Category Archives: The Holy Spirit

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 Out Of Sodom!

I don’t watch TV but the other day on the Internet news they were plugging a new program called GCB.  When I discovered what the letters stand for it turned my stomach.  The words came upon my heart, “The Lord will destroy this place.”  That’s what the angels told Lot when they sought to press upon him the urgency of the hour.  Destruction was at the door.  He needed to get out of that place!

For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it (Gen. 19.13).

There’s no doubt in my mind—hasn’t been for some time—that we live in Sodom.  Only the morally blind think otherwise.  This latest news just clinched it for me.  I understand that sordid lives make prime time entertainment here in Sodom.  Nothing new about that.    The new low of this latest offering on the idol altar of entertainment is that it’s about the so-called lives of so-called Christians.

Meaning that once again the beautiful holy name of Christ is trampled in the mire.

Don’t the men who put this kind of thing out have any fear?  Has God not said plain and clear that what He did to Sodom and Gomorrah was “an ensample to them that after should live ungodly?” (2 Pt. 2.6).  Yet you fly in the face of God, you people who are involved in this?  You continue to live ungodly?  I don’t know how the Lord is going to judge that area of the U.S. where they continue to spew out this vomit… but He is going to do it.  And I tremble to think of it.  It’s not without reason that David said, “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake Thy law” (Ps. 119.53).

…And what about us who live in the midst of all this day in and day out?

Lot, Peter tells us, was “vexed with the filthy conversation (conduct) of the wicked” (2 Pt. 2.7).  The words are stronger in the Greek.  Lot was worn down, oppressed, with the licentious lives of the lawless.

For that righteous man dwelling among them in seeing and hearing vexed (tormented) his righteous soul from day to day with their lawless deeds (2 Pt. 2.8).

Yet still Lot lingered—reluctant to leave.  His heart was entangled in Sodom.  The angels had to lay hold of him by the hand and pull him out, he and his family.  When finally they got them out, even then Lot’s wife looked back, still joined in her heart to the life she was leaving behind.

And she became a pillar of salt.

The story of Lot is, to me, one of the saddest in the Bible.  When it became necessary for him to part ways with Abraham he chose the well-watered plain of Sodom in spite of the fact that “the men of Sodom were wicked, and sinners before the LORD exceedingly” (Gen. 13.13).  It was prosperous there, and that appealed to him.  It seems he fit in quite well there.  He was even involved in their politics.  This is the implication of his sitting in the gate of Sodom (Gen. 19.1).  But from the look of it, Lot’s testimony apparently hadn’t created much conviction or conversion.  God had promised Abraham He would not destroy Sodom if He could find even ten righteous men there.

Do you look down on Lot for all this?  I think I have.  It kind of amazes me to read that Peter called him a righteous man.  But are not we Christians—whose righteousness consists of faith in Jesus—very much like Lot?  We too dwell in Sodom, and like Lot are vexed from day to day with what we see and hear.  That’s why I don’t watch TV.  It’s like looking for something clean in a garbage can.  A program you might think is okay… suddenly an unclean ad is in your face.

And now comes this GCB program.  It’s the Name of Christ in it that hit me so hard.  That hurt.  Oh, how the beautiful Name of Jesus Christ has been smeared on our day!  Why do these people put out this excrement?  I think maybe I know why.  It’s in vogue these days to put out programs the Christians will watch.  They know the Christians love to watch TV… and, ah, they’ve got money.  So the advertisers are calling for programs with a Christian theme now.  They’re realizing they’ve got to cater to the Christians if they want that money in their pockets.  So the story writers find a way to incorporate something Christian into the programs.  There’s big money in it.

And we are content enough to fork it out, it seems, not even realizing they’re mocking us.  Our eyes have been put out, like Samson, and we tread out the corn for the Philistines even as they mock us.  This new TV show brazenly mocks Christians.  What it amounts to is that Christ’s name is openly blasphemed.  For is it not His Name that is called upon us?  Are we not Christians—Christ-ones?

…But maybe there’s another reason—a harder one to acknowledge—why these people in the entertainment industry are putting out this kind of thing.  It’s what Malachi prophesied—that God would smear the excrement of His people over their own faces (Mal. 2.3).  There is hypocrisy among Christians.  And God is smearing it publicly to our shame now.  Seems it’s easy enough for Him to find those who love to do the smearing…

…And not quite as easy for Him to find those who feel the shame.  Many of us who love His Name feel the shame.  The reproaches of those who reproach Christ fall on us.  We cry to God for the abominations we see all around us (Ezek. 9.4).  Oh that more would join us!

God says, “My Name continually every day is blasphemed” (Isa. 52.5).  And it’s because of His own people that His Name is blasphemed.  “For the Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Rom. 2.24).  That’s how it was back then among the apostate Jews… and that’s how has become once again among the apostate Christians.  Many of us hang our heads because of this, and many more ought to be hanging their heads.

But notice what God says immediately after this statement about His Name being blasphemed every day because of His people.

Therefore My people shall know My Name; therefore they shall know in that Day that I am He that doth speak: behold it is I (Isa. 52.6).

I long for this and anticipate it—that He who is jealous for His Name is going to cause His Name to be revealed again, as He has promised.  Things may be very dismal just now, but we have great hope!  Jesus said:

I have made known unto them Thy Name, and WILL make it known… (Jn. 17.26).

“I have made known unto them Thy Name…”  He was speaking of His days in the earth when in the midst of all that apostasy and hypocrisy He went about making the Father’s Name known—in righteousness, and holiness, and love, and mercy, and forgiveness, and healing.  It was a time when Jehovah’s name was greatly blasphemed because of the apostasy of His people.  Suddenly here was One who was making that Name known!

And He says He will do it again!  He says, “I WILL make it known…”  He is speaking of the sending of the Holy Spirit, whom He says “the Father will send in My Name” (Jn. 14.26).  Jehovah’s Name will be vindicated again… through those in whom the Holy Spirit of Christ abides!  Again there will be much love and mercy and forgiveness revealed.

But for those despise this love and mercy and forgiveness…

Behold, the Name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with His anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue as a devouring fire… (Isa. 30.27).

He is going to come in fire… with a burning word in the mouths of those who are jealous for His Name, and who are baptized in the Holy Ghost and fire.

And He is going to destroy this place—this Sodom and Gomorrah we live in—this licentious blasphemous “city,” and those in her who continually stick out their tongues at God.   Righteous Christian… get out of her!  Be not a partaker of her evil… or of her judgment.

How do we get out of her?   God knows how.  Trust God, and obey.  He knows how to deliver the godly out of the overthrow that is coming, at the same time meting out righteous judgment to those who thumb their noses at Him and consider this planet their own to do whatever they want in.

I tremble for what is before us.  I am grieved to the quick over the licentiousness and iniquity and blasphemy of our day.  How can God be feeling then?  Our God is a God of tremendous longsuffering and patience, and He is able to wait long—so long that most people think He has abandoned the planet.

But the God of longsuffering and patience is also a God who loves righteousness, and hates iniquity.  And He is going to put an end to it all.

The Eagle Comes To Church

Martin Collison who sometimes comments on A Mending Feast emailed me something recently which he quietly calls “a picture.”  He says it was “an impression stamped upon (his) mind,” which is akin to a vision, I would say.  (It’s an experience he has from time to time.)  In any case it strongly impacted my spirit, and I thought I would pass it along.

I had a picture come to me this week. I saw the lectern on the stage of a church; one of those stands that preachers rest their notes on. Then an eagle came down; swooped down and landed on the lectern. The presence of the eagle cut the atmosphere and it carried such spiritual authority. It brought certainty and definitiveness where there had been vacillation. Its authority could not be denied. Many in the congregation ran at its mere appearance on the scene even before it opened its mouth. I knew that the eagle was a symbol of the true prophet and it would tear down falsehoods within the church. Many would not want to hear the words he would speak so they ran for the exits.

I recognize this to be one of our greatest needs—if not our greatest need—the true authority of Christ in the churches.  There’s an old song that’s right in line with Martin’s “picture.”

Touch your people once again
With your precious holy hand, we pray;
Let your kingdom shine upon this earth
Through a living glorious church;
Not for temporary deeds,
But to restore authority and power:
Let a mighty rushing wind come in;
Touch your people once again.

How deeply we need this—the restoration of spiritual authority and power—this mighty rushing wind of the Holy Spirit that returns to us the authority of Christ.  Martin says the presence of this eagle “cut the atmosphere.”  It “carried such spiritual authority.”  In fact the eagle is one of the faces of Christ as portrayed in the cherubim (Ezek. 1.10).  And so when this “eagle” speaks all doubt disintegrates.  The Lord Jesus Christ Himself has spoken… and all the place is pregnant with His authority.

Martin adds this:

I have been wondering recently whether we who are the Lord’s and seek to carry the fullness of the Kingdom are not yet fully aware of the contention of the enemy against us.

I wonder that myself.  I think we are largely unaware of the extent to which the Enemy resists us.  For certain, he has always resisted the coming forth of this kind of authoritative word—and will do so vehemently when it begins to break forth again.  I have seen it happen in the past, and I know we are going to see it again.  God’s adversary (and ours) is dead set against His authority.  In fact this is what he challenged from his beginning; it’s what garnered him the name change from Lucifer to Satan.

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most high (Isa. 14.13,14).

This is a glimpse into the rebellion among the angels that the Bible hints at in two or three places, and which the Serpent succeeded in contaminating the family of man with.  As a result we see this same Satanic resistance to the true authority of God all through history—as when Pharaoh decreed the destruction of the newborn Hebrews… as when Herod the Great did the same thing at Bethlehem of Judaea, seeking to wipe out any chance of the true king of Israel coming to the throne of David… as when Ahab’s daughter Athaliah sought to destroy all the seed royal out of Judah (2 Chr. 22.10).

We see it also in Satan’s resistance to the true prophetic word—as in Jezebel’s campaign to exterminate the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18.4).  Ultimately she zeroed in on the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19.2).  Her husband Ahab went along with her in all this—reluctantly no doubt, but too weak willed to resist her.  We see the same spirit at work when Herodias sought the head of John the Baptist.  Her husband Herod, again reluctantly, went along with her too.  And we see this same “Jezebel” in The Revelation riding upon a scarlet-coloured beast “drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17.6).  “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints…” (Rev. 18.24).  She who calls herself a prophetess—and Christ reproved the church of Thyatira for going along with her—is thirsty for the blood of the prophets.  For she stands against the true word of God—the testimony of Jesus Christ.  It is the Spirit of prophesy that is hated—the testimony of Jesus Christ.

And for this very reason the church must be this “lectern” Martin saw with the eagle upon it.  The church must have this prophetic Testimony, this authoritative word, with the presence of the eagle permeating all.  I believe it is a corporate thing, this eagle, and not just one man.  Paul called for the earnest prayers of the saints at Ephesus that he might have liberty to declare the word of God boldly—and make known the “mystery of the Gospel” (Eph. 6.18).  He, the mighty apostle, could not function independently.  He’d been given the revelation of the body of Christ on the Damascus Road, and ever after he recognized his need for the other members of that Body.  He was continually calling for the prayers of the saints.  He needed their support as Moses needed Aaron and Hur to stay up his arms.  Yes, it was Paul’s mouth the word went forth from, but it was a joint operation of the body of Christ that enabled it.  Paul sought the same thing from the Colossians, “that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds…” (Col. 4.3).

I believe we are going to see this eagle in church again—this kind of authoritative word, this kind of anointing.  But let us be ready for the consequences.  The Enemy does not take kindly to this kind of Gospel going forth—the kind in which the eyes of sinful men are opened to see what the mystery of Christ is all about.  The true Gospel of Christ is a very powerful Gospel, a high and far-reaching Gospel.  It’s a Gospel that must go forth in the power and authority of the eagle.  And when it does there is going to be prey for her young ones.

Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?
She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place.
From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off.
Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she (Job. 39.27-30).

Lord, open our eyes!  How near-sighted we have become, and blind!  No wonder our young people are in the condition they are in—worldly minded, with little or no interest in spiritual things.  Can they be blamed?  What kind of Gospel do we have for them?  We must have more for them than games and pizza on Friday nights at the church—along with a little side of MacWord, as a friend calls it.  Oh, you protest, but how else can we get them in?  We’ve got to give them games and pizza… and the heavy metal rock music they’re into, or their reggae, or even magicians if necessary, and clowns to entertain them.  Anything to get them to come!  So we can slip in that little gospel MacWord on the side.

Here’s another way to get them to come.  Shut all that down, and cry out like this: Jesus, call your eagles to church—those who dwell and abide upon the Rock, and whose eyes see into the distances of the Spirit… and bring nigh what they see afar off!  Then there will be prey for our young ones—the mystery of Christ—the revelation of God in once-fallen man.  Then there will be young eagles growing up in our midst—a whole new kind of young people!

And our Adversary the Devil will have to cope with the consequences.

The Wind Is Shifting

Be valiant and faithful for God’s truth upon the earth in this day of trial and persecution.

This is from the letters of George Fox the Quaker apostle, which I have been reading.  Fox often encouraged his friends with words such as these.  The early Quakers suffered grievously at the hands of the apostate church of their day, and the government.  Many of them had their goods and houses confiscated because they refused to pay the mandatory tithe the established churches required.  They were thrown in jail for the same reason, or because they would not swear an oath or doff their hats to dignitaries.  They also reproved those in authority for their wicked ways, and paid the price for this as well.  So Fox—who himself spent much time behind bars—would encourage his fellow sufferers to take heart by recognizing that this kind of thing is the lot of those who follow Jesus Christ in “this day”—this present evil age.

How we in western lands need to recognize that we are still in this same day!  We are thankful for the liberty we have enjoyed; we in western lands can be Christians and still enjoy great security and safety and prosperity.  But wet your finger and hold it up to the wind.  You will discover the wind is shifting these days.  The warm west wind of prosperity is shifting—and is beginning to come out of the north.  The “world” is not going to be so amicable to us as it has been in the past.  Western nations don’t want to be recognized as “Christian” nations any more.  There is arising a “new king over Egypt,” who does not know “Joseph” (Ex. 1.8).

There is another factor that is going to provoke this coming persecution—a deeper manifestation of Christ in His people.  It’s heartbreaking to read of the things our brothers and sisters go through in other lands simply for being named a Christian.  Over here being identified as a Christian doesn’t seem to provoke the same reaction it does in many other places.  But the persecution is going to be just as severe here, if not more so, when the Spirit of Christ takes up His habitation in us in a more manifest way—something many are now seeking.

I recall many years ago reading one of the “Visions of Annie,” in which she said it seemed to her almost a deceitful thing when God gave His own that Spirit of His Presence they had so long been seeking.  For it provoked a severe reaction from those who hated Him—much suffering, pain, and persecution.

Some of us have been waiting a long time for this—not the trouble, but the Presence.  It is at the door, I believe.  Others bear the same witness.  And we long for this.  Nothing less than this will meet the need of this day.  But at the same time, this Presence is going to bring upon us here in western lands the measure of suffering many of our brothers and sisters in other lands are already enduring for merely being Christian in name.

Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you” (Jn. 15.18).  It’s important to note the context in which Jesus said this.  He was speaking of the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.  In other words, a world that has already demonstrated it hates Jesus Christ is going to hate those in whom the Spirit of Jesus Christ has come to abide.

And so if we are seeking God and greatly longing for a deeper reality of His Spirit in our lives, let’s be sure we understand what the implications are.

And let us start preparing for this.

How?  Peter’s words come to mind.

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind… (1 Pt. 4.1).

This is the key, I believe.  The servant is not greater than his lord, Jesus warned.  “If they have persecuted me they will also persecute you…” (Jn. 15.20).  If Christ suffered in the flesh, so shall we.  Let us arm ourselves with the same mind, then.   If we are armed beforehand with the realization that suffering and persecution is our portion in this day, and not some strange thing that has come upon us, we will not be undone when it comes upon us.

John exhorted, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 Jn. 3.13).  We are inclined to “marvel” when the world hates us, and to think it a strange thing when the trial of fire comes our way.  And we go under because we were not prepared for this.  No, we must go into the day before us with our eyes open, our minds armed, our hearts prepared.  We are greatly longing for a manifestation of the Spirit of Christ that will enable us to have a Testimony that is greater than mere words—something that is able to deal effectively with the forces of darkness in our world, something that brings genuine conviction.  God is going to answer our cry.

Let us be ready for the consequences.

Jesus’ Prayer Partners

Jesus said in John 17, “I pray for them.”

At the right hand of the Throne of God in Heaven, “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.”

Now, if Jesus at the right hand of the Father is praying for His own, what does this mean for you and me?

I’d like to relate an experience I had years ago—one of the most meaningful revelations I ever received.  I had been going through a very difficult time—one of those times when you feel like you are going under for the third time… never to come up again.  I had gone under like Jonah.  The weeds were wrapped about my head.  One evening during this painful time I was in a little gathering with a few others.  There had been some singing, and then a time of quiet worship.  I was standing with my eyes shut, and my head bowed, and my hands folded… and feeling such a deep anguish.  I began to pray in myself, “Lord, I am feeling so bad… what I need is… I need You Yourself to pray for me…  Lord… please, You pray for me, that’s what I need.  I need You to pray for me.”  I continued on like this for a little while, head bowed, eyes shut, in my heart crying out to the Lord to pray for me…

…And suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder.  One of the brothers had quietly walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder.  Then another joined him.  And another.  And after a few moments the brothers and sisters were all standing around me praying for me.

I just broke.

And light dawned!  Jesus had answered my prayer!  Jesus Himself had prayed for me… just as I had asked Him to.  Oh, what a healing experience that was for me!

It was a revelation I never forgot.  The body of Christ is not just an organization, beloved.  The body of Christ is a living reality.  The body of Christ is just that—the body of Christ Himself.  We who have the Holy Spirit of Christ in us—can you believe such a wonder?—here in the earth we are the members of Christ.

And oh, how we need to be awakened more fully into this reality—that what the Head is doing in Heaven, the Body is doing here in the earth.  When He stretches forth His hand to heal, His arm here in the earth stretches out that hand, and healing with the power of the Throne of heaven goes forth.

When He prays, we pray—and it is effectual prayer, prayer with the power of the Throne in it.

Now I realize why Paul the apostle was such a praying man.  Read his epistles.  They are full of prayer.

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers… (1 Thes. 1.2).

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, always (continually) praying for you… (Col. 1.3).

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers… (Rom. 1.9)

I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day (2 Tim. 1.3, and note the singular thee here).

I won’t quote more; it’s all over the place.  Paul was such a praying man.  But we miss much if we think of this in terms of Paul himself initiating all this prayer… and we get to admiring Paul.  Why was Paul like this?  I believe it was because Paul was very close to that Intercessor who sits on the throne of Heaven.  This One by His Spirit indwelt Paul.  And so these prayers of Paul are in essence the prayers of Christ Himself.  Perhaps that is better put by saying that Jesus on the throne of Heaven had a prayer partner—Paul, among others.  Jesus prayed, Jesus wanted to pray, and so He sought out His prayer partner Paul, who, it appears, was always more than ready to get down on his knees and pray with his Lord.  Since Jesus was continually interceding for His own, Paul too was habitually interceding.

Let us be seeking this same kind of intimacy with Jesus, and be always ready to pray with Him.  Jude calls us to be “praying in the Holy Ghost…”  That hits the nail on the head.  When we are praying in the Holy Spirit, it is the prayer of Christ Himself that is going up to the Father.

And if there was ever an hour when the brothers and sisters needed this kind of powerful prayer and intercession, it is now.

Let us be praying for one another, beloved.  Because this is what Jesus is doing.  “I pray for them,” He says.  Let us be Jesus’ prayer partners, then.  He may just put His hand on someone’s shoulder through you or me.

The Lampstand—The Corporate Testimony Of Jesus Christ (Pt. 4)

Last time we talked of individuals who had the testimony of Jesus Christ.  John on Patmos had this testimony.  The messenger who was showing John the things he wrote about in the Revelation had this testimony—so powerful a testimony of Jesus Christ that John was tempted to worship him.  He thought the man was Jesus Himself.

This is a very tremendous thing—individual men coming into the testimony of Jesus Christ.  But as great as it is, it doesn’t hold a candle to what God has in mind.  We admire great saints, but God is not satisfied with just one person here and there coming into this tremendous testimony.  His desire is that this testimony be revealed in something called the church, where all the members—every man and woman and boy and girl—are shining forth this pure testimony together as one Man.

Remember that in the Old Testament it was the tabernacle that was called the “tabernacle of the testimony.”  The tabernacle in the wilderness had a testimony—had something to reveal about God, something to say about God.  But the tabernacle was just a “figure” foreshadowing Christ—the corporate Christ, that is—Christ in union with His bride, His body.  Some very good teachings are available on this, showing how every aspect of the tabernacle speaks of Christ and His church.  The bread on the table of showbread, for example.  This speaks of the body of Christ.  Paul said, “For we, being many, are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Cor. 10.17).

And the lampstand in the tabernacle.  John saw the Son of man walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.  And he said these seven lampstands were “the seven churches” (Rev. 1.20).  A single lampstand, then, represents the local church, which is to have the light and testimony of Jesus Christ shining in it.  (See also Rev. 11.3,4, Zech. Ch. 4.)

To some extent—certainly not in full measure, but to some extent—the church in Corinth had this testimony.  It was a lampstand in which the Testimony of Jesus Christ was shining.  As we read 1 Corinthians we discover the wick in the lamp needed trimming, but nevertheless the Corinthian church was a genuine lampstand shining forth the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Earlier we quoted the passage in which Paul said he had come to the Corinthians with “the testimony of God.”  How did Paul come to them with this testimony?  It was not the Torah Paul came to Corinth with.  It was “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” that Paul testified of.  And the result of his testimony was that the testimony of Jesus Christ was reproduced in the Corinthian church.

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 1.4-9).

This is quite the thing.  The Corinthian church had the “testimony of Christ” confirmed in their midst—a living word expressed corporately, as well as the manifestation of the Spirit, the shining forth of Christ in the gifts of the Spirit—also a corporate expression.  It’s quite something, isn’t it, that this church that is given the reputation for being such a carnal church had a testimony like that.  “The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you…” Paul said.  That is awesome to read!  In other words, people coming into the Corinthian assembly became aware of Christ.

What was the evidence that the testimony of Christ the Anointed One was confirmed (established, made firm) in the Corinthian church?  It was that, as a result of the Spirit of Christ in their midst they were enriched “in all utterance, and in all knowledge.”  They had spiritual knowledge, and not only that, they could give it forth; there was a vital “discourse” taking place in their assembly—the sharing together of the things of Christ with one another.  And they came behind “in no gift.”  Paul brings these more fully into view in Chapter Twelve.  Diverse manifestations of the Spirit were abundant in the Corinthian assembly, and functioning together produced “the testimony of Christ.”  With a word, a psalm, a doctrine, a tongue, an interpretation, a prophecy, a revelation, a healing… each one of the Corinthians in differing ways and differing measures participated in the Testimony of Christ.  All were involved in this (1 Cor. 14.26).

There’s a lot of emphasis on the ministry these days.  There are a lot of great pastors around.  Because of the Internet there are a lot of great messages available.  But it’s painful how little of the corporate testimony there is—of this “one loaf, one body,” of this lampstand wherein the Oil of the Holy Spirit is aflame and light shines forth, light shines forth in the lampstand—in a church, I mean, every single member being vitally involved in the shining testimony.  You hear of anointed preaching.  But where is the corporate anointing that enables all in the body of Christ to function vitally?  As it is, the saints are pretty much used to leaving it all up to “the ministry,” and the ministry for the most part are content to leave it that way.  But this kind of church order is short of the glory of God.  We must seek the corporate testimony for Christ’s sake—for the glory of His Name.  It’s only as this corporate testimony comes into being that the communities around us will see the glory of the Lord.

“By one Spirit are ye baptized into one body,” said Paul.  I anticipate, then, that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire—it is my conviction that this is yet ahead for us, though I know we have seen a measure of it in the past—is going to cause great shakings throughout the ten thousand denominations of Christendom.  God is going to bring into being local churches that function as one anointed body in which every member is vital—not just the pastor behind the pulpit.

And these local lampstands are going to be one in the Spirit with all other lampstands.  This thing called denominational Christianity is going to go up in smoke as a result of this powerful baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire.

And this baptism is going to cause great shakings in the “come-out-of-her” groups as well.  For, there is as much a sense of oldness about the come-outer groups and home fellowships these days as there is about the denominational system.  (I am encouraged by this; something new is at the door.)  In fact I would say there are many out there in the denominational system who, walking in the light they have, are walking a closer walk with Jesus than some of the “come-outers.”

Come-outers like to remind people that the true meaning of ekklesia is the called out assembly.  And they are the called-out ones, they insist.  But so was the Corinthian church a called-out assembly.  Just how far had they come out?  They were still in many ways carnal, Paul said, and walked as men. Because of it their lamp sent up a dirty, sooty flame.  There were divisions in their midst.  There was immorality.  And though they had been given abundant knowledge, they ended up priding themselves in the knowledge they had.  They thought they knew a lot.  Paul had to humble them on this account.  I think it is something like ten times in his first letter to the Corinthians that Paul—obviously deliberately—provoked them with the words, “Know ye not…?”  “Know ye not…?”  “Know ye not…?”

It isn’t knowledge that is the light that must shine in the lampstand, Paul said.  It is love that is light.

And so the great High Priest through His servant Paul had to trim the wick of this lampstand in order that the Testimony of Christ continue to shine brightly in Corinth.

The lampstand—a church—is a corporate witness.  Yes, each of us is to have a testimony which is the Testimony of Jesus Christ.  But the fullness of the Testimony of Jesus Christ is the corporate testimony.  Jesus prayed in His high-priestly prayer, “I have made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in THEM, and I in THEM.”  Them, He says.  I in them.  It is a corporate thing.  If Jesus is in you as well as in me, how can there be any discord or division between us?  Or between churches?

I know there has been much emphasis on “the baptism,” and the gifts of the Spirit over the past century or so—more specifically since the 1948 revival at North Battleford, Saskatchewan, from which the Charismatic movement got its beginnings.  They got that name from the charismata—the gifts of the Spirit.  It wasn’t really God’s plan, but it seems He permitted men to take the charismata back into their denominations instead of coming out of the denominations and by one Spirit being baptized into one body.  Of course they realize they must have unity—the Bible calls for unity among Christians.  But they are determined they will have unity their own way—they will have “the baptism” and maintain their denominations in the process.  It is frightening disobedience to the Spirit of Christ.  Deception—great deception—is inevitable.  We are seeing it already.

And so let us be very watchful not to get drawn into it.

But let us be filled with anticipation also.  Yes, deception abounds.  The beautiful realm of the gifts of the Spirit has become contaminated.  The lights that once burned brightly have faded and yellowed.  Charismatic is almost a dirty word these days.  But there is more ahead of us than behind us.  There is yet a mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire ahead for us.  I believe we are yet going to see manifestations of the Spirit, manifestations of Christ, that will utterly—and literally—floor us, and cause us to weep… and cry for joy.  People will fall on their faces and worship God.

And I believe we are going to see a wondrous unity come forth as God baptizes us by one Spirit into one body.  We have known so much of division.  We have mourned and wept over it all.  Who of us has not anguished with Christ over the divided condition of the body of Christ?  But His word still stands.  “By one Spirit are ye baptized into one body.”  The fire of this baptism must, then—and will—consume all that is discordant with the Lord Jesus Christ.  A corporate testimony of Jesus Christ is going to come forth.

Beloved, we must be encouraged in this dark hour to know that our Lord Jesus Christ is not finished yet.  He who walketh among the seven golden lampstands will not rest till His pure testimony is shining forth in every place.  And Jesus Christ Himself is seen in the churches!

The Testimony Of Jesus Christ–A Mistaken Identity (Pt. 3)

Last time we talked about the apostle John being in the isle of Patmos for “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  I think John is speaking of the testimony that back on the mainland got him in trouble.  Jesus had said to His disciples:

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me, and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning… (Jn. 15.26,27).

It was the Spirit of Christ in John that enabled him to have the testimony of Jesus Christ.  John by the Holy Spirit was convicting those around him of sin—the same thing Jesus had done when He was here (Jn. 16.9).  Again it wasn’t appreciated.  It got John banished to Patmos.

But I think this “testimony of Jesus Christ” refers also to what Jesus had in mind to speak to John on Patmos.  He had much yet to say to John, and through John to us all—this prophecy we know as The Revelation of Jesus Christ.  This prophecy is what “God gave unto Him (unto Jesus Christ), to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev. 1.1).  And so Jesus the Word of God, the faithful and true witness, is testifying of what God has now given Him.  It is a prophecy.

And He sent and signified it by His angel—His messenger—unto His servant John.

I believe this was the same angel that later in the prophecy John was tempted to worship, thinking this one was Jesus Christ Himself.  But the angel would not permit John to worship him.  He was not Jesus Christ, but had “the testimony of Jesus.”

See thou do it not:  I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19.10).

The Greek original has the article there.  “The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of the prophecy.”  The same words are used in Rev. 1.3, which the KJV translates this prophecy.

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy…

It should say, “the words of the prophecy.”

We will speak more of this in a minute.

The word angel simply means “messenger,” and it takes discernment to discover whether it’s referring to one of the heavenly angelic order, or simply a man, a messenger sent by God.  Sometimes the distinction isn’t clear.  But in this case we’re told clearly, for the angel himself tells us clearly: he is a man: “thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren…” So we gather he was one of the saints beyond the veil.  (Very quickly here, this gives us a little glimpse that moving beyond the veil of this life does not mean idly sitting on a cloud playing a harp all day.)

John is tempted a second time in this same manner at the close of the book.

And I John saw these things, and heard them.  And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book.  Worship God” (Rev. 22.8,9).

So here was a man—a prophet—that John was ready to bow down to and worship.  And it happened twice.  John obviously was having trouble with this.  Here before him was a man so like Jesus Christ that John actually thought it was Jesus Himself.  And so he fell at his feet to worship him.

But the man forbade him.  His testimony was, “I’m a man just like you, John.  What you are seeing in my life is actually the Testimony of Jesus Christ.  What you’re hearing me speak—I’m only speaking what Jesus Christ is speaking.  What I am showing you–it’s what Jesus Christ is showing me.  It’s Jesus Christ you’re seeing.  It’s Jesus Christ who is prophesying.  It’s the testimony of Jesus that is the Spirit of the prophecy.”

The man called himself a prophet.  The prophecy he was involved in—the prophecy we know as our book of The Revelation—was nothing less than the shining forth of “That Prophet,” the Son of God Himself.  God spake in times past to the fathers through the prophets in various ways—a word here, a word there, a portion here, a portion there (Heb. 1.1).  But in these last days He hath spoken to us in a Son, who is the full, complete message of Himself, the outshining of Himself, the “express image of His Person.”  That is the Testimony of Jesus Christ.  He spoke only what the Father was speaking.  He did only what the Father was doing.  He revealed the Father.  He was so one with the Father that those who saw Him… it was the Father they were seeing.  Yet Jesus was not the Father.  He was the Son of the Father.  He was “the faithful and true Witness,” who by the Holy Spirit bore witness to and shone forth the Father in all He said and did.  That was His testimony.  “The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do…”  That is the Testimony of Jesus Christ.

And that’s what this man had.  “I am of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus…”  We’re inclined to think that it’s blasphemy that an ordinary man should have this kind of testimony—that those seeing him would mistake him for Jesus Christ Himself.  But here is at least one man from the past who had this very testimony.  No doubt there are many others.

I ask the question, then.  Have you or I ever been mistaken for Jesus Christ?  You and I—are we so committed to speaking only what He speaks, and doing only what He does, that we too have the testimony of Jesus Christ?  Have we become so like Him in love, in holiness, in righteousness, in mercy, in patience, in humility… in all His graces… in the power and manifestation of His Spirit and Presence in our lives… there is such Light about us… there is such a shining forth of Jesus Christ Himself in our lives… that people around us are tempted to fall down at our feet and worship us?

Would that we too might have the same opportunity, like that man beyond the veil, to forbid it, and call others to worship God alone!

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