Copyright © 1995 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.
Our entrance into the rest of God, into the land of promise, depends on our successful transition from a self-centered soul in an animal body into a spirit in untroubled union with God in a spiritual body. Love, joy, and peace are possible only when our relationships with God and people have been touched by the Lord.
Relationships are made right as through Christ we are changed from a living soul into a life-giving spirit. The relationships that are not filled with Christ are temporary. The relationships that will survive for eternity are those established by and in Christ as we are fitted into our place in the Body of Christ.
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)
There is a mark, a rest, a goal, a land of promise, toward which the Christian people are to press with all faith and diligence.
We are made partakers of Christ if we “hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:6), continuing to persevere and to obey God until we arrive at our land of promise.
Precisely what is our rest, our mark, our land of promise, our “heaven”?
Our heaven, our paradise, our land of promise, is a loving, joyous, and peaceful relationship with God and loving, joyous, and peaceful relationships with people.
This is the goal. This is the mark. This is “heaven.”
The greatest joy and the greatest pain anyone can experience are in the realm of relationships. All we do and everything in our environment is secondary in value and importance to relationships.
The importance of relationships is reflected in the two laws on which all the other laws of God are based: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30,31).
Each of the Ten Commandments is based on relationships.
The goal of every emotionally healthy human being is love, joy, and peace. Love, joy, and peace can come only through relationships. Therefore our Christian discipleship on the earth is occupied with developing in us a loving, joyous, and peaceful relationship with God and loving, joyous, and peaceful relationships with people.
- Our most important relationship is with God. Next in importance is that of husband and wife.
- Next are our relationships with family members.
- After that are our relationships with our friends.
- Finally, our relationships with our acquaintances.
Numerous relationships make up our life: teacher-pupil, working partners, the ruler and the ruled, and a variety of other relationships including doctors, entertainers, cooks, and contributors and helpers of all kinds.
When every one of our relationships is loving, joyous, and peaceful our physical and spiritual environments are harmonious and pleasing, and we are occupied in the service for which we have been created, then we shall have attained the land of promise. We shall have arrived at the rest of God, our goal, our heaven, our paradise.
Of all possible attainments, the most important are in the realm of relationships. When relationships are troubled, none of the other aspects of life is satisfactory. All are spoiled.
When relationships have been perfected everything else falls into line. Warped relationships have brought the world to the grief-filled, ruinous conditions that exist in our time.
Only God can correct our relationships.
The “treasures in heaven” of which Jesus spoke are relationships. “Things” do not make a heaven. Only relationships can make a heaven.
Let us examine what must take place in us before our relationships have been corrected.
In order to understand what God is doing in us we must see clearly the two lives that are at issue.
- Our natural, human life consists of a self-seeking soul in an animal body.
- The life into which we are being transformed consists of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwelling with us in perfect, complete union in an incorruptible, eternal body.
These two lives are different in kind.
The first man is Adam. The second man is created from the Nature of the Lord from Heaven.
The first man is a living soul. The second man is a life-giving spirit (I Corinthians 15:45-47).
Both of these persons or lives, however you wish to term them, desire love, joy, and peace. For both of them, relationships are an important part of love, joy, and peace.
Neither of these “persons” can obtain love, joy, or peace until he loves (or seeks to love) God and his neighbor.
However, the first man, the self-seeking soul in the animal body, has a great deal of trouble loving God and his neighbor. His love is clamorous, self-seeking, filled with pain, jealousy, strife. It easily is broken. Natural love readily turns into hate.
It is impossible for the first man, the living soul, to acquire satisfactory relationships. He is not capable of them.
God has commanded each of us to love God with all his heart, and his neighbor as himself. Yet, it is not possible for the natural man to do so, and God understands that.
God gave the Jews many commandments, such as the careful observance of the seven feasts, while they still were in the wilderness (Leviticus, Chapter 23). Since several of the feasts were agricultural in nature it was not possible to keep them in the wilderness. The agricultural feasts, such as the feast of Tabernacles, could not be celebrated until the Israelites had arrived in the land of promise. Did God know what He was doing?
God understood very well that the Jews in the desert could not celebrate agricultural feasts. God understands very well that it is not possible for us in our present state to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.
Therefore God has planned for us a new kind of life, a life in union with Himself in which loving, joyous, and peaceful relationships are possible.
The second life is that in which we are filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and are clothed with an eternal, incorruptible body. In this new form, ideal relationships can be realized. We no longer are plagued with a self-seeking soul nor with a lustful, spiritually lazy body.
It can be seen, then, that our entrance into the rest of God, into the land of promise, depends on our successful change from a self-centered soul in an animal body into a spirit in complete, restful union with God in a spiritual body. This is the goal of the Christian discipleship.
The moment we are born again we begin our pilgrimage toward the land of promise, toward loving, joyous, and peaceful relationships with God and people.
Between the point where we are born again and the land of promise lies the wilderness of humbling and instruction. In the world, in the place of our wilderness wandering, we have tribulation. We experience chastening.
“And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
“So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3)
The Christian who is not chastened is not a son of God.
For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 12:6)
Why must we experience tribulation? We experience tribulation because the transition from the self-seeking soul to the God-filled soul is difficult and we do not enter it willingly. We must be driven into it. We much prefer our first personality.
Every true Christian when be places his or her trust in Christ is born crucified. The reason the Christian people of today are having trouble is that they never have firmly and decisively counted themselves as crucified to the world and the world to them. They are attempting to live for Christ and live in the world at the same time. They will not let go of the present world.
It is impossible to change from a self-seeking soul to a God-filled soul until the believer lets go of his life in the present world. There is no other route to the land of promise.
Love, joy, and peace are possible only when our relationships with God and with people have been made right.
Relationships can be made right only as we are being changed from a living soul into a life-giving spirit (I Corinthians 15:45).
Being changed from a living soul into a life-giving spirit can take place only as we turn aside from our life in the present world and seek Christ with all our heart. God sends tribulation on us in order to produce in us this diligent seeking.
The wealthy nations of our day are filled with people who are immoral, and weak in character. Numerous believers are spiritually lazy, immoral, and weak in character. They cannot conceive of God being so unkind as to send trouble on them. They are following prophets who keep assuring them that God loves them so much He will not allow them to suffer any pain.
The Christian ministers who curry favor with their listeners are preaching for money and popular acclaim. They are not telling the truth to their audiences. They are false witnesses of God.
In their haste to assure their congregations that God will not make them uncomfortable they are robbing the Lord’s people of the means of obtaining eternal joy.
God knows we never can attain love, joy, and peace, that for which He has designed us, until we come into a right relationship with Himself and a right relationship with those around us. He sends various tribulations on us to change us from what is self-centered and corruptible into that which lives and moves and has its being in God. Then we are possessors of all things.
When we seek to evade pain, when we dodge the cross, when we are unwilling to suffer patiently the prisons in which we are placed, we make it impossible for ourselves to attain the love, joy, and peace for which we have been created.
It is patient, cross-carrying obedience that results in the transition from a living soul, which is temporary and always corruptible, into an eternal life-giving spirit. It is the life-giving spirit alone that is capable of satisfactory relationships. It is the life-giving spirit that by its nature lives for eternity in love, joy, and peace.
Our chastenings are the love of God in action toward us, love that is leading us straight toward the land of promise—the place where God can find complete, untroubled rest in us and we can find complete, untroubled rest in God.
In Heaven we hope to experience a loving, joyous, peaceful relationship with God and loving, joyous, peaceful relationships with people.
Sometimes we think of Heaven as a place of “things.” Will gold, silver, and diamonds ever make any human being happy? Do such things make people happy today? Would you rather walk alone on a street of gold or on a dirt path with someone you love?
Things never can satisfy the human heart. Only love can satisfy the human being. Streets of gold, precious stones, mansions, are worthless apart from love. With love the poorest of circumstances becomes a heaven.
Doesn’t the Book of Revelation portray a city of precious stones and gold? Indeed it does. These symbols of value are just that—symbols. The gates of pearl portray the gateway to God that is created in us as we suffer in patience—a gateway to God for other people. It is our priestly role.
The precious stones are the virtues that are formed in the Bride of the Lamb by the pressures and heat that come upon us in the will of God. The street (singular) of gold is the way of faith—the way in which the righteous of all ages have walked and continue to live and move and have their being.
Is there an actual city? We believe there is, but its value is not found in precious stones and gold. There are innumerable stars in the heavens above us, all created in a moment by the Lord God. If God so desired He could at any instant create a million stars of diamond and a second million of pure gold, and make all this wealth available to us. If He did, diamonds and gold would become so plentiful they no longer would have exceptional value.
How much would a large ruby be worth if rubies were as plentiful as sand?
God made some elements scarce so we would have a symbol to use for value. But true value is found only in the human personality. True value in the human personality is its ability to relate to God and to people in love, in joy, and in peace.
The fruit that is borne in us as the result of the Life of God being formed in us and dwelling in us is as follows: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. The fruit of God’s Spirit is one but it has nine dimensions. Of what meaning or use would any of the nine be if there were no God and no person other than ourselves in the world?
Paul, in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of I Corinthians, speaks of what is perfect. What is perfect is God’s love. God’s love will come to us in full measure at the appearing of Christ from Heaven. Then we shall know as we are known because we will be dwelling in love. Then we shall see clearly all that God is and does.
Human love is faulty. It is not eternal. God’s love is perfect and eternal.
Love is the strongest of all motives. The father suffers untold hardships in order to provide for his family. The mother gives all for her children. The gymnast drives herself to excellence to please her coach and the audience. Apart from the approval of other human beings she would not be motivated to do her best.
The composer sets himself the difficult task of orchestrating a symphony. The artist is willing to undergo the agony of perfecting a masterpiece. All are inspired by love. Take away the love of their heart and they drift about aimlessly without motivation.
Apart from love the human being cannot learn or function adequately. It is possible for babies to die for no reason other than lack of demonstrations of love.
It is so foolish to think of Heaven as the getting of things! It is love that is the greatest treasure of all. Our treasures in Heaven are relationships.
How many people go through life grasping for things, or money, or fame, and then come to their last hour in profound grief and torment of conscience because they have betrayed their loved ones? The adulterer follows the lusts of his body only to find he has traded away what alone could have brought joy to his heart—the love and respect of his wife and children. How blind we are!
All human beings are frail in the area of relationships. Such apparently is not the case with the angels.
God has given to mankind to be in God’s image, to be fruitful, and to have dominion over all the works of God’s hands.
But God has made us male and female, He made each of us incomplete. No human being can be in God’s image, be fruitful, or have dominion, apart from another human being.
In the ages to come the image, fruitfulness, and dominion given to mankind will be elevated and broadened to a degree not understandable to us in the present hour. Relationships, including the oneness foreshadowed in human marriage, also will be elevated and broadened to a degree not known to us at this time. We shall be one as the Father and the Son are One.
Self-centeredness, which is the desire of the human being to view all things in terms of himself, is the opposite of love. Love creates and blesses. Self-centeredness destroys and curses. There is no place for self-centeredness in God’s Presence.
Self-centeredness is of Hell and creates Hell wherever it goes. No self-centered human being will ever attain love, joy, or peace. Release from the blight of self-centeredness is possible only as—after we have suffered for a season—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come into complete union with our personality.
Self-centeredness is a black hole in space that pulls into itself and destroys all with which it comes in contact. Love flows outward from the person who is filled with God and blesses and inspires its object.
Love is stronger than death. When placed in the balance, love outweighs everything else that a human possesses to the same extent the mass of the universe outweighs a grain of sand. The greatest treasure of all is love, and love creates joy and peace.
Lasting joy and peace can come only through right relationships with God and people.
There arrives a time in our life when a loved one dies. We wonder in torment of mind and heart, Will I see her (or him) again?
“Where is Mary, or Chris, or Nancy, or John?” we cry. It is to us the most important question of all. Material things cannot comfort a broken heart.
We will see our loved ones again!
There is a fact we must keep in mind. Relationships based on the self-seeking soul or the physical body are not permanent. They are faulty while on the earth and they do not endure after death.
We shall know our family members and our friends when we pass over to the other shore. However, the relationships will not be the same.
Relationships in Christ have an eternal quality. Even though they may have begun on the earth (and no doubt many more will be gained throughout the ages to come), relationships that have been established in Christ will continue in the next life although we cannot say in what form. Our relationship with Christ laughs at death because it is so much stronger than death, and this may prove to be true of our relationship with the members of the Body.
Human ties are temporary. David and Jonathan were the closest of friends. When God’s anointing came upon David, David “left” Jonathan. Jonathan died with Saul, his father. David went on to become knit to all who are of the Body of Christ.
Our place in the Body of Christ brings us into loving, joyous, and peaceful relationships with other members, according to the will of God. This is what makes Heaven so desirable. Such relationships and service are our rest, our land of promise—the goal toward which we are pressing in Christ.
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
For you are our glory and joy. (I Thessalonians 2:19,20)
“You are our glory and joy.” “In the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming.”
When God brings us to a fuller place in Christ we always “leave” those people who have not moved along with us. This does not mean we cease honoring our necessary relationships on the earth. The individual who thinks he is spiritual and neglects family relationships in favor of serving God (as he thinks) will discover that God is not with him as much as he imagines. There may be a time to forsake family and friends, but only Jesus Himself can lead us in such an extreme move.
The truly strong in Christ always stand ready to assist the weaker.
Nevertheless, as we move ahead in Christ, God places us in fellowship with those of like calling and attainment. It is among the people of similar consecration to Jesus that we find our most loving, joyous, and peaceful relationships.
Again, we are not suggesting that the man or woman who has become disgusted with his or her mate’s seeming lack of spirituality should leave his or her partner and join someone “more spiritual.” This sort of sin happens many times among believers and it is not of God. It absolutely is not of God. It may seem right, and we may have many supernatural “signs” and “fleeces” that tell us we are to leave our wife or husband and marry someone more “spiritual.” But this is not of God. It is not of God!
He or she who makes such a move will leave a trail of betrayed loved ones. No matter how it appears that God is blessing the new union, even seeming to give gifts of ministry and opportunities for ministry, it is not of God. The end will be more bitter than death itself.
We must, as God leads, put all of our relationships “on the altar” so that each relationship can be re-created in Christ. If we cling to our life we surely will lose it. If we give back to God what is most precious of all, which is our relationships, we will receive for eternity that which God knows to be most joyous for us. God will withhold no good thing from him or her who walks uprightly before Him.
We must count ourselves as having died with Christ on the cross so that Christ may raise us up into the true, eternal relationships. If we cling to our natural relationships we lose all. If we trust all to God we receive back all that is of eternal value to us.
We must “let go and let God.”
The relationships that will survive for eternity are those established by and in Christ as we are fitted into our place in the Body of Christ.
Even our fleshly knowledge of Christ must be transformed into a spiritual relationship:
Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. (II Corinthians 5:16)
There are many today who receive Christ and then are not willing to follow God through the wilderness of transformation. They are not willing to let go of the present world. They remain unchanged. Although they bear the name “Christian” they continue to be self-seeking souls in animal bodies.
What happens to such an untransformed individual when he or she dies?
He goes to the area of the spirit realm that is determined by the kinds of relationships he has with God and people. He does not have a loving, joyous, peaceful relationship to God that is eternal in quality. Therefore he cannot enter the joy of the true servants of the Lord. He cannot enter the fellowship of those who have had created in them the eternal life that alone is capable of eternal love, eternal joy, eternal peace. If he were permitted to enter Paradise he would bring confusion, unrest, trouble.
Whether such untransformed souls will be given a chance after they die to develop pure relationships we cannot say. The Scriptures do not say much about what happens to the untransformed believer after he or she dies, except that the lukewarm and careless will be punished.
What will happen to him or her in the Day of Christ?
In the Day of Christ the untransformed human will be raised and judged according to his actions in the world—the actions that have proceeded in large part from the kind of relationships that he has had with God and with people. Perhaps the one whom the Lord Jesus deems worthy of salvation will receive a body suitable for his level of spiritual development and then be placed in the area of the Kingdom where he can grow and develop in godly relationships.
The self-centered, rebellious individual will be thrown into torment. Were he to be allowed into Paradise he would create turmoil. Paradise quickly would become like the world of today.
We lose so very much when we cling to our self-life! We gain so very much when we are willing to allow God to transform us!
It is God’s will that each of His elect be changed from a self-seeking soul in an animal body into a spiritual man who dwells with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in an incorruptible, eternal body. God is ready to exercise judgment on our personalities so that everything that is from Satan is removed. Satan is the personification of self-centeredness, self-seeking, self-love, self-will.
Our new personalities will be fashioned from the Substance and virtue of Christ and filled with eternal life. Jesus gave of Himself so we may live.
God’s new creations will enjoy a loving, joyous, and peaceful relationship with God and loving, joyous, and peaceful relationships with the other members of the Body of Christ.
From the vantage point of love, joy, and peace we shall go forth into the creation as the very image of the invisible God to bear fruit and exercise dominion throughout the ages of ages.
“that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent Me. (John 17:21)