THE MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST
THE MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The Lord Jesus will come both in and with His saints. In the spiritual sense, Jesus is here now. He is building His Church. His second coming will be as that of a person returning from afar, but also will be a bodily manifestation of what already is here.
Table of Contents
THE MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
In a sense, the coming of the Lord actually will be the manifestation of the Lord. We know from the Scriptures that Christ is in Heaven at the right hand of the Father. We understand also that He is both in and with His saints today. Christ dwells in us, and He also abides with us and works with us, strengthening us and confirming His Word with signs following.
The Lord Jesus is in Heaven but He also is here on the earth wherever two or three are gathered together in His name. Those who are diligently seeking Him know He dwells in us and will walk with us until the close of the present age.
If such is the case, if Christ dwells in and walks with His saints on the earth, then the coming of the Lord will be, to a certain extent, the making visible of the Lord.
Christ came to earth two thousand years ago, was crucified, and then was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. After that, He ascended to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. The physical body of Christ is there in Heaven at the right hand of God.
But Christ returned immediately in the Holy Spirit, for He said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).
Mark verified this:
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Mark 6:20)
We could maintain that the Lord sat in Heaven and worked with the Apostles from there. This undoubtedly is true. Our point is, however, that Heaven and earth are so close that the Lord Jesus is present among us and with us at all times. It is inaccurate to envision the Lord as being beyond the stars while we humans are left (even though we have the Holy Spirit) to carry out His commands as best we can. In fact, it is the idea of the Lord’s being far away while we build the Kingdom of God that has caused us to place the head of man on the Body of Christ.
We understand that Christ is in Heaven at the right hand of God. We know also that there will come a point in time at which He will descend to the earth and sit on the Throne of David in the earthly city of Jerusalem. These facts are essential to our understanding of the Kingdom of God.
But there are some aspects of the coming of the Lord that may not be given enough emphasis in current Christian teaching:
The direct, thorough involvement of Christ in our personal growth to maturity; His close attention to every detail of our life and ministry. He is not a God afar off nor does He sleep.
The increase of the "coming" of the Lord Jesus to His saints as we approach the Day of the Lord.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:3)
"He shall come unto us."
The extent to which the appearing of the Lord to the nations will be in and through His saints rather than as an Individual to them. How else would the unsaved be able to behold the Lord Jesus or relate to Him? Even the Apostle John "fell at his feet as dead."
The doctrine of the "rapture," as it is taught commonly, does not place nearly enough emphasis on the spiritual aspects of the coming of the Lord, on the inner Kingdom that is being established in the present hour. The "rapture" teaching stresses an any-moment "blind" coming. No transformation is required in the inner moral character of the saints. Suddenly the Lord will appear and all of our inheritance will be given to us in a moment. This is impossible!
One problem caused by the external "rapture" teaching is that the believers do not spend the time required to know the Lord for themselves. They do not spend enough time in the "prayer closet." They talk about the need to pray and seek the Lord but they do not do it!
The citizens of the wealthy nations, believers and nonbelievers alike, are increasingly immersing themselves in inventions such as the television, the computer, and the automobile. These inventions attract the mind and do not leave the believer enough time to develop inner communion with the Lord. It is in the inner communion that we come to know the Lord and have fellowship with Him.
The hope of the external "rapture" and coming of the Lord is directed toward external experiences. As a result the inner knowledge of God, which must precede participation in the external kingdom, is not being developed nearly enough.
It is our ability to shut ourselves in with God, an ability possessed only by the saints who pray much, that will sustain us throughout the tribulations that are ahead.
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. (Isaiah 26:20)
The Christian who has been living an external life solely, not growing rich in the development of the inner Kingdom of God, not learning how to wait on the Lord and draw strength, comfort, inspiration, and guidance from Him, will lose his confidence during the days of trouble and spiritual darkness that are ahead. The Lord will protect and defend us throughout the tribulation if we look to Him for safety. But knowing how to trust the Lord during times of trouble and danger is not learned in a moment.
Let us consider three aspects of the inner kingdom, of the inner nature of the coming of the Lord, that we believe must be stressed now if we are to prepare ourselves properly for the tribulation period, and for the great Day of Christ itself.
The direct involvement of Christ in our life and ministry.
The increase of the personal coming of the Lord.
The extent to which the appearing of the Lord will be through his saints.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:3)
"I will come again, and receive you unto myself."
The coming mentioned above may be referring to the Day of Christ, to the appearing of the Lord Jesus with His saints in the clouds of glory.
But the teaching of the fourteenth chapter of John suggests that the coming mentioned in the third verse is the same inner coming of Christ described in the eighteenth through the twenty-third verses of the same chapter.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal House of the Father. We Christians are the many abodes of that eternal House because we are members of the Body of Christ.
Christ went to the cross, was raised again, ascended to Heaven, and then gave His body and blood through the Holy Spirit in order that He might prepare a place for us in the House of the Father, that is, in Himself. He Is the Way, the Truth, and the Life by which we gain eternal rest in the Father and the Father in us.
The fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John speaks of the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34). Jesus and the Father come to us as we, with the Holy Spirit’s help, keep the words of Christ. They enter us and make Their eternal abode with us. This is a true coming of the Lord.
It is an inner, spiritual coming to the individual saint. It is the inner kingdom of God. It will take place in increasing power and revelation as we approach the coming of Christ in the outward Kingdom. We must receive the inner kingdom in order to participate in the worldwide manifestation of the outer Kingdom (John 14:23; II Thessalonians 1:10).
The three stages of grace through which the victorious saint passes are portrayed by the three annual gatherings of the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 16:16).
The feast of Passover.
The feast of Weeks (Pentecost).
The feast of Tabernacles.
Passover typifies our salvation experience. The feast of Weeks portrays the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The feast of Tabernacles speaks of the Father and Son entering us through the Holy Spiritour being filled with "all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:19).
The three stages of redemption are as follows:
We are saved.
We are baptized with the Holy Spirit.
We become the eternal abode of the Father and the Son.
We are speaking of the direct involvement of Christ in our life and ministry, in every detail of what we are and do. Jesus Himself comes to us through the Spirit and supervises the initial salvation, and then the perfecting, of His Wife, His Body. The inner aspect of the Kingdom of God is being brought to perfection now in preparation for the worldwide manifestation of Christ with—but particularly in —His saints.
One of the greatest errors that the believer can make is to become preoccupied with the things of the world and neglect the development and maturing of the inner kingdom, the inner coming of the Lord. If he falls into this error he will wait in vain for a "rapture," for participation in the outer manifestation of the coming of Christ. The all-important inner work is being performed now, and we must come out of the world and "go to meet the Lord." This is true of the salvation experience, of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and of the "Tabernacles" experience.
The third of the three annual gatherings of Israel, the feast of Tabernacles, included three observances:
The memorial of blowing of Trumpets.
The Day of Atonement.
The feast of Tabernacles.
These three ceremonies were part of the major convocation of Tabernacles. They came several months after the feast of Pentecost.
After the believer is saved and baptized with the Holy Spirit he is to move forward to the blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles.
The blowing of Trumpets is the coming of Jesus to us according to John 14:3. It is the coming of the King to us in order to wage war against His enemies in our personality and to receive us to Himself so that where He is, there we may be also. During the "Trumpets" phase of salvation the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth is announced and the army of the Lord is formed.
The problem is, we who are saved and baptized with the Spirit are full of the world, sin, and self-will. In order to abide eternally with Jesus where He is we must first be reconciled to Him.
The coming of Jesus to us in this inner, spiritual sense is the coming of the King to wage war against the enemies that would prevent us from being with Him where He is. Jesus comes to receive us to Himself. This means we must be purified of everything in our personality that is the enemy of God.
This is a personal, individual coming. These three parts of the feast of Tabernacles are not "poured on all flesh" like the Holy Spirit of Pentecost. They are a receiving of the individual believer by the Lord Jesus Christ. Our participation in the three aspects of the feast of Tabernacles results in our knowing the Lord.
The "trumpet" is the trumpet of war. The Lord strong and majestic in battle approaches the "everlasting doors " of our soul. If we open to Him and allow Him to cast out of us all that is displeasing to Him we begin to enter the rest of God. God then is able, through Christ, to settle down to rest in us.
The King comes to us after we are baptized with the Holy Spirit. The salvation experience and the baptism with the Holy Spirit are preparatory works. They bring us to that which God is seeking.
God desires living stones for His eternal Temple. Christ is ready to come and Personally supervise the cutting and perfecting of each stone. The initial perfecting of the House of God, the Wife of the Lamb, will take place before the Lord Jesus appears in the clouds of glory, as we understand the schedule of events.
The first part of the feast of Tabernacles is the memorial of blowing of Trumpets, which signifies the personal coming of the King of Glory to us to prepare us for the entrance of the Father and the Son.
The second part of the feast of Tabernacles is the Day of Atonement (Day of Reconciliation). This is the baptism with fire spoken of by Malachi (3:1-3); John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11); the writer of the Book of Hebrews (12:6); the Apostle Peter (I Peter 4:12); and the Apostle John (Revelation 3:19).
Notice the similar expressions in John 14:3 and Hebrews 12:6:
. . . I will come again, and receive you unto myself;.... (John 14:3)
. . . and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:6)
"Receive you unto myself"; "every son whom he receiveth."
King Jesus "enters through the gates of Jerusalem," so to speak, and then strides into the "temple" of our personality. The Lord comes to us as our adversary. He is at war with most of our personality because our personality is lustful and rebellious. God sends tribulation to us in order to separate us from our sins and self-love. What are we to do? We are to "be zealous therefore, and repent" (Revelation 3:19).
We must learn to keep our spirit pure, especially when we are passing through the "Day of Reconciliation." Numerous believers fail to profit from the Lord’s chastening. They become bitter against circumstances, people, and sometimes against God Himself.
Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart. (Isaiah 42:24,25)
They cannot understand why they are confused and frustrated continually. They think it is Satan hindering the work of God, when the truth often is that it is God using messengers of Satan to slow the believers down and turn them to Himself. Satan is seeking to harm them but God uses the evil for a good purpose when the Christians respond correctly.
One mistake made by Christians who are having trouble is to blame and attack people and circumstances. Some individuals have a great deal of trouble with this. They do not seem to be able to turn to God in their distress. Instead they attempt to solve their problems by attempting to force people to do what they think is right.
When the people do not respond as they think they should (and sometimes these offending people, these "tools" that God is using, are unable to meet the demands being placed on them) the result may be hatred and bitterness on both sides.
The person whom they are blaming may very well be the means God is using to turn them to Himself and to perfect them. By attacking the tool instead of turning to God they accomplish nothing of value. They only add to their own misery and the misery of the person they are attacking.
It is a temptation to try to correct that which we can see instead of waiting on the invisible God. A husband or wife may be driven away from God by a mate who strives to force them to do what the mate believes to be God’s will. In most instances it is wiser to look to God for the solution to our problems than to try to manipulate people or circumstances.
Many Christians never do pass through the Day of Reconciliation to the fullness of the feast of Tabernacles. They have been happy in their salvation and Holy Spirit experiences. But they perceive these to be the Lord’s means of making them joyous, prosperous, and self-fulfilled. They will not accept the loss of their individual desires and preferences in order to gain oneness with God. They think Christ is their servant. They do not picture themselves as the bondslaves of Christ except in some token, textual, doctrinal sense.
Modern Christianity is being weighed in the balances and found wanting. It is in danger of encouraging Antichrist and the False Prophet rather than bringing us forward in Christ. It is as a prodigal son.
Today God has entrusted the believers with gifts and revelations. It is possible that never before in history have so many individuals understood and possessed the "talents" of the Kingdom of God. Much of what is relatively widely known today concerning spiritual gifts, the Body of Christ, the exercise of faith, prayer, and so forth was the domain of a relatively few believers just a short time ago.
Truly, as Daniel prophesied, knowledge has increased.
The problem is, what are we to do with this knowledge?
The purpose of the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit is the perfecting of the saints. The goal of the exercise of the ascension gifts is that the Lord God of Heaven may have a prepared temple in which He may settle down and find rest.
Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them. (Psalms 68:18)
The salvation experience and the baptism with the Holy Spirit are to prepare us for the personal advent of Christ to us. God is seeking a house, an eternal resting place. He finds it only in the Lord Jesus Christ and in those in whom Christ has slain every trace of Satan.
The end result is that we enter rest in the Godhead and the Godhead in us. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. It requires much tribulation in order for us to enter the desired state of trust and selflessness.
This is the inner establishing of the Kingdom of God and it absolutely must precede our participation in the manifestation of Christ at His coming. (How can we be revealed together with Him if there is no creation of glory in us to shine?) If Christ has not become our very Life we will not be revealed together with Him (Colossians 3:4).
But what is happening today? The believers are seeking to use the gifts and revelations, that are intended to bring us into union with God, as a means of some sort of spiritual or material success. If we have faith we can get this, that, or the other out of God. We have become as so many prodigal sons who are asking for our inheritance so we can leave home and spend our inheritance any way we desire. It appears we do not know where to go after Pentecost.
It is the Lord Jesus who, through the Holy Spirit, should be guiding our ministry. It is true that the gifts have been given to us. But we now are to give back all of our gifts and talents to the Lord so He can use them as He will. The gifts we have been given are subject to us. But this does not mean we are to use our gifts according to our own understanding. We ourselves along with our gifts are to be subject to the Holy Spirit of God. Only then can we enter the rest of God and enable others to enter the rest of God.
The believers are being taught today how to get power from God, how to get God to give them more money, how to manipulate the supernatural realm with their "faith" so they can be prosperous and wealthy—all, of course, "for the glory of God."
The latest delusion is that God wants us to set up the Kingdom now, to rule the secular realm. All of this is Antichrist and the False Prophet. Its purpose is to keep us occupied with externals so the formation of the inner Kingdom of God, the real threat to Satan’s kingdom, does not take place.
The prayerful saint should be put on guard at the first sign of such an approach to the Gospel. The ease with which multitudes of Pentecostal believers have been deceived gives us some idea of the ability of Satan to produce Laodicean-type churches.
The current emphasis on "positive" thinking and preaching is in complete opposition to the fiery trials that are to come upon us. Numerous believers because of the "rapture revelation" and "positive preaching" will be unable to cope successfully with the tribulations of the closing days of the age. This is Satan’s motive in promoting these errors.
What, then, should we be expecting from God?
The order is as follows:
First, we are to be saved. We are to receive Christ, repent of our worldliness and fleshly lusts, be baptized in water, and then the Divine Seed is to be conceived in us.
Next, we are to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom and power to overcome sin and also assigns gifts to us for our profit, for the building of the Body of Christ.
Then the Lord Jesus comes to us in the Spirit and brings to light the hidden darkness of our personality. We are baptized with the fire of Divine Judgment of which John the Baptist spoke.
Finally the Father and the Son enter us and make Their abode with us.
The entrance of the Father and the Son into us marks the completion of our redemption, the establishing in us of the inner dimension of the Kingdom of God. The Day Star, Christ, has risen in our heart. The Throne of God and of the Lamb has been created in us. We have experienced the personal kingdom age, the personal day of the Lord.
Now we are ready for the manifestation stage, the outer dimension, of the Kingdom of God. Now we are ready to serve as kings and priests over the nations of the earth.
Now the Lord Jesus Christ can be manifested to the nations of the earth. His manifestation is not possible until His Body is ready to be manifested.
We see, therefore, that the second coming of the Lord, the return of Christ to the earth, is not only a coming but also a manifestation to the nations of the earth of that which already has occurred in His people.
The Lord Jesus is here now and is working powerfully in the hearts of the victorious saints. By the Spirit, Jesus is guiding each believer through the various stages of transformation and reconciliation until complete, restful union with God is possible. He is here now. He is with us now.
The concept that Jesus is a trillion light years away and suddenly he will appear in the clouds and whisk away a surprised Church is destructive. It is destructive because it turns the attention of the saints away from the supremely important establishing of the inner kingdom, the inner day of the Lord.
The coming of the Lord will not catch the victorious saint by surprise.
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. (I Thessalonians 5:4)
If Christ already has manifested Himself to us, has come to us, how then will His outward manifestation catch us by surprise?
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. (John 14:19)
We live by the Life of Jesus. How can we be taken by surprise?
It is the wicked who will be taken by surprise.
Any Christian who would be caught by surprise by the coming of the Lord is not nearly ready to be manifested together with Him. That person has been living by the light of the world, not by the light of Christ.
The baptism with fire that prepares us for the entrance of the Father and the Son, in the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, is an important part of the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is the will of Jesus that we be tested and purged with fire in advance so when the time of manifestation, the marriage of the Lamb, has arrived, we shall be prepared fully to be revealed together with Him. Our judgment has been completed. Our warfare has been accomplished. Our iniquity has been pardoned. Now it is time for us to put on immortality and to be revealed together with Christ as an integral part of His manifestation, His coming.
Jesus is here with us now. He is here with us when we are alone and also when we are gathered together with fervent saints. He has not left it to the ambitions and creative ideas of men to build His Church. Christ Himself will build His own Church on the rock that is Himself, on the chief Cornerstone of the Temple of God.
All of the kingdoms of religious men will be torn down. The Lord alone will be exalted in the Day of the revelation of the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles in the saints. The world desires to see Jesus, not the efforts of religious people no matter how well intentioned.
The second coming of the Lord will be the manifestation of that which has been wrought throughout two thousand years of travail. Of special importance will be the manifestation of the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife. Through her the nations will be able to approach Christ and receive the blessings of God.
God has not assigned any aspect of the perfecting of the Wife of the Lamb to the imaginations and abilities of men. All of the works of religious Babylon (man-directed Christianity) will be cast down. Jesus alone will perfect His Wife, His Church, His inner kingdom. He will not allow the world to understand her relationship to God until He is certain of her love and has proved that she cannot be corrupted by people or spirits.
Jesus alone is our religion, our salvation. We understand that the hour of His manifestation will come. We look forward to it with the greatest joy. Meanwhile every moment of our days and nights is filled with communications and experiences. We are pressing, with Christ’s inspiration and guidance, into the fullness of the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord. There are many opponents and obstacles but through Christ we will overcome them all—every one of them. We will achieve our inheritance in the Lord. We will please God and become His son. We are determined to do this.
The first aspect of the coming of the Lord that is not given enough emphasis today is the direct, thorough involvement of Christ in every detail of our spiritual growth and ministry.
The second aspect of the coming of the Lord that is not stressed sufficiently, we believe, is the increase of the inner coming of the Lord. We understand that the Scriptures point toward an increase in the inner coming as the outward Day of Christ approaches.
In the Day of the Lord, God and Christ will enter the members of the Body of Christ, filling them with the Divine Presence and Glory. The members then will be transfigured just as Jesus was transfigured on the mountain.
Peter employs the Greek term parousia when speaking of the transfiguration. Parousia is the word used commonly in the New Testament for the "coming" of the Lord (Matthew 24:27; I Thessalonians 4:15; II Thessalonians 2:1; and so forth).
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming [parousia ] of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (II Peter 1:16)
We currently are not able to receive such fullness of glory. It appears that the Lord, beginning in our day, will increase His Presence in us gradually until we are able to be filled with the Glory of God.
Paul prayed that the saints at Ephesus would be strengthened in the inner man until Christ was dwelling in their hearts, the end being that they "might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:14-19).
The latter rain of God’s Spirit that has been reserved for the last days will exceed the Pentecostal outpourings of history. In addition to the outpouring of the latter rain, the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be formed in the saints.
We are not prepared to receive Divine Life and Glory on this scale. We enjoy the blessing of Christ’s Presence. But are we prepared to have the Father and the Son dwell in us to the extent that the Father dwells in Christ? Can we live in the fullness of the Glory of Christ?
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (John 17:22)
Isaiah speaks of the gradual capturing of us by the Spirit of God:
But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (Isaiah 28:13)
The waters of God’s Glory come to our ankles, then to our knees, then to our loins, until finally we are swimming in a river that cannot be crossed (Ezekiel 47:3-5).
Revival glory will increase in the end-time. If we would know the Lord and participate in the increase of glory we must press forward constantly in Him. The Lord’s manifestation will be as the sun rising at the start of a new day. We now are entering the darkest hour of the night; but the Day Star, Christ, already is rising in the hearts of the victorious saints. The Day Star heralds the dawning of the manifestation of Christ.
During these last days the Lord Jesus will come to us as the "rain." This is not speaking of His bodily manifestation in glory but of His coming in the latter (harvest) rain.
The latter-rain revival has begun already, bringing revelation and anticipation. Soon there will come the greatest outpouring of God’s Spirit in all history, enabling the saints to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness to every nation on the earth. After that there will arise the burning sun of persecution and tribulation in order that God’s "wheat" may be ready for the harvest.
It is important to note that the latter-rain revival is a "coming" of the Lord:
". . . he will come to us as the rain, . . . ."
We understand, therefore, that prior to His bodily manifestation the Lord Jesus will "come" to His people, bringing resurrection life and the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord.
This pronouncement by Hosea agrees with Acts 3:19,20:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: (Acts 3:19,20)
There will be times (plural) of refreshing that will come to the saints as we approach the manifestation of Christ. Jesus will remain in Heaven until the time comes for the restoration of all that was promised by the Prophets. The actual manifestation of Christ, as we understand the Scriptures, will be preceded by an increase in glory given to the saints. The Lord’s coming will be the climax of a slowly building crescendo of imparted Divine Life.
But is it not true that Antichrist will overcome the saints in the last days and there will be very great persecution and tribulation?
Yes, such is the case. The closing days of this age will witness a severe chastening of mankind including the members of the Wife of the Lamb.
But the fires of tribulation that will come upon God’s people will refine them and press them into Christ. As the believers choose to follow on to know the Lord, He will enter them in unprecedented revelation and power.
There will be, in the end-time, very great tribulation and very great glory. These two helpers—tribulation and glory—will result in a quick work of righteousness. A "nation will be born at once," meaning the Body of Christ, the Temple of God, will be brought forth in a short period of time (Isaiah 66:8).
The bringing of the Body of Christ to maturity and unity cannot be accomplished in the world as it now is. Everything in which man trusts must be shaken violently. The shaking will cause a division between Babylon (man-directed Christianity) and the Wife of the Lamb; between the self-serving "Christian" churches and the purified remnant.
We may not notice it happening because of the disturbances that will appear all around us; but during the days to come the Lord Jesus will draw ever nearer to us. The available glory will more than compensate for the trouble we shall face. The revelation and power of the Lord will increase in His Church until she stands without spot or blemish of any kind, ready for her manifestation to the nations of the earth as the Bride of the Lamb.
We glory, as did Paul, in the tribulations that will come. For along with the tribulations will be given to those who seek Christ a measure of Divine Life and Presence that has been reserved for the days of darkness.
Truly, Jesus has kept the good wine until now.
Let us make clear at the outset our conviction that there indeed will come a bodily manifestation of Christ, a return of the Lord Jesus from Heaven, and that this has not taken place as yet. Our emphasis on the spiritual coming of the Lord in our day, and in the days to come, is not to be confused with the worldwide coming of the Lord (Revelation 1:7).
The Lord Jesus will come both in and with His saints. Jesus is here now in the Spirit. He Himself is building His Church. His coming, in one sense, will be as that of a person returning from afar, but in another sense will be a bodily manifestation of what is here already.
Prior to His descent to the Mount of Olives there will be a manifestation of Christ’s Glory directly over the earth.
Notice the following:
And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. (Revelation 6:14)
When the above verse takes place the peoples of the earth will become aware of the reality of God and His Christ.
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: (Revelation 6:16)
Think about this! It is not that God came from afar, from beyond the galaxies. Rather, that which always has been immediately above the earth but has been hidden by the heaven will suddenly appear to us. The scroll will be rolled back and the Glory of God and His Christ will be witnessed by the inhabitants of the earth. The play will be over.
This is why we say that the coming of Christ will be the manifestation of that which never has been far from us.
The Lord’s coming is His Presence (parousia).
The same principle applies in large measure to the appearing of the saints. The members of the Body of Christ are partly in Heaven, partly on the earth. The Church is one. Those who have died physically are not far off. Rather, they have passed into a dimension invisible to us. When they were alive in the flesh the glory that was in them was not "present," as far as the peoples of the earth are concerned.
Those of us who still have our physical bodies are with Jesus in the Spirit and yet are alive bodily on the earth. But the glory in us is not present and available to the peoples of the earth. Our true life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ is manifested we also shall be manifested. The eternal glory being wrought in us is even now among people because it is in us. Yet it is not available to the nations because it is hidden with Christ in God.
When the sky above us is rolled together as a scroll, the nations of the earth will become conscious of the reality of the Glory of God and of His Christ. At that time we also shall be manifested. The glory in us will be expanded greatly and will become visible to people on the earth. This is the true nature of the "coming" of the Lord.
The concept we are presenting is in contrast to the prevailing doctrine that is, as we see it, incorrect and misleading. The prevailing doctrine conceives of the Lord Jesus as leaving the earth and journeying to a land beyond the stars. When we die or are "raptured," we also go to that far away place. One day the Lord will return from that distant star and set up a physical kingdom among the Jews.
The current teaching does not appear to be clear as to whether we will return with Him or whether we will remain in our "mansions" beyond space and time. It doesn’t matter whether or not it is clear. It is all a fable.
The prevailing doctrine conceives of salvation as a "ticket" to a land in the outer reaches of the universe. We accept Christ as our Lord and Savior and our reward is to be taken away from the "devil’s earth" and relocated far, far away. A moral change in us, while it may be desirable, certainly is not essential; for where we are going there is no sin. Such is our tradition.
The Scriptures, in decided contrast to our fables, present redemption as our spiritual, and then bodily transformation. The work is performed on the earth but is hidden. It cannot be seen. It is not "present." The Lord Jesus is here. The elect angels are here. We are here. But very little of the Kingdom glory is visible or present as far as the nations of the earth are concerned. The Kingdom is veiled. It is not a part of the world system or understandable to the world system.
When the Father has determined His Kingdom is ready to be revealed, what He has wrought through Christ for two thousand years will be revealed, it will become "present" to the nations of the earth.
What we have become will be manifested in the Day of Christ. All persons will be manifested before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the Lamb and His Wife will be revealed to the nations of the earth. The essential work of redemption takes place now—on the earth. What is accomplished during our discipleship is what will be revealed.
It is the product of Christ’s working in us that is the Kingdom of God. If we choose instead to wait to be glorified "by grace" we will have missed our salvation. The Lord’s people are being destroyed for lack of knowledge.
When the Lord Jesus is manifested every eye will see Him:
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
The expression "they also that pierced him" is interesting. Those who nailed Christ to the cross, the Jews who cried for His blood and the Romans who performed the execution, are in the spirit realm today. Is it true that the Lord will be revealed in the heavens as well as in the earth? This is not unlikely.
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. (Isaiah 34:4,5)
Perhaps the Lord will be manifested to all persons whether they are on the earth or in the spirit realm. For the "coming" of the Lord is the manifestation of the Lord.
"Every eye shall see him." When He appears there will not be a glad rejoicing on the part of all the earth’s peoples but a crying out of many to the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from the Face of God and from the wrath of the Lamb.
Yet, such abject terror is not what the Lord intends for the nations of the saved. It is God’s desire that the nations be blessed through the Lord Jesus Christ:
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:18)
The Lord Jesus has not called His Church out from the world so the world may be destroyed but so that He, working through and with us, may save the world. We (true Israel, elect Jews and Gentiles) are being created kings and priests in order that the world may be ruled justly and also may have priests who are able and willing to stand between Christ and the nations of the earth.
"The woman is the glory of the man" (I Corinthians 11:7). So it is true that the Wife of the Lamb is the glory of the Lamb. It is the Wife of the Lamb who will bring the glory and joy of the Lord to the nations of the earth. The nations of the saved will approach Christ through us.
When Christ appears it will not be possible for the peoples of the earth to approach Him. The only reason the saints will be able to see Him and approach Him is that we shall have been clothed in the robes of immortality. We shall be able to see Him as He is because we have been made like Him. We shall have boldness in the Day of Judgment because we already shall have passed through fiery tribulations and been purified. Even with all of this it still will be an awesome experience to stand in the Presence of the almighty Christ.
If the saints will find it nearly impossible to abide the Presence of the "Fire of Israel," what will be true of the peoples of the earth who know little or nothing of God’s Christ?
When we say everyone will see Jesus when He appears we mean they will behold the royal glory and power of the Son of Man. They will know that God and His appointed Judge have come to give every person the consequences of his behavior on the earth.
Will God save anyone in that hour who is not a member of the Church? Indeed He will! There will be multitudes of peoples on the earth whom God will save. The only persons who will be destroyed by His appearing are those who have rejected Him and their own conscience and who resist His appearing because they prefer their evil works to the Presence of God in Christ.
If there are multitudes of people who are to be saved in the Day of the Lord, and if these individuals cannot approach the glorified Christ, how, then, will God save them? God will save them through the Wife of the Lamb, through the saints. It is we who are the Lord’s royal priesthood. Because of our good works they will behold, the nations will glorify God in their Day of visitation (I Peter 2:12).
We are becoming the Light of the world because Christ—the Light of God—is being formed in us. But, as in the case of Gideon’s army, our light is concealed in a pitcher. When the "pitcher" (our mortality) is broken, then the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God that today is in us will burst forth for all men to see.
And the Gentiles [nations] shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:3)
In that day multitudes of people will be converted. Because of the Divine Glory seen on us they will glorify God. They will believe God has sent Christ. They will understand God loves us as He loves His only Son, and they will come to us for salvation. The woman is the glory of the man. It is Christ’s pleasure to allow His Wife to be the one whom the nations can approach for deliverance and joy.
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one [the marriage of the Lamb]; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23)
"That the world may know that thou hast sent me."
Isn’t this what Paul taught?
When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (II Thessalonians 1:10)
Christ will be glorified in His saints in the sight of the peoples of the earth. Some of those nations will be destroyed; others will be saved (Matthew 25:31-46).
In the Day of Christ all the nations of the earth will stand before His throne. But how much they will see of the glorified Christ is a question. No man can see God and live.
Revelation 3:20,21 teaches us that Christ will enter us and dine with us. Such an entering results in the Throne of God and of the Lamb being within us. We then shall be sitting with Christ on His throne (that is in us) even as He is seated with His Father on His throne (that is in Christ). The Scriptures are clear that it is the saints who will govern and judge the world (I Corinthians 6:2).
We cannot tell whether the nations of the earth will be gathered together before the very Person of Christ himself or before the Presence of Christ in His Church. If it is before Christ himself, that indeed will be a fearful experience for those people. It is fearful even for us who have served Him for many years. Even we, while in our mortal body, would not be able to stand in the fully revealed Presence of the Lord. Are you ready to stand in the Presence of Christ the King and Judge? The Apostle John, the beloved disciple and friend of Christ, was not able to stand in His Presence.
Notice carefully the following:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13,14)
Every true Christian would interpret this to mean Christ will receive from His Father dominion over the nations of the earth.
But what do we find:
I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. (Daniel 7:16)
Who is the "one like the Son of man" who will be given dominion over the nations of the earth?
But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. (Daniel 7:18)
Who will be given the Kingdom? The saints!
This is repeated in the chapter. Then in verse 27 we find that the "people of the saints" will be given the Kingdom and dominion under the whole Heaven. The phrase "the people of the saints" suggests that the overcomers are seated with Christ and their spiritual offspring are ruling the earth.
The seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel is clear that Christ has chosen to rule through and with His saints. It always is God in Christ who is ruling. But it is the saints, and the people of the saints, who make the actual contact with the nations. It is the saints who are visible and approachable to people so that those people can come to the Lord and be taught of Him.
We are being created the Tabernacle of God so through us all forms of death can be removed from the nations. God cannot approach the nations without destroying them. But through Christ through us He can rule and bless them, redeeming them from all of the works of the destroyer.
We are being created the priests of the Lord.
The creation is not waiting for the manifestation of the Son of God. His manifestation will be threatening and terrifying to them. Rather, the creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19), for the sons of God are people whom mankind can receive.
God spends many years perfecting both our humanity and our Divinity. Because God has formed His own Divine Nature in us we are able to come to our holy Father and stand in His Presence. In our humanity we approach men. We are being created the bridge between God and man.
Christ is Jacob’s ladder. Christ reaches from the earth to Heaven. We, the members of the Body of Christ, are the steps of that ladder. By means of us, men and women, boys and girls, can climb into the Presence of their loving Father in Heaven. When we attain maturity in Christ we will reveal in ourselves the glorified heavens and glorified nature; the fullness of God and the fullness of glorified man.
Such is our destiny, our inheritance.
We are suffering much and being trained very carefully so we can inherit the nations. The greatest inheritance of all (next to inheriting God and Christ) is people. To inherit one person is better than to inherit thousands of millions of mansions, jewels or solar systems. Jesus understands this well. As He is formed in us we too understand it.
The manifestation of Christ in His saints is described in the Book of Isaiah:
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)
God’s elect will rise from the dead. They will shine as the lightning from the east to the west. Every eye will see them, for they will be manifested along with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Current Christian doctrine maintains that we shall be raised from the dead, ascend to meet the Lord, go back with Him to Heaven, stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and then be married to the Lamb. What takes place after that is not expressed clearly, for the emphasis is on the escape of the living from the present world in order to avoid suffering.
The common teaching is that the resurrection and catching up will be invisible to the eyes of the nations. The weak, defenseless church is removed from the earth and then Antichrist rules the world—except for the protests of a few Jews who do not have the Holy Spirit to assist them. In the present doctrine, as we have outlined it above, the nations of the earth do not profit from our rising from the dead. They are not allowed to witness the removal of the defeated church.
The Scripture teaches, rather, that the raising of the elect from the dead is performed in the sight of the nations. The raising is the manifestation of the marriage of the Lamb. The saints have passed before the Judgment Seat prior to this time and the raising and glorifying of them is the sign that Satan’s hold on them has been broken completely.
The raising and glorifying of the saints is the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19). It is the manifestation of Christ with and in His saints.
The order is as follows:
The nations of the earth will behold Christ coming with power and great glory. This will result in much anguish on their part.
The trumpet of God will sound and the elect will be raised from the dead, will shine in glory, and will be gathered together to meet the Lord in the air. The raising and glorifying of the saints will terrify the wicked but will bring hope and joy to the righteous of the earth.
This order can be seen clearly in Matthew:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30,31)
There is no New Testament writing, to our knowledge, that suggests there will be an invisible coming of Christ to raise his saints from the dead and carry them off to a Heaven far away from the earth. The personal coming to the individual of John, Chapter 14, as noted earlier, will be invisible as far as the world is concerned. But this personal coming does not include bodily ascension and resurrection. It is not a "rapture" as currently conceived.
However, the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians with its shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God, certainly does not suggest an invisible, secret coming. That coming will be an open manifestation of the power and glory of God.
The Greek term parousia (translated "coming") employed in I Thessalonians 4:15 is used also in Matthew 24:27 (translated "coming"). The common use of parousia suggests that I Thessalonians 4:15 and Matthew 24:27 are referring to the same event. This event will take place "immediately after the tribulation of those days" (Matthew 24:29).
To maintain that I Thessalonians, Chapter Four and Matthew, Chapter 24 are speaking of two different comings separated by seven years (as in the Dispensational model), when the same Greek term is used, when the same elements, such as the clouds and the trumpet, are present, and when the Old Testament portrays the raising and glorifying of the elect as a public event (Gideon’s army, as well as Isaiah, Chapter 60), suggests an interpretation designed to support a preconceived idea. Taken at face value, the two Scriptures clearly describe the same event.
It is certain that the Scriptures set forth the manifestation of Christ and His saints in the Day of the Lord as an earthshaking event witnessed by all, and not an invisible evacuation into the spirit realm of a group of Gentile believers who are so weak they cannot stand in the Presence of Antichrist.
The secret, invisible coming of the Lord is described in John 14:3, and 14:18-23. But this coming does not include a bodily resurrection or ascension. It is not the manifestation of Christ or of the sons of God. It is not the Day of the Lord, the time of the raising of the dead. Rather, it is the coming of the Lord to purify His saints in preparation for His (and their) manifestation. Perhaps it is this invisible (to the world) coming of the Lord into His people in judgment that Bible teachers have confused with a "rapture" of the bodies of the saints from the earth.
It is not the Lord’s will that our bodies be removed from the earth but that we be guarded from the deceptions of the enemy:
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (John 17:15)
There is a directness, simplicity, and coherence of the entire Scriptures. This simplicity and coherence is lost in the Dispensational model. Not only are we Gentiles robbed of our inheritance in Israel, but in addition the simple, direct interpretation of the New Testament is destroyed. The teachings of Christ in the Gospels are applied to the Jews only, separating the Word of Christ from the writings of the Apostles.
In Dispensationalism the Epistles are complicated needlessly. For example, the fourth and fifth chapters of I Thessalonians and the first and second chapters of II Thessalonians are wrenched in an attempt to prove that Paul was speaking of two different comings of the Lord separated by seven years. Yet, the same Greek term, parousia is used throughout First and Second Thessalonians.
The sooner we discard the Dispensational model, with its special "age of grace," its wall of separation between the Jewish saints and the Gentile saints, its secret evacuation into the spirit realm of Gentile believers, the sooner we shall restore the direct, simple coherence of the whole Scriptures.
The Day of the Lord, the day of the manifestation of Christ and His saints (whether Jewish or Gentile), will take place at the moment of earth’s greatest spiritual darkness. People will be crying "Peace and safety!" because it will appear that man finally has solved his own problems without the help of God and His Christ.
The sign of the Son of Man will appear suddenly in the heavens. The sky will be rolled back as a scroll and all men will behold the Glory of God and of the Lamb.
The nations of the earth will realize they have been deceived. The meek will rejoice in that Day of days. The wicked will curse God in their terror and rage.
Then the dead holy ones will be raised and glorified. The living saints will put on the robes of immortality. God and Christ will enter the elect in unprecedented fullness. The Lord will "roar out of Zion," out of His people (Joel 3:16).
The saints will stand on the earth, an exceedingly great army. Then the Commander in Chief will call them up to Himself. The leaders of the armies of the wicked will organize themselves to resist the descent from Heaven of Christ and His army, but the righteous of the earth will rejoice because of the advent of the God of Heaven and of the Lamb and His Wife.
"At evening it shall be light" (Zechariah 14:7). It will be an evening time for the world, and the sun and moon will be darkened. The stars will fall. But now the light will be as in the first three days of creation. It will come from the Lamb and His Wife. There will be light over the whole face of the earth—the Light of Christ.
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:2)
The Glory of Christ will come upon the saints, upon the Wife of the Lamb. The peoples of the earth will behold our resurrection and glorification. They will see the Glory of God and His Lamb in the sky, and the revelation of Divinity will be terrorizing. The saints who have labored among them, who have borne a true witness, who are human beings like themselves, will be much more approachable than God and His Lamb.
The nations will not be able to look on God or His Christ. But they shall be able to see and comprehend the Divine glory that will abide eternally on the revealed sons of God.
And the Gentiles [nations] shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:3)
Antichrist and his armies will be destroyed by the brightness of the coming of Christ and His saints. But many nations will be saved in that Day. They will believe that Jesus is the Christ of God because they will see His glory in His saints (John 17:21-23).
Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. (Isaiah 60:4)
God has given Christ the nations of the earth for His inheritance. We are coheirs with the Lord. The nations of the earth are our inheritance also. We shall inherit them in the Day of the Lord, the day of the manifestation of the glorified saints, the day of the marriage of the Lamb. The nations that come to us in that Day of days are blessed for they have been called to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).
Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles [nations] shall come unto thee. (Isaiah 60:5)
This marks the beginning of the rule of Jerusalem over the whole earth. Jerusalem will reign as the Kingdom of God throughout the thousand-year period. After that, Satan will be released. Once again the world will arise against God’s Kingdom. But now God will do away with the present earth and sky—the universe as we know it. The rest of the dead will be raised and judged. The destiny of all persons will be sealed.
A new heaven and new earth will come into being. The nations of the saved will walk on the new earth. The Tabernacle of God, which is the new Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God, the Wife of the Lamb, will rule the nations. There will be no more death for God in Christ in the saints will feed the people with eternal life.
The holy city is the supreme manifestation of God’s Christ. The Wife of the Lamb, which is the Church, is the fullness of that manifestation.
The wall of the new Jerusalem, and the city itself, are being constructed today in the hearts of the saints. The glory of the Lamb and His Wife has not been revealed as yet, and so the work goes on in the midst of the darkness and confusion of the world. It is an inner, spiritual work wrought in the hearts of the believers. The Kingdom of God is a seed planted in the heart.
The whole world is in travail today. All things are moving toward maturity and definition. The wicked will become powerfully wicked and the righteous will become powerfully righteous. The days of division are here. Multitudes are in the valley of decision. The opportunity for double-mindedness is disappearing rapidly.
The events of the future will compel a separating of the Bride from all spirits that are not of the Lord Jesus. The members of the Bride will leave religious Babylon (man-directed Christianity) and enter the romance of Christ.
Let the righteous be righteous and the wicked be wicked! Make the way of the Lord straight and easy to find and follow!
Christ and His saints are here on the earth now and the Glory of God is in them. When the trumpet of God sounds, the Glory of God will be manifested in the saints (the great majority of whom will have returned from Heaven with the Lord Jesus) and also will be manifested in Christ Himself in the sky above the earth.
It will not be the coming of Christ and His saints from a far distant place; rather, it will be the revealing of that which is concealed by the limitations of the material realm. As soon as the limitations have been rolled back, in the sky above and also in the bodies of the saints, the nations of the earth will see and respond to what never had been far from them.
The marriage of the Lamb is at hand. Let us make ourselves ready, for His coming will not result in a change of what we are (except for our bodies) but rather in a manifestation of that which we have become by His painstaking transformation of our personalities and His entrance into us.