Tag Archives: kingdom of God

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.

A Burden of Light

I have been feeling very heavy hearted and pained the last couple of days as a result of the multiple murder that took place over our way.  I’m sure many of you have heard about this—it’s been headline news all across Canada—the two young baseball players from Prince Edward Island playing for a team in Lethbridge, Alberta.  I don’t want to go into the details, but apparently they were celebrating a birthday out in a bar with their friends… having a wonderful time, enjoying life to the max the way young people just love to do.  A jealous ex-boyfriend of one of the girls comes along.  There is an ugly incident in the bar… and then later on the horror story on the highway at three in the morning as these young people leave their fun and rush to Calgary to catch a plane to Prince Edward Island for the Christmas break.  The ex-boyfriend has tailed them.  And he has a gun.

And now four young people are dead, this young man included.  He turned his gun on himself after he wreaked his vengeance.  The whole country is horrified.  How could this happen?

…Four young people in their early twenties, in the flower of life, and living life to the max.  Their whole lives were before them.  So much to live for.  Now they are dead.  Their friends are in tears:  they were such fun-loving people…  why could this happen to such wonderful people?

And so… my burden.  How long, Lord, how long?  How long till there shines a Light in the darkness that reveals to a whole generation of lost young people that this is not what life is for!  Sitting down to eat and to drink, and rising up to play… this is not what life is for!  This is not why God gave us a life—to consume upon ourselves!

The darkness “out there” is very thick in this hour.  The only reason people don’t flee from it as from atomic radiation is that… they don’t see how dark it is!  It’s only when you have a measure of light that you become aware of the darkness around you.

And so… the darkness that envelops this whole generation of young people like a burial shroud… who is responsible for that?

Fellow Christian, it is you and I who are to be the Light of the world.  And so, if the world is in darkness, where is the Light?

At times I feel a resentment toward the churches of our day.  I wonder if it isn’t a divine resentment.  For, in spite of the fact that there is so very little light in the churches of our day, we carry on, carry on, carry on… with our many programs and our nice activities… when, out of love for a lost generation we should be calling a halt to it all and crying out to God for mercy!

…But, never mind the churches.  What about me, Lord?  One of the things being carried by the priests through the wilderness was the lampstand.  It was veiled in blue with a covering of badger skins over top.  Lord, I cannot rest till you bring me to the place where this lampstand under the badger skin is set up in Your Tabernacle, and the Light shines in the darkness again… the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ!

Christian, is Jesus the light of your life, and mine?  Is Jesus the light we have in our heart?  Is Jesus Christ our righteousness in our hearts, and our salvation?  Then let this be our cry:

“For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the Righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the Salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62.1).

Come And See

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?” John’s two disciples had asked.

Jesus did not respond by giving them His house address and directions on how to get there.

His invitation was, “Come and see” (John 1.39).

We are living in days when the amount of Christian knowledge available to us—very good Christian knowledge—is absolutely immense.  The Internet has Bible study resources like nothing the world has ever seen before.  There are also countless messages by a host of good ministries, and books and audios and videos without number.  Most of this is in the English language, I know, but I think there are translation tools available for a lot of it.

Add to that the multitude of messages over our pulpits on any given Sunday, and the weekly home Bible studies…

This is all very wonderful, is it not?  Yes… but at the same time it is, to me, somewhat frightening that we have all this available to us.

For, I remind you that alongside all this Bible knowledge, the darkness of our world has also grown to immense proportion.

How can this be?  So much light, but so much darkness, also?  Why, with all our Internet resources and Sunday sermons and Bible studies are we not making the impact on this world that we need to be making—and which the beloved Bible we are studying so much says we should be making?

Could it be possible that we are being led astray by the very abundance of the knowledge we have at our fingertips?  Is it possible that the light we have is actually blinding us?  I think that it might be.  At least the potential for that is there.  I think it is, at least, a very great test we are being subjected to.

If the abundance of the Bible knowledge available to us in this day is not creating in us a cry… “Lord Jesus Christ… it is YOU YOURSELF we want… and need; we want YOU in our midst, we want to see and need to see YOU…”  then we have miserably failed a very important test… with dangerous implications.

We have all this available to us… the sermons, the Bible studies, the Internet resources… yet our need in this hour for the Presence of the Lord Himself in our midst is beyond words to describe.

This is what I meant when I said last time that John the Baptist gave his disciples a very good spiritual education—something beyond the things I’ve mentioned.  The diploma these disciples had received in the School of John the Baptist certified—and their own hearts bore witness to it—that it was Something more than knowledge their eye was searching for.

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?”

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?”

Is that the cry on our hearts as well?

And if not…  why not?  In spite of all we are learning, are we in the right school?

That is the question we need to face up to.  Where is our hunger for God—for God Himself?  I wonder if hunger for God Himself is not the greatest spiritual blessing a person can have.

Notice.  John’s two disciples address Jesus as Rabbi—Master, Teacher… Rabbi—the very title by which they had previously addressed John.

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?”

In other words, they were expectantly looking to Jesus now to be their new teacher.

Their new Rabbi inducted them into the School of Christ immediately.

Come and see.”

Lesson Number One in the School of Jesus Christ:  It was not information He gave them, but an invitation to participate in a walk with Him.

It is only by walking with this Teacher and dwelling with Him, and taking His yoke upon us, and in this way learning of Him, that we become true disciples in the school of Christ.

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The Ever Increasing Kingdom

There is a feast that “mends in length” — that grows greater, better, richer, fuller, deeper, the longer it continues.  This feast is, really, the table of the Kingdom of God, where we are sitting down with our King at His table, and in His kingdom.

It is a kingdom the increase of which shall know no end.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice from henceforth forever” (Isaiah 9.6,7).

There shall be no end to the increase of this kingdom—its government, its peace.  This kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that cannot be destroyed.  In fact, as many as have sought to come against and destroy this kingdom have only caused it to increase.

Daniel saw “a Stone cut out without hands” (there’s your Rock that came down from Heaven, Cole) that smote a great image of gold and silver and bronze and iron and clay—smote it upon its feet.  And the whole thing came crashing down, “and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them.  And the Stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2.35).

This is what happened at Calvary.  The Son of God at Calvary, as they drove in the nails— it was God who was doing the smiting.

Jesus the Son of God had come on the scene pronouncing that the kingdom of the heavens was at hand.  He went about ministering this wonderful kingdom—preaching to the poor the Glad Tidings of this kingdom, healing the sick, casting out demons…  The kingdom of God was not something to come some distant day down the ages.  The king of the kingdom was present!  The kingdom of God had come nigh!

“But if I by the finger of God cast out demons, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you” (Luke 11.20).

Satan was not happy with all this.  If this One were allowed to continue on, it would be the utter demise of his own kingdom.  He had to do something about it.  And so he conspired to have the King of this kingdom crucified.

People get fascinated by conspiracy theories.  God had His own conspiracy par excellence in the works.  What happened at Calvary was a sting operation like none other.  For, when Satan sought to put a halt to this kingdom by conspiring to have the king of this kingdom crucified—and he succeeded in his evil design—much to his everlasting dismay, all he succeeded in doing was causing this kingdom to increase!

For, when the risen and ascended King sat down on the Throne of the Kingdom at the right hand of the Father and sent forth His Holy Spirit upon the waiting disciples, this was the increase of His kingdom!  And now they went forth in multiplied numbers proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Acts 8.12, 14.22, 19.8, 28.23,31) .

Oh, what a wonder.  Oh, the wisdom of God—“the wisdom of God in a mystery… which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory” (1 Corinthians 2.8).

In spite of all his knowledge—and he prides himself on his knowledge, we are told: Ezekiel 28.3,17—Satan (I say this respectfully) seems to be a slow learner.  He just never seems able to comprehend the wisdom of the Cross.  For he continues to assault this everlasting kingdom to this day.  What shall the end be of all his malice, I wonder?  For he is working overtime these days, intent on obliterating this kingdom from the earth.  At times it seems he has almost succeeded… as he did that day at Calvary.  (We are smiling at this now, aren’t we?)

…Beloved saints of the Most High—the ones Daniel in another of his visions saw taking the kingdom, Dan. 7,18—let us not be slow learners ourselves.  Let us walk in the wisdom of God.  Let us take up our own cross, and follow Jesus.  I confess… I myself have been such a slow learner in this area.  Even so, I continue to take my place as a disciple at the feet of Jesus.  For, wherever the saints of the Most High are taking up their cross and following Jesus, are standing true in their troubles, are fighting the good fight of faith, are fighting the Lamb’s war, are seeking to overcome evil with good, are walking in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit… this is the fellowship of the “kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ”—and the increase of His everlasting kingdom is inevitable.

And God has a surprise in store.  The hour is at hand when this kingdom shall “come”—shall be openly manifested in great fullness.  When, and where, shall it stop?  Never, apparently.

Daniel saw this mountain filling the whole earth.  Isaiah saw a day when its increase would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11.9).

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