Monthly Archives: March 2012

Segulah—God’s Special Treasure

Years ago… let me modify that… many years ago… I was part of a fledgling group of Christians the Lord had brought together.  We met in homes.  A few times we had a visit from a man from the United States—Lee Ellenwood by name.  He ministered in our midst a word that was… well… let’s just say it was “different.”  For one thing he liked to act out what he was teaching.

One day he told us about the sheep in the sheep pen contentedly eating their routine fodder when suddenly one of them lets out a roar.  Brother Ellenwood demonstrated.  It was different all right.

Here are the sheep in the sheep pen contentedly eating their rations.  But—and Brother Ellenwood acted it out before our eyes—here is this young sheep hungrily looking off to the mountains in the distance.  Suddenly he lets out a roar.

His fellow sheep feeding beside him are not a little shocked.

This happens again and again to the consternation of the other sheep in the pen.

“What’s gotten into you, brother?  What do you mean by all this roaring?  Sheep don’t roar.  And what’s this about prey out there in the mountains?  We’re beginning to wonder about you.”

All of this fell strange on our ears, and there were some among us who began to wonder about Brother Ellenwood.

But his message could have been given in two words.  “There’s more.”

I liked Brother Ellenwood.  There was a gentleness about him.  Yet he spoke of lions and prey in the mountains of God–our heritage in the Spirit–and of not resting till we had brought down that prey and made it our own.  He told us of the different names for lions in the Bible.  The old lion, the young lion… the hunting lion… the great lion… I forget them all now.  But what he taught was entirely scriptural.  Jacob prophesied of Judah the lion’s whelp– the lion of the tribe of Judah– who has “gone up” from the prey (Gen. 49.9)– speaking, I believe, of the ascension of Christ the Lamb of God after the “prey” this Lion brought down at Calvary.  Balaam too prophesied of the people who would rise up “as a great lion… and not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain” (Num. 23.24).  (It’s interesting to note here how Balaam speaks of “the people” (plural) and then suddenly is speaking of “he” (singular).

Another time as Brother Ellenwood was ministering he picked up a dinner plate from a table nearby and began to chew on it.  “My,” he said, “isn’t this plate good?”  We laughed.  But how often do we do the same thing, he said, when we focus our attention on some great minister more than on the message he has given?  We eat the plate admiringly and forget the food on it.

I remember the time he told us about the twinkies.  Apparently it’s some kind of sugary treat sold in the U.S.   “How many Christians live on twinkies?” he asked.  He meant Christians who have a perpetual taste for superficial things—such as ministries who get the people’s attention with some gimmick or novelty or focus on the spectacular.  Or some new thing making the rounds of the churches.  The latest innovation someone has come up with to ward off Christian boredom.  And people get so full of this stuff they have no appetite for solid food.  Strong meat.  Lion’s food.

Now I come to the title of this blog entry.  I remember once Brother Ellenwood told us of the Hebrew words sether, and segulah. He spoke the words as though savouring something very tasty, something very rich and satisfying.  And he said he would come back some time and tell us about these.

That never happened.  I don’t really know why, but he didn’t make it back our way.  Maybe he was out in those mountains of God somewhere looking for prey.

But the words stuck with me.  Sether.  Segulah.  Eventually I searched out their meanings myself.  They are indeed rich with truth.  Solid truth.

I’ve written about them both, and now have added Segulah—God’s Special Treasure to the page Other Writings.  (It’s too long for a blog entry.)

Perhaps someday I’ll add something on Sether as well.

The Sword In The Shadow

One thing about the Internet is that it has brought into being an information overload.  There is an overwhelming ocean of information available.  We have been deluged with knowledge… and you pretty much need an “ark” to get through it all safely.  For, though it was never God’s intention, even Christian teachings end up becoming that—just more information.  There are thousands of websites hosted by Christians, thousands of messages, thousands of blogs like this one.  How much of it actually penetrates the heart in a way that changes us?  It can become a habit to not read things carefully and prayerfully—and selectively—with a prepared heart.  You just skim things quickly, and move on.

Let us be careful that our spiritual faculties don’t become dull with all this use.  That can happen.  I want to be watchful to not let that happen.  Here is why.

The other day I sensed the Spirit of the Lord reminding me again that He yet intends to speak forth a very powerful word.  And it is going to surprise many.  I was reminded of a passage in Isaiah.

Listen, O isles, unto Me; and hearken, ye peoples, from far; The LORD hath called Me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath He made mention of My name.
And He hath made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand hath He hid Me, and made Me a polished shaft; in His quiver hath He hid Me;
And said unto Me, Thou art My Servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified (Isa. 49.1-3).

This passage is no doubt speaking of Christ Himself.  For it is Christ who has “the sharp sword with two edges” proceeding out of His mouth (Rev. 1.16, 2.12).  At the same time this is speaking of a corporate testimony:  “Thou art My Servant, O Israel…”  Israel is a corporate entity.  Yet here this corporate entity is spoken of in the singular.  “Thou art My Servant, O Israel…”  In the King James Version of the  Bible, thou is always the second person singular pronoun.

And so I think this is one of the places in the Old Testament where we see hidden the mystery of the corporate Man that God revealed to his apostles—particularly the apostle Paul—the mystery of Christ.  Paul wrote, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ” (1 Cor. 12.12).  He didn’t say, “so also is the body of Christ.”  He said, “so also is Christ.”  We then as members of the body of Christ are this sword, this mouth, that Christ greatly desires to speak out of.

One of the weapons of our spiritual armour is, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6.17).  It is not just the Bible.  It is “the Spirit’s sword, which is the word of God.”  It is the word that the Spirit of God speaks that is the sword of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But it is we who wield—actually become—this sword.

We are reminded of Gideon and his little band of three hundred.  “The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon…” they cried.  Not just the sword of Gideon. And not just the sword of the Lord either.  “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon.”  One sword!  The sword of the Lord and of Gideon and his little band of dedicated men who were one with Him.  It wrought utter havoc among the enemies of the people of God.

How little we have seen of this formidable, fearful, spiritual weapon.  How little our world about us has seen of it.  How little our enemies have tasted of it… though they dread it like nothing else.

We—and they—are yet going to see this terrible swift sword.

There is no more formidable weapon in the whole universe.

And it is going to go forth only from the mouths of those who have been hidden in the shadow of the hand of the Lord.

The hand speaks of the Lord’s dealings in our lives: His discipline, His chastening… His love… His covering, His protection… His own work.  “In the shadow of His hand hath He hid me…”  Others can’t see you there.  His shadow is over you… and He is working.  What is He doing?  You yourself may wonder at times.  Is He doing anything in my life?  You may wonder why you never amount to anything when others are out there in the light doing great things for God.  But as He keeps you hidden from view in the shadow of His hand He is molding your mouth, shaping your mouth, into a sharp sword with two edges.  You are learning not to speak your own words, but His.  You are learning that many times you have nothing to say.  His purpose in it is that you might become part of this corporate Servant in whom He is glorified.

Jesus said of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, “He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shew (declare) unto you” (Jn. 16.15).  This is the commitment of the Holy Spirit—not to speak from Himself, but what He hears the Son of God saying (Jn. 16.13).

But when He speaks—He and the one in whom He abides—it is Christ Himself speaking.

What is the Lord Jesus Christ going to do with this sword?

First, He is going to purify His churches with it (Rev. 2.12).  It is a two-edged sword (a two-mouthed sword as the original has it: God’s mouth and our own mouth) that pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  It is a sword—a word—with the very eyes of God in it, and lays all bare before Him (Heb. 4.12,13).  Only those in whom the hand of the Lord has wrought the heart of a priest are going to be entrusted with this kind of sword.

Then He is going to bathe this sword in Heaven (Isa. 34.5).  That is, He is going to cause principalities and powers in heavenly places, the rulers of the darkness of this age, to know its devastating power.

And He is going to visit the serpent, the dragon, in the midst of the sea with this sword (Isa. 27.1).

Very wondrous things, these, and fearsome.

A mouth that is a sword of light–  laser sharp… and just as penetrating.

A man or woman who, long-hidden in God’s quiver, is the arrow He selects and suddenly shoots into the heart of His enemy like a bolt of lightning.

Only those who continue to abide under the shadow of God’s hand will become this kind of weaponry.

The Sea And The Waves Roaring

I don’t know if you are feeling the same way I am about things in the news these days. It seems to me things have “morphed” into a frightening ugliness.  My news source is the Google news page, and I don’t make a habit of going through it all.  A lot of it I dare not read; it’s unclean.  Much of it I can’t read; it’s too painful to read it.  So I skim the headlines.

The other day as I considered it all, these words came on my heart again and again.  “…The sea and the waves roaring… The sea and the waves roaring…” (Lk. 21.25).  That’s what Jesus prophesied things would be like just prior to the coming of the kingdom of God.

Upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring…

That’s a perfect description of the sea just now—the sea of nations, the sea of humanity.  There is so much distress, and perplexity, and unrest.

In fact I wonder if I don’t see a new beast rising up out of the sea, something along the lines of Daniel’s vision, “and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.  And four beasts came up from the sea…” (Dan. 7.3).  John the Revelator saw something similar—a beast having seven heads and ten horns rising out of the sea.

Now, I’m not trying to invent a new eschatology of what that is all about, and I’m not saying I’ve had a divine revelation; it’s just a feeling I have; I’m just surmising.

What I’m thinking of is the “waves” of influence that have arisen as masses of ordinary people in various nations have gathered together—multitudes in the streets banding together in a common cause.  They just came up “out of the sea.”  They discovered that massed together, rising up together, they had power.  Is this a new political force in the earth– a new beast rising out ot the sea?

Some of these waves have been extremely violent.  Add to that the frightening riots in our so-called orderly democratic societies.  Anarchy right before our eyes.

Now add in this– the influence of social media these days.  The little people who had no voice now have a megaphone that has turned their puny voice into a shout that gets political attention.

Whereunto shall all this grow?  Truly the waves of the sea are becoming very restless.  Very boisterous.  I believe they are going to grow even more boisterous.

A storm is gathering strength.

I take courage in knowing this—the One who stilled the waves on Galilee will in His timing speak again and still the waves of this great sea.

Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, Thou stillest them.  (Ps. 89.9).

What I mean is… consider this verse in the light of the one just before it.

O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto Thee? Or to Thy faithfulness round about thee?
Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise Thou stillest them.

Thou rulest the raging of the sea.  Who is that?  The LORD God of hosts.

Fast forward to a stormy night on Galilee centuries after this psalm was written.  Who was it that stilled the raging waves of the sea that stormy night on Galilee?  It was a Man whom to see was to see the LORD God of hosts, a Man who did only what He saw His Father the LORD God of hosts doing.  The things this Man did, it was God the Father who dwelt in Him who did the works (Jn. 14.10).

And so it was the LORD God of hosts who calmed the sea of Galilee that night, fulfilling an ancient prophecy of the psalms.

I believe we shall yet see an even greater fulfillment of that prophecy.  I anticipate that this same One shall speak again and still the raging waves of the restless sea of humanity.  How shall He do so?  Through that same Man again—and those who are in union with Him because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.

That will indeed be a very powerful word going forth from the mouth of the Lord—in the body of Christ.

High sounding words?  Do you think it’s even possible for this kind of word to go forth from the body of Christ?  I do—when it is Christ Himself speaking.

Which means you and I must seek very earnestly to abide in Christ and hear His Voice and speak what He is speaking.  Be sure that it’s only those who are abiding in Christ— only those who are walking in the yoke and lowliness of Christ, who are going to be entrusted with this kind of word and authority.

But it’s the only answer for this increasingly lawless and violent and godless world.  We are already seeing anarchy in many places.  So far men have always felt they could solve their problems and bring things under control.  I believe God is going to convince man that this is no longer true.  The problems are becoming too great, too complex.  Things are spinning out of control.

The sea is getting very stormy indeed.

It frightens me… and I’m glad to read the disciples of old were scared too that night on Galilee.  They were sure they were about to perish.  I can identify.

…But didn’t they know who was with them in their little ark?  And don’t I know too?

Jesus—He was asleep on a pillow through it all—awoke to their cries.

And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mk. 4.39).

Notice that.  “He rebuked the wind…”  That’s where the real problem is—those “four winds of the heavens” that are always stirring up the great sea.  These are the real instigators behind all the turmoil—evil principalities and powers in the heavenly realm.

“…And He said unto the sea, Peace, be still.”  He rebukes the wind and speaks to the sea—to the peoples in turmoil and unrest.

And there was a great calm.

The disciples were overawed at this.

And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, what manner of man is this, that even the wind and the waves obey Him?

They weren’t even sure He was a man, as the original Greek implies.

Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?

Who?  What manner of Man?  A Man who is one with God.

Likewise shall many be overawed when this same Man speaks peace and brings order out of chaos again.

New Page: Other Writings

Greetings to all this snowy day in March!

I have added a new page called Other Writings to A Mending Feast, which you will find under the banner at the top.

So far there are four writings there:

Apostolic Order In The Church

Be Strong And Very Courageous

The Day Of The Double Portion

The Morning Star

There’s a brief description under each title giving an overview of what it’s about.

I will add other writings from time to time, so if you are interested in reading them please check that page once in a while.

Blessings to all,
Allan

This Ark Can Go Through Fire

We’ve been talking about the great flood of Noah’s day and the ark he built, and how that is a figure of the atonement of Christ on Calvary.  We saw that Peter likened the flood to a great baptism, and the ark to God’s salvation in that baptism.  Peter said that the Christian’s baptism in water is “a like figure” (1 Pt. 4.21).  Water baptism is itself a figure that cannot accomplish what the real baptism can—the cleansing of the conscience.

This does not mean we should not be baptized in water, as some have taught (the early Quakers and the Salvation Army, for instance).  The early Quakers taught that as a mere outward ordinance water baptism wasn’t necessary.  I can understand their stand on this; the church of their day had become totally seized up with the formalism of outward ordinances.  But Paul, after that experience on the Damascus Road, was baptized in water.  And in other places in The Acts we find that the apostles who baptized people in the Holy Spirit also baptized them in water.  And so we do this also. It’s a step of obedience that shows our commitment to submit to the true baptism—baptism into Christ—all our days.

And we are yet going to discover that baptism into Christ, the baptism of the cross, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire—all this along with water baptism is really only “one baptism”—is going to make us invulnerable to the fires of the Day of the Lord.  This is our “ark.”

Peter has much to say about Noah and the flood as something that foreshadows the present dispensation and what is before us now—the fires of the Day of the Lord.  And he says that in the last days there would be scoffers walking after their own lusts and saying:

Where is the promise of His coming?  For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation (2 Pt. 3.4).

George Warnock points out in one of his writings (Chain Reaction in Realms of the Spirit) that we are well past that time now.  Men are no longer saying that all things continue the same.  How could they?  Things have accelerated dramatically the last few decades.  What with the AIDS epidemic, and 9/11, and devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, and peace and order disintegrating on every hand… no one says any more that things continue the same.  More and more the words of the scoffers are hollow in their mouths when they ridicule the words of the Lord.

Peter reminds them (and us) that it was the word of the Lord that sustained the old world (the world before the flood, 2 Pt. 3.5).  It was the word of the Lord that had created the heavens of old, and the earth.  It was the word of the Lord that on the third day had caused the dry land to appear out of the water (Gen. 1.9).  Even during the time when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared, the word of the Lord continued to sustain that world.

But then the day… and the hour… and the minute came… and by the same word of the Lord the windows of heaven were opened and all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the world was deluged with water, and perished (2 Pt. 3.6).

It is only the word of God that continues to sustain our present world (Heb. 1.3, 11.3).  Only the word of the Lord.  Not yet, He says.  Not yet.  Not yet.  The longsuffering God who waited in the days of Noah is waiting again in our day.  He is longsuffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance (2 Pt. 3.9).  And so we account that His longsuffering is with a view to salvation (2 Pt. 3.15).  It’s not because He is slack on the job and doesn’t care about this sin-torn world.  He hates iniquity far deeper than we.  But the work of the Holy Spirit in God’s people is not finished yet.  The Ark is not quite ready yet.

But when it is finally ready?  He will speak.  There will be fire.

But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition (destruction) of ungodly men” (2 Pt. 3.7).

What the ark was in prophetic type back in the days of Noah it is in reality now.  Back then those in the ark became the beginnings of a new creation.  All else was destroyed.  Noah was the “eighth person” (2 Pt. 2.5).  “Eight souls were saved by water” (1 Pt. 3.20).  Eight in Scripture is the number that signifies a new beginning.  It is the same now.  God has a new beginning in mind—a new creation.  Its beginnings are already in the Ark.  For “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature…” (2 Cor. 5.17).

And only what is in the Ark Christ Jesus is going to survive the fires of the day of the Lord.

All else will not make it through.  “The earth and all the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pt. 3.10).  Wickedness shall not rise up the second time.  We will all be glad.  For out of it will come a new creation, a new heaven and a new earth in which dwelleth righteousness—that is, in which righteousness is not an unwelcome unwanted stranger, but is at home (2 Pt. 3.13).

I long for that Day.  Surely we understand that this is not about some kind of vengeful God wreaking wrath on innocent victims.  It’s about a God of love who is pained more deeply than we can comprehend with the evil that has engulfed His world.  That’s what motivated Him back in Noah’s day.  He hated the iniquity.  He hated the violence.  He put a stop to it.

What He has in mind as a result of the fires of the day of the Lord is a world in which righteousness is at home.  He is a God who loves righteousness, and hates iniquity.  Do you and I also love righteousness and hate iniquity?  Are we like Him ourselves?  Just as Noah built the ark and in doing so condemned the world, we can hasten the coming of the Day of Fire by our own “ark building”—our holy and godly lives—as we mentioned last time.

Therefore, since all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
Looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of God… (2 Pt. 3.11, 12, NKJV).

We can hasten that day!

And we can be found in Christ in that day—in the Ark, that is, when everything around us is going up in smoke.

Wherefore, beloved, seeing ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless (2 Pt. 3.14).

There is only one Place in this universe where anyone can be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.  That is in Christ.  In the Ark.

Beloved, there are many who mock these Bible stories, and scoff at them– at the word of the Lord.  Let us see to it that we ourselves are not mockers and scoffers.  Let us take these things seriously.  Let us get out of Sodom.  Let us get into the Ark.  I remember as a young man how I myself used to heap scorn upon such fairy tales, and the naive people who believed them.  But I remember the night I was converted.  It still stands out in my memory how I suddenly saw that the story of Noah and the ark was actually true.  It was not a fairy tale.  It was true!  It actually happened!  What a change had taken place in this I-know-better mind of mine!

And so I say… let us take God seriously, just as Noah did, who being “warned of God of things not seen as yet,” by faith built that ark and entered it.  Let us give diligence to do the same.  God means business.  Judgment is at the door.  This has been so impressed upon my spirit of late.  How little we understand God—that He is a God who exercises not only lovingkindness, but also “justice and righteousness in the earth” (Jer. 9.24).  How terribly people have presumed upon His goodness and lovingkindness and longsuffering and patience and grace.  But when His hour comes He is going to show His undiluted hatred for unrighteousness and iniquity.  It has caused Him such deep pain to see what iniquity has caused in His earth.

He is going to deal with it all.  The Day of Fire is dawning.  And just as the ark was the only way through “the stormy waters,” the Cross of Calvary is the only way through the fire—the fires of judgment of the Great Day of the Lord.  It is the mystery of the Cross.  What to some is certain destruction becomes for others their salvation—because of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Ark Convicts Of Righteousness

The writer of Hebrews says it was Noah’s building the ark that justified God in bringing the flood on the world of the ungodly.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith (Heb. 11.7).

Now, when God destroyed the old world with that devastating flood He was not being mean to a bunch of nice people.  We are told that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6.5).  In other words the sin of Adam had come to a fullness.  And we are told that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pt. 2.5), and that it was those who “were disobedient” who suffered the consequences of their own disobedience (1 Pt. 4.20).  God is just in all His ways.  He had called for repentance.  He had made provision for salvation.  It was rejected.

And it was Noah’s building the ark that condemned the world.  Every board he fitted, every nail he pounded, passed sentence upon a guilty world.  Noah in building the ark was working out his own salvation, you might say.  But at the same time he was passing sentence on the world.  For, his building the ark demonstrated that God had provision for salvation in a wicked world.  It demonstrated that a man could be righteous in God’s sight—with the righteousness of faith.  Noah had heard from God.  He responded to what He was hearing.  God gave him clear instructions on how he was to build the ark.  He built it by faith.  Thus he became heir of the righteousness that is by faith.  The ark became a testimony, then, that condemned the world.  It provided God with just cause to bring in the flood.  Noah’s building the ark demonstrated that God had provided a way for sinners to be saved.

Just as the Atonement does—the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As we saw last time, the flood of Noah’s day, and the ark of his salvation through it all, speaks of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We usually view what happened at Calvary from the salvation side of it, and rightly so.  But Christ’s life and death also became God’s condemnation of an evil world.  Notice what Jesus said as a result of His perfectly pure walk on earth:

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
He that hateth Me hateth My Father also.
If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father (Jn. 15.22-24).

The thing that was unique about Jesus’ words and works was that it was actually the Father who was being revealed in all He said and did.  No one could pretend they loved Jehovah when at the same time they hated Jehovah’s Son.  And so the way people reacted toward Jesus stripped them of their cloak.  His righteousness was the revelation of the righteousness of the Father, and therefore became the thing that condemned those who hated the Son.

Just as Noah’s preaching convicted the unbelieving world, so Christ’s testimony convicted those who hated Him.  He too, like Noah, was a Preacher of righteousness.  It was not He they hated, but His righteous Father.  He convicted them of the sin that had been hidden in their hearts.  This is what He accomplished in His life and walk.

Further, He “prepared an ark” of salvation through His death and resurrection.  Christ on Calvary was preparing an Ark to the saving of His house—the household of faith.  The cross of Christ provided salvation for the world.  All who enter this Ark enjoy this salvation.  At the same time the cross condemned the world.  For God has provided a Way now for man to escape from the clutches of sin and the wrath of God that is reserved for the disobedient.  He has dealt with the sin of man and provided a way for us all to be righteous.

And so just as Noah’s building the ark condemned the world, when Christ was crucified at Calvary God was pronouncing judgment upon the whole world.  It was the end of the world as far as God was concerned, the end of the world of sinful man and all he has built up—all his works, all his institutions, everything he has brought forth in order to build a world that centres upon himself and leaves God out.  For, Christ became an “ark” of salvation, a way of salvation, a way of escape from sin and its consequent judgment, to all who receive Him.

Nevertheless—and this is important—it is not till the Gospel of this salvation goes forth that God is just in bringing judgment.  God calls men to enter His Ark of salvation.  This is what hearing the Gospel is all about.  You wonder, then, to what extent this is presently taking place.  To what extent does the world around us hear the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ these days?

To what extent do they see it?  This is the thing that has gripped me for many years.  Hearing the Gospel is one thing.  What about seeing the Gospel?  “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Lk. 3.6).  This, I believe, is what God is preparing in this hour.  I believe God is preparing to reveal the Ark of His salvation in this hour.  How?  By building that Ark of salvation into the lives of His people!  Only then is God finally justified in bringing His judgments forth.  God would not be just in judging the world if there were not clear proof before their very eyes of His provision to escape sin and judgment.  He must bring upon people the conviction of sin that Jesus spoke of—and the conviction of righteousness He spoke of, and the conviction of judgment.  Before God can judge, people are going to have to look at Christians and be convicted that God has wrought righteousness– the very righteousness of Christ– in those who were former sinners.

This is the work of the Comforter—the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said that “when He is come He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (Jn. 16.8).  Not only concerning sin, but concerning righteousness.  The Paraclete—that One whose Presence means Christ Himself has been called alongside you and I—will convict the world of righteousness!  He will demonstrate before the eyes of the world that these ones in whom He dwells are righteous with the Righteous One who has gone to the Father—and is yet still with us.  They will see our Righteousness before their very eyes, and be convicted.

And they will realize they are totally without excuse.  Now they will have no cloak for their sin.  For right before their eyes God has revealed that there is provision to walk before Him in perfect righteousness totally free of sin.  Those who see this will either repent… or be filled with a fearful forboding of judgment.  This is what Paul told the Philippians.  He said their adversaries, when they saw the Gospel peace and security the Philippians enjoyed—they had no fear in the midst of their persecutions—this was an evident token of their own perdition.

And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God (Phil. 1.28).

Yes, it was all accomplished at Calvary.  But it is when the work of Calvary is fulfilled in the saints by the Holy Spirit that God is justified in releasing His judgments.

Even now every believer in Jesus is a testimony of a condemned world.  For, Christ at Calvary in saving sinners out of the world condemned the world.   Every believer who believes in Jesus is making a statement—that the Cross of Jesus Christ condemned this world—that this is a world under a sentence that was written at Calvary… but has not yet been fully carried out.

This “statement” is going to get louder and louder as the work of the Holy Spirit grows more pronounced in the lives of believers, and the holiness and righteousness of Christ is revealed in us.  Noah’s building the ark condemned the world and brought in the flood.   Our own walk can hasten the coming of the day of God.  And the sentence of Calvary will be carried out.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation (conduct) and godliness,
Looking for and hasting unto (that is, expecting and hastening) the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (2 Pt. 3.12,13).

God has prepared a Day in which He will deal with all evil, all wickedness and sin and iniquity and rebellion.  We can hasten that Day, beloved.  The implication is that we can cause its delay.  Let us not be the cause of its delay.  Have we not seen enough of the pain and suffering that wickedness has caused in this troubled little planet we live in?

Get Into The Ark!

After I wrote last time about getting out of Sodom I read over the passage in Luke where Jesus talks about the days of the coming of the Son of man (Lk. 17.22-37).

Jesus said that the same day Noah entered into the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all.

And He said the same day Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.

That is, all those who were carrying on “business as usual.”  This is the emphasis of Jesus’ warning in both scenarios.   The majority of people were going about the ordinary activities of everyday life when Noah and his family were entering the ark, and Lot and his family were getting out of Sodom.

God did not rain down destruction on Sodom till Lot and his family got out of Sodom.

He did not bring the flood upon the world of the ungodly till Noah and his family had entered into the ark.

But in both cases as soon as this was accomplished destruction followed swiftly—the same day.

“So shall it be also in the days of the Son of man,” Jesus warns.  “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed (unveiled)” (Lk. 17.26,30).

…But reading this passage I noticed something I hadn’t seen before.  One involves getting out; the other entering in.

Getting out of Sodom is critical.  We must hasten our escape from Sodom at the peril of our lives.  But this is an emphasis that doesn’t give us the full picture of our need—nor of God’s wondrous provision of salvation in the day of judgment.  God had an ark for Noah and his family in the midst of great destruction.  He has an Ark for us today… and we must enter into that Ark.  What is this all about?

I think it’s very meaningful that God instructed Noah to pitch the ark within and without with pitch.  It’s the same word—kaphar—that is used for to make atonement.  It means simply to cover.  The same root is found in the word translated mercy seat in our English Bibles—kapporeth.   And this mercy seat, this Covering, is Christ Himself.

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God
Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (Gk. mercy seat, compare Heb. 9.5 where the same word is used) through faith in His blood… (Rom. 3.23-25).

So the ark typifies the atonement—God’s provision in Christ for sinners to be made righteous by faith, and thus saved from the wrath that is the inevitable desert of those who make a continual meal of ungodliness and refuse to push away from that table.

Peter bears witness to this view of the ark; he compares Noah’s flood to baptism, and the ark to God’s salvation in Christ.

…The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is eight souls, were saved by water.
The like figure whereunto baptism doth now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and power being made subject unto Him (1 Pt. 3.20-22).

Peter likens the flood to a great baptism, and Noah’s ark to Christ’s salvation in that baptism.  He says God waited with much longsuffering in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared.  “Wherein (that is to say, in the ark) few… were saved by water.”  Those in the ark were saved in that great “baptism” of the flood… because of the ark.

But then Peter continues, “the like figure whereunto baptism doth now save us…”  Baptism, says Peter, is itself a figure, a “corresponding figure,” as Greek scholar W.E. Vine defines the word.  What is water baptism a figure of, then?  It’s a figure of our participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now note.  It is not baptism in water that saves us.  We are not saved by being baptized in water.  Water baptism is just a type, a figure, of the true baptism.  The true baptism, the real baptism, is baptism into Christ—into His death and resurrection.  This is where our salvation lies.  It is Christ who is our Ark of salvation.  It is Christ in whom the old man has been judged and totally done away with—crucified—and in whom the new man has come into being in resurrection life, a new man who is as righteous as God Himself.

And so we must be baptized into Christ in order to be saved from the wrath to come.  “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16.16).  This is not a reference to water baptism.  It’s talking about the baptism that saves us—baptism into Christ.  Water baptism attests to this.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit initiates it.  The baptism of the Cross fulfills it.  (Remember, Jesus spoke of His pending Cross a baptism, Lk. 12.50.)

And so the writer of Hebrews tells us that Noah by building the ark became heir of the righteousness that is of faith (Heb. 11.7).  Noah heard God, and acted upon what he heard.  Building the ark was Noah’s great work of faith.  This resulted in his salvation.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith (Heb. 11.7).

I think we see in this passage a prophetic glimpse of Jesus Christ, who in His death and resurrection was preparing an ark to the saving of His house—the household of faith.  Christ Himself is our Ark of salvation—which we enter when we are baptized into Him in the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  In that instant we are new creatures in Christ; in that instant we are in the true Ark of God—and have confidence that we will be preserved through every trial and judgment to come…

…As we continue to submit to this baptism and abide in this Ark from day to day.  Our Ark will see us through all the “stormy waters” with rejoicing… as we continue to work the work of faith, resting in Him, trusting in Him, and obeying Him.  Those who are doing this are secure in the Ark.

This is the thing the writer of Hebrews is emphasizing—the obedience unto which we are called, the obedience of faith… which becomes the ark of our own salvation, as Noah’s obedience became.  There is a work of faith by which we, too, build an “ark” and enter it.  Many there are who carry on day in and day out just as the people did in the days of Noah.  Others are building an ark.  How?  By hearing what God is saying, and obeying.  This becomes our ark of salvation.  Yes, Christ Himself is the Ark.  But this daily ark building becomes our statement of faith—that we believe Jesus Christ to be the Ark of our salvation, the only Ark that is able to see us through what we have to go through today… and what is coming tomorrow.  Our patient day-by-day “work” on this ark is our statement that we believe God concerning things not seen as yet.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house…

Noah believed God… and he built that ark.  The proof that we believe is that we are doing the same thing.

And those who are not doing this?  This is what accounts for the sense of urgency in this hour.  Many are not doing this.  Our Lord urges, “Build that ark, get into the ark!”  It’s possible to be baptized in water and still not be in the Ark.  It’s possible to receive the initial baptism of the Holy Spirit and still not be prepared for what is before us because we are not submitting to the daily baptism of the Cross Jesus spoke of.  It’s possible to neglect our salvation.  Yes, Jesus built that Ark for us on Calvary.  Only He can atone for sin.  But the proof that we believe this is shown in our daily walk of faith with Him—we are taking up our cross and following Him.  We are abiding in Him, and in His yoke.  We are resting in Him.  We are listening for His Voice and obeying Him.

In this way we too are building that ark, and are entering it, and are ready for what is about to descend on our world, confident that right in the midst of the fires of the Day of the Lord there is no more secure place in the universe.