Category Archives: Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God and the principles which we are to seek and live by.

The Christian’s Inheritance (Part Three)

We mentioned last time “the Holy Spirit of promise” which is the earnest of our inheritance.  We are in Ephesians now.  And there is so much here that we will just have to break midstream into Paul’s thought.  He says that in Christ:

…we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will;
That we should be to the praise of His glory who first hoped in Christ;
In whom ye also, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,
Which is the earnest of our inheritance unto the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1.13,14).

(Let’s bookmark for the moment that twice-repeated phrase “to the praise of His glory.” We’ll come back to it.)

The Holy Spirit, then, “that Holy Spirit of promise,” is given us as the earnest of our inheritance—the pledge, the seal, the guarantee, that assures redemption of the purchased possession.  Paul has already told us back in verse 7 that in Christ we have “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”  But forgiveness of sins, wonderful as it is, is only the negative side of our redemption.  Now Paul shows us the positive side– the giving of the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest, the pledge, of an inheritance fully purchased… but not yet fully in our possession.  Yes, it is ours—the earnest of the Holy Spirit guarantees it, guarantees that in due time the holders of the pledge will be able to redeem in full the purchased possession.  In fact the Greek for earnest is arrabon, which can also mean engagement ring.  The Holy Spirit is, then, our engagement ring—the pledge of a coming marriage.  The bride-to-be rejoices in the ring, and holds out her hand to show it off.  But no bride or groom would be content to settle for the engagement ring alone.  It’s the bridegroom himself she has in mind, total union with the bridegroom—and so does he.  We too must not put the pledge for the whole.  By the engagement ring of the Holy Spirit we are sealed unto the marriage—total union with Christ our bridegroom in the day when all that He has—and is—becomes ours.  Let this be our consuming desire, as it is His.

Meanwhile the Holy Spirit is the earnest, the seal, the pledge, “unto the redemption of the purchased possession.”  Let us keep our seal inviolate till the wedding day.  “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4.30).  Israel in the wilderness came to the place where, in spite of all that God had done to fit them for their inheritance, they “vexed His Holy Spirit,” they “grieved Him in the wilderness” (Isa. 63.10, Heb. 3.17).  We can’t go in, they said.  “We are not able…” (Num. 13.31).

We are able, said Caleb.  “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13.30).

We too are able!  Delivered from sin and death, and being given the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are meet, we are sufficient, are competent, are well able, to partake of our portion of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Which is?  God Himself.  “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.”  If we are children of God, we are His heirs, Paul says, “heirs of God…”  All that He has is ours—all that He is.  What can this mean?  It is so high and so vast a thought as to be largely incomprehensible to us.  It means, I believe, that we are to come to know God—the depths of God.  “For the Spirit searcheth all things, the depths of God” (1 Cor. 2.10).  It humbles us and fills us with awe when the implications of this passage dawn on us.  This is something the angels don’t have—the Spirit of God in such a way as to enable us to search out the depths of God… because we share His very nature.  For, as Paul explains, it’s only the spirit of a person that knows all about that person.  Even so, it’s only the Spirit of God that knows all about God (1 Cor. 2.11).  Paul’s point is that– wonder of wonders– we have received His Spirit (vs. 12).  We are born of God, share His nature.  We are His children, and so His heirs.  The Holy Spirit is our guide, then, leading us to search out and explore and make real in our experience… the very depths of God.  We are to come to know Him—and this in such a way as only those who are partakers of His nature can come to know Him. It is a wondrous hope, and the very thing that the New Covenant promises.  “They shall all know Me from the least of them to the greatest.”

But know Him to what degree?  Paul goes on, “…Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.”  We are to know God the Father just as the Son of God knew Him when He walked here on earth.  We are joint-heirs with Christ; all that is His is ours.

The Christian’s inheritance, then, with Christ Himself, is the heart and mind of God, the mountains of His righteousness, the vastness of His love.  We are to know Him with the kind of knowledge that makes us like Him.  We are to be like Him in this world (1 Jn. 4.17).  This is the end of all the teaching, the talking, the preaching, the praying—all that now makes up Christianity. Sons in God’s image. Partakers of the divine nature, which angels are not heirs of.  Only fallen men now made meet are heirs, men once held in the bondage of darkness but now made fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in a realm of pure Light… unto which no sinful man can approach.  Only these are the heirs of God.  Sons, daughters, who think like He thinks, who feel as He feels, who walk as He walks, who talk as He talks, and act as He acts.

…I pray for an awakening of the saints of God.  Oh that we might see that with our Passover experience and our Pentecost experience we are but in our beginnings.  Yes, God has delivered us from the authority of darkness.  That was what the Passover accomplished.  What about the rest of the sentence?  He has “translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”  He has “made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”  Translated?  The word simply means, transferred. This is what God accomplished in Christ on our behalf.  We need not spend years in a wilderness, like Israel of old in their disobedience.  God’s intent at Sinai was to equip his people to immediately enter into their inheritance. “Let us go up at once and possess it,” said Caleb. “We are well able.”  We too are able.  This is God’s intent in the pouring out of His Spirit at Pentecost.  Strengthened with all might by His Spirit in the inner man we are well able to begin immediately to apprehend our inheritance.

I pray for an awakening.  It ought to provoke us that we Christians are so short of what is our own.  Why are we content with so little?  We should be jealous for what is our own.  We spend our days wandering in a wilderness, like Israel of old.  Yes, God looks after us in the wilderness, as He did them.  But oh how straitened they were in that wilderness… as are we.  This is what accounts for the condition of the church these days—the Christians, the saints of God.  We mourn sore like doves over the condition of things—the problems, the carnality.  There is scarcely a Christian who doesn’t have problems of some kind.  Quite simply, we have not yet apprehended the awesome inheritance Christ purchased for us at Calvary, and our present condition reflects it.  Instead of total conquest over God’s enemies and casting them out of the heavenly heritage which is our own, our enemies spoil for themselves.  They are able to do that from their heavenly vantage point—that belongs to you and me.  We must take our inheritance!  Really, it’s a matter of life and death—and as the Day draws nigh it’s going to become more so—that those in the world around us be able to find a Christian who is walking in his or her inheritance and knows their God, and has authority in heavenly places.  It’s far from a selfish thing that we enter into and take our inheritance.

Let us press on, then, and press in.  We are thankful that Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us; we rejoice in our Pentecost.  But like Israel of old, at this stage we are yet in our beginnings.  These are but to make us meet for our inheritance.  The Passover has dealt with the past; the earnest of the Spirit is just that—the earnest, the pledge, the deposit that guarantees us the fullness of the purchased possession “to the praise of His glory.”

Let us note this last phrase well, which we bookmarked earlier.  It is only as we come into our inheritance and abide there that we become those in whom the Lord is glorified.  Only then does the glory of the Lord shine forth from our lives for all the world to see.

The Christian’s Inheritance (Part Two)

Last time we got a little ahead of ourselves and didn’t answer the question as to what God did to make Israel of old fit for the inheritance He had promised them.  We’re thinking of that passage in Colossians in which Paul said that God has “made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Col. 1.12).  Meet—it means fit, competent, able, sufficient.  We can discover the answer to how God did this by seeing what He did to make Israel of old sufficient for the inheritance He had awaiting them.

I believe that, in the main, He did two things.

First, with the blood of the Passover lamb He redeemed them “out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Dt. 7.8).  It was a great beginning for them, so new a beginning that they were to start their calendar from this date. They were now a people unhindered, set free; no longer would they serve Pharaoh and his interests.  They were now separated unto a divine destiny.  In that great “night of the LORD” they made their exodus from Egypt, and were shortly looking back over their shoulders at the impassable sea they just been baptized in.  That was the next thing God did to make them “meet” for their inheritance. Having come through this baptism, Egypt—the land, the territory, the domain wherein they had been slaves—was behind them forever.

Three months later God brought them to Sinai where He brought them into covenant relationship with Himself in the giving of the Law.  This is the consequent thing that God did to make His people fit for their Canaan heritage.  The first was the Passover.  The second was their baptism into Moses (1 Cor. 10.2), and the giving of the Law at Sinai. Which correspond to Pentecost.

For, as do many other Bible students, I believe that what took place at Sinai is intertwined with Pentecost, as is the baptism “in the cloud and in the sea.” Pentecost was to be celebrated in the third month fifty days after the Passover, which was held on the 15th of the first month.  (See Lev. Ch. 23.)  And so we read, “In the third month when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai” (Ex. 19.1).  They had been on the move, then, for 45 days when they came to Sinai.  A few days later God came down to them in fire and gave them a law written in fire (Dt. 33.2).

This, their Pentecost, their baptism and their receiving the Law, was vital to the taking of their heritage.  The Passover was indispensible, but only with this further step would God’s people be “meet” to enter the land and make it their own.  God would remind them over and over again that if they were to be successful in driving out their enemies and taking their inheritance—and keeping it—they would have to be ever mindful to observe this Law (Dt. 4.1, 6.1, Josh. 1.7, etc.).

These two things were tremendous things, but—and let this sink into us deeply—they were not ends in themselves.  The children of Israel were still in their beginnings.  Before them lay their heritage.

So with us.  We are inclined to view certain elements of our Christian experience as ends in themselves, forgetting that we too have a heritage before us.  Let’s review our scripture passage again, this time more fully, and watching now for the parallels to the Exodus of Israel and their entry into Canaan.

…Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light…

Having stated this, Paul now backs up to show us what God has done to make us meet to be partakers of this inheritance of the saints in the light.

…Who hath delivered as from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the son of His love;
In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness (remission) of sins… (Col. 1.12-14).

This passage is so closely paralleled by another in Acts that I must quote it also.  Paul is making his confession before Agrippa.  He says that God has sent him to the Gentiles:

To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light, and the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in Me (Acts 26.18 Interlinear).

And so Paul shows us that like Israel of old, the Christian too has been made meet for his heritage.  And we need to be made meet.  Unrighteous sinners have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5.5, 1 Cor. 6.9).  But we are no longer unrighteous sinners: we have been delivered from “Pharaoh”—the authority of darkness under which we were held in bondage to sin—by Christ the Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5.7), and, consequent to that, by our baptism into Christ.  We are now fit for this wondrous eternal inheritance in the light among others who have been similarly sanctified—set apart—by faith in Jesus.

We who believe in Jesus have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, in whom we have forgiveness, remission, of sins. And after having believed comes the Spirit baptism, the seal of “that Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1.13).  With this we have come  to our Sinai, our Pentecost, our receiving of the law.  What law?  The same Law that Christ sent to the disciples in fire on the day of Pentecost when He baptized them in the Holy Spirit—the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, by which we walk through the land of our inheritance in total liberty from the law of sin and death.

Just as the Torah was the law of the old covenant, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is the law of the new covenant.  Israel had to adhere strictly to the Torah in order to possess their heritage (Josh. 1.7).  We must abide by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling the righteousness of the Torah, and thus having “good success” in possessing our spiritual inheritance.  It is only as we walk in this Law, walk in the Spirit, that we are able to possess our inheritance.  It is utterly impossible to do so without this.

But the thing is—and this ought to encourage us immensely—because of the provision God has given us, we are fit, competent, able to possess it!  In fact with this enabling, there is nothing in this universe that can hinder us from possessing our spiritual heritage.  Many Christians are in circumstances that are heart breaking.  But no circumstance of life regardless how bitter or grievous or difficult can hinder us from entering into and enjoying the heritage in the Spirit that God has marked out for us in Christ.

…More next time.

The Christian’s Inheritance (Part One)

One thing we discover in our reading of the New Testament is that the story of Israel coming out of Egypt and entering Canaan foreshadows the Christian life and walk.  The story of Israel being delivered from Egyptian bondage by the blood of the Passover lamb, receiving the Law at Sinai, and entering into Canaan the promised inheritance underlies much of what the new-covenant apostles taught.  They refer to it either directly or indirectly over and over again.

The inheritance Joshua led the children of Israel into was an earthly heritage, and therefore temporal.  It was but a prophetic picture, a shadow, of a heritage yet to be revealed—the Christian’s inheritance in which those (whether Jew or Gentile) who are brought into relationship with God under a new covenant “receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9.15).  This eternal inheritance is, in the words of the new-covenant apostle Peter, “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in the heavenlies for you…” (1 Pt. 1.4).

It is an inheritance so vast that we cannot lay it out in any sense of fullness in a short message.  Briefly summed up, it is the whole range of truth laid out for us in the New Testament.  All this is the Christian’s blood-bought territory, his heritage—that which our Lord Jesus Christ purchased for us with His life at Calvary, and for which He purchased us.  It is life in the Spirit totally free from bondage to sin.  It is fellowship with God, and in God.  It is God Himself.  We are “heirs of God, and joint heirs of Christ” (Rom. 8.17).

Some teach that this is so pure and holy a heritage that it is impossible to enjoy while yet in mortal flesh.  And certainly, we shall be exploring the riches of this heritage throughout the ages of eternity.  But Paul teaches clearly that God has made us fit for this heritage while yet on earth.  He, the Father, has “made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Col. 1.12).

Meet—it means fit, competent, able, sufficient.  It’s the same word Paul used to describe new-covenant ministers.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new covenant… (2 Cor. 3.5,6).

The same God who has done all that is necessary to equip us and enable us to be effective new covenant ministers has also made us fit for this inheritance in the light.  What has he done to make us sufficient for this with no lack whatever, entirely capable of possessing this inheritance?  A look back into the Old Testament record of how God made Israel fit to enter Canaan will help us to see how God has made us fit to enter and possess our heritage in the Spirit.

First we want to look quickly at the earthly heritage the Israelites were looking forward to.  No doubt in the days of Egyptian bondage they would comfort one another after a long and backbreaking day building Pharaoh’s treasure houses.  They would apply the balm of hope to their weary souls, reminding themselves of the promise God gave Abraham.  Someday they would be no longer slaves; they would have a land of their own.  But what about this rumour they’d been hearing?  Apparently some man named Moses was saying the time had come!  Four hundred years of Egyptian bondage had not caused the promised land to fade away– and neither would forty years of wilderness wandering later on.  They’d been told it was “a land that floweth with milk and honey.”  Apparently it was not like Egypt, a desert land with very little rainfall where they had to sow their seed and water it “with thy foot,” speaking of the primitive irrigation pumps they had to use to water the land from the canals of the Nile.  Rather, Moses told them, “the land whither ye go to possess it is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it from the beginning of the year unto the end of the year” (Dt. 11.9-12).

In other words, in this land the labour was primarily God’s and not their own.  God watched over this land continually and took care of it Himself.

It was, Moses told them, “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills, a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey, a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig bronze” (Dt. 8.7-9).

Think how wonderful that was.  No doubt the people were very excited at the prospect of all this, just as you and I would be, knowing we had been given a tract of land or a beautiful stream-side acreage, and were about to take possession of it.  No doubt each Israelite wondered, as would you and I… what will my particular inheritance be like?  For, there was a specific portion allotted to each one of them.

Yet even with Moses’ description of the promised inheritance it would still be vague in their minds.  The thing is, it wasn’t necessary for them to know in detail what their allotment would be like.  What was necessary was to believe God, and continue moving forward in faith and obedience every step of the way.  God promised He would bring them in, and when He had done so they would know and experience firsthand what their inheritance was all about.

So with us Christians.  We too have a plot of land—one with our own individual name on it, you might say.  Ours is a heavenly land, not an earthly land (Heb. 11.16).  Like Israel of old it’s somewhat vague to us too, although we do have a little understanding as to what it’s like.  It’s a land of Life, and that more abundantly, a land abundant in fruit that grows on a certain Tree on the banks of a River that flows eternally from a Fountain of Life.  We realize we see through a glass darkly as to what this is all about.  We know “in part.”  For now, that’s okay.  God will be faithful to reveal our eternal inheritance to us in magnificent fullness—as we continue in faith and obedience, and enter the Land and explore it and walk in it.  Only thus do we actually comprehend what this inheritance is all about.  However, God does want us to have a measure of understanding as to our inheritance—enough to give us vision and hope, enough to prevent us from settling for less, enough to encourage us to continue moving forward in obedience.

…More next time.

The Peace Of The Righteous

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Just about everybody, I suppose, wants peace, so they can do the things they want to do and live a happy untroubled life.

But how many want righteousness?  It’s interesting to note in the Bible how consistently peace and righteousness are linked together.  In fact they are inseparable.  According to the Bible there is no peace without righteousness.

Six times in the Bible God is called “the God of peace.”  This God of peace dwelt in a Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is therefore called the Prince of peace (Isa. 9.6), the Lord of peace (2 Thes. 3.16), and the king of peace (Heb. 7.2).  This last title is combined with another—king of righteousness.  It’s here that many lose interest in being this king’s subjects.  Sure, they would like His rule of peace, who wouldn’t.  But they don’t want to sit under His rule of righteousness.  So they forfeit His rule of peace, and choose rather a way that means contention, discord, turmoil, strife… and ultimately war.

The way they choose is called—sorry, I know it’s kind of a dirty word these days but I am going to use it anyway—it’s called wickedness.  And what is the portion the wicked cut out for themselves?

But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked (Isa. 57.20,21).

As our great high priest after the model of Melchizedek, Christ is king of peace only because He is king of righteousness.  First and foremost it is righteousness that is His domain.  He has the power to minister His righteousness to those who dwell in His kingdom.  The result of this righteousness is His peace.  He is king of righteousness and king of peace.  His kingdom is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14.17).

This king, ministering the blessing upon His subjects, would therefore raise His hand and pronounce, “Righteousness and peace be unto you.”

However, His New Covenant emissaries often used the salutation (or some form of it), “Grace and peace be unto you” ( Rom. 1.7, 1 Cor. 1.3, 2 Cor. 1.2, Gal. 1.3, Eph. 1.2, 1 Pt. 1.2, 2 Pt. 1.2, etc.).

It can only be because the gift of the grace of God is the gift of righteousness.

…Much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5.17).

It’s wrong thinking to think of God’s grace as something that makes allowances for unrighteousness, and we can sin because God is gracious.  No.  What His grace does is enable us to walk in His righteousness.  The righteousness of God is a gift infused with His grace, thus enabling those who receive it to walk in it.

And this is the key to the peace of God.  When we are right with God, listening to Him, seeking to please Him, to obey Him, to follow through with what He is saying to us, the result will be His presiding peace in our lives.  It will be automatic.

And how are we made right with God?  First, and primarily, by receiving the peace offering He proffered us at Calvary.

Therefore being justified (made righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… (Rom. 5.1).

It was there at Calvary that God made peace with you and me and all those who were at enmity with Him.  For in the Cross He dealt with the source of all enmity—our sin—and offered us freely the gift of righteousness.  So if we haven’t already done so, let us humble ourselves and receive this gracious offering and gift.  And when we have done so let us stand our ground here, regardless of the whisperings and reminders of the Accuser about past sins.  He is a deceiver; we are accepted in the Beloved, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, God has provision for you and me—His grace—to continue to walk in His righteousness.  And as long as I do this, and keep in right relationship with Him, I can expect and enjoy His peace.  If I disobey or happen to stumble into sin– though it is not necessary to do so, He has provision for a walk of righteousness– He has provision for me to get right with Him again (1 Jn. 2.1), and continue on in righteousness.  And enjoy His peace again.

Only where there is righteousness is there peace.

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance (confidence) forever (Isa. 32.17).

George Fox sought to encourage Friends who in his day were being troubled and harassed and persecuted and jailed in stinking jails.  He wrote to them:

Yet all this cannot disturb the peace of the righteous.

I love that phrase—the peace of the righteous.  That is the secret of peace—righteousness—and not our own righteousness, but the righteousness of God.  I may not have happy circumstances.  I may be afflicted.   I may be deluged with problems and troubles.  Sorrows like sea billows may roll. But do I have God’s righteousness?  Then, regardless of all else, whatever my state, I have peace with God.  Where righteousness (or grace) reigns so does peace reign, though troubles may be all about me.

Just as Jesus encouraged His disciples as He was about to leave them:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (Jn. 14.27).

These things have I spoken unto you that in Me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (Jn. 16.33).

Let me conclude with this promise.  Peter talks of a day when this whole world will be in the midst of the flames of judgment.  It sounds very frightening, very fearsome.  And Peter realized this.  For he goes on, “Nevertheless we according to His promise look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pt. 3.13).  Nevertheless, Peter says. In other words, as frightening as it is, there’s a promise in the midst of the coming judgments.  Though judgments are at hand, God’s purpose being to deal with all wickedness and sin and unrighteousness, the end result will be a world in which righteousness is at home.

And oh… that can only mean one thing.  Peace. And oh, what peace.  Oh, the peace of a world in which righteousness—our Lord Jesus Christ Himself—is not an unwanted alien, but is now at home and welcome!

My response is… Lord Jesus, I can’t wait for that!  I want your righteousness to be at home even now.  Let righteousness—You Yourself—be at home in me.  In my heart.  That way I can enjoy the peace of God that passeth understanding though all is turmoil about me.  Amen.

The God Of Peace

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I am struggling for words as I begin to write this, but I must try to relate an experience I had a few days ago.

I was out in a park pouring out my heart to the Lord, for, I go through some very hard things at times.  Like all of us these days.

I don’t know if I can adequately describe how I was feeling, except to say that I felt my whole life was so… what has it amounted to?  I felt so… broken… so… brought to nothing.

And unexpectedly a deep peace came very close to me.  It caught me unawares; I wasn’t expecting it.  I’ve known a measure of the peace of God over the years, but this was a peace deeper than anything I have ever known.  It was precious beyond words… so precious that I immediately cried out (in my heart), “Lord, you must keep this for me; I don’t trust myself to keep this; please keep this for me lest I lose it.”

…And after a few moments… it… or should I say, He… withdrew.

Paul writes of the peace of God that passeth understanding… but also of the God of peace.  I believe it was the God of peace Himself who drew so close to me, for there was a precious Presence in this peace.  And even though it was but for a few moments I have come to realize… beloved, we too readily presume in the present level of our spiritual consciousness.  What I mean is, we consider ourselves spiritually conscious when in fact we are yet very short of the consciousness of God.  There are depths in our God that we simply know nothing about.  That afternoon I touched a God who…  He is a God of peace.  Oh, He loves peace.  He loves peace more deeply than we can comprehend.  In fact He is peace, peace at a level beyond words to describe.  Strife of any kind is to Him the most jarring of things.  Violence, force, contention, harshness, strife… whether in word or deed… it pierces Him to the heart.  This strife-torn world is an alien world to Him.  He is so gentle of heart.  Oh how He longs for a world that is filled with His peace.

And He will yet have such a world.  For He has promised that of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end… till the kingdom of His righteousness and peace covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.

I feel so helpless trying to describe the peace I felt, and I guess I have to give up trying.  What is a description compared with an experience?

And so all I can say is… it isn’t enough that I had so fleeting a taste of this peace.  All it did was wreck me.  It seems like all else has become ashes to me.  I must pursue this peace.  I will not stop short of coming to abide in this peace… in this God of peace.  I noticed in my Interlinear Bible that every place where the God of peace is mentioned it actually says, “the God of the peace.”  In other words, it is a matchless peace, there is none other like it—the peace of God Himself… the God of peace Himself.

Oh, to abide in this peace!

I Brought You Unto Myself

Following are a couple of exerts from Segulah on the Other Writings page:

When the King James Bible was translated, peculiar meant singular, or belonging solely or especially to.  It was a good choice for the word segulah back then.  But these days peculiar has come to mean odd, or eccentric, even weird.  So the newer English translations have chosen other words to translate segulah.  The New American Standard has my own possession, with a note in the margin reading, special treasure.  The New International Version has treasured possession.  Putting these all together, we have some idea of the meaning of the word.  We are a special treasure God possesses, a treasure that is singular, unique; there is none other like it; and it is solely His own….

*****

….And so God’s segulah becomes uniquely His own.  No one else has possession of it—no one.  His segulah is solely His own.  With the precious blood of Christ He has redeemed us from the iron furnace, from Egyptian bondage, has purchased us to become His segulah, His own unique and special treasure, a people for His own possession.  But for what purpose?  Lord, help us to comprehend the beauty of this.  For what purpose?  Just… for Himself!

“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself.”

“Ye shall be unto Me a peculiar treasure…”

“Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation…”

Unto Me, He says.  I brought you unto Myself.  When with the eye of the Spirit we catch a glimpse of the implications of this, it makes us tremble.  For this is saying far more than that God brings His people into some sort of proximity with Himself.

Isaiah says,

But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name: thou art Mine.                                    (Isa. 43.1)

Thou art… Mine.  And a few verses later He goes on to tell us specifically what becoming His own means.

This people have I formed for Myself: they shall show forth My praise.                                                                                    (Isa. 43.21)

This people whom He has formed for Himself… God, in forming us and bringing us unto Himself, it means that we become the unique expression of Himself, the revelation, the very outshining of Himself… to show forth His praise.  It is a thought so astonishing, and so beautiful, and so utterly holy, that it just causes you to take your shoes off.

Peter surely had this verse from Isaiah in mind in the passage we started to quote earlier.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…                (1 Pt. 2.9)

This has to be one of the most beautiful passages in the whole of the Bible.  We who were once darkness… God with creative Voice calls into the darkness, calls Light out of the darkness, and we who were once darkness now become Light in the Lord: we shew forth the praises, the virtues, of the One who called us—all the beautiful aspects of His own heart and character of Light.  Thus, we are created, formed, for Himself.

The Lord told the people that He carried them on eagles’ wings, and brought them unto Himself.  What can this be saying but that the whole story of their redemption from Egypt with the blood of the passover lamb was entirely His own sovereign work.  He did the impossible: broke the yoke of their bondage to a cruel and powerful tyrant; He bore them on eagle’s wings, and brought them unto Himself.

We ourselves have been in the same place, chained in Egyptian bondage, deeply aware that our situation was utterly impossible; there was no power on earth that could ever set us free from the pull of gravity of the sin that pressed down upon us.  We are slaves of a tyrant—sin.  But then the kindness and love of God our Saviour appears… with His strong eagle’s wings.  And there is no sin too great, no problem too difficult, no circumstance too heavy for Him; He redeems us with the blood of a… yes, a Lamb: and thus liberates us, lifts us up, bears us up on strong eagle’s wings, and brings us unto Himself.

How does He bring us unto Himself?  By that Way that is too wonderful for us—the way of the Eagle in the air.  It’s the Spirit-Way, the Way of the Spirit… that no man knoweth (Pr. 30.19, Eccles. 11.5).  It’s by:

…the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit
Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
That being justified by His grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.                                  (Titus 3. 4-7)

All the popular routes and methods of man are but the ways of the flesh, and we must not walk in those ways, however attractive and right in our own eyes they might seem at the time.  For they will not bring us to God.  Again I say—they will not bring us to God.  They lead to death.  We must learn the Way of the Spirit, and walk therein. He will lead us in the Way of the Cross.  But there is no other Way that brings us unto Himself.

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit.                                                                    (1 Pt. 3.18)

What wondrous words.  “That He might bring us to God…”  To God Himself!  And so the Passover Lamb is slain, and the precious blood applied to our doorposts, and the days of our Egyptian slavery are over right then and there.  But that is just the beginning.  For God says, “Now get up here, up on these Wings: we’re going on a journey in which you will discover the implications of this great redemption, the full emancipation that is yours, not only from Egypt and sin, but from yourself.”

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.                                                                                         (Rom. 5.10)

The Day Of Seven Troubles

George Fox exhorted the early Friends to be valiant for the truth in this day of trial and persecution.  For if we are Christians, this is our portion in this day, as many in other lands have already discovered.  We Christians here in western lands need to arm ourselves with the same mind—and thus be prepared for the hardships and sufferings that are our portion in this evil day.

Here’s another thing Fox encouraged the early Friends with in one of his letters.

And the Lord hath promised to deliver His people in the six troubles, yea, in the seventh, the perfection of troubles… (Letter 377, To Friends that are Prisoners in York)

Fox had in mind Eliphaz’ words to Job.

He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee (Job 5.19).

Eliphaz was insinuating that the reason Job was in “seven troubles” was because there was something in his life that disqualified him from God’s deliverance—some hidden sin he was not being honest about.  The truth of the matter is that God was trying a vessel He loved very deeply, and when He had finished His work He brought him forth as gold.

This is what He was doing with those early Quakers as well.  This is what He is doing with Christians in Eritrea and Pakistan and Iran, and other places in the earth where persecution is severe in our day.  It’s what He has in mind for you and me also in the day of seven troubles that is dawning.

He promises deliverance, salvation.  But when the promised deliverance is delayed?  We must go through our troubles valiantly—trusting Him, believing He is a God of integrity, and will be true to His word.  We must be patient, trusting.  We must nourish faith and hope.  And love.  God’s people in many different ages have suffered much—with the promise of a coming deliverance and salvation nourishing them in their sufferings.  God would be true to His word—they knew this.  So they endured their sufferings patiently.

Here are Paul’s words to the Thessalonians in a time of great persecution.

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet (or, fitting), because your faith growth exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure…

Notice the atmosphere the Thessalonian church lived in—their growing faith toward God, and their love toward one another in the sufferings they were going through.  Like the early Quakers—the Friends, as they called themselves.  They were ready to lay down their lives for their friends.  They would often go to the prison and offer to take the place of a brother or a sister they knew was inside—a sacrifice that could well mean death for them.

Paul continues:

Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
And to you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ… (2 Thes. 1.3-8).

There’s a lot packed in here; let’s see if we can unfold it a little.  Paul is saying that the endurance and faith of the Thessalonians in sufferings they did not deserve was a token, a proof, evidence, that God had judged rightly; He had made the right decision—giving such as these the Kingdom of God.  Their patience and faith in their troubles, their refusal to retaliate, demonstrated that they were worthy of the kingdom of God they were suffering for.  It showed that they had indeed become the kind of people God intended to give His kingdom to.

And God would continue to judge righteously.  The day would come when He would recompense trouble to those who had troubled them, “and to you who are troubled, rest with us…”

When does this rest come?  “…When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

God had not forgotten His salvation in the day the Thessalonians were in such hardship.  God’s promise to His people is salvation.  His salvation is certain.  His day of recompense will surely come.

Scripture is clear.  “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…”  This is from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thes. 5.9).

But this also is clear.  In the same letter Paul wrote: “…That no man should be moved by these afflictions (Gk. tribulations): for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto” (1 Thes. 3.3).

We are not appointed to wrath.

But we are appointed to troubles, beloved.  So, let us arm our minds accordingly.  When we find ourselves in the midst of trial and trouble it does not mean God has reneged on His promise of salvation.

It means that His salvation will break upon us with greater honour and glory when it breaks.

Meanwhile, since we have to go through trouble, He who has overcome the world and is Lord over trouble promises that He will go through it with us.

I will be with him in trouble… (Ps. 91.15).

You mean, Jesus Himself with us in trouble?  Really, what more could one ask?