THE KINGDOM OF GOD COMES TO EARTH
The Kingdom of God is coming down from the Heavens of God’s Spirit to the Earth, bringing all that God is to the earth. The Lord our God is the way, the truth and the life. We desire Him in all these areas of the manifestation of Himself. We desire to know Him fully as the way, as the truth and as the life. He who is the way and the truth is also leading us to the fullness of Life, even that everlasting, Kingdom Life, which He is. We will find the true Way and the real Truth in Christ, and this will lead us to the fullness of Life, which also is in Christ. The way of the Lord is very different from the ways of man. The wise man said, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pro. 14:12). The abundance of religious systems in the world today, along with their many ways or paths to Heaven, clearly shows us the truth of this verse of scripture. Many are the ways that seem right to man, which they think will take them to their ultimate spiritual goal, but the end of man’s ways are indeed the ways of death.
There is ONE WAY, ONE PATH, AND ONE NARROW ROAD, which leads to Life abundant! It is the Way of the Lord! But there are many aspects of this one Way. We know, for example, that this ONE WAY, the way we should live and walk in this life, is to be led by His Spirit, for they that are led by the Spirit are the sons of God (Ro. 8:14). This one Way is the way of righteousness. It also is the way of peace, as well as the way of love, humility, grace, mercy and forgiveness. Yet the one aspect of this Way, which the Lord has laid on my heart for this writing, is possibly the most important of the many aspects of the Way of the Lord. Yet, this portion of the Way is, without a doubt, the most neglected aspect of this Way! And that way is the way of the cross!
The Apostle Paul wrote to say, “For Christ (the Messiah) sent me out not to baptize but [to evangelize by] preaching the glad tidings (the Gospel), and that not with verbal eloquence, lest the cross of Christ should be deprived of force and emptied of its power and rendered vain (fruitless, void of value, and of no effect). For the story and message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing and on their way to perdition, but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:17-18, AMP). Indeed, to us who are being saved in fullness, the message and experience of the cross of Christ is the manifestation of the mighty power of God. And we who are of this sonship walk and calling are believing and looking for a manifestation of the mighty and omnipotent power of our God! By His power we shall be renewed in our minds! By His mighty power, we shall be transformed to become all that Christ is! By the mighty power of the Lord our God, all mankind also shall be released from the bondage of sin and death, to Live forever along with us! By the mighty power of our sovereign Father, the creation also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, to show forth the Glory and Life of Christ! And by the mighty power of our Father, the Kingdom of God is coming to earth!
We need a manifestation of the power of God to transform us into the glorious image and likeness of Christ, the firstborn Son! And the way of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is the way we must walk in this life if we ever hope to live the Life of Christ in fullness. The way of the cross is death to the old man of the flesh, but life to the inner man of the Spirit! The way of the cross is contrary to the way of man in this present, spiritually darkened world! The Apostle Paul wanted us to know that he was sent of the Spirit to evangelize or to preach the Gospel of the good news of Christ, not with the eloquence of man’s wisdom, “lest the cross of Christ should be deprived of force and emptied of its power and rendered vain (fruitless, void of value, and of no effect).”
God’s purpose is that those who would declare the Good News of the Gospel of Christ should do so by the anointing of the precious holy Spirit. The declaration of the Gospel of Christ, including the message of the cross, is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. The anointed message of the cross will make it effective in the lives of all who receive it! The cross of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the power of God that is saving us! The cross of Christ, along with the sufferings of Christ, is that mighty power of God that is daily crucifying our flesh, with its lusts and carnal desires, so that the Seed of Christ within us will grow to full maturity, changing us into His full image and likeness. With all my heart, I firmly desire to be transformed by the power of His Spirit, and I am sure you do too. If we have any other goal, ambition or desire, it is the work of the Spirit to give us that desire, for all who are chosen of the Father to become His sons are now groaning and travailing unto their ultimate manifestation. If we are dying daily to the flesh and its inherent corruption, by the necessary experiences of the cross of Christ in our lives, we are surely and firmly on that path that leads to the abundant Life of Christ and the greater Glory of the Kingdom of our Father!
It is also through experiences in this world that we learn God’s ways! Earlier this year, we heard about a family who were close friends with some of our relatives, who all attended the same church. These friends of had left their children with a grandmother and then rented a motel room nearby to celebrate their anniversary. After checking into their motel, the couple got into a very serious argument that led to a violent fight. Both the husband and wife were presumed to be Spirit-filled, for they attended a Full Gospel, Charismatic church, that is part of a large, Full Gospel denomination based here on the West Coast. This couple supposedly had a solid record of faithful church attendance and of good Christian behavior. But they both fought violently that night until the husband killed his wife in that motel room. The husband called the police, but he did not know until the police arrived that he had killed his wife, for he is blind. In his testimony to the police, the husband revealed that he had choked his wife, causing her death. Apparently his wife had threatened to kill him, but he killed her first. A few months earlier, another man killed his wife and three children in this state. In both cases, the families attended church.
As I have already written in previous messages, to be called a “Christian” today means little or nothing! I prefer to call myself a Believer and to live the Truth of God’s anointed Word! Those who go to churches and fellowships are hearing deception and false doctrines, while we, who have withdrawn from meetings, churches and fellowships, are (or should be) hearing the anointed Word and the living Truth of God from the Lord of glory, by the Spirit. So we continue to advise all who are spiritual to leave the church order of the past, and hear only the anointed, living Word of your Father! Only by hearing His pure Word can we ever attain to full sonship, which is the manifestation of the sons of God!
While reflecting on these two family tragedies, instigated by men with seemingly good, outward Christian values, the Spirit impressed me with the truth that the way of the cross of Christ, along with the preaching of the cross, is sadly lacking in Christendom today. The Lord made ample provision for His people to live a Godly, righteous life, even in this present, evil world! There is something wrong with so-called “Christians,” who resort to such ungodly, angry behavior. And I firmly believe that what is wrong in Christendom today is that they have forsaken the way of the cross. It could be that the devil was the cause of it all (as in 2 Thess. 2:7-10). But regardless of the cause, the cross of Christ is God’s answer to man’s inherent evil! We are not involved with any part of the church system, but what we have heard convinces us that the churches of today have left out the message and the experience of the cross of Christ. One who is at the head of a noted Gospel singing group said on a tape that during their early years in the Gospel music business, they would sing songs about the cross and the sufferings of Christ. But now that they have “matured” spiritually, this person said they seldom sing the old songs of the cross. This seems to be the general belief and attitude of many in Christendom today. And it may be the reason why we have all these manifestations of the flesh from some so-called “Christians” today, who are totally out of control!
Obviously the message of the cross is rarely declared by anointed ministers today, resulting in ill-prepared Christians. Such “Christians” are not prepared by the Spirit to deal with their own inherent carnality. So their unbridled flesh is allowed to manifest its inherent evil without the nullifying and terminating effects of the cross of Christ within them! Some churches may speak of the cross, but only as a historical relic upon which Jesus alone died. But the elect of the Lord, or the sons of God, are faithfully living and walking out the path of righteousness, which is the way of the cross. We are called and chosen of our Father to rule and reign with Christ in the Glory of sonship fulfilled! Therefore, we are walking in obedience to our Father’s perfect will!
I often wonder if that old Gospel song, “The Old Rugged Cross,” is ever sung in churches, fellowships or meetings today! I believe that old song to be a prophetic song, given by the Spirit, showing our need of the cross of Christ in our lives, by which we are daily bringing that old man, Adam, to the death of the cross. One portion of that old song goes like this, “So I’ll cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.” May we all cling to that old rugged cross, for by it we shall inherit the throne of our Father - we shall exchange our cross some day soon for a crown of glory and honor! If the cross of Christ is working within us DAILY, continually putting the carnal nature of old Adam to death, we shall indeed exchange it for a royal crown of Life in the blessed Kingdom of our Father.
Another old song or chorus we once sang years ago was this
“The way of the cross leads Home.
The way of the cross leads Home.
It is sweet to know, as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads Home.”
There may be other words to this chorus, but this is what I remember. It is a wonderful truth to know: “The way of the cross leads Home!” If some think they have matured spiritually so they no longer need the cross of Christ in their lives, we know better! Only as the cross of Christ effectively works in our lives, by the Spirit, can we make it Home! And “Home” for us is our transformation, along with that of all mankind, as well as the Kingdom of God coming down from God out of Heaven to the earth. This is now beginning to take place, by the Spirit!
When the cross of Christ is effectively working in our lives, by the Spirit, it will prevent us from manifesting the carnal, sinful ways of the flesh. I would even be so bold as to say that if that “Christian” couple had the cross of Christ working in both their lives, the argument they had that night in a motel room would have ended before they ever got to the point of killing someone. You see, I believe God! I believe His anointed Word of truth, and I believe in the effectiveness of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I also believe in the wonderful work of the precious holy Spirit, which works within us daily to prevent us from manifesting more carnality. If there is any lack in the life of any true believer who fails to live a Godly, Christian life, the fault is not with the Gospel or with the Spirit of God. The fault lies with man and man’s carnal, erroneous interpretation of the truth of God’s word.
The fault may very well be with the person who claims to be a Christian, but who may instead be a “tare” (Mt. 13:24-30), or one who is unable to live the true, Christian life. Or, the fault may lie with carnal minded preachers who fail to declare the whole counsel of God, and who cannot themselves live by the holy principles and precepts of the blessed Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. But rather than assigning “fault,” we know God is in charge of all those people, and He will bring them to Himself in the fullness of time. We do know that the church system is full of false doctrines, including their failure to declare the whole counsel of God. And this will bring forth fruitless, unfulfilled “Christians,” who are “wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever” (see 2 Pe. 2:17-22). They will all be saved eventually, but only after going through much tribulation, spiritual darkness and many more tests and trials. The judgments of the Lord began with us, who are His elect and chosen ones, and shall continue until all mankind everywhere are safely in the fold.
Each day, when old Adam raises his carnal “head” within us with sinful and evil suggestions, the cross of Christ will put him down, under our feet, where “he” belongs. The cross of Christ, if we let it, will always work within us daily, to deny the “voice” of the carnal mind. That is the constant and necessary work of the cross of Christ within us. But it is not an immediate and complete, once-and-for-all operation. Paul said he died daily, and we must also (see 1 Cor. 15:31)! And as this spiritual operation continues, the manifestations of the flesh from within us will increasingly diminish. We will eventually gain the victory over the carnal mind, until the mind of Christ will be the predominant mind within us, and the wisdom of the Lord will completely rule our lives. And do not ever believe, even for a moment, that the old, sinful Adamic nature and mind is not in you. That is one of the prevailing deceptions! “He” is within all of us, saved and unsaved alike, including the Spirit filled. And not until God delivers us of this other “man” within us (as in Mt. 24:40-42), will we be totally free of “him” and “his” sinful ways.
Jesus described the separation of the wicked man from the spiritual man within us, when He said, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world (from the Greek, “aion,” meaning the end of the age): the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just” (Mt. 24:40-42). The angels, or the spirit-messengers from God, will do that work of separation within us, by the Spirit. Then we will no longer have this old, sinful, Adamic man of the flesh within us, for God will completely deliver us of “him” and “his” wicked nature. And when He does deliver us, we will be magnificently transformed to live the Life of Christ in blessed fullness and glorious and holy completeness! We will then be sinless and deathless; we will have become just like Christ!
The Apostle Paul also declared, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Ga. 6:14). The purpose of the cross of Christ working within us each and every day is to crucify the world to you and to me, and also to crucify us to the world and its inherent evil. And that Divine purpose is daily being fulfilled in our lives, just as it was in the life of the Apostle Paul. Paul also admonished us with the truth of God, when he wrote to say, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). And what does the mind of Christ tell us we should do? His mind and His wisdom tells us that we should do what Jesus did, for “he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross “ (Phil. 2:8).
To show that the cross of Christ working in our lives is to be a constant and continuing spiritual experience, Paul, by the Spirit, said we are “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:10-11). If we would grow spiritually in Christ so that “the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh,” then we must always bear about, in our bodies, the dying of the Lord Jesus as well. When the cross of Christ is working within us, daily crucifying the carnal mind and nature, our Father is thus preparing us to experience the fullness of the magnificent, incorruptible and immortal Life of Christ. As Jesus lives by dying to the flesh (at Gethsemane, Mt. 26:36-39), so also shall we live His Life by the same process that brings to death the man of sin within us, which is the sinful man of the flesh, or the Adamic nature and mind.
When the going gets tough and the tests and trials seem to
be too much to bear, remember the truthful words of the great Apostle of the
faith, who said, “For we who live are constantly [experiencing] being
handed over to death for Jesus' sake, that the [resurrection] life of Jesus
also may be evidenced through our flesh which is liable to death” (2 Cor.
4:11, AMP). Is this your testimony? Is this the experience of your life? If
it is, then you may be assured that you are on the path that leads to the fullness
of the Life of Christ and the manifest Glory of the Kingdom of our Father! Let
me assure you, I desire that higher quality of Life that is of God, and which
is beyond this present earthly life and is much more glorious, for it is eternal
and everlasting. And I know full well that I will never attain to that Life
and the Glory beyond by telling you doctrines of the flesh that please the carnal
mind! The way of the cross is not a way that is pleasing to the flesh. On the
contrary, it is a way that shall crucify the flesh, so that the world is crucified
to us and we to the world. And as we continue to experience the dying of the
Lord Jesus in these bodies of flesh and blood, we shall also experience the
fullness of the Life of Christ, to receive that wonderful crown of Glory!
The way of the cross is not the way of the carnal mind of man. The carnal mind would have us believe that we can claim the Life of Christ by taking on a new consciousness of mind. But the mind of Christ tells us that we will surely and certainly receive the fullness of the Life of Christ by dying daily to the flesh and the false consciousness of the corrupt and carnal mind of old Adam. Furthermore, you will never get rid of the Adamic mind and nature by believing a new and strange doctrine. Only by OUR OWN DAILY CROSS EXPERIENCES will we ever be rid of that old, sinful, carnal mind and nature. God has a plan for our full and complete deliverance and salvation! And to experience that full and complete deliverance and salvation, we will have to go God’s way, which is contrary to the way and the mind of the flesh.
Paul wrote to tell us that there are some who are “enemies of the cross of Christ.” He wrote to say, “brethren join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:17-21, NAS). The Lord our God has the power and the authority to subject all things in this world, and in the whole universe, unto Himself. If He can do that, He can also transform our lowly, physical bodies into bodies that conform to the body of His Glory, by the same power that He has to make everything everywhere subject to Himself. God’s power is undeniable and unquestionable; He will do all His will in this earth, which we are!
As important as the words and messages of the Apostle Paul are the words and messages of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus had this to say about our need to take up our cross and follow Him: “He who loves [and takes more pleasure in] father or mother more than [in] Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves [and takes more pleasure in] son or daughter more than [in] Me is not worthy of Me; And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his [lower] life will lose it [the higher life], and whoever loses his [lower] life on My account will find it [the higher life]” (Mt. 10:37-39, Amplified). May we all endeavor to lose this “lower life” that we may find “the higher life,” or the Life of Christ, which also is the abundant Life of the Kingdom of God.
The Lord is telling us that if we love and take more pleasure in father, or mother, or son, or daughter, or in any other family member or friend, more than in Him, then we are not worthy of Him. He also said that if we do not take up our own cross and follow Him, we are not worthy of Him. Jesus called the cross, “his cross.” It is the cross of Christ as well as our own individual cross, the one we must bear and walk out in this world. God has a cross for each one of us. He has one that is uniquely mine, just as He has one for you also! My cross is not your cross, and your cross is not my cross! We each have a different cross to bear, yet our own individual cross will take us all to the same goal in Christ. My cross may bring me financial trouble and other tests and trials, while your cross may bring physical pain or afflictions into your life. But regardless of the kind or the severity of the tests and trials that accompany our individual cross, we will all arrive at the same ultimate goal of spiritual maturity, which is to be transformed into the very image and likeness of the risen and glorified Christ of God.
To confirm to us the truth that the cross of Christ, or our own individual cross, is to be taken up daily, Luke’s account of the same passage is given this way: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY, and follow me” (Lu. 9:23). Each and every day of our lives in this world, there will be the need for the cross of Christ to deal with some form of carnality that may arise in our lives. We should rejoice to know that the cross of Christ is Father’s tool by which our Adamic nature and mind is held in check, until “he” is completely removed from us. How blessed we are to know that the cross of Christ is working within us DAILY to fulfill our Father’s sovereign and holy purpose, both within us and for us.
To follow our Lord Jesus Christ to our typical Gethsemane and Calvary, we must deny and disown self, abstain from the ways of the flesh, and take up or carry our own cross daily. In his book, “Born Crucified,” L. E. Maxwell wrote of self and described its manifestations as: “self-confidence and self-vindication; self-seeking and self-centeredness; self-inspection and self-accusation; self-pleasing and self-choosing; self-assertiveness and self-respect; self-boasting and self-expression; self-indulgence and self-satisfaction; self-admiration and self-congratulation; self-righteousness and self-complacency; self-glory and self-reflection; in life as a whole, self-love and selfishness. The flesh is an “I” specialist!” (End of quotation.) And I might add, the flesh, or the old Adamic man within us, is also a “self” specialist!
The words, “take up,” in Jesus’ message (in Lu. 9:23) means to lift up, to raise the voice (of the typical cross within us), and to keep it in suspense, or to hold the cross in our minds, remembering its purpose and our goal in Christ. We will remember the cross and how much we need it to be conformed to His wonderful image and likeness; we will give it “voice,” or acknowledge its expression and purpose within us, and will hold it in our minds and our vision as a means to our full salvation.
Then Jesus said, Whoever finds his [lower] life will lose it [the higher life], and whoever loses his [lower] life on My account will find it [the higher life].” I am sure we all know that the “lower life” is our present “life” in this world, which is really death. And the “higher life” is the ultimate Life, the abundant and transforming Life of Christ! The “life” we live in this world is presently being lived with a flesh and blood body, along with the carnal mind and nature, that originated with the first Adam. Therefore, we must “lose” this present life for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom, that we might gain that abundant, never-ending and eternal Life of Christ! To gain the Life of Christ, we must lose this present “life” with its sin, death and carnality. And this we will do as the cross of Christ effectively and continually works within us to deliver us of the works of the flesh.
We are now, presently being changed gradually into the image and likeness of Christ, by the workings of the cross of Christ within us. So also are we being changed gradually, from glory to glory and from faith to faith by seeing Christ in His glory. Thus, Paul wrote, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). Daily and constantly, we are being changed into the image and likeness of Christ, as we behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord. His glory is changing us when we, with open faces, or with faces that have no limitations due to the confining doctrines of man, will see as in a mirror the transforming Glory of the Lord.
There is a gradual change taking place within us constantly, first, by the work of the cross within us, and secondly, by seeing His glory and becoming what we see. Then there is that sudden, instantaneous change that will take place “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52). Then, in that one precious moment of our Father’s anointing and intervention, we shall become all that Christ is! Until then, we need the continual work of the Spirit within us, as we walk the way of the cross, which shall change us gradually unto our full, complete and ultimate transformation. Then, in that one spiritual moment of Divine anointing and holy Spirit intervention, we will truly know, by experience, that the way of the cross leads Home!
The cross of Christ, or our own individual cross, will continually and daily, crucify our old self, or our flesh, with its lusts and carnal desires. Self-denial is the way of the cross! In the Kingdom of God, there is no room for self, or for our own ego, our own will, or our own wicked ways. When Solomon completed the Temple of the Lord, he called on God to bless it. The Lord replied that He had made it a place of sacrifice. Then the Lord gave a promise for His people then, as well as for all His people in the future. He said, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron.. 7:14).
It is the wicked ways of man that are a constant source of war, trouble and violence in this world! And God will have no part of man’s ways, wicked or otherwise, in His glorious Kingdom of all power and authority! If and when we truly repent, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, the Lord said He would hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. And our sins and our land surely need to be forgiven and healed! If ever the people of America needed to REPENT, this is that day and time. The carnal ways of the old, sinful Adamic man of the flesh directly contradict the high and holy spiritual principles of the Kingdom of our Father! And the cross of Christ is our Father’s way of dealing with the unbridled flesh of the old, Adamic man! By the effectual working of the cross of Christ within us, we shall be transformed to become all that Christ is!
Jesus talked about self-denial, the continuing work of the cross of Christ within us, and the Divine principle of life, when He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Mt. 16:24-27).
Man is a triune being! We are spirit, soul and body, and all of us - every part of us - shall be fully and completely saved. Our spirits came from God, and was the first part of us to be redeemed when Christ came into our lives. When we were saved the Lord established His throne in our spirits, and from there, He rules and reigns in our lives. Sometimes the reign of Christ in our lives becomes rather restrictive and perhaps even severe, but He will reign within us until both our souls and our bodies, as well as our spirits, are fully redeemed. Full salvation is the goal of the Spirit of God for every one of us! We shall be saved in all three areas of our beings, so that we fully conform to the glory of Christ, to share His Life. And the Lord will pursue His goal concerning us and all mankind with relentless determination and the holy zeal of the Lord God omnipotent, who also is our sovereign Lord, the Father of all, and the Lord of hosts! He will reign within us until His righteousness is fully established within us. And the cross of Christ is God’s instrument whereby this holy purpose shall be fulfilled in our lives for His glory!
The path or the way of our transformation was set forth by Paul, when he wrote, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Ro. 12:2). The renewing of our mind is the same as the renewing, or the salvation, of our soul. But the soul also includes our will and our emotions, as well as our mind. And our mind, or our soul, needs to be renewed before we may be transformed in our bodies. I believe the Lord is renewing our minds when ever He reveals new truth to us, by His Spirit. Whenever a new truth is revealed to us, by the Spirit, and we receive it and grow by it, then another portion of our soul is being renewed in preparation for our bodily transformation.
As we walk through this life, growing spiritually unto our ultimate bodily transformation, we are warned not to be “conformed” to this world. The word “conformed,” means to fashion alike or conform to the same pattern. If the pattern we hold before our “eyes” is of the world, its systems and its corruption, then we will be conformed to this world. But if we see the Lord high and lifted up, and keep the vision of Him and His glory always before us, we shall then be conformed to His glorious image and likeness. We shall see Him as HE IS, to be changed into the full image and likeness of Christ. In truth and in fact, WE ARE DAILY BECOMING WHAT WE SEE!
The path we must take in the Spirit to arrive at the fullness of Christ is the same path Jesus took. Paul wrote of Him, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:6-9). Jesus knew He was equal with God. He was God manifested or revealed in the flesh, but He took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man. He also humbled Himself and became obedient unto the death of the cross. And the death of the cross is known to be one of the most intense and difficult forms of death.
I wonder if we fully realize what a gigantic step of submission and downward decline that was for Jesus! He gave up everything to become what we are, that He might lift us above this beggarly state, to become all that HE IS in the Father! What a deliverance He wrought for us! And what a victory He brought forth for us when He descended to our level! He became what we are, that we might become all that He is! And there are just a few more steps of self denial and spiritual growth left for us to take before this great victory is fully realized on this human, earthly level for all mankind. We are sons of God now, but it does not yet appear what we shall be. But we do know that when Christ appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him AS HE IS. The cross of Christ, which is our own individual and unique cross, has brought us this far. By the effectual and continuing workings of the cross of Christ within us, we shall exchange our cross some day soon for a crown of glory and Life in the blessed Kingdom of our Father! And this is the great Kingdom Day when it shall all be fulfilled!
There is another purpose for the cross of Christ, one that we must never forget. Paul described that purpose when he said the Lord was successful in “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:14-15). All the laws, ordinances and teachings of man, that were against us, were typically and spiritually nailed to His cross and taken out of the way. Therefore, we are forever free of man’s legalism! All the endless debates about what we should wear, how we should look, on what day we should worship, and in some cases, what we should do to be defined as a “Christian,” has been nailed to the cross of Christ and taken away. There is only one “law” for us to observe and obey now, and that “law” is not a legalistic law of man, but a principle of Life in the Kingdom of God; it is the “law” or principle of obedience to the perfect and holy will of our Father. And for us, there is no other law!
Not only were the laws and precepts of man nailed to His cross and taken out of the way, but all other principalities and powers have been openly revealed and spoiled. Our Lord Jesus Christ triumphed victoriously over all the principalities and powers, including all the works of the devil, so that for all who believe, none of them exist any longer. Christ so completely triumphed over them all, so that all such powers have been totally and completely spoiled at Calvary. Well do I remember growing up in a Godly home and worshiping the Lord at grandma’s home. My grandma had opened her large home on a farm in Michigan to be used by people who lost everything during the great depression. Most of them were Spirit-filled Christians, who were struggling to find their way through those difficult and dark times. In almost every meeting at grandma’s, different ones would tell about their dreams and visions. They usually ended their discussions blaming the devil for every thing that happened. Countless times they would testify, saying, “the Lord must love me, because the devil has been chasing me all day.” I was just a youngster then (in the late 1930s), but today I would answer anyone with such a testimony by telling them “ For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). During our difficult times, when the tests and trials prevail and increase, the cross of Christ is working within us to fulfill all the good pleasure of our loving and merciful Father, and for His glory and honor!
It is not the work of the devil to train and discipline God’s sons. That is the sure and constant work of the Spirit of the Lord! The devil would not make you unhappy in this world! “He” would rather make you joyful and happy with the world and all it has to offer. It is the work of the devil, rather, to cause us to lose sight of the purposes of God and to find joy and comfort in the things of this world. Remember, it was the devil that sowed the seeds of the tares among the “wheat” in the human family, causing some to “offend” the principles of the Kingdom and to do iniquity (Mt. 13:24-30 & 36-43). Just as Jesus was tempted of the devil in the wilderness, so also are we being tempted while in the wilderness of this world. After Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights, the devil challenged Him to command the stones at his feet to become bread. But Jesus answered him, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4).
Next, the devil took Jesus into the once “holy city,” set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and told Him to cast himself down. The devil then quoted this scripture, “He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Mt. 4:6). Some politicians like to quote scripture, as the devil did, for it “dresses” them up a little and makes them look a little better to their constituents. But Jesus rebuked the devil, telling him, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Mt. 4:7). The devil did not give up yet. Instead, he took Jesus up to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. Then the devil said to Jesus, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, `Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve’” (Mt. 4:9-10).
With this, the devil left Jesus and angels came and ministered to Him. Be assured, beloved of the Lord, your heavenly Father would never offer you the world with its pleasures, comforts and joys. That is the work of the devil! The enemy of our souls will also try to tempt us with the lusts and desires of the flesh, and the attractions of this world, causing us to lose the precious treasure we have in Christ and the Father, which is our high calling unto sonship, along with the glory and honor of serving Him as kings and priests in the magnificent and all-encompassing Kingdom of our Father. The cross of Christ will continue to work within us, by the Spirit, destroying the works of the devil, as well as all the carnality and self-hood within us, to remind us of the glory that is just before us.
John also wrote to tell us, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 Jo. 2:15-17). This is the pathway to Life: “he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” And I believe many of us are truly on that path of Life. We are sincerely doing the will of our Father on this earth, therefore, we shall receive the promise. We shall abide with Him for ever! Then John declared, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them” (1 Jo. 4:4-5). And we speak and believe the truth of God, for we are of God!
We are seeing Christ and His glory, as we walk the path to our trans-formation. But our spiritual vision must also include the suffering Jesus and Jesus of the cross. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses (the witnesses listed in chapter eleven), let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).
Our Lord Jesus is not only the author and finisher of our faith, He also is our pattern of sonship fulfilled. For the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross and the shame that it brought, despising that shame as something that was meaningless, which could not deter Him from reaching the goal that was set before Him by His Father. And with that same zeal, determination, and love for our Lord and His Kingdom, we also, for the joy that is set before us, will endure our cross, despising its shame, as we make our way to the fullness of God and the throne of our Father. And, just as Jesus did, we shall also reach the goal of the fullness of Life in the Kingdom of God, which is set before us!
God’s Word shows the contrast between God’s sons and others: “Arise, O LORD, Confront him, cast him down; Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword, With Your hand from men, O LORD, From men of the world who have their portion in this life, And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure. They are satisfied with children, And leave the rest of their possession for their babes. As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness” (Ps. 17:13-15, NKJV). What a distinct difference there is between us and the people of the world! And the cross of Christ, working daily in our lives, is that tool of the Spirit that makes the difference!
Our journey through this world is undoubtedly a comparatively difficult experience for us. We watched as others of our friends, neighbors and loved ones prospered and did well in this world, while we endured the sufferings of Christ and the daily workings of the cross of Christ in our lives. Like Jesus, some of us may have been despised and rejected by others. Sometimes, also like Jesus, we appeared to be men and women of sorrows, and we were well acquainted with grief. Those who are of this world have their portion in this life, which is really death. The Lord fills their bellies with His hidden treasure, so that they find fulfillment and satisfaction with this present life. They leave their wealth and their possessions to their children. Their family names are held in esteem, especially if their possessions were of houses and lands.
As for us, not until we see His face and awake in the likeness of Christ, will we be entirely and completely satisfied with our experience. Our goal and our values were correctly placed in spiritual things and in matters that pertain to true Life. By the Spirit, our hearts and minds were opened, allowing us to hear and see new things in God and in His Kingdom. We have been trained by the Spirit to both hear and receive new truth when He reveals it. We have also discovered that God has been working in our lives all through our spiritual journey, and He did it all for His glory and honor. Now that we have come near to the end of our spiritual journey, we can see the goal before us. The end is near; we can now see “the light at the end of the tunnel!” The hopes and dreams and visions we have had are now coming into view, to be fulfilled by the Spirit. We will not give up now, but will “cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day (soon) for a crown.” And what kind of “crown” will that be? Not a crown of gold or silver, nor will it be a crown having any attachment to this world. The crown we shall receive will be a crown of Life, one we will gladly receive at the end of our spiritual journey, which took us triumphantly and victoriously through this present “life” in the “wilderness” of this world. We rejoice for His goodness to us, and give Him all the glory and honor for bringing us through it all as faithfully and as mercifully as He did!
We close with this quote from the booklet, “The Cross and the Ages to Come,” by G. Campbell Morgan: “As Christ is the Center, Source and Goal of the universe, His Cross is the center, source and goal of reconciliation. For all the universe and for the ultimate ages ever proceeding in beauty from the Being of God, the Cross will abide the supreme revelation of God, through which all creation will come to an understanding of His holiness and His love, the deepest and truest things of His being. What a theme for imagination, which, nevertheless, is utterly incapable of encompassing all the glorious truth! We dream of the birth of ceaseless ages, of new creations, springing like fresh mornings from His wisdom and His might; and as in unfailing procession they appear, Christ and His ransomed Church will sing to them the song of redemption, and while they knew the might and majesty of God in the wonder of their life, they will only come to a true apprehension of His heart as we tell them He loved us, and ‘loosed us from our sins by His blood.’
“If by that Cross all things in the heavens are to be
reconciled, and infinite peace is to follow, I dare trust it, notwithstanding
all my sin and all my weakness. By the way of that Cross I am reconciled to
God, and through it I find rest, infinite, eternal, undying. At last my rest
shall be rest with the WHOLE CREATION, for the cosmic order will be restored
through the mystery of God’s suffering as revealed in the Cross.”
(End of quotation.) BY HIS CROSS, ALL THINGS, ALL MANKIND AND THE WHOLE CREATION
ARE RECONCILED TO GOD! What blessed Truth there is in Christ, and in the power
and glory of His redemptive, healing cross!
Paul and Emily Mueller
P O BOX 25055, PORTLAND, OR 97298-0055