updated 9/30/20 – many additions and clarifications

Heb 11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]:
for he that cometh to God must believe that he is,
and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

The trial of faith is the key to understand how to walk in the victory that faith assures and to live in God’s promises.  Faith starts after hearing the Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. It is at the trial of that faith where faith most often meets its death.  We have failed to teach about the trial of faith which explains why there is so little faith in the church today.

The answer has been in plain sight, but natural-minded teachers have taught unbelief and used natural reasoning to explain why faith in God’s promises does not work and is not supposed to work.  The church has been teaching and being led by things that are seen, while the realm of God and His kingdom is about things not seen.  Walking by faith glorifies God and is the only way to please Him,  Yet we do not talk about faith.

There is much to discover about faith, too much to discuss here.  But I will start with the essentials.

My objective is to show the way to victory in our trial of faith and that there is no victory without a trial of faith.

Most teachers and saints want to focus on the promises of power we have been given over the works of the devil.  Yes, there is a multitude of promises and commands that say we must take authority over the works of darkness.  And to please God, we MUST obey those commands to conquer darkness.  So, why don’t we?  Most avoid trying to answer that question, but it is answerable and obedience to those commands is easily in our grasp.  But it requires a different understanding than is preached today.

But, obtaining the promises can not be divorced from the conditions of receiving those promises and power. That is what few have considered and why so few promises are realized.

We have been GIVEN promises, they are ours for the taking

  • 2Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
            being partakers of the divine nature – could there be a greater incentive?
  • 2Co 1:20 For all the promises of God in him [are] yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
  • Ga 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ

A great example of possessing the promises GIVEN us is the taking of the Promised Land by Joshua.

God had GIVEN the land to Israel.  It was theirs.  He had guaranteed victory.  But it was infested and controlled by powerful forces.  The people of Israel had to do WARFARE to conquer what was GIVEN to them.  We are told we can just claim the promises, we can, but not without warfare. which starts with the trial of faith.

God would not let them possess it if there was any doubt that they could conquer it.  The first set of spies agreed that the land was as God had said.  But they looked at the enemies and saw giants instead of looking at what God had promised.  They failed the trial of faith because they saw with there eyes and used that reality to decide instead of the surer promises of God.  They thought that the battle was theirs to make happen instead of God bringing all victory.

  • Heb 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
  • Heb 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Faith is always the way the promises are possessed by us and what the fight and trial of faith is about.  Are we slothful, expecting God to do what He told us to do?  Do we believe God, or what our eyes and senses tell us what reality is?  Do we believe the battle is the Lord’s or is it ours?  It is ours to fight and to face the realities of the world, flesh, and devil, but it is His to win.  He never calls us to a battle to lose it.

That makes some saints think they can merely say a simple prayer and God will do the warfare without them.  That is not the testimony of scripture.

Israel not permitted to go in and possess the land in spite of the fact that Joshua and Caleb were confident that the giants and walls were no obstacle to God.  In spite of the fact that conquering the land was the will and desire of God. Joshua and Caleb passed the trial of faith, but God wants the entire nation/church to enter in and will prevent faithful servants because of the unbelief of others.

Joshua and Caleb were the only adult men that we’re allowed to possess the land after God had the unbelieving generation pass away.  They saw the land and the obstacles as God saw them.

We must remember that each of the soldiers was well aware of the giants and the walls, but were willing to put their lives at stake that God’s promises were true. The giants nor the wall had not changed. The only thing that had changed was that they had decided to trust God, not evidence of the eyes.   They looked not at the seen, but what God sees. Their faith was constantly tried and tested, and any sin in the camp was met with death.   Only a people intent on ridding the camp of sin can possess the land God has promised.  Only those whose eyes are focused on the unseen can defeat that which is unseen.

  • 2Co 7:1 ¶ Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

That is one major difference between the church of today and those who know the reward of believing what God has said.  These soldiers fit the description of Jesus’ disciples

THE PLACE OF DISCIPLESHIP

Today, we neglect or reject Jesus’ definition of a disciple: a very high bar, and possible only in and through God for those who have committed themselves to it.

  • Lu 14:26  If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
  • Lu 14:27  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
  • Lu 14:33  So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.e

We casually read the scripture and think that all promises are to any saint.  We choose to neglect the fact that the greatest promises were made to the disciples, not to the general crowds who followed Him.

And, beyond that, He said that all promises were dependent on faith.  It seems obvious to me that until we fulfill the conditions of being true disciples and believe without doubting (seeing how God sees) that none of those promises will be ours.  The promise of salvation was only based on the most basic of faith and one needs only the smallest of faith to be saved.

Yet most have simply said that all is ours if we only believe. We have lowered the bar on what a disciple so far that we no longer have a bar.  We also are not doing the signs of a disciple and can not nor do His command to go into all the world and make disciples.  We can not produce something until we have fulfilled the conditions set for by Jesus.

The great promises of power and authority were spoken to disciples,  They are for disciples, not for Laodiceans.

God may give Laodiceans a taste of that power in hopes of showing that He has something far better for them than their own comfort and ease.

God does not and will not allow any to mix His kingdom with the world’s ways and present it as His gospel.

And we no longer preach the gospel of the kingdom, but the gospel of the cross (Which is only the first essential step of entering the kingdom of God), and most have mixed that gospel with that of Humanism.  The church has become a group of “what is in it for me”, and that defines Humanism, not Christianity.  Christianity is about others, and us laying down our lives to see them progress in the kingdom.  It is a total focus and allegiance to the Kingdom of God and becoming strangers and pilgrims to the nations we live in.  We may get them through the door of salvation, but then we turn the life in the kingdom into obeying those rules.  More on that in other articles.

But the trial of faith proves whether one believes, or has mere mental assent.
God accomplishes all in and for His kingdom by faith, and from Abel, to Abraham, to Jesus and the disciples, all started by a trial of their faith.

We are constantly called to make hard choices between our own interests and the interests of God.  Friendship with God IS enmity against Gdo

Yet, we omit the trial of faith and do not speak of it.
Yes, the promise of power and authority over sickness, demons, and spiritual wickedness is there for our taking.  But there are conditions that we have ignored.

Before we can put that power and authority into practice, God tests our faith and commitment to His truth and His seeing.  Sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big ways.
We forget that, by Jesus’ example, did His works for the benefit of others.  His greatest triumph came by what looked like His greatest defeat.

The TRIAL OF FAITH is a most prevalent message in all of scriptures, and ALWAYS precedes works of faith. 

Yet few have learned or benefitted from understanding it (or are seeking to understand it)
In this post, I offer many scriptures to help us understand God’s purpose and our benefits through these TRIAL OF FAITH.

Other articles on this site also address the topics of entering into the fullness of Christ and His word today through His saints.

I have never heard such a message as this in over 40 years as a Christian, just bits and pieces, but not a more complete message.  I thank God that He has allowed this feeble attempt to delve into this incredible mystery.

TRIAL OF FAITH

AS HE IS, SO ARE WE IN THIS WORLD 1Jo 4:17

Mr 9:12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at naught.

  • We avoid suffering and hate to be thought of as being nothings and of no use to man or God – ego runs deep.
  • It is only when we are willing to set at naught, to have no power or reputation that Christ’s imparts His true power.

Joh 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

  • The purpose of suffering is to cleanse us from all that is not of Him so that nothing interferes with Him as He does His word through us.
  • The less we have us our old nature and mind, the more effective we (through Him) are in our fight against principalities and powers.

Heb 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered ;

  • And so do we

1Pe 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered , he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

  • even hereunto were ye called”, we are in Him and Christ is yet suffering through His body, whom we are. This is part of our calling, if we are faithful to our calling, we will suffer.
    • This is how we are to handle trials, persecutions, wrongful sufferings
    • we can ask like Paul and Jesus did that if there be another way, then give it to us, nevertheless, His will be done.
  • This is NOT giving satan or demons authority over us, no more than Jesus gave satan authority over Him in His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. It was those very sufferings that brought victory over satan.
    • According to scripture, it is also our sufferings which bring about the defeat of satan in the lives of others.
    • It is a display that regardless of what satan can do to us (like Job) that we will not falter in our faith or duty. It was through death that Jesus totally overcame the powers of darkness, and so it is with us,
  • We also have confidence that God’s purpose is to perfect us and conform us to the image of His dear Son.

Heb 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

  • We are never alone and Jesus is sharing in our every suffering. Jesus considered the persecution of Paul toward believers as persecuting Jesus, Himself. And so it will ever be.

Lu 24:26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

  • Ought not we suffer these things and enter into His glory?
  • Our salvation is based on His obedience, and He states that suffering is part and parcel of being a disciple.

THE TRIAL OF OUR FAITH

Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

  • That is always the result of refinement when we embrace it and see it from His hand.  If we want to be perfect in Him, suffering must be our refiner.
  • Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him – is ever the cry of a faithful saint. Like Job, they know that everything is ultimately in the hand of our loving God who works all things together for good.

De 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or not.

  • He had to try them for only the faithful can enter His promises (the Promised Land for the Jews)
    • and that is the same method He uses for us so that we can operated in His promises and conquer all the devices of the devil.
  • Now we are to keep the commandments of Jesus, but He will try us before He will bestow power to us to “bring to nought the things that are by the things not seen” 1Co 1:28

Ps 66:10 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.

  • It takes great heat to purify silver, and the silver loses its normal solid state and becomes something it is not in its normal state.
  • So, too, do we become in the trial

Pr 17:3 ¶ The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.

  • It is not a gentle or comfortable process, but it always accomplishes its purpose unless we beg for relief.  But we are only postponing such trials and cheating us and Him of the glory He wants to reveal in us and through us.

Zec 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

  • The promise is THROUGH the fire, not FROM the fire.
  • The promise is refinement
  • the promise is deliverance after refinement
  • Do we truly want to be His people? (I will say, It is my people)

Mal 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:

  • Only those who have allowed themselves to be tried BEFORE the day of His coming will stand when He appears). Do not be like the five foolish bridesmaids.

Mal 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

  • Going through God’s purifying fire is the only way we may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
    • Yes, we are righteous in Jesus, and that righteous is proved true when we allow Him to purge our flesh of all things contrary to Him.
    • We find just how much we love the world, the flesh, and the devil and find out whether we truly love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Heb 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

  • God will go to any length to test our faith and purify our allegiance.
  • Nothing must be more important to us than obeying Him
    • He will touch our dearest desire, He may even ask us to sacrifice a promise He gave to us
  • We are disqualified from being all we are meant to be by the degree we refuse to bey Him and ALL ways.  We must always choose Him over us or all we hold dear.

1Pe 1:6 ¶ Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

  • Because we may be in heaviness through manifold temptations does not mean that we are not fighting the fight of faith. It only proves just how great a hold the world the flesh and the devil has a hold on us.
  • It is only asking if we truly love God with our ALL. And each trial demands an answer to that question. Our only acceptable answer is Lord, “I choose You”, even in the midst of our pain and love for other lesser things.

CALLED TO SUFFER

Php 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

  • We preach only belief in Christ, not suffering for His sake, even though the scriptures are very clear that that MUST be the way of the cross and His resurrection.
    • Re-read scripture and you will realize how often suffering as a saint is mentioned by Jesus and by the disciples.  It was constant.

2Th 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

  • We say we want to reflect the glory of the Lord, and Paul tells us how that is accomplished.
    • When all our dross is removed, then His glory can show through.

Ac 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

  • As with Paul, so with us if we are to minister in His name.  

1Pe 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

  • Again Peter says “the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon” those who are “partakers of Christ’s sufferings”
  • Jesus and the apostles understood that suffering would be a necessary part of a church that moved in power and in truth.
  • Are we willing to pay the price (in our flesh) so that the spirit of glory and of God rests upon us?

Ac 5:41 they, indeed, then, departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that for his name they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour,

  • we tend to focus and worry about the dishonor and fear it will destroy our witness for Christ. They focused on Christ and His kingdom and His agenda and rejoiced. Such persecutions prove that satan sees us as a danger to his kingdom. Those who are not a danger to his kingdom, he will pester but not persecute. For persecution causes us to lean on Christ more completely for we have no other hope.

Php 2:17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

  • Our sacrifice is always meant to be for the sake of others.
  • A true minister will rejoice, like Paul, when he realizes what his sacrifice accomplishes for others.

Col 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

  • Who teaches such things today?
  • Could that be a big reason why the churches are so weak and do not represent the kingdom of God?
  • What minister embraces or believes that truth and gives himself over for the benefit of the church?

Heb 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

  • Remembering former battles of affliction and the Lord’s deliverance will help us stand strong when a new battle tempts us to doubt God’s faithfulness.

Heb 10:33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

  • This is a recurring state of the church of Jesus Christ. It should be the testimony of all who name the Name of Jesus Christ.

Heb 10:34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

  • We trust in our goods, but they saw that it was a small price to pay to know Him. Satan took Job’s goods, yet he trusted in God.
  • In practice, we seem to devalue the substance we will have in heaven. We allow the reality of this world (which will be destroyed) and value the things that are meaningless in the world to come.
  • We need to live for the world to come, an eternal world, not a world that is passing.

Heb 10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

  • Even though satan seems he is winning (as he did at the crucifixion) he is only ensuring his defeat.
  • We must not give up our confidence that God is King and Sovereign over all and that He is accomplishing great purifications in us while we refuse to believe that satan is having any victory)

Heb 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

  • That is ALWAYS the case. It may come late or after death, but God does not waste anything.
  • Nor does any of His promises fail, in the least.

Heb 10:37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

  • He was accused of being too late for healing Lazarus. But His “delay”, even though it brought great sorrow and disillusionment to Lazarus’ loved ones, was meant to show a greater glory and power of Jesus. It may seem He is late in our trial, but if so, it is always for His glory. Are you willing to be a Lazarus?
  • It seemed that He had forsaken and disappointed Joseph as he lingered in that prison.  But in that time, God was fashioning him for the position he would have in His time.
  • Are your pain and circumstances more important than bringing Him glory?
  • Satan can take nothing away or cause anything to happen that has not been approved of God. Satan means it for evil, God means it for good.
  • And God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The purpose of all trials is to show you where your love falls short and where your true calling is.

Heb 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

  • We must believe what God has said in spite of what our eyes or bodies tell us. His truth is greater than those of our senses and any situation that seems to call God a liar.
  • Only faith pleases God.
    • we teach that worship and praise does, but in scripture those things happen after some act or celebration of the results of faith and seeing God do what He said He would do.

Heb 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul

  • Drawing back, in part, can lead to drawing back to perdition. Do not give satan a foothold.
  • This is a truth that we can take hold of as a promise, but all promises result in the fight of faith to purify that faith and cause it to overcome.

Heb 11:36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

  • This verse speaks of those who did not see the deliverance they sought while alive as men. But God considers them heroes of faith because nothing dissuaded them from trusting God.
    • Faithfully fighting the faith is our part, leaving the results to Him is His part.
    • He will never put us in a battle that is too big for Him to handle.
  • The world is not worthy of such sacrifices by the saints, just as it was not worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
  • Seems that the greater the sufferings, the greater benefit and power we have in the kingdom of God in the lives of other people. It is as if we give up our benefits so that God can bestow those benefits on others.

1Th 2:14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

  • This is one proof that we are a true church and true saints.
  • The churches were known for their suffering. Why are not our “churches”?
  • We don’t suffer in America (yet) because we have been unwilling to speak the truth and be a threat to the kingdom of darkness. We make satan yawn and laugh at us.

The BLESSINGS AND BENEFITS OF SUFFERING

We have already shown many of the benefits, but since such teaching has been avoided in churches, one can not say too much about it.

Heb 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the LorWed, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth [cleanses], and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth [cleanses] not?  8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.  9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  10 For they verily for a few days chastened [cleansed] [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness.  11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

  • Cleansing/chastening is never pleasant to the flesh, but we are to kill the deeds of the flesh and be alive unto God – Ro 6:11, 13.
  • The Father’s chastening is the process of removing all from us that is hindering us from being totally effective for Him
  • Ro 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
  • 2Co 4:11 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.  This verse explains why the church has no life, we refuse to be cleansed and delivered unto the death of our pleasures and worldliness.  Even our sense of what pleasures and worldliness means have been dulled.
  • The ultimate purpose of God is to transform us into the image of God and make us completely one with Him.  Chastening is that process by which He accomplishes it.

1Pe 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

  • It may seem as if the trials and sufferings are often a great fire, and they are. They purge us of things contrary to God, strengthen our faith, and are the means to power over darkness.
  • Knowing that, causes us to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory instead of complaining and accuse God.

Ac 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

  • That is the only way to enter the kingdom of God. Why do not we teach that?.

2Co 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

  • We all say we want to know and be part of His glory.  Well, this is God’s method for participating in it.  There is no other method.

And what were those light afflictions?

  • 2Co 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
    • Note that many of these things we would attribute to natural circumstances and not trials of faith. Everything that happens to a saint is a trial of faith.
  • 2Co 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
    • Trials and persecutions cause us to have the power of Christ rest upon us and to be weak in ourselves and strong in Him
      • He has no other method
    • Our focus is not to be on the trials, but in the glory God gets when we value His ways and His kingdom above our personal comfort and freedom
    • We are taught by the world and the church that weakness is a bad thing. But the strength and power of Christ can most clearly be known in our weakness. God will not give any credit for results to the power in man.

Re 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

  • The devil has no real power. He can only affect temporal issues. Do we live for temporal issues or eternal issues?
  • Satan may seem to win victories, but true victory is seen in the light of eternity. Satan seemed the winner at the cross, but it was the cross that defeated him.
  • Is a crown of life worth the price of enduring a few “light afflictions” [2Co 4:17] in this life?

Ro 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

  • glorying in tribulations is a trait of those walking in the Spirit who reckon themselves dead to sin, to the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the devil
  • Modern theology teaches us to hate and run from tribulation and that it is not from God and He does not approve of it, while scripture says it is a great benefit and essential to His maturing us. What could be greater than having the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts?

Jas 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

  • This is the difference between those who walk after the Spirit compared to those who walk after the flesh. They count it all joy, for they are not their own and are fixed on the purposes of God instead of their flesh and comfort.
  • The entire point of trials (sufferings, injustice, etc) is for the trial of our faith (which God considers more precious than gold). It is being able to endure the assaults of satan and grow stronger in our battle against him.
  • Satan wants us to lose hope and faith, but faith ignores what he is attempting to do to us, and focused on what Christ did for the world and that satan is defeated, totally, and completely. The only thing he can do is to deceive us into thinking God is not faithful or has not power or interest in our trials.

2Co 1:6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

  • Our life is not our own, it is to be lived and given for the benefit of others
  • Who is willing to be afflicted for the consolation and salvation of others? To be true ministers of the gospel of the kingdom, that is the requirement.

Ga 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

  • We never suffer in vain for the cause of Christ unless we retreat into unbelief or the law.

2Ti 1:11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

  • It is because of the work God has chosen us to do that we suffer. We endure the sufferings in faith and patience, just as Jesus did His sufferings.
  • Paul knew that if he compromised the truth that the devil would pull back.
  • Our focus is to be eternal, not temporal, Spiritual, not on the world or our flesh

2Th 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:e may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

  • Suffering makes us worthy of the kingdom of God
  • In the end, all that oppressed and tormented you will suffer a far greater eternal suffering than they have inflicted on you. We do nothing but resist the evil one and he will flee, and it is God that takes vengeance, not us.

Heb 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

  • It is far more blessed to know His comfort in the midst of trials and suffering than to have not trials or sufferings.

Heb 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

  • And we are to sacrifice our lives to Him

Heb 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

1Pe 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

  • We are taught that it is NEVER God’s will that we should suffer unless we sin.  Scripture says otherwise

1Pe 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

  • We all desire to be set free from sin, suffering in the flesh is God’s method to bring that about

1Pe 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

  • God’s will is that suffering produces godliness and effectiveness in our life,  He does not torture His sons.

1Pe 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

  • And that is always God’s purpose in bringing or allowing our suffering.

2Co 81 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

  • How unlike our teachings of today

2Co 6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

  • Oh that ministers of today would approve themselves to be of God in the same way
  • Sorrow and joy are not mutually exclusive
  • Sorrow should always give rise to joy for we know that He makes all things work together for good for us.

Is there anything more crucial to talk about and understand than faith?

Everything in the kingdom of God is based on faith, even our salvation is by faith.

Yet faith is the most neglected topic in Christianity as proven by the weak state of saints and the church.  “The just shall live by faith” gives a good explanation as to why there is as much sin in the saints as in the world.

Adam and Eve’s sin was because of faith in what the serpent said and not in what God said. Faith stands at the apex of God’s relationship with man.

Why do evangelical churches seldom speak of faith? Why do they leave it to the cults to speak of and misrepresent? The charismatics/Pentecostals speak of it, but do not do the works because they have not known its ways, except rudimentarily.

I think it is blasphemy to discuss whether any of His promises are true for today. It is the voice of the serpent saying the same thing over and over again. “has God said?”

How dare we question what He has said.  How dare we follow Adam and Eve’s fatal sin?

Scripture mentions NOTHING about the discontinuance of any promise (except the ones fulfilled by Jesus Christ) until we see Him in glory.  It is man’s natural mindedness based on his senses and what he can see as well as his trust in the natural things of this world that brings this blasphemy.  We are to be supernatural minded, that is God’s realm and the realm where He accomplishes all things for us and is then revealed in our natural realm.

1Co 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea],
and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are:

Rather than seek to understand how to walk in faith and obtain those promises, we find fault with them and question and challenge them.

Mt 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them,
I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

For most Christians, those promises are not settled or YEA and AMEN. even though scripture says they are as certain as His word is.

Lu 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.
Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh,

shall he find faith on the earth?

WILL HE?

PROMISES OBTAINED BY FAITH
(things we refuse to believe)

  • Mt 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
    • Mr 11:23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
  • Joh 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
  • Mr 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
  • Joh 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
    • I know of NO ONE who believes the ANY THING part.
  • Ro 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
    • We don’t act like it, we don’t teach about it.  We only know a little about it because it is spoken of in regards to the door of salvation.  But it is the whole of salvation, not just the means of entry.
  • Mt 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
    • Rather, we teach things like pre-trib rapture where God removes us instead of keeps us THROUGH it, like all other times in the scriptures.  We teach that our gospel should make friends and cause us to be well-liked.  Scripture says the opposite.  We spend our time trying to make the message of the cross or gospel to not offend, but the cross and gospel is an offense [Ga 5:11  1Pe 2:8] and those who present it as intended will be hated.
  • Mt 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
    • Yes, He is speaking of church people
  • Mt 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
    • Most believe that everything supernatural is of God and do not test the spirits.  Word of Faith and New Apostalic Reformation heresies abound because of that thinking.

LINKS

These links are the best I know of to explain it

John Piper What Is God Accomplishing in My Suffering?

World Challenge What’s in Between Ask and Receive?

True preaching

Preachers of Righteousness

Art Katz

I believe that God wants to make a statement concerning the phenomenon of the preached word, not only for those who are responsible for bringing the word of God, but also for the whole church at large. In my observation, we do not adequately esteem the spoken word as being the word of God. We do not fully understand what “preaching the word” means or the condition of the vessel that brings it. It is the responsibility of the church to provide the environment and atmosphere conducive to bringing the word of God. When I say “word of God,” I am not speaking about a biblical message. That phrase is better understood as the expressly appointed word that God Himself gives.

I have therefore entitled this message, Preachers of Righteousness. The thing that makes any preacher righteous is that he is not speaking his own word. The word is not his own; it is God’s, and that alone is what makes the word righteous, that the speaker refuses to speak out of his own capability and savvy. It is a phenomenon that has been so little addressed by the church. There is hardly any understanding of the dynamic of the divine things between God and man involved in true proclamation.

While the world may have its oratory, it is only in the church that the phenomenon of true proclamation is found. Preaching is a divine function; it is a phenomenon that needs to be respected, esteemed, cherished, prayed and travailed for. True preaching as the word of God can only be proclaimed by a preacher of righteousness. It means that a divine perspective is being brought to men on the earth. It is a collision between perspectives and value systems. When God speaks, He is not speaking to adorn, support or endorse what is in the world or earthly. He is bringing a heavenly perspective unique to Himself. It is a divine perspective that is invariably at odds or at enmity with that which prevails as the conventional and acceptable wisdom of the world. God upsets the apple cart of those things that are cherished and esteemed by men, and even by those in the church.

The church is called to be pilgrims, strangers and sojourners in the world. And not the least of the functions of preaching is to stab God’s sleeping people into an awareness of the degree to which they have unconsciously succumbed to the world and its values. One of the functions of the church is to “blow the whistle” and to reveal the falsity, the charade, and the whole deceptive mechanism that constitutes the world. God is in complete opposition to the conventional wisdom of the world. And if we knew it and were hearing that kind of word and receiving it, we ourselves would also be in opposition with the world. We ourselves would be uncomfortable, and know our pilgrim status, and know that we are here for certain purposes. Are we agitated in our spirit by the evil all around us?

It will take courage to bring a word of righteousness. The world has vested interest in its own self-perpetuation. It does not want to have its apple cart turned over. And in order to continue the vices by which it is sustained, it shrinks therefore from receiving the word. For this reason, the preached word will be resisted and unwelcome. It brings a heavenly view into the earthly place. This means that there will be every kind of powerful opposition by the world’s powers of darkness. They want to retain or allow their wisdom to be accepted as normative. The world and its system trivialize the things that are ultimate and absolute and make absolute and ultimate the things that are trivial. It seeks to diminish the solemn and significant things of God. The function of preaching is to set them right.

True preaching is to bring the divine perspective to bear in a way that will affect men’s understanding and their lives. A plumb-line has dropped from heaven, and adjustments will have to be made with the word that has come. You cannot go on with “business as usual.” One of the ways in which I know whether the word that proceeds out of my mouth has been received is to see to what degree men will continue with “business as usual” after the word. If the word that is preached makes no requirement, it is not God’s word. It can be biblically correct, it can be a wonderful homily, it can encompass biblical themes, but if it makes no demand, it is not the word of God. He will not send His word into the earth that we should be amused and entertained. His word requires, and invariably it is a radical requirement. And for that reason we hear so little of a true preached word, for men do not want to be required of, or require of others what they would not have required of themselves.

Have you noticed how little is required of by those in the church? Are we not much more than a social club that comes for a “Sunday-fix.” Our witness is therefore almost negligible. We do not constitute an island of reality in a sea of unreality. Perhaps we are so one with that unreality that we cannot distinguish the voice of God when it does come. We are not attuned to hear a word that calls us into the heavenly perspective in order that we might live a heavenly life while in the earth. Such a word would occasion an opposition if not a persecution to those who bring it, as well as upon those who receive it! So we intuitively shrink from hearing and considering the true word, which, if taken seriously, would invite an opposition from the powers of darkness.

God says that it “pleased Him through the foolishness of preaching to save them that would believe.” We need to know that preaching is the epitome of foolishness. If we do not know it as that, we do not know what true preaching is. God entrusts a heavenly word to proceed out of earthly lips, out of a man who is dust, and who knows it, and who is so aware of his frailty.

For the true preacher of righteousness, the proclamation of the word is always an urgent issue of life and death. He feels that it is a once-and-for-all moment that will not be given again. He sees it not as a mere sermon but that very eternity is at stake. And that is the way we ought also to feel who are hearing that word. The proclamation of the word is not the exclusive responsibility of the speaker; there is also a responsibility put on the people who are hearing it, so as to draw it out of God’s very heart as something cherished.

The attitude of the fellowship to whom the word given makes a world of difference. If they are sitting with arms folded, looking cynical, looking at their watches, thinking that it is “just another sermon,” then that is exactly what they will get. But if they feel that this is a once-and-for-all occasion that will not be given again, and that the man who has come has been sent, then it will affect the character and the quality of the word that issues out of the man’s mouth. A lot of us, who are mumbling under our breaths and holding the preacher at fault for the failure to deliver the goods, do not know to what degree we are affecting the spoken word. The Lord may be chastening an entire fellowship by the diminishing of the word through the minister, who accepts it as being somehow his own failure. It is a humiliation that he has to bear in the office that he is functioning in. It may be the result of his own failure, but equally that of the fellowship that fails to understand the significance of the spoken word.

What we do on Saturday night or before a meeting will adversely affect our ability to hear the word and respond to it. If we were watching television and think nothing of indulging ourselves in totally unspiritual conduct, and think that the pastor will bring the goods the next morning, then we will be dulling our spirits. God will not accommodate an attitude of indifference or carnal mindset. We should be up the night before on our knees, if not our faces, praying for the word the next day. Do we see the word as mere instruction, or do we live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God? We ought to be bearing the speaker up and identify with him in the peculiarity of his calling. We should be sensing his trembling and frailty. We are in something together, and we have got to pull together if we want the true word of God. And God is not going to give it if He sees a heart that is not willing to be changed by the word or even suffer its inconvenience.

The preacher of righteousness therefore has an unwelcome task. It is a task of an ultimate kind that requires an ultimate anointing, lest it be dismissed as merely something interesting or moving. It is God speaking through a man that requires a man’s life. Something is at stake in the hearing of the word. Those who heard Paul at Mars Hill were eternally accountable to God for that hearing. To hear an apostle once is enough to be held responsible for that word and its eternal consequence. The whole atmosphere of church life and the whole corporate character of the church would be elevated, deepened, made more serious, and made more significant if we rightly understood the phenomenon of preaching. Not least would be the giving of ourselves in prayerful support of those who are called to this remarkable and awesome task.

The man who brings the word is at the same time himself the message. You cannot disassociate the one from the other. He is not some kind of antiseptic, impartial mechanism with a voice that God happens to employ. He is a living organism, and the word’s credibility and power of penetration are altogether related to the truth of the man who is bringing the message. If he himself has not lived it, if he himself is unwilling for the cost of it, then his word will fall to the ground. It will be an interesting word, but it will not be requiring. You cannot require of others what you have not given yourself. He is for that reason a candidate for the dealings of God that the requirements of God necessarily call for.

The proclamation of the word is not a professional function but spiritual. The man is integral to the word he proclaims. It may well be that we are getting shallow words from our preacher because the men who are speaking are living shallow lives. They have kept their defenses up. They have kept themselves safely from the kinds of challenges and threats that would have deepened their knowledge of God in the school of suffering. They are unwilling to enter the fellowship of the Christ’s suffering. They do not want to suffer humiliation and disappointment. And so they guard their lives in such a way that keeps them from the imprint of God, and therefore they cannot conceive of the kind of word that requires. In a word, the true preacher is a sufferer. He not only suffers while he brings the word, but there has also been a necessary history of suffering that has preceded it.

I am suspicious of anyone who comes to the pulpit with every appearance of “having it all together,” who can hardly wait to open his Bible to let forth. I doubt whether such a one is a preacher of righteousness. A disposition that is meek and lowly is more appropriate. In Spurgeon’s generation the pulpit was called the “Holy Desk.” You were coming up to a sacred responsibility to which no man was capable. In our contemporary church life, the pulpit has become only a piece of furniture where you place your bible and papers.

The first function of the preached word is to bring to death. It is a word that must necessarily kill before it makes alive. It is a word that cuts and wounds before it heals. But if you are a nice guy and do not want to offend anybody, then you void any possibility of resurrection life being ministered. If you cannot bear to see anyone made uncomfortable, you disqualify yourself as a preacher. The preacher of righteousness needs therefore to have had the experience of the pain of death in himself that enables him to bring the word of death. Only then can it become the word of life. If he is self-conscious about how he is being received and understood, he can forget about any redemptive word of life. He has got to be dead to the rebuke and rejection of God’s people.

We can void the word of God as being the word of God whenever there is any Cross-avoidance, where there is any unwillingness to suffer disappointment, where there is any unwillingness to bring pain. We live in a kind of a patsy religious culture that wants people can go home happy. We prefer the things that bring pleasure rather than those that bring pain and suffering, which is another way of saying we avoid the Cross. And so the service has got to be an enjoyment, not an agitation that leaves people with unanswered questions. How many of our pastors, who are acting out of their pastoral concern, do not want to see the congregation agitated or offended? They want the whole thing nicely wrapped and packaged and delivered in one meeting. But the preacher of righteousness brings a word that is not likely going to send the people home happy; he may send them home disturbed or perplexed and let them steep in the death of that word.

The preacher has got to live with the tension that however much he has prepared himself and felt assured that this was the word of God, he may well have missed it. Or even if he brings the word, he may well have corrupted it by some inadvertent thing that will slip out in the course of his speaking. It might even have the effect of dulling the word or even contradicting it, or give the hearer a reason to abdicate from the responsibility of the word because they have found something defective in what the speaker said. It is an uncanny kind of suffering that is unique to preaching and the function of the preacher. How many of us instinctively look for a flaw or a failure in the speaker so that we will have grounds to invalidate the word itself? So the man has got to live with the tension of that framework of understanding.

The sense of weakness, the sense of infirmity and the sense of frailty are intrinsic to true preaching. The man may look virile and sound authoritative, but in his own heart and experience, he is fully aware that he is a “son of man.” He is susceptible to the nature of man and its weakness. And even when he is speaking, he is yet capable of corrupting his own word by some inadvertent illustration, a wrong inflection, or some kind of thing that will remove the obligation of his hearers to take that word seriously. My definition of a righteous person is one who voluntarily gives himself to the understanding that living with tension is a form of suffering intrinsic to the life of faith itself.

Paul speaks about “preaching Christ.” This does not mean that every message has got to be about Him. The preaching of Christ is implicitly a Christ-centered message even when He is not explicitly the subject of it. If it truly is the word of God, then Christ is being preached. In other words, what He is in Himself, what He represents in Himself, the essence of His divinity and humanity is being set forth in the word.

Much can be said of the preparation of a preacher, not in the shaping of his message, but the shaping of his character, his life, and his own relationship with God. He needs a private, personal, unseen, devotional time with God on a daily basis. What the man is publicly is altogether a statement of what he is in private. If there is no authentic, daily, continuous and devotional life at the onset of the day, then there is little likelihood of being the bearer of the word. That is why we can hear the same message from two different speakers. We yawn at the one as it goes over our head or bounces off harmlessly, while the other man is gripping and penetrating. The difference between the two is that the latter has a continuous, daily intercourse with God in devotion. And devotion is not devotion if you are going before the Lord for the express purpose of finding a text or a message for the day. That is a utilitarian spirit; it is a commercial transaction and no longer a true devotion.

When Jesus was with the Father in a communion of prayer in a devotional relationship, it was not for the purpose of receiving instruction for the day. But when the daylight had broken and the demands of the day were upon Him, what had been wrought in His private devotion would then be expressed throughout the rest of that day. If you are a religious professional, you will not have the time for that kind of devotional life. You would be too busy with a multitude of details, and therefore that neglect will be reflected in the lack of authority and penetration in the word that is preached.

The preacher of righteousness will trust the Lord for the word to be given. If the Lord is giving the word, He will be the Alpha and the Omega of it. He gives the beginning, which is usually creaky, and He will also bring the end. Preachers like that do not grow on trees. They come out of an organic fellowship with fellow believers. Their early messages are usually an admixture of flesh and Spirit. They need, therefore, a loving environment that can bring correction to his attention at the appropriate moment. And they can hear and receive because it is not calculated to shoot them down, but to encourage his growth and maturity. The church itself is therefore a key factor in providing an environment in which true preachers of God’s word come forth.

The bringing forth of the preachers of righteousness in the Last Days is an exquisite work of God. But it will not take place without the participation of saints who understand the drama and the significance of it and are willing to give themselves in encouragement in the bringing forth of such men and their word. There needs to be a bearing with them because they are often going to be ungainly. They may even spoil an otherwise good service! So it takes maturity in a people that are not service or success-oriented to bear with such a man over a process of time, till he comes to a place where he can bring the word of God to a people.

The preacher of righteousness brings not only the word of God, but also the voice of God. How often do we hear those scriptures in God’s lament over Israel, “They failed to heed my voice.” There is something about the texture of God’s voice that comes forth in true preaching. The word brings a dimension, a cogency and a seriousness in its sounding. You can almost tell where a man is in the realm of the Spirit by the timbre of his voice. It is an index of the depth of God’s working in that man that will affect in a personal way how his voice comes forth. The man is caught up with the word. The voice of God and the word of God that comes forth are a statement of the proximity of that man to God over a long course of time. It will be reflected in his willingness to bear the dealings of God that have dug deep and sifted, and refined him. Obedience to speak the words of God implies that even the expression of those words be in the mood which God Himself gives, which may not necessarily be our own more acceptable mood or disposition. Our life ought not to be our own, nor our mood, nor our emotions. Therefore God has to have the full possession of our mind, body, soul, and spirit in order to be the bearers of His word.

Something needs to go forth in Christendom in order to raise up men who will bear the word of the Lord, preachers of righteousness in every locality in this final generation. The need of the hour is for those who are willing for the “school of preaching,” for the dealings of God, for the Cross of God, for the sufferings of God. The word of the Lord needs to go forth out of mouths that can be trusted in order that God’s people can be fed, nourished, nurtured, challenged, changed, prepared and fitted for the Last Days’ mandate for the church. There is a world out there that is dying for the lack of preachers of righteousness, for those who have gone beyond mere sermons and biblical oratory. Mankind needs again to see and hear a heavenly discourse coming down from above, incarnate and being expressed through the frailty of what we are as man.

More by Art Katz

An Apostolic Manifesto

Art Katz

In this late hour, the church needs to consider something that would constitute a plumb line from heaven, something to which we should align ourselves. I believe there is an apostolic distinctive that identifies the true church, and makes of it what has always been its characteristic from the beginning. No man can give a definitive and comprehensive summation of the whole genius of the word apostolic, but let this be a broad guideline and statement, so that it might enter our contemplation and change our conduct.

This outline will mean ultimate requirement for the church. If apprehended correctly, it will put us in a place of ultimate opposition, requiring ultimate sacrifice, because it has ultimate purpose in God. We will surely not attain to the reality that makes the church the church except by a conscious and willful choosing of these things. However strange and ambiguous some of the statements will be, may the spirit and essence of these truths go into our hearts and find their way into our understanding.

For a long time, there has been disquiet in my soul over the use of charismatic gifts in our churches. We have looked to the gifts to “renew” our denominations, or to uplift the saints, as if this is an accessory to our religious self-interest. There has certainly been much abuse and misuse, and we have therefore entirely missed the profound intention of God in the giving of His Spirit. I began to contemplate the context in which God intends the operation of the gifts of the Spirit, and from that first thought came this statement on the genius of an apostolic church.

The gifts and operation of the Spirit have got to be seen in the context of an apocalyptic and eschatological faith. By this, I mean a radical anticipation of an end, a consummation and a conclusion of the age, the coming of a King, the establishment of a Kingdom here on earth from a literal Jerusalem. Any body of believers that has laid hold of this faith, the only valid faith, will be marked by the powers of darkness as a people to be feared, resisted, and opposed. The powers will see them as a threat to their whole prevailing religious establishment and will ventilate their anger and spite against such a body. The operation and benefit of the Spirit, His instruction and guidance, will be a critical factor for a body that is experiencing opposition from these powers of darkness. They are compelled to take notice of any body that consciously and willfully understands, and takes to themselves, the purposes of God by which the age is to be concluded. This is a church that has moved past a mere succession of Sunday services or a Christianity that has to do with their own blessing and the benefit they receive. They consciously seek to be a body in which the ultimate and eternal purposes of God are to be fulfilled. The kind of opposition they will receive requires the wisdom and direction of God, which is given through the operation of His Spirit through gifts.

Such a body will find itself at odds with the world. It will be a sore thumb; it will be a band of pilgrims and sojourners in the earth who are remarkably free from the blandishments, the seductions and the inducements that are increasingly powerful in the world. They are in the world, but not of the world. They see the world for what it is: A system that is powerfully against the life of men, and that makes of men objects only of merchandise and commerce. The apostolic body touches the world only as it must, and that faintly and with reservation. It sees the world with its false values, and it consciously repudiates them and does not lend itself to them. Therefore, to whatever degree that such a body is free from the influence of the world and its false values, it is already a harbinger and statement of a “Kingdom come.” It is already a foretaste and foreshadowing of the great freedom that will be in the world when the King Himself reigns, where all that is false will be brought to nothing. To whatever degree the church enjoys that freedom now, it is capable of setting free those who are presently ensnared and enslaved by that system. It is able to emancipate and deliver the world’s deceived victims, not just by its proclamation, though that is very important, but by its demonstration, by what it is in itself. Abiding in that remarkable freedom from the world, its values and all that is false, this kingdom reality will be a freeing experience for those in the world who will stumble upon it, because it reveals another alternative for them.

This reality cannot be obtained except in and through a body. The powers of the world—its darkness, wiles, and subtleties—require the entire body to be alert; they require the strength that comes from the prayer and counsel of those of a like mind who are joined in an endeavor of this kind. Such an integration of life will be profoundly resisted by the powers of darkness, but these same powers can only be defeated by another wisdom, a people who are free from their influence, and who recognize how nefarious and sinister the powers of the air are. That kind of walk cannot be obtained by individuals, independent of a body of like-minded saints who are willfully joined in such an undertaking. It is clear that this requires more than Sunday services and mid-week Bible studies. We will need a frequency of fellowship, a going “from house to house daily breaking bread” (Acts 2:46). We will need the counsel of others, and to be in the place where sin is recognized at its very inception because of the proximity to each other. It can only be a reality where there is an interaction and frequency of relationship and communion because you are joined with a conscious purpose.

It will not win the esteem of men, but we will not be “known” by the powers of darkness unless we refuse the esteem of men. The powers will know when that choice is made: “Jesus, we know and Paul, we know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15). If we refuse this direction and call, we condemn ourselves to merely playing out our Christianity harmlessly and irrelevantly to the cosmic drama in which the church is set. That drama is the awareness that we are moving toward a climax that is at the door; a conclusion is imminent and a consummation is at hand. We know when we have entered into that true awareness when we no longer contemplate our retirement plans. We will no longer look upon our existence here as the “best of all possible worlds.” The powers of darkness, who know that their time is short, will be all the more vehement and vicious in their opposition to those who have this kind of awareness. If we have no awareness of the end, then our present living is nullified and becomes a humdrum monotony without significance. This is what distinguishes a true, apostolic body.

An apostolic body is a sending body, because it has the only reality that God will entrust to be sent. It has something to communicate out of its own corporate life. Only then can the laying on of hands be performed in something that is more than ceremonial or “biblical” obligation. In sending, the sent ones take with them the dimension of that reality and authority.

The gifts of the Spirit are therefore an urgent provision in the midst of a sea of active hostility against them [the church]. The issue of authenticity is the issue of the truth of our consecration. When it is only a shallow series of mindless altar calls and a few crocodile tears, the powers of the air yawn in our face. They know when a true consecration has been made, where the life is laid down ultimately and totally before God. At the same time, such a consecrated people are living consciously and sacrificially as being the appointed salvific agents of God toward the people Israel at the end of the age.

This is intrinsic to apostolic comprehension of what the church is. The church that fits the description I have given will itself comprehend and recognize its calling toward the restoration of Israel in her last days’ tribulation. It will certainly dismiss any thought that it is going to be raptured away at the time when its presence is most radically required, for its presence means salvation for Jews in their soon-coming “time of Jacob’s trouble.” This is not an appendage for the church; it is central and primary to the church’s own consideration of itself and what its purposes are in God.

Knowing that there will be such a demand will also require a sacrificial lifestyle. Israel’s restoration is the issue of the King and His Kingdom. God is not restoring them because they deserve a homeland after long centuries in the Diaspora, but their restoration is the coming of the King so that “law might go forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord out of a Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3), a redeemed and restored nation. That is why the powers of darkness will be in such a fit and frenzy of opposition to anything that pertains to Jewish rescue, salvation, and redemption in the last days. The issue of Jewish restoration is the issue of the Kingdom of God, and the powers of darkness are the false usurping rulers of this world and do not want to relinquish and forsake that usurping activity, which they have enjoyed in an unchecked and uncontested way since ages millennia. It is the coming of the King as the One seated on the throne of David in the holy hill of Zion, with the redeemed and restored Israel that marks their end. We need to know this final drama, or we will not understand the frenzy and the rage that will be poured out upon Jews in the last days. The powers of darkness, in their corrupt and perverse wisdom, recognize that the only way to avert the threat of to their false rule is by annihilating the Jews, whose return would terminate them.

The “time of Jacob’s trouble” that concludes the age and brings Israel’s King and His rule over the nations will be a time of sifting and chastening. The church must recognize and accept the ultimate requirements of such a task and willfully adopt the coming times as central or primary to its whole purpose for being. We must consciously be aware and take hold of these tasks for ourselves, willfully. You do not come to this through a process of osmosis. We need to recognize what these last days mean as they pertain to the Jewish people, as well as the role and function of the church toward this people. In fact, the eternal destiny of men is determined by what we will do with the “least of these My brethren” (Mt. 25:40). The Jew will be “least” in those days. The most celebrated and prosperous of Jews, who are currently riding the crest of the world’s wave, will find themselves with only a shirt on their backs and cast out into the nations in the most desolate and deprived condition.

We have to lay hold of this prophetic understanding, and then determine that we choose to be a factor in their deliverance in that time. That one choice, that one conscious deliberation, that one taking of that mandate to ourselves, has the potential to transfigure the church. Every aspect of the faith is brought into a new kind of perception, a depth of awareness, and a new reality, once this central key is fitted into the church’s consciousness as the primary purpose for its being. Anything that has to do with any subtlety of any anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic residue, of which we think we might be free, will be flushed to the surface. There is a flushing out, a depth and intensity of the work of God in the sanctification of the body. In Ezekiel 20, God tells Israel, “I will meet with you in the wilderness of the nations, face to face. And there you will come into the bond of My covenant and under the rod of My authority.”

Something happens to a remnant of Jews in the last days’ final sifting that is the factor by which they return to Zion as the “redeemed of the Lord,” with everlasting joy upon their heads and mourning and sighing fleeing away. There will be no return at all unless there is a church in the earth that already anticipates this and is preparing itself to be the salvific agent of God for this distressed people in a soon-coming time; for when it comes, it will come suddenly. This perspective needs to be central to our whole purpose and being. Therefore, we need the strategic direction of God, which is obtained through the operation of the Spirit through trusted members in the body, whose prophecies are not some kind of soulish exercise or drawing of attention to themselves, but a trusted expression of God’s wisdom and will in a critical moment of decision. Can you see what we have been trafficking in? Most are unable to discern whether a prophecy that we are hearing is of the Spirit or of man. That kind of dubious, hazy condition can no longer be tolerated in an hour that has come, where there is a deep seriousness of God needed in the church. For our purpose and call, we need to hear from God in critical moments through a word of prophecy, a tongue, an interpretation, or a word of wisdom. We need the operation of the gifts of the Spirit now, in the context that God has always intended. The church that obtains this hearing from God is the church that has consciously come to this serious place in Him, whose members have been tested and know each other, so that when a word comes forth, they know that it is not of man but of God.

It is no accident that such a fellowship’s prayer and worship reflects the truth of this reality, because prayer and worship are not luxuries, but spiritual weapons. They are no more relevant or real than we ourselves are, no more significant than the truth of what we are in ourselves and before God. It is not a technique or methodology that is required, but an expression of a worship that issues from the experience of God’s redemptive power in our lives, for we are in something earnest together. We are not ashamed to be dealt with, and when we receive such dealings from a brother or a sister, we are going to give expression in joy to the release and freedom that comes from the sanctifying work that has waited for this condition to be obtained. God will not meet us on our terms; He will not play our games. He waits for that which is true, real, and earnest, that which acknowledges sin, corruption, and need. Only then can we experience the grace of God. Our prayer is relative to the reality to which we have come, and that kind of prayer is powerful and moves heaven. It has moved out of a casual, conglomeration of saints, whose essential focus is on themselves, and whose spiritual egocentricity has never been broken. We can bring ego-centrism into the church as profoundly as we knew it in the world. All we have done is shifted the object. In the world, it was carnal pleasure and delight and material things. In the church, it is still ego and self: “How did you enjoy the meeting? What did you think of the speaker?” That self-focus is an inveterate power that can only be broken when we ourselves are not the center of our own concern and preoccupation, but God and His purposes in the context that I am setting forth and calling apostolic.

This is not a naïve body, because it knows that the church is a place of suffering before it is a place of glory. Suffering is intrinsic to this kind of relationship. It is not because we intend to inflict each other or constitute a threat or an annoyance. It is the very nature of things, because the members of the body are in differing places of maturity and background. The thing that distinguishes the church I am describing is that it is willing for such a suffering. A body of this kind is eternity-conscious. Its conduct in this present moment is set in eternity, knowing that there is an issue of eternal judgment and eternal reward. It is very much aware that the Lord is coming, who will bring His rewards with Him and give to every man according to his work. It knows that it is living in the anticipation of eternity, and that it does not want to suffer an eternal chagrin and disappointment for living beneath the glory of God.

That kind of reality and that kind of life together not only affects the worship of such a body, but it also affects their discernment. Their discernment is much more acute, more able to sift and separate the kinds of things that beguile and trap Christians of a shallower kind. It discerns and recognizes the whole issue of the dark powers of the air and the necessity to wrestle against them. Wrestling is ultimate confrontation, and ultimate consecration alone defeats these powers. It is not merely the activity of individual saints, but a church that recognizes the configuration of powers that are above them and will do battle in the realm of spirit in a depth of prayer that is relative to its own reality.

The character of this body is tempered, disciplined and sacrificial. It is authentically submitted to authority resident in the body, which is identified by the anointing and call and not by ecclesiastical office, whether humanly or religiously obtained by credentials. The issue of authority is recognition, and the submission to such is critical to the whole character of a body of that kind. If we continue to be autonomous, self-willed individualities that will come on Sunday, but make our own decisions, plans, and programs and not even notify or ask, then the power of darkness do not take us seriously. They know when we are submitted to the Lord. If that submission is only superficial, if we have insulated ourselves from it, if there is something in us that does not want to come under an authority because we see its defect, then that body lacks the apostolic character that commands the respect and acknowledgment of the powers of darkness. We have got to take the risk of submission to authorities whose lives may well be lacking in one aspect or another. They will always continue to lack, except they be with us in the reality of a body, because the sheep as well as the shepherds are ministered to in the church. We have no excuse to withhold our submission to the authority that God has invested in the body through men.

The church is in the process of being restored to the environment that was at the first. Our Bible studies will no longer be an interesting use of Scripture for the delight and enjoyment of insight to revelatory things that come from it. They should be set in the context of urgency, as if they are epistles written for us, for we are living on the sharp edge of extremity in facing the last days’ encounters and confrontations that the church knew in its first days. Bible study as a harmless mid-week occupation is the measure to which we have moved from the apostolic context and into something of a much lesser kind. When we will come back again to the realities that the church knew at the first, then the Word of God will have cogency, power, penetration, and urgency. We will have moved from Bible study to instruction in the way of God and His purposes.

The body I am describing is a body that strives for the eternal reward and crown, and does not consider martyrdom a dreaded thing, but a privilege. I am anticipating that this age will end in the reality of martyrdom. The anticipation of martyrdom is not some far-fetched, romantic contemplation, but a realistic apprehension of what will likely be the consequence of this kind of consecration in the last days. The whole lifestyle of such a body is an outworking of this mindset. This kind of body must be truly set apart from the world in a radical way and maintain its consecration daily. It must be in a conscious continuum with the apostolic past. It must believe that there is a cloud of invisible witnesses over it, those who have suffered opposition even unto death for that which was not a reward in their own life, and who are not yet complete without us. This is definitive, apostolic thinking, understanding, believing and expecting!

THE BETTER WAY

Witness – one who reports what they saw, heard, or experienced

Jesus taught by example and parables and illustrations which He then lived out before them and they followed His examples.

This is the purpose of scripture

2Ti_3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

All scripture is based on the spoken word of God (except when God wrote the 10 commandments in stone), it is used to confirm that it speaks of Jesus.  It instructs us in righteousness but is not able to lead un into righteousness.  Like the law, it is a schoolmaster to lead us to Jesus Christ.  But conforming us to His image is given to the Holy Spirit, not scripture.  When the Holy Spirit re-speaks scripture to us, it changes us.  Apart from the Holy Spirit, scriptures are just words on a page.  Good words, true words, sure words, but not words of life until the Holy Spirit brings life to them.  c

It says true things such as

Jas_2:8  If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

But can not cause any to do as it asks or commands.  It never says it does, it never says that is its purpose.  It says that such is the purpose of the Holy Spirit.  We need to let the Holy Spirit do His job and scripture to do its job.  The Holy Spirit is the source of present truth, to guide and reveal.  Scripture is the written mind of the Holy Spirit, which He will not violate.

Why do preachers constantly say, “let us turn to the bible” when they are trying to explain something?  How much more effective would it be to say, “Let us turn to the Holy Spirit to give life to the scriptures we are about to read”?  Why have we allowed scripture to replace the function of the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit uses scripture when He speaks and reveals and we are to test, by the Holy Spirit, all utterances made by man and those utterances must not be in disagreement with scripture.  That is the purpose of scripture.

Isa_55:11  So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

We wrongly think that merely repeating scripture makes it happen according to scripture.  But that is not what scripture says.  It is the present word proceeding from the Mouth of God that can not return void.

If scripture did not return void and did accomplish what God intended, then why do we have so many differing and conflicting doctrines and denominations?  Only when we live by what God IS SAYING  and let Him speak His words through us does the certainty of Isa_55:11 is true.

Mat_4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

That is how Jesus lived and why the Father did signs and wonders by His word through Jesus.  Reading scripture can help us know about Jesus, but only the Holy Spirit can help us KNOW Him and be like Him.  Don’t abandon the reading of scriptures, but allow the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus through them.  Knowing Jesus was never meant to be an intellectual activity.  We need to obey scripture and learn of Him – not just about Him.

Mt 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn [1c) to learn by use and practice] of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

  • Leanring OFJesus brings rest to our souls, Learning ABOUT Jesus produces hypocrisy, trying to be something we can’t be without the work of the Holy Spirit.

OBEDIENCE
We have disconnected God’s words from obedience.  We do not treat His words as commands, but something to be studied, and to have opinions about, but not to obey (except the ones we can do in our own strength).
The reason why most don’t obey is because they know they can not do it.  And the reason they think they can not obey is that they look at their own resources, not the resources of God that He has given to those He has created anew.
His commands are meant to cast all of our dependency upon Him and count on Him to accomplish all things He has said.

Mt 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

  • Seems we do not hear nor do, we just read, study, memorize. In the same manner and the same reason we do in secular schools.

Mt 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Joh 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

  • We have His commandments in our heart and can keep them,  Having them in our head only brings condemnation

Joh 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Joh_6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

  • His words are spirit and life and the mind is not the organ that can hold or grasp or understand them.  Yet we continually try to educate the mind about God.
  • God has never changed His method of bringing life, it is always by His spoken word.  All of scripture testifies to that truth.  For it was only as God’s people responded to His voice and words through His spokesman that He accomplished all.

2Co 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

  • more than obeying doctrine or written, obeying HIM.   We are not built to obey written words, but the spoken words of our Father, for our response then is out of love, not duty.

2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

  • a strong warning to not just hear but OBEY

Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

  • we must examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith.  Obedience to His voice proves we are.

Mt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

  • This goes beyone morality, or trying to obey scripture.  He personally has commanded us
  • Joh_10:27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
  • They follow His VOICE and He speaks to them and they HEAR Him if they are true sheep.

Lu 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

  • Can we answer that question?

Lu 6:47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:

Eph 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him (not by scripture apart from Him), as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

  • This is how we do His works and are able to obey Him

1Jo 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

  • It is about abiding, above knowing doctrine

Jer 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

  • Are we seeking the “old” orginal foundations or trying some new thing?

Heb 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Heb 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 ¶ Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

  • Not lack of learning, but unbelief

The Holy of Holies

Art Katz

http://artkatzministries.org/articles/the-holy-of-holies/

(bolding not in the original)

A prophet “blows the whistle” on the things that are unreal, feigned, false, synthetic, compromised, the things that constitute a lie, and if people continue in their deception, it will constitute death for them. It is not death as biological termination but death even while they live. The prophet is totally committed to life. He has an uncanny ability to discern those elements of death that have become so normative in the lives of people. Jesus said: “I have come to bring you life, and that more abundantly.” We need to contend for life and oppose every kind of artificial, stultifying, pharmaceutical thing that even children are now taking to quiet their “disorders”. The prophet will cry out, he will intervene and intercede for the fullness of life. Any falling short of the full-orbed life that God has intended for men and women in their humanity in God is a measure of death.

Where then does the prophet get his perspective? What is the basis by which he sees? How does he have his sense of things that puts him in such opposition and contradiction to the world? The prophet is a guardian and spokesman commending to God’s people the vision of the true reality given of God in a world that continually contends against that reality. A prophet [or apostle] does not look upon the things that are seen. He avoids allowing the visible things to engage him as if those things constitute true reality. He sees the things that are unseen, that which is both invisible and eternal, the eternal weight of glory. He is not seduced and taken up with visible things, rewards and titles, prestige and comfort – all the kinds of things with which the world seduces the souls of men to turn them from God to themselves as the gods of this world. There is a battle for conflicting realities in a world that is at enmity with God.

God’s condemnation of the false prophets was that they get their words from each other. They say that they had a dream or that the “Lord had said”, but God did not say. He was not the author of that thing. They coined their words out of their own humanity. They did not get it from the council of God. They were not in that place with God in which His thought and nature could be given. Where then is that place of council?

In Exodus 25, Moses is given the design of God, the pattern that should be maintained – all of the details of the tabernacle: the dimensions, the building materials, the instructions on how to make the anointing oil. Moses and all Israel were cautioned not to come up with something to substitute the requirements of God. It had got to be the authentic thing according to the prescription of God. It was a remarkable, intricate, detailed statement that makes one suspect that there is a purpose for God in these details that go beyond the immediate issue of what was to be built in the generation of Moses. Indeed, God is speaking to all generations in symbolic terms that we need to perceive and understand. There is a pattern, a sanctuary for God that He might dwell among His people.

According to all that I am going to show you as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. They shall make an ark of acacia wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof (Exodus 25:9-10).

A cubit is about eighteen inches. I have never understood why the measures are irregular – instead of two feet long, it is a foot and a half, it is a cubit and a half. It is as if God was saying that the corresponding half that was being constructed for Himself on Earth was to be found in Heaven. And the day will come when what is above will come down on below and the two will be joined as one. There is no explanation, only the injunction: “According to this, so shall you build it.” In other words, do not be expedient, do not cut any corners.

You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it (Exodus 25:13-15).

Acacia wood is the lowliest brush wood to be found in the wilderness. It is not your handsome oak. It is twisted and gnarled by hot, dry desert conditions. It is the most common wood, the most available, the most ordinary and the most unattractive building material – and yet, that was the wood in which the ark of God was to be made. Both the outside and the inside of the ark were to be overlaid with gold. Gold is the symbolic metal representing Deity. The wood is never directly touching the things of God, because it is overlaid with gold. Out of this ordinary material, God constructs an everlastingly beautiful and glorious sanctuary for His presence and dwelling.

The poles and the rings are included in the construction so that the priests could carry the ark on their shoulders without directly touching. We know what happened when David, forgetting these injunctions, put the ark on a cart. As it was being moved, it began to jostle about and seemed to threaten to overturn. A well-meaning onlooker put his hand on it to stabilize it and he perished. God commanded that no man’s hand was to touch it. This is an insight into the holiness of God. Though the ark itself is lost to us in modern times, the details pertaining to it and the priesthood, the ordination, and all those things, convey a sense of God’s nature. The divine wisdom of what is symbolised by the ark and the tabernacle remains.

The only people I know who have retained any sense of the divine pattern and want to see it re-established are orthodox Jews, who are even now making the utensils for a future Temple. They brood over this inheritance while the church has discarded it. We therefore exhibit very little of a priestly demeanour in what we are about. Jesus is the high priest and the apostle of our confession. Priestliness is the necessary and indispensable condition by which all true ministry follows. One cannot be an apostle without first being a priest. We have many in the church who presume to be apostles, but who do not give the faintest intimation of a sense of the essence of priestliness. Something has not come into their being that tempers and touches every word they speak and every gesture they make.

The tabernacle was made up of three courts. There was an outer court with the brazen laver for washing and a brazen altar for the sacrifice. This is the place of foundational salvation with a great deal of priestly activity. Then there was the second area called the Holy place in which there was much less activity; it was there we find the table of showbread and the menorah of God, the seven-branched candlestick that illuminated the room.

There was one further room, the holiest place of all: the holy of holies. Only one priest could enter it once a year. There was no menorah, no lamp-light because the light of the Holiest place was the Shekinah presence of God Himself, who dwelt there. In that place there was one piece of furniture:

You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel (Exodus 25:17-22).

What is the significance of the mercy seat? I believe the two cherubim represent all that is contrary and opposite in the genius of God’s creation: male and female, Jew and Gentile, prophet and teacher. Think of any tension, any inherent opposition that comes from the differences that God Himself has created. God is saying: “I will meet with you in the place of tension. I will meet with you in the place where the natural outworking of the differences that I created will be the most viable and forceful reality.” It is there that God meets with us, and there He will commune with us, and there He will speak to us and give us instruction for the sons of Israel. It is there that He gives His word and mind and thought. We do not have to conjure something up or pick up what someone else is saying. If we will meet with Him in that place, He will impart to us His own mind and nature! It is a precious dependency and promise. Only that instruction is viable, only that instruction is life-giving, only that instruction can meet the need of the hour as God alone knows it and His great grace gives it. In that place God will meet with us.

Which of the three courts are we presently occupying? Someone has rightly said that most believers are still in the outer court, still in the place of the elemental things of salvation. Praise God for that place without which one cannot proceed further. But if we remain fixed in that place, we will not reach the riches of illumination that come in the Holy place from the menorah: real bread, real teaching, real learning about the Kingdom of God, the realities of the body of Christ, even the mystery of Israel and the church. Then there is the ultimate place, the holy of holies, where there is one piece of furniture. It is there that God waits and there that He dwells and will meet with us in intimate communion.

How often does the prophetic man come into congregations where they are celebrating and rejoicing and the prophet wonders what he is doing there? While he is waiting to be called on, the Lord is giving him a sense of something from the Holy place, a sense of seeing beyond what those people are able to see. He gets a sense that their rejoicing is really false, that it is prompted by soulish means to establish a certain kind atmosphere. But the truth of their lives is altogether a contradiction to their ostensible celebration. And the prophet is required to speak that truth. He is required to speak beyond what he sees outwardly in their apparent celebration and address the actual condition of their lives as God Himself sees it. And then the moment comes when he is being called upon. In that moment, he has a choice either to be prompted by the cue given by the environment that has been created, especially by the worship team that wants to draw him into their mould of celebration and thereby confirm them in that unreality. It is very tempting so to do. But he takes a deep breath, like a man going to the guillotine, and speaks the truth contrary to what men think it is. The prophet dethrones their unreality and “blows the whistle” on its fraudulence in order to bring them back to a true foundation.

We are all invited to meet with God in that Holy place to receive what He will give us. When we speak from that place, it will not be what our mind dictates, or how we have appraised the need of the situation. May the Lord revive the awareness that such a place yet exists, that He waits yet to be found in such a place. It is above the place of mercy, for how shall we relate to each other in our differences except by the mercy of God. How shall we relate to each other significantly except we look through the mercy seat to the tablets of the law within, the righteous requirements of God? We have an obligation to the righteousness of God. We have got to relate to each other in the context of righteousness rather than the humanly soulish thing, the convenient word, the bear hug, as if those constitute reality.

God dwells in His Holy place, and where He dwells there is liberty, grace, wisdom – all that He is in His essential nature. It is there that He waits for us, above the mercy seat, between the wings of the cherubim. In the nexus where the vectors meet, that is where He is: where the opposition is at its greatest, where the tension is most incisive and painful. It is the place where the blood of His Son has been sprinkled. It is only out of that place, the place of God’s dwelling that we have a message for a divided world.

May the Lord grant us a fresh heart to press in deeper than what we have known. There is something further than the outer court, the place where we celebrate our salvation as if it is the end rather than the beginning. Let us go beyond our natural knowledge of God to the place where God Himself is the illuminating light. To come into that place is to come into the rest of the Lord, the place where one ceases from oneself. May the Lord stir our hearts to seek it to find it, to dwell in it, and to speak and serve from that place.

Requirements to enter into God’s Glory

A Message for the Earnest Seeker

Art Katz

In much the same way as the Shekinah glory lights the holiest place of all, so also are we ‘lighted’ to the degree that first the natural (open daylight at the brazen altar), and later the ‘religious’ (the seven-branched oil-fed priestly serviced Menorah) gives way finally to the unaided Presence of God alone.

T. Austin-Sparks in his book, The School of Christ, p.55 writes,

This is stating a tremendous fact. Every bit of real light which is in the direction of that ultimate effulgence, the revealing of the glory of God in us and through us, every bit of it is in Christ Jesus, and can only be had in Him on the basis of the natural man having been altogether put outside, put away, and a new man having been brought into being…

This “putting away” is nothing other than the death to what we are in ourselves. The ‘light’ referred to above is available only in His life; any other light, however impressive and well-intentioned, constitutes a false light. Sparks continues,

“We must go down with Him into death, and there, under the act of the Spirit of God (my emphasis),in union with Christ buried, there is a transmission of His Life to us” (p.56)..“The necessity [is] of our letting that life of ours go absolutely.”

What is being described here is not our defective life, or even our sin-life, but our virtuous and gifted life, ironically, even that measure that has been obtained through His grace!¾“Not just the self-life in its most [evident] evil forms, but the self-life in its totality” (p.70). Sparks continues,

My point is this, that you and I must not think of the self-life only as something manifestly corrupt. There is a great deal done for God with the purest motive that is done out from ourselves. There are many thoughts, ideas, judgments, which are sublime, beautiful, but they are ours, and if we did but know the truth, they are altogether different from God’s (p.70).

This kind of [Jacob: We have not yet come to our Jabbok “He will empty out”] man dies hard. He does not like being put aside. This requires a Crisis, and I think many of us are at that threshold. If you are not yet experiencing it, Sparks continues,

“expect that you are going to fall to pieces…that the beauty you thought was there will be altogether marred. Expect to discover that you are far more corrupt than you ever thought you were”…”This death of Christ as it is wrought in us breaks up our natural life, it scatters it, pulls it to pieces, takes all its beauty away” (p.58).

We as the church are as presently unfitted for the glory of God as present day Israel. Only those who are satisfied with that nation, hoping for its ‘improvement,’ will be equally as satisfied with themselves¾hoping for their improvement!

“The divide is so utter…unless the Spirit of God wrought a miracle in us, the whole thing would be of another world” (p.67)! There is too much guile in us to see the open heaven and ‘the greater thing’! Only those who ascend the holy hill of Zion are those who have pure hearts, and who have not lifted their souls up to vanity or deceit (Ps.24). Only the 144,000, who are redeemed from the earth, follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth, and in their mouths was found no guile for they are without fault before the throne of God “the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb”(Rev.14:1-5).

I believe that the redeeming “from the earth” is not the mere arbitrary determination of a God of fate, but that this redeeming is the result of a conscious choice by the believer that enables the death of the ‘old man’ to be performed. This would constitute the “generation (i.e., kind) of them that seek Him, that seek Thy face, O God of Jacob” (Ps. 24.6). Rather, many of us have resisted sanctification, interpreting it as the unjust work of men rather than the ‘strange’ work of God and exhibiting in our self-defense or petulant self-pityings and self-justifyings the very evidence of the thing God sought to extirpate. We have missed or misinterpreted the crisis, choosing to remain on ‘this side’ of Resurrection (having been aided in that misinterpretation by many who stand in the same need of it), and woe betide them for whom it needs be repeated¾so great is the divine jealousy to spare us eternal dismay.

Whatever the validity of the recent worldwide “revivals,” it is clear that we prefer to be acted upon by the power of the Spirit than the hard choosings of the Cross; that we desire “the seasons of refreshing” than the “repent ye therefore and be ye converted” that precedes it. Are we willing for choices [the issue of character rather than the alleviation of personality disorders] that as Oswald Chambers says “are continually in antagonism to the entrenchments of the natural life”?

…this is never done easily, nor does God intend it to be done easily…The warfare is not against sin [but it is] when we have entered into the experience of sanctification that the fight begins…It is done only by a series of moral choices (My Utmost for His Highest, Sept.8).

An Addendum On Righteousness

Thoughts From Karl Barth’s The Epistle to the Romans

Karl Barth writes, “There are [certain] characteristic features of our relationship to God, as it takes shape on “this side” of resurrection [sanctification]. Our relation to God is ungodly. We suppose that we know what we are saying when we say ‘God.’ We assign Him the highest place in our world, and in so doing, we place Him fundamentally on one line with ourselves and with things…We press ourselves into proximity with Him, and unthinking, we make Him nigh unto ourselves. We allow ourselves an ordinary communication with Him, we permit ourselves to reckon with Him as though this were not an extraordinary behavior on our part. We dare to deck ourselves out as His companions, patrons, advisers, and commissioners. We confound time with eternity. This is the ungodliness of our relation to God. And our relation to God is unrighteous.

Secretly we are ourselves the masters in this relationship. We are not concerned with God, but with our own requirements, to which God must adjust Himself….And so, when we set God upon the throne of the world, we mean by God ourselves. In ‘believing’ on Him, we justify, enjoy, and adore ourselves. Our devotion consists in a solemn affirmation of ourselves…Under the banners of humility and emotion, we rise up in rebellion against God, such is our relation to God apart from and without Christ on this side of resurrection. God Himself is not acknowledged as God, and what is called ‘God’ is in fact man. By living to ourselves we serve the ‘No-God.’

Men have imprisoned and encased the truth of the righteousness of God; they have trimmed it to their own measure, and thereby robbed it both of its earnestness and its significance. They have made it ordinary, harmless and useless; and thereby transformed it into untruth. This has all been brought to light by their ungodliness, and this ungodliness will not fail to thrust them into ever new forms of unrighteousness…This is the rebellion which makes it impossible for us to see the new dimensional plane which is the boundary of our world and the meaning of our salvation. Against such rebellion there can only be revealed the wrath of God (pp.44-45).

And so the light has become in us darkness…Dark, blind, uncritical, capricious, mankind becomes a thing in itself. Heartless, perceiving without observing and therefore empty, thoughtless…and therefore blind is our heart…and soulless in the world. When men do not find themselves within the sphere of the knowledge of the unknown God, when they avoid the true God…This is the cause of the night in which we are wandering: this also is the cause of the Wrath of God which has been manifested over our heads…That God is not known as God is due not merely to some error of thought or to some gap in experience, but to a fundamentally wrong attitude to life. Vanity of mind and blindness of heart inevitably bring into being corrupt conduct (pp.48-9)

My Comments

Of course, it is impossible to know what things in us are not of Him.

The answer is to pray

God, strip me of any and everything that does not glorify you, regardless of how much I value it

We want to be like Jesus Who said

… the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.  Joh 14:30b

What was Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth?

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy <loose,  break, unloose, destroy, dissolve, put off, melt, break up, break down, annul, subvert, to do away with, to deprive of authority> the works <anything which he undertakes to do>,of the devil.
1John 3:8b

Heb 2:14 ¶ Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

Col 2:15 [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Joh 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

If He had not done that totally and completely then salvation would not have been possible.

But in destroying the devil, He did far more than atone for our sins.

He became a curse for us

Ga 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:

Since calamity, disease, plagues and more are the result of sin, then there are results of sin when there is no sin.  It may not be our sin, but the sins of others.