferings so her character will please Him. She endures the cross by looking always toward the joy that has been placed before her as a goal.
During these hours of darkness and imprisonment, while we are learning to trust God and hope in him, we think of the fullness of joy that is coming. Our hearts may be breaking now, but God has said “fullness of joy”; “the desires of your heart”; the withholding of no good thing. The Scriptures cannot be broken. The “prisoners of Zion” will have the fullness of joy throughout eternity.
We understand, therefore, that life as we know it (however rudimentary as yet) will continue forever. But every aspect of it must be prepared in Christ. Life apart from Christ is confusing, pointless, leading only to disillusionment and death. Life apart from Christ is but a faint shadow of God’s intention for man.
Because men and women, boys and girls, who are without Christ, do not possess the key of knowledge, do not understand the rules and nature of the Divine creation, they succeed only in perverting and destroying what is intended to bring them righteousness, peace, and joy in God’s Spirit.
It can be seen readily that if the believer does not allow Christ to enter the various aspects of his living and doing, if his relationships, communications, service, enjoyment, fruitfulness, and growth are not prepared in Christ, when he dies he will be found to be a naked spirit. His works cannot follow him for they are of the flesh, and the flesh has expired.
But if the believer has cooperated with the Holy Spirit’s efforts to bring each aspect of his personality and actions into death and resurrection, purging them of the world, of sin, and of self-will, then, when he dies, his Christ-filled personality and actions will continue as he awaits his reunion with his body. He will live in the Presence of God and Christ, doing whatever is done by all the victorious saints who are awaiting the Day of Resurrection.
There may be a great difference between the post-death experience of the fervent Christian and the post-death experience of the nominal Christian. But since the Scriptures do not describe our life between death and resurrection we cannot say much with certainty.
We know more about what happens to us from the Day of Resurrection onward. We know from the Scriptures that in the Day of Christ, the Day of Resurrection, there will be differences in experience among believers.
It is important to note that the New Testament places emphasis on the resurrection, not the ascension, of Christ. It is His resurrection that is our guarantee that we shall live again. It is by His resurrection, not His ascension, that Christ is declared to be the Son of God.
The New Testament has little to say about our ascension. The “resurrection chapter” of the New Testament, the fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians, does not mention the ascension. This is because the ascension has nothing to do with our arriving at the resurrection from the dead.
The catching up of the saints is not emphasized in type or in principle in the Scriptures. There is no feast of the Lord that was celebrated ten days prior to the feast of Pentecost, the day on which Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives. But the feast of Firstfruits, the third day after Passover, anticipated Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
The Lord Jesus was alive for forty days before His ascension (Acts 1:3). It is possible that we also will be alive on the earth for a period of time after our resurrection and before we ascend to meet the Lord in the air.
We ought to give some thought to that. We ought to think about how wonderful it will be to live in invincibility on this earth, as did the Lord Jesus during those forty days (and perhaps also those saints whose bodies arose, after the resurrection of Jesus, and appeared to many in Jerusalem—Matthew 27:52,53).
The first stage of laying hold on eternal life, of gaining the Kingdom of God, is entrance into the fullness of eternal resurrection life in our own personality. The fullness of eternal resurrection life in our own personality includes the abiding Presence of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit. The most important aspect of the inheritance of the sons of God is the possession of God Himself.
The second stage of entering life and the Kingdom is entrance into our own inheritance as a king and priest over the creation of God.
Therefore, we have two stages of entering life and the Kingdom of God:
- Entering life in our own personality.
- Entering our own inheritance as a king and priest over the creation of God.
These two stages of life constitute “Canaan”—the goal of the Christian life. They are the spiritual fulfillment of the land of promise. They are the rest of God, the inheritance toward which we are to be pressing with unrelenting vigor, diligence, courage, hope, trust, faith, consistency, and determination. The gate that leads to life is small and the way is restrictive. Few of us find it, it appears, even though we are involved in religious activities.
We must keep in mind that “Canaan” is as unique as the individual. Each of us has had a unique goal set before him. Our task is to grasp the unique role for which we have been grasped by the Lord. To come short of our own goal is slothfulness. To reach beyond our goal is ambition.
It is possible to reach our own goal It is possible, through Christ, to achieve victory over the world, over sin, and over self-will.
It is possible to escape death and enter incorruptible life, and into our unique inheritance.
To him who asks, seeks, and knocks the way will open. The reward of life is glorious enough to deserve all the persistence that any human being can apply to the seeking of it. Keep on asking. Keep on seeking. Keep on knocking. Never cease. Christ is there, testing the desires of our heart.
The two principal stages blend into one act of God. The land of promise, the Kingdom of God, is the Life of Christ entering the entire material realm. The resurrection (awakening from the dead) of the material creation began with the resurrection of the material body of the Lord Jesus.
The next step is the development of eternal life in the personalities of the victorious saints. The victorious saints are those who, through Christ, escape from the death that is in the world, in sin, and in self-will.
When the elect have been developed sufficiently in the Life of Christ the Day of the Lord will come. The Day Star now is rising in the hearts of the saints. The inner “armageddon” is being fought. The inner “kingdom age” has commenced.
At the appropriate stage of our development the Lord Jesus will come, bringing with Him those whose life He is. He will reveal His saints, whom God loves as He loves Christ. He will reveal them in that He will clothe their invisible spiritual personalities with bodies of life and glory.
The saints have become one with Christ. They now are life-giving spirits. They are trees of life. They will go forth throughout the material realm, lifting the curse and breathing the Life of Christ into the spiritually dead. The nations of the saved and all nature will be released into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
The blessings of the Kingdom Age will not be poured from Heaven on the nations. The Kingdom Age will be brought to the saved nations through those in whom the Kingdom Age has been created. The righteousness, peace, and joy of the Kingdom will come through those in whom righteousness, peace, and joy are being created now.
This is the spiritual fulfillment of the entrance of the tribes of Israel into Canaan. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God—that which was preached by John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Apostles of the Lamb. This is what was described in vision by the Hebrew Prophets.
“I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them,
“until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21,22)
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)
Now that the glorious Head, the Lord Jesus, has made the atonement through His blood and has been raised from the dead, every aspect of the Kingdom of God is waiting for and depends on the development of eternal life in the members of the Body of Christ. The gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit must serve until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, until we come to maturity—measure as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
As soon as the members of the Body of Christ have come to unity and maturity the great Head will join the Body to Himself.
And He shall stand and feed [or shepherd] His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; and they shall abide, for now He [Christ] shall be great to the ends of the earth; (Micah 5:4)
“He shall be great to the ends of the earth,” referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. “They shall abide,” referring to the saints, the branches of the true Vine—those who are abiding in Jesus.
We are not filled with eternal life and our body immortalized and glorified so we may go to Heaven. Neither is it true that we go to Heaven in order that we may gain eternal life, even though that is where the tree of life is located in the present hour (“in the midst of the Paradise of God”). We go to Heaven to be with the Lord—there to await the Day of Christ. In that day our bodies will be raised from the dead and glorified.
We are filled with eternal life in our spirit, our soul, and our body in order that we may accomplish the Kingdom purposes of God, entering our unique inheritance as an individual. Each of the following Kingdom purposes is a part of our “Canaan,” and its attainment requires driving the forces of darkness out of us by the eternal Life of Christ:
- To become a part of the Wife of the Lamb.
- To become a part of the Temple of God.
- To become a part of Emmanuel.
- To become a son of God.
- To become a member of the Body of Christ.
- To become a brother of Christ.
- To become a righteous judge.
- To become a part of the new Jerusalem.
- To become a righteous king.
- To become a holy and compassionate priest.
- To become a mighty warrior.
- To become a restorer of paths to dwell in.
The Wife of the Lamb. If we would be part of her who is to be without spot or wrinkle, the complement of the Lord of Glory, we must submit to the Holy Spirit as He cleanses us from every vestige of Satan. No spiritual death can be permitted to remain in those who are part of the Bride.
The Christian Church is referred to as the Wife of the Lamb. This is because we are joined in total union with Christ by eating and drinking His Life, as the Israelites were commanded to eat the Passover Lamb.
The Lord Jesus is the Bread from Heaven. If we eat of Him we will live forever. He is the Tree of Life. His body and His blood are eternal life. If we eat His flesh and drink His blood we have eternal life and He will raise up our flesh in the last day.
It is not possible that the living Word, the eternal Life that has been with the Father from eternity, can be joined in union with the flesh and blood personalities of human beings. Like must be joined with like. Before we can be made one with Life we must become Life. We must partake fully of His Life in order that we may become Life and be joined eternally to Him who is the Resurrection and the Life.
From eternity the Word has been One with the Father. Now the holy Father has purposed that the Word will be increased by adding to Him a multitude of persons who are in His image and who are joined to Him in perfect, complete oneness. Each person joined to Christ loses his individuality but never his identity. Christ and His Bride are to become one bone and one flesh. They are to be One for eternity.
God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” It is true also that it is not “good” that Christ should be alone. Adam could not fulfill the edicts of God apart from Eve. Christ (and we say this reverently) cannot fulfill that which God has spoken concerning Him apart from His Bride. He is the Vine and we are the branches. The desired fruit of righteousness and praise is borne on the branches.
Christ is willing to lose His individuality in order that we may become one with Him. The Song of Solomon reveals to us the attitude of the Lord Jesus toward those whom God has destined to become an integral, eternally indivisible part of Him.
No marriage ceremony was necessary for Adam and Eve because Eve was created an integral part of Adam. No marriage ceremony is necessary for the Lamb and His Wife because she has been created an integral part of Adam.
When the Day of Christ comes and it is time for the Bride to be filled with the Presence of Jesus, God declares: “the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). This is not a marriage “ceremony” as we employ the term but the fruition and revelation of what has been created previously as the members of the Bride have climbed the steep stairs of pain and perplexity that are necessary for the forming of Christ in us.
We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God. The Bride must make herself ready through the grace of Christ given to her for this purpose. The Spirit of God must apply the various ointments and perfumes, as revealed in the type of the preparation of Esther (Esther 2:12).
No more important event ever has taken place, or ever will take place in all eternity, than the marriage of the Lamb—the eternal union of the Lamb and His Bride. Union with Christ is vastly more significant than our “going to Heaven.” The marriage of the Lamb of God is an act of the Lord God of Heaven so incredibly more stupendous in importance than any other transaction of which we could conceive that we are just now beginning to approach the fringes of understanding it. It is, in fact, the main theme of the Scriptures. Our Maker is our Husband. Here is the most sublime mystery of all.
We can understand from this that the currently taught concept of salvation as primarily forgiveness coupled with a catching up to Heaven of believers in all sorts of degrees of spiritual preparedness, comes short of the Glory of God. A flight through the air cannot change the fleshly believer into a pillar in the temple of God. The forming of us on the body and blood of Christ must take place in advance of the marriage. The Wife of the Lamb must make herself ready beforehand.
The members of the Bride are learning who they are, and at present they are “feeding their kids beside the shepherds’ tents” and patiently making their ascent in “the secret places of the stairs” (Song of Solomon 2:14). Meanwhile, the “daughters of Jerusalem” run hither and yon in their efforts to please “King Solomon” (man-directed Christianity).
The Temple of God. Another of the Kingdom purposes of the Lord Jesus, and an important part of our “Canaan,” is the building of a house, a dwelling place, for the God of Heaven.
In God’s house there are many abiding places. We saints are those abiding places in the great house of God that is Christ. The Lord Jesus is the chief Cornerstone of the house of God and is building the house on Himself. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles. One of the goals of the saint is to become a room in the eternal house of God, to enter untroubled rest in the Father through Christ. This is our rest, our inheritance.
God desires a living house in which He can dwell in perfect peace and joy. In His house God can visit His creatures as He will, blessing them and guiding them into the knowledge of His Person, will, and ways.
The nations of saved peoples of the earth will “keep the feast of Tabernacles” by coming up to Jerusalem and receiving from the saints the Life and blessing of God. They too will receive a portion of Christ and share in the inner rule of the Kingdom.
In order for God to find perfect peace and joy in us we must be cleansed from every vestige of Satan and self-will.
Emmanuel. Emmanuel is God with us. We Christians are being made a part of Emmanuel. This is the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven.
When we become part of Christ we become part of the Incarnation of God, making visible and material the invisible God. When the individual believer becomes one with Christ a new creation emerges. Each new creation is a unique expression and revelation of the invisible God.
The Lord God of Heaven is hindered in His ability to draw near to and to bless and guide the nations of peoples whom He has created. God loves these peoples and it is not His will that they stagger about in spiritual darkness, becoming the prey and sport of demons.
God has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind through Christ. Each saint who presses forward into eternal life until he is an integral part of Christ becomes, as a result, an integral part of the revelation of God. This revelation of the invisible God is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God through Christ—Head and Body—over the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
The new Jerusalem is the revelation of God in Christ in the saints. God and the Lamb are the Temple of the holy city. The new Jerusalem itself, being the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, is the eternal Tabernacle of God. The members of the Wife of the Lamb will see the unveiled face of the Lord God.
The Tree of Life grows on either side of the River of Life. The Tree of Life is the Lord Jesus. We are the branches of that tree. The River of Life is the Holy Spirit.
The righteous are “like a tree planted by the rivers of water” (Psalms 1:3). The nations will eat of our “fruit” and live forever, and will be healed by our “leaves.”
It is God’s determination that the nations be blessed through the Seed of Abraham, who is Christ and those who are part of Christ.
Of all our “Canaan,” our inheritance, the most important part is God. God Himself is our inheritance, our rest. After that in importance comes the individuals whom Christ gives to us as He shares the inheritance with us. We inherit those individuals by nourishing them with the Life of Christ in us until they are created in Christ’s image. We gain dominion over our inheritance by giving life to it. It is an act of love on our part—a love that comes from God through Christ through us to those persons whom God has chosen to be a part of us.
Notice the following passage:
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles [nations] shall come to your [God’s elect] light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
“Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. (Isaiah 60:2-4)
“Your sons”! “Your daughters”! Isn’t that interesting?
It can be seen from the above that the people do not come to the Lord Himself but to the saints. The Glory of God is resting on the saints and the nations come to that glory. They cannot come to God Himself because God is a devouring fire. But they can come to those human beings in whom God is dwelling. “They come to you.”
A son of God. We become a child of God legally by receiving Jesus as Christ sent from God. But passing from childhood to sonship requires growth. It appears today that God has numerous children, but not all of them are growing. In order to be a son of God we must overcome, through Christ, all the pressures and traps of the enemy. The sons of God are led by the Spirit of God to put to death the deeds of their body (Romans 8:13,14). It is the conquerors, the victorious saints, who finally will be termed “the sons of God” (Revelation 21:7).
As the Father in Heaven is filled with Life and is Life, so will His sons be filled with the same Life and be that Life. We are of God and are being created in the image of God.
This is part of our “Canaan,” our inheritance.
The Body of Christ. Christ is the Anointed Deliverer of whom the Hebrew Prophets spoke. Christ is the One who will deliver Israel from all evil, bring justice to the nations of the earth, and set up an everlasting kingdom of peace and joy.
The Head of Christ came to earth two thousand years ago. He died for our sins and then was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. Now His body and blood are being given to His chosen people so a Body may be formed—the Body of Christ, the Body of the Anointed Deliverer. It is the will of God that Christ, the Servant of the Lord, consist of the great eternal Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, and also of members who, through the grace of God in Jesus, become an integral, eternally indivisible part of the Head.
It is through the Body of Christ that the Head speaks and acts, just as in the physical body the brain and central nervous system speak and act through the body.
The Lord Jesus is the Head. We are being created, through the gifts and ministries of the Spirit of God, the Body of the Anointed Deliverer, the Body of the Servant of the Lord.
In the larger sense, all Israel is to become Christ, the Servant of the Lord. By “Israel” we mean God’s elect whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth. We Gentiles, having been made part of Jesus Christ, are of true Israel. True Israel is the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, the Tabernacle of God, the Seed of Abraham. All other saved people are members of the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
We do not wish to advance a new cult by stating or implying that some Christians are members of God’s elect and some are members of the saved nations. This is not our purpose.
As we study the Scriptures we notice that there is Israel, and then there are the nations over whom Israel will reign. If there were no saved nations for the royal priesthood to serve, then there would be no purpose for a royal priesthood.
We do not subscribe to the current doctrine that describes “saved Gentiles” living in a heavenly kingdom while the Jews rule over an earthly kingdom. This popular doctrine contradicts numerous passages of the Scriptures. There is only one Kingdom of God, of Heaven. There is not a heavenly kingdom and an earthly kingdom.
It is true however, that there is the Church, and then there are the saved nations. The Church will govern the saved nations for eternity.
There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
How this works out today we are not certain. It is enough to state there is an elect on the earth and they are as separate from the world as Christ is. When they have been perfected in the Father and the Son, then the world will believe that God has sent Christ and loves the saints. This we know to be a fact of the Scripture.
True Israel, the Body of Christ, is distinguished by the priestly anointing of the Holy Spirit. We of the elect are baptized into the Body of Christ by means of the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God.
It is the anointing of the Spirit that signifies we are members of the Body of the Anointed One, and also that God has chosen us to be part of the royal priesthood. God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh in the end-time latter rain revival, and then His Spirit will fill the earth during the Kingdom Age.
It is God’s will that His eternal life touch every saved person. But the Spirit of the Lord dwells in a unique manner upon and in His royal priesthood. The Spirit of the Lord abides on us and in us because the Lord has anointed us to perform the work of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah, Chapter 42).
Concerning the anointing that abides forever on Christ—Head and Body:
It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing—Life forevermore. (Psalms 133:2,3)
Concerning the anointing that abides forever in Christ—Head and Body:
“the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:17)
A brother of Christ. It is to this end that we have been predestined.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
The Lord Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers because we have been born of God.
For both He who sanctifies [makes holy] and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, (Hebrews 2:11)
Jesus delights to reveal Himself to His brothers as Joseph, the patriarch, delighted to reveal himself to his brothers.
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” (John 20:17)
In order to become a brother of Christ we must press forward into the fullness of redemption, into the fullness of eternal life. All spiritual darkness and death must be cast aside. The Lord Jesus is not the brother of those who love the world, who choose to sin, who are filled with their own ways. Rather, Jesus is the Brother of those who do the will of God. He is the Brother of those who, like Himself, are in the image of God and are filled with the Presence of God.
A righteous judge. In Heaven there has been a great rebellion of the angels against the Lord God. Apparently, many of the rebels had been of high rank. From Heaven the rebellion has spread to the earth where it continues to this day. As a result there is a need for judges who will administer righteous judgment in the fear and knowledge of the Lord.
One of the principal problems in the world of our day is the lack of righteous judgment. The innocent are harmed and the guilty go free. The rulers and judges of the nations in many instances do not exercise righteous judgment in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. Each man seeks his own glory.
The members of the Body of Christ are being trained carefully in righteous judgment, for one day they will judge men and angels.
In order for the Kingdom of God to be installed on the earth there must be two armies: an army of judges, and an army of warriors who execute the judgment. The saints constitute the army of judges. The angels, under Michael the Archangel, constitute the army of warriors.
One army could not invade and conquer Canaan. There had to be the army of “judges” (the Israelites bringing with them the Law), and then the army led by the “captain of the host of the Lord” (Joshua 5:14).
Concerning Christ—Head and Body:
His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. (Isaiah 11:3,4)
When the Lord Jesus returns to the earth, judgment will be administered by the saints.
“until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. (Daniel 7:22)
The saints will judge both men and angels.
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? (I Corinthians 6:2,3)
The royal priesthood will be raised in the first resurrection and will judge and rule the nations of saved peoples of the earth for a thousand years.
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
Only those who have overcome the world, sin, and self-will shall rule with Christ, exercising judgment over the inhabitants of the earth. Because the eleven apostles left all and followed Christ, when the Kingdom comes they will “sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).
Not every saint desires to be a judge or a ruler. Each member of the elect has a unique mark, a special goal set before him or her. That particular place in the Kingdom has been prepared for the individual. His task is to attain the goal that has been set before him. If that goal includes judging and ruling the nations, then God will put both the desire and the ability to judge and rule in His chosen saint and preparation for this will begin today. God’s intention is to bring us to fullness of joy, to a land that in terms of our own needs and desires flows with milk and honey.
We must lay hold on our own inheritance with faith, courage, and patience. Otherwise we are as Esau. We despise our birthright and trade it for some trinket of this present, perishing world.
The new Jerusalem. It is our point of view that the new Jerusalem is an actual city that will be the center of government of the world to come. Yet, there is no doubt, from the description given in the Book of Revelation, that the new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb.
The true Jerusalem, that from which we have been born, is in Heaven above at the right hand of God. Jerusalem on the earth is “in bondage with her children” (Galatians 4:25).
We mentioned before that God is redeeming the children of Adam by keeping our new born-again spiritual nature in Heaven while He works with our soul and body on the earth. As soon as our invisible spiritual nature has been perfected, Jesus will return to earth bringing with Him the perfected spirits of the saints. He then will clothe these perfected spirits with their own flesh and bone and also overlay them with glory (compare Hebrews 12:23).
So it is with the city of Jerusalem on the earth. The earthly Jerusalem is like our physical body. Jerusalem is being left in its dead state on the earth while its spirit is being perfected in the heavens. As soon as a firstfruits of the elect have been perfected in Christ, Jesus will return with these righteous ones. They will enter with the Lord Jesus into the city of Jerusalem and the whole city will be filled with glory (Zechariah 14:5).
As the human being becomes a new creation so does Jerusalem become the new Jerusalem.
Blessed be the name of the Lord our God who alone does wonderful things.
Neither the physical body nor Jerusalem can perfect itself. God must receive the spirit in the heavenlies and there refine and perfect it according to His own methods and devices.
As soon as Christ has become the life of the human being, and the life of the city of Jerusalem, the Life of Christ will return to the earth and clothe Itself with its material counterparts. The Glory of God will be revealed to the nations of the earth and they will believe that God has sent Christ and that God loves the saints as He loves the Lord Jesus.
The new Jerusalem is the Kingdom of God, the eternal Tabernacle of God. The Throne of God and of the Lamb is in it. It is the Wife of the Lamb, the city that will rule over the works of God’s hands throughout eternity.
To become an eternal part of the new Jerusalem is to enter our Canaan. Jerusalem, as well as our own flesh, is bound by the adversary. Christ is leading us to total victory against the adversary. Jerusalem (and our own body) will be released from the chains of Hell and filled with eternal life.
Since the spirit of Jerusalem is the composite of the spirits of the individuals who constitute the Wife of the Lamb, one unholy member would prevent the new Jerusalem from being the “holy” city. Every member of the Wife of the Lamb must be holy and without blemish or else the Wife would be unholy and blemished.
Nothing that defiles can enter the new Jerusalem. The grace of God does not waive that requirement. Rather the grace of God works with us until we are undefiled. The entrance of Israel into Canaan does not typify a believer obtaining Heaven by imputation (ascribed righteousness) but a believer by the Spirit of God pressing into areas of joy and glory that have been assigned to him but which at this time are inhabited by wicked spirits.
A righteous king. Of all the present needs of mankind the greatest may be righteous rulership. The world is in chaos because the rulers do not govern righteously. Perhaps many leaders would exercise righteous rulership if they could; but the pressure exerted by rebellious angels, the pressure exerted by various interest groups, and the fears and self-seeking of the leaders themselves, frustrate their most noble efforts.
What would the world be like if there were one supreme ruler over all, with total authority and power, who ruled in righteousness in the fear of God? We would have, in a short while, Paradise on the earth.
This precisely is what the Kingdom of God is. It is the worldwide rule of One who has been given by the Father all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth. He, the Lord Jesus Christ, always rules in righteousness in the fear of God. Therefore the earth under His rule will become Paradise.
It is the will of God that the Lord Jesus share the rulership of the creation with His brothers, the younger sons of God.
Many Christian believers are accustomed to the idea that the saints are God’s ruling priesthood. What has not always been understood is the nature of the Divine government. God will give to no person Divine privileges, Divine glory, except under a special condition. The condition is that the person become a part of Christ Himself.
Jesus is part of God Himself. Therefore when God gives His glory to Jesus He is giving it to Himself. The Lord Jesus rules in and by God, not only under delegation from God.
So it is with the saints. God never will give His glory to us except as we become part of Christ. We shall rule in and by Christ as an integral part of Christ, not primarily under a delegation of authority from Christ.
The Kingdom of God is the rule of God through Christ through the saints. Only one Will is exercised in the Kingdom of God—the Will of almighty God.
Human beings desire to rule because that desire was placed in us from the beginning. It is written that man will rule over all the works of God’s hands. The world of today is in chaos because men who are not part of Christ desire to govern other men.
Before any person will share the Kingdom with Christ he first must enter perfect union with Christ in God. Christ must be given absolute preeminence in his personality. God and Christ must reign and find untroubled rest in the saint’s spirit.
In order for God in Christ to enter untroubled rest in us there must be a complete crucifixion of our adamic personality. All that drives our natural man must be crucified. Our total first personality must be brought into the likeness of Christ’s death. Only that which has been crucified in Jesus and has been raised again by Jesus is permitted to be part of the Ruler of the ages to come. We attain the first resurrection from the dead only as our life becomes one with the resurrection life of Jesus; and oneness is possible only as we enter the sufferings of Christ.
Every member of true Israel is part of the governing priesthood, part of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom destined to rule all the works of God’s hands. True Israel is a firstfruits of mankind, a firstborn—the part of mankind given to the Lord to be His special inheritance.
‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.
‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5,6)
Notice what James states concerning those who are born-again in Christ:
Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. (James 1:18)
The Apostle Peter applies to the Gentiles the promise previously given to Israel concerning Israel being God’s special treasure:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (I Peter 2:9)
Each true saint has been called to be a ruler over the nations. But in order to enter our inheritance we first must overcome the enemies of God and man. The promise of rulership over the nations is given only to the overcomer, that is, to the believer who enters the grace of Christ to such an extent that he is able to overcome the wicked personages and works that God allows to come against him as well as the corruption in his own personality.
To rule the nations, to sit on the throne with Christ, is given to the overcomer along with all the other rewards of life and glory found in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. The nations are our “Canaan,” our land of promise that God has given to us but which in the present hour is overrun by the devil and his forces.
The first stage of our inheritance is our entering the fullness of eternal life in our own personality. The second stage of our inheritance, which is dependent on our arriving at the first stage, is the Kingdom purposes that we are presenting. Ruling with Christ over the works of God’s hands, especially over the nations of the earth, is one of the most important aspects of the Divine program of redemption and restoration.
A holy and compassionate priest. The Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, have much to say about our being the priests of God. Since Christ Himself is the only Mediator between God and the members of the Body of Christ, we conclude that our mediation is between Christ and the peoples of the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
The nations will understand that the resurrected, glorified saints are God’s priests.
But you shall be named the priests of the LORD, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles [nations], and in their glory you shall boast. (Isaiah 61:6)
Much of the suffering we experience is for the purpose of making us better priests of God, brighter lights, more complete and approachable witnesses of His Person, His ways, and His will. Each of us is being created the hand of God extended to the members of the nations of the saved.
“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles,
To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house. (Isaiah 42:6,7)
The priest whom God (and people) accepts must be holy toward God and compassionate toward people. Jesus shows in Himself that perfect holiness toward God and that perfect compassion toward men and women, boys and girls. God is willing to spend as much time as needed to perfect our holiness and our compassion.
What the world needs today, and always will need, is people who reveal in themselves the Person and will of God in Christ. The churches often bear witness of themselves and their works, not of Christ. All men seek their own, as Paul exclaimed. Words alone cannot serve as the Gospel witness. It is the Spirit who lives in the Christians who must reveal Christ, and He cannot reveal Christ when the believers are filled with their own works.
We exercise somewhat of a mediativel role today as we minister to the needs of people, bringing the knowledge of God to them and making intercession for them. It appears that in the future our role as mediators between God and people will be expanded. We are the holy priests whom God has chosen to bridge the gap between Himself and the nations of peoples whom He has created.
A true priest of God is not self-centered but is occupied with representing God to man and man to God. There is no more important occupation. The nations will continue to flounder in spiritual darkness and impoverishment until there comes forth from the Presence of Christ a company of holy priests who will take under their wing the men and women, boys and girls, of the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
We who have been so carefully brought up and nourished by the Lord Jesus, the great High Priest over all other priests of God, have a marvelous storehouse of treasures of life and understanding to give to those who have little of the Divine blessings. We have much to share, and we now are being prepared so we will be able to give of the Divine resources in a profitable manner.
The nations of the saved will receive us gladly.
Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion [body of Christ] shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)
“Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. (Isaiah 60:4)
And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:16)
We can notice in the above verses the difference, as compared with today, in the attitude of earth’s peoples toward the elect of God. The coming worldwide belief in Christ, and in Christ’s chosen, was spoken of by the Lord Jesus:
“I in them, and you in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent Me, and have loved them as you have loved Me. (John 17:23)
Certain events will take place that will cause the nations of the earth to change from unbelief in Christ and His saints to belief in them. Just before the visible appearing of the Lord Jesus to the inhabitants of the earth, the Lord will enter His elect in the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. They will be filled with eternal life.
When the trumpet of God sounds, the Lord Jesus will descend from Heaven to the level of the clouds. Then He will send forth His saints in the fullness of glory to recover their flesh and bones from the surface of the earth. At the same time the bodies of the living saints will be changed from mortal life to immortal Divine Life.
The Glory of God will be shining from the Lord Jesus who will be in the air above the surface of the earth. That same glory will be seen in the resurrected saints. Then these shining ones will ascend slowly and majestically in full view of the inhabitants of the earth to be joined together as one Divine Whole with the great Light of God in the air.
The Glory of the Lord will be as the lightning that “comes out of the east, and shines even to the west” (Matthew 24:27).
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)
As for the wicked:
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. (II Thessalonians 1:9,10)
Antichrist will have his day on the earth, but the Lord Jesus will destroy him with “the brightness of his coming” (II Thessalonians 2:8).
The filling of the visible heavens with the Glory of Christ, and the entrance of the Glory of Christ into His saints, mark the beginning of the Battle of Armageddon. The Light will descend to the Mount of Olives and then move to the plain north of Jerusalem where the battle will be fought. The nations that resist the invasion of Christ and His saints will be destroyed. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The nations that are left after the Battle of Armageddon will understand, from what they have witnessed, that God has sent Christ and that God loves the saints as He loves Christ and has given of the Glory of Christ to them. It may be observed that God indicated His choosing of Moses and Aaron by revealing His glory in association with their ministries, and also by smiting those who rose up against them in any manner.
There is a season when God deals kindly and gently with people. At such times God speaks of His love toward them, and also warns them of His wrath toward sin and rebellion.
Then there is another season when God acts in fierce anger. This is true for individuals and for nations.
Because of what they have seen and experienced the nations of the saved now will be willing to come to the Light of God that they behold in God’s chosen people. The saints will receive the nations of the saved as an inheritance and will minister the Person, truth, ways, and blessings of God to them. In that day the saints will be trees of life to the nations of the earth, bringing Divine Life and healing to them.
The nations and the farthest reaches of the earth are the inheritance of the Lord Jesus. We are coheirs with Him. The nations are our inheritance, although Satan is inhabiting them in the present hour.
There is no other inheritance that can be compared in value with the gift of people.
A mighty warrior. Current doctrines are producing self-centered spiritual babies. Someone spoke of the “eternal spiritual babyhood of the believers.”
The reason for the “eternal babyhood” is that error is being preached. Some of the errors are as follows:
- No matter how badly and treacherously we behave, the Lord will receive us as good and faithful servants.
- Being saved, being born again, receiving eternal life—all mean that when we die we will go to Heaven, there to dwell in a beautiful mansion.
- The Lord will “rapture” us to Heaven before the great tribulation because He loves us too much (above the other suffering saints of history and those being tortured and murdered in our own day) to allow us to suffer.
- It is the Lord’s will that all His servants be wealthy and enjoy perfect health at all times. The Lord is our servant and is compelled to give us what we want when we ask “in faith.”
The above errors occupy a great portion of current Christian teaching. They produce self-centered spiritual babies who believe they have found a way around the cross. They have been taught that grace is “God’s riches at Christ’s expense.” Christ suffered so they never will be obliged to suffer. Christ became poor in the world’s goods so they may be rich in the world’s goods. Christ walked in holiness and obedience so they may walk in uncleanness and disobedience without any fear of Divine judgment.
Another reason for the eternal spiritual babyhood of the believers is that almost all Christian effort, at least in Christian churches, is directed toward “getting souls saved,” “making decisions for Christ,” neither of which is emphasized (or hardly mentioned) in the Epistles of the Apostles. The emphasis in the Epistles is on the sanctification and growth of the believers and this ought to be our emphasis.
If a baby is brought into the Kingdom, and then we tell that baby to go out and bring in more babies, and those babies bring in more babies, then the churches will be full of babies. Isn’t that logical? The churches of today are full of spiritual babies who love to play with their toys. None of the great purposes of God, such as the development and ministry of the royal priesthood, is possible while the believers are spiritual babies.
God has prepared two great gifts for us to help us grow to maturity and unity in Christ. The first gift is great tribulation. The second gift is great Divine Glory.
Before the Lord Jesus can return, His mighty men, His warriors, must be strengthened and instructed in tribulation, in Divine glory, and in spiritual warfare.
The catching up of the saints to meet the Lord is described in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians. This is the calling up of the Lord’s mighty men to their Commander in Chief. The summons comes with the shout of war, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God.
The second chapter of the Book of Joel, verses one through eleven, describes the invasion of the earth by Christ and His saints. It is the same attack set forth in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, the thirteenth chapter of Isaiah, and the third chapter of Habakkuk.
Notice the type of saint who will ride with the Lord in that day:
A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. (Joel 2:2)
During the period that King Saul was in Israel, David was gathering his warriors, his “mighty men,” in the wilderness. When Saul died, David had a nucleus of faithful soldiers who accompanied him as he was anointed king over Judah, and finally over all Israel.
During the period that the flesh (Saul) is in power over the Christian churches the Lord Jesus is gathering His warriors, His “mighty men.” On many occasions they are forced to go out into the “wilderness,” so to speak because they do not fit in with the programs of organized Christianity.
As soon as God is ready to cast down the fleshly rulership of the Christian churches the Lord Jesus will appear with His officers and men. They will be with Him at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. They will be with Him also after the thousand years have been concluded, when He becomes Lord over the new heaven and new earth.
As we change from the “Moses” aspect of Christ to the “Joshua” role we discover that the Lord brings us into increasingly difficult circumstances. One purpose of these hard circumstances is to prepare us to ride with Him in the attack of Armageddon.
The rebellion against the Lord God originated in the heavenlies and from there it has spread to the earth. The rebellion is still in progress.
The legal hold of Satan over mankind was destroyed on the cross of Calvary but the crushing of the rebellion has not occurred as yet. Christ is waiting at the right hand of God in Heaven until the “mighty men” are prepared. As soon as the Lord’s army has been strengthened and trained it will be time for the great Commander in Chief to make His appearance in the heavens and call up His immortals to Himself.
“A great people and a strong”!
A restorer of paths to dwell in. Those who choose to walk in righteousness will be a blessing to the nations of the earth.
Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. (Isaiah 58:12)
Isaiah chapter 61 contains the design for filling the whole earth with the Glory of the Lord. It is the passage that Jesus of Nazareth read in the synagogue at the beginning of His ministry.
In this chapter we find that the purpose of the anointing of the Holy Spirit that abides on the Lord Jesus, and through Him on the members of His Body, is that each of God’s saints, His elect, His true Israel, be lifted up from the ashes of spiritual bondage and made a tree of righteousness:
To console those who mourn in Zion [the Church], to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3)
“Trees of righteousness.”
Again we see the emphasis on the elect coming to maturity in righteousness. This is not referring to imputed (ascribed) righteousness but to maturity in actual, practical righteousness of personality and behavior. Christ does not minister until the elect become trees of imputed righteousness but until they become oaks of actual, discernible righteousness.
Nothing further can be accomplished in establishing God’s Kingdom, His will, on the earth until the saints come to maturity and unity in the Spirit of God. First came the Lord Jesus. Then will appear the Lord and His “mighty men of valor,” His trees of righteousness. The Kingdom cannot be established on the earth by sinful, rebellious, self-centered “believers” who are trusting in ascribed righteousness to shield them from God’s judgment on their behavior.
The mature saints, made so by the anointing, by tribulation, and by all the other aspects of God’s grace through Christ, will then march throughout the whole earth treading wickedness under their feet. They will lift the curse from the creation. They will release the saved peoples of the nations into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. They will be the light of the world. They will bring eternal life—the Life of God in Christ in the saints—into dead nature. They will cause Heaven and earth to sing with the joy of the children of God.
Out from their personalities will flow rivers of living water.
“And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. (Ezekiel 47:9)
The Lord’s “trees of righteousness” will go into all areas of the earth and repair and rebuild all that has been destroyed by sinners.
And they [God’s saints] shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:4)
A very important part of our inheritance consists of the fulfillment of the promises that God has made to us individually. As we journey through the wilderness we experience hunger and thirst. God keeps us going by setting joy before us, and we endure the cross by gazing at that joy. Apart from the hope of future joy we cannot possibly endure the cross.
We know from the Scriptures that God never breaks His promises to us. Therefore we keep on pressing forward, realizing that everlasting joy will be ours.
Some of God’s promises are fulfilled in this life. We grow faint if we do not believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Some of the promises made to us personally may not be realized in their fullness until we enter a future age.
God does not change. He fulfilled and yet is fulfilling the promises He made to Abraham personally, and He will fulfill the promises He has made to each of us. He shall give us the desires of our heart!
Egypt typifies the world—life lived in the attempt to obtain security, pleasure, and achievement apart from the Presence of the Lord God of Heaven.
The wilderness of Sinai typifies the discipleship of the saint as he seeks redemption and eternal life while struggling against the love of the world, the impulses of sin, and his own lusts and rebellious self-will. The wilderness is a place of much tribulation, persecution, deception, and every other kind of problem and danger.
It is in the wilderness that we pass from being called to being called and chosen, and finally to being called, chosen, and faithful. Those who ride with Christ in that Day are “called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).
Canaan typifies our inheritance in Christ. First we are to enter eternal life in our spirit, our soul, and our body. As we are entering life we also are to be pressing forward into dominion over all the works of God’s hands.
Our old, adamic nature is crucified with Christ and the body of sin is destroyed (Romans 6:6; 8:13).
The new, Divine nature is born and formed in us (John 1:13; Galatians 4:19).
The Father and the Son through the Spirit make Their eternal abode in our new, Divine nature. We are filled with all the fullness of God. We come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (John 14:23; Ephesians 3:19; 4:13).
Our flesh and bone body is raised from the dead (Luke 24:39; I Corinthians 15:20).
Our flesh and bone body is covered within and without with the body of life that is created in Heaven as we sow our present body to the death of the cross (II Corinthians 5:2).
We are revealed with the Lord Jesus as part of the glory of His appearing (Colossians 3:4).
We enter our role as:
- The Wife of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7).
- A pillar in the Temple of God (Revelation 3:12).
- A part of Emmanuel (John 17:23).
- A son of God (Revelation 21:7).
- The Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:27).
- A brother of Christ (Romans 8:29).
- A righteous judge (I Corinthians 6:2).
- A part of the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9,10).
- A righteous king (Revelation 5:10).
- A holy and compassionate priest (I Peter 2:5).
- A mighty warrior (Joel 2:10; Romans 16:20; Revelation 17:14).
- A restorer of paths to dwell in (Isaiah 58:12; 61:4).
We receive the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for our eternal possession. We are coheirs with Christ (Psalms 2:8; Isaiah 53:12; Romans 8:17).
God gives us the desires of our heart (Psalms 37:4).
Most importantly, God Himself in Christ becomes our inheritance. God must never become a means to our ends. It is God Himself who is our goal, our desire, our longing, our portion. It is the Lord’s desire that we belong to Him in a unique way; and while we may gain many treasures in the land of promise we finally shall come to realize that he who possesses God possesses all else and has found perfect peace and joy at last.
“The priests, the Levites—all the tribe of Levi—shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and His portion.
“Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the LORD is their inheritance, as He said to them. (Deuteronomy 18:1,2)
Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’” (Isaiah 12:2)
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8)
Christ Himself is our goal, our rest.
The above constitute our land of promise, our “Canaan.”
He who conquers shall inherit all things. He shall reign forever as one of God’s stars, taking the place of the fallen principalities who have, in defiance of God’s will and Divine order, left their appointed place.
Our entire first personality must be assigned to the cross. It is only that which dies in Christ and is raised again by and through Him that can be our eternal possession. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
Today there is a sound of a going forth of the Lord, the tramping of feet shod with the bronze of Divine judgment, the thunder of the captains, the shouting of battle. The white stallions of righteous warfare are pawing in impatience. It is the time to take the Kingdom.
When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, he will invade them with his troops. (Habakkuk 3:16)
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
(“From Egypt to Canaan”, 3058-1)