Thursday, September 20, 2018

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 14

 FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
(A study in Book of Revelation Part 14) by J. Preston Eby


THE ALPHA AND OMEGA
Long centuries ago Moses stood in the burning sands of the Sinai desert where with bowed head, bare feet, and a trembling heart he beheld the God of the burning bush.  The impetuousness and self-confidence of his youth had waned from his spirit and he was content with his flock of sheep and solitary thoughts in the wilderness silence.  This, however, was not to last, for God was speaking to the aged man of a stupendous work he was yet to perform beyond the confines of his chosen world.  He must return to his enslaved brethren in Egypt and marshal them into the greatest exodus of any people on earth.  Moses had no desire for this mission, and we can scarcely blame him, but when finally he consented to obey the call of the Voice out of the bush, he hesitantly asked, “Who shall I say has sent me?”  And Yahweh replied, in the words of the King James Bible, “I am that I am.  Tell your brethren that I am hath sent you.”

It seemed a strange name, yet the magnificent truth contained in those words wrought their emancipation from the slavery of Egypt, formed them into a nation, and led them into the security of their own land.  Nearly all Hebrew scholars agree that these words could be rendered, “I will be that I will be” or “I will become what I will become.”  In the Old Testament the principal revelation of God’s name is the word “Yahweh” or “I AM.”  The word is really three separate phrases joined together in the same manner as in our modern custom of combining the initials of a firm or the syllables from the names of different men to form a company or patent name for a product.  The three phrases in the word Yahweh are the three tenses of the verb to be: I was, I am, I shall be.  A part of each of these words is combined in Hebrew to form the name Yahweh.  It is God’s memorial name to all generations.  It shows God’s intimate relationship with all that is past, His independent, unchangeable existence in the now, and His eternal connection with all that is in the future.  What an adequate name for God!

Since divine resources are infinite, God is pleased to become to His people what is best for them and what is needed at the time.  This name is at once a revelation and a promise!  God was saying to Moses, “What ever my people need me to be for them, I will be!”  “I will become what I will become.”  In fulfillment of this promise-name Yahweh became for the children of Israel a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He became water out of flinty rock and bread from heaven.  God became Miracle Worker, Deliverer, Provider, Sustainer, Healer, Counselor, Law Giver, Military Leader, and many other things on their journey from the servitude of Egypt to the glory of the Promised Land.

 The further truth is, however, that “I will become what I will become” is an in-part, out-dated, Old Testament revelation!  It is, in fact, but a prophecy.  You will understand a great truth when you see that the prophecy is now fully fulfilled.  Its fulfillment is in Jesus Christ!  Almost two millenniums ago Jesus Christ stepped upon the stage of history, the firstborn Son of God, God (Yahweh) manifested in the flesh!  “No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him – He has revealed Him, brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him, and has made Him known” (Jn. 1:18, Amplified).  When God came in Jesus Christ He did not say, “I will become what I will become.”  For you see, beloved, Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy – He is, within Himself, all that God has promised to become!  In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9).  These words suggest that Jesus is alone sufficient, for the fullness is in Him; always sufficient, for the fullness abides in Him;  all-sufficient, because He is all the fullness; absolutely sufficient, because the fullness resides in Him bodily.  In Him are summed up all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3).  He is the sum and substance of wisdom, the center and circumference of knowledge.  All  power in heaven and in earth is given unto Him (Mat. 28:18).  He is the source and the sovereignty of power!  He is the righteousness of God revealed from heaven (I Cor. 1:30).  All the nature, love, and glory of God are expressed in the Son!  All judgment is committed into the hands of God’s Christ! (Jn. 5:22).  He is the salvation of Yahweh in human flesh!  Our Lord and our Christ is the verity of Yahweh’s truth; the surety of Yahweh’s promise; the majesty of Yahweh’s power; the authority of Yahweh’s throne; the compassion of Yahweh’s heart; the repository of Yahweh’s fullness; and the legacy of Yahweh’s will. 

Could any imagery ever exhaust our Lord’s boundless worth?

 In Christ God has become ALL THAT HE WOULD BECOME!  When God came in Jesus Christ He did not speak as He spoke to Moses.  He did not say, “I will become…”  Oh, how my heart leaps within me today as I hear the lovely Christ of God proclaiming, “I AM!”  “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  “I am the resurrection and the life.”  “I am the door, I am the bread that has come down from heaven, I am the good shepherd.”  “I AM!”  “I AM!”  “I AM!”

What would you think of a preacher who, every Sunday, stood up and preached about himself?  Nearly all of those in the church systems would soon get another preacher!  Yet Jesus did this persistently and consistently!  The apostle Paul has said, “We preach not ourselves,” and so it is.  Yet, wonder of wonders, Jesus preached Himself!  He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me shall never die.”  “All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers but…I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.”  “For without me, ye can do nothing.”  “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me…bringeth forth much fruit.”  “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.”  “Before Abraham was, I am.”  On and on it goes.  Throughout all His ministry Jesus Christ preached Himself.  He would indeed be an egomaniac were He not truly the firstborn Son of the living God!

When Jesus says, “I AM,” He reveals within Himself the very nature and power of God.  God IS.  God is constant.  That’s why He is eternal, because nothing that changes can be eternal.  Everything that is eternal is unchangeable, unvarying, unaffected, without fluctuation.  The constancy of God’s nature – that is eternity!  When you know God as He is, you have touched eternity!  You have transcended time, space, and matter into a realm where you can see time from beginning to end.  There you see all things as they really are, and you transcend into the realm where as He is, so are you in this world.  The I AM of Christ is the “Day of the Lord.”  It is the unveiling of Himself in all that He is!  Unchangeably, unvaryingly, constantly, eternally, incorruptibly, immortally – I AM!  That is the nature of God!  That is what Jesus came into this world to demonstrate and reveal!  And, He is bringing us into union with Himself in the I AM

That is manifest sonship!

Let me put it this way.  God dwells in the ever-present NOW!  Now is common to every time and place.  There is no time, no place – there never has been and there never will be – that did not exist in NOW.  To live in God’s now, is thus to be everywhere and in all times at the same time.  On earth we have seconds, minutes, hours, day and night.  We may work all day and sleep at night.  For us the day is past, and the night is present.  At the same time the Chinese are working in the day while we sleep at night.  For them the night is past, and the day is present.  But an astronaut high above the earth, circling the planet every ninety minutes, sees both at the same time and for him both day and night are now, the present.  God, my friend, is high enough that for Him everything that ever has been, or ever will be, is NOW!  In the eternal nature of God there is no past, no present, there is only the eternal now.  Therefore now is common to every time and every place.  To live in now, is to be everywhere and in every time I AM THAT I AM.

Let me give you an illustration.  Albert Einstein believed that, according to his theory of relativity, it would be possible to do time travel, to travel forward or backward in time.  Now hear me well.  If I were to step into a time machine and you say, “Where do you want to go?  Do you want to go forward in time, or do you want to go backward in time?” perhaps my first request would be to go backward in time.  I would like to go back to the time of David and Solomon.  I would also like to go back to Egypt at the time when the pyramids were built, and I would love to go back to the days when Jesus was here; but the era of David and Solomon has always held a special fascination for me.  So if I have the opportunity to travel in a time machine, that possibly will be the first place I will go!  Now, let’s suppose the date is February 13, 2003.  We climb into our time machine and travel back to the years of David and Solomon.  We’re not going to make it a quick weekend trip, take a hasty look, jump back into our time machine and return.  Oh, no!  We’re going to stay a while.  So we spend twenty years caught up in the events of that period in Israel.  We find a residence there, learn the language and culture, make friends, and become involved with what is happening.  We walk it out, experience and relish every minute of it for two long decades!  Finally, we get back into our time machine and journey back to the twenty-first century.  Guess what the date is when we arrive home.  We get back on February 13, 2003!  That’s right, we get back exactly when we left!  Now – if you do not understand time and eternity that will blow your mind!   

What did Einstein discover?  He discovered that there is no past, and there is no future, there is only now.  That is not a metaphysical or new age concept; that is a scientific fact.  Everything that ever happened, and everything that ever will happen, is now.  What a mystery!  But it is the mystery of life.  It is the mystery of immortality.  It’s the mystery of the spirit.  It’s the mystery of God.  It’s the mystery of eternity.  It’s the mystery of manifest sonship.  It’s the mystery of that realm, that dimension of life and reality, which transcends time and mortal consciousness.  And it is out of that realm of reality that Jesus spoke when He declared, “I AM.”  Oh, the wonder of it!  John was in the spirit on the Lord’s day and do you know what he saw?  He saw the beginning and the end!  He saw all the processing in between, from the day of darkness until the whole earth is full of the glory of the Lord.  He saw the glorious One who spoke and said, “I AM Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”  The beginning and the end, time and all its works, are contained in the I AM of God’s Christ!  From our earthly perspective there is a beginning and an end.  But Jesus says, “I AM that beginning and that end!”

For Jesus Christ there is no past or future.  He lives in a continual present.  Therefore He sees the whole history of mankind in one sighting.  It all “is” to Him!  He knows what will happen a million years from now and shows it to you, as something that happened a thousand years ago.  That is why there are prophecies in the scriptures; not because God guesses or because He is a divinator; and it is not simply because He knows all things.  Rather, it is because all things are for Him!  For Him the future is as the present, or as the past is for us.  Everything IS in God’s eternal day, in God’s timeless state of being.  That is why His name is, I AM.  Sometimes it appears that God makes grammatical mistakes.  Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”  “Lord, you were.  You should say, Before Abraham was, I was.” “No, I AM!”  He also mixes the future.  He said, “Lo, I AM with you till the end of the ages.”  “Lord, I will be with you, that’s future.”  “No, you don’t understand; I AM with you!”

Jesus never directly said He was God, but twenty-one times in the Greek text of John’s gospel He spoke the words, “I am.”  We all use the words “I am” in normal speech all the time.  If I say, “I am thirsty,” or, “I am an American,” I am not implying that I am God!  But we must understand Jesus’ unique use of these words.  On one occasion He said to the Jews, “If you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24).  It was later in the same discussion that He declared, “Before Abraham was, I AM!”  How did the Jews regard His statement?  “They took up stones to cast at Him” (Jn. 8:58).  To them He was claiming to be God!  For you see, “I am” was the name YAHWEH – they understood precisely the inference!  Therefore, in their view, He was breaking the third commandment, and the penalty for this under the law was death by stoning!

No name known to human tongue can describe the firstborn Son of God like this name.  No sentence ever uttered by eloquent orator, no phrase ever penned by sage or scribe, no song ever sung by angelic choir can describe in such all-inclusive excellence the almighty magnitude of what He really is.  “Lord, we know not whither Thou goest, and how can we know the way,” complained Thomas.  “I am the way,” Jesus replied, “I am the truth, I am the life.”  “I am the door.  I am the light of the world.  I am the good shepherd.  I am the bread of life.”  “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day,” sobbed Mary sadly of her dead brother.  “I am the resurrection,” Jesus answered, “and I am the life.”  “I am Alpha.  I am Omega.  I am the first.  I am the last.  I am the beginning.  I am the ending.  I am thy redeemer.  I am thy strength.  I am He that liveth.  I am He that is alive forevermore.  I am He that shutteth and no man openeth and openeth and no man shutteth.  I am the root and the offspring of David.  I am the bright and morning star.”  There is no end to what He is, for He is everything!  He is the Christ.  He is the Lord.  He is the Creator and Redeemer of the entire universe.  And all He is He always is – He changes not! 

He is the I AM!

I have mentioned some things in which the Lord said, “I AM.”  There are many, many more!  What is there throughout all the galactic spheres that He isn’t!  He is “the Lord our righteousness.”  He has “become our salvation.”  He is made unto us “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.”  All that the Father has is His.  He and the Father are one.  If we have seen Him we have seen the Father.  All that the Father gave Him, He became.  He didn’t come saying, “I have,” but “I AM.”  He didn’t say, “I have brought you life; I have brought you truth; I have brought you salvation; I have brought you righteousness; I have come to show you the way.”  No!  “I AM!”  The Lord Jesus became the personification of all that the Father showed Him.  We are to be like Him!  Those called to sonship are being conformed to His likeness, filled with His Spirit.  Those who are becoming His many brethren are putting on His mind, growing up into His nature, wisdom, power and authority.  All that is true of Jesus is now becoming true of us!  He first said, “I AM the light of the world.”  Later He said to His own, “YE ARE the light of the world.”  He first said, “I AM the bread that is come down from heaven.”  Later Paul, by the revelation of Jesus Christ, wrote: “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (I Cor. 10:16-17).

He was first made unto us righteousness; but now “WE ARE the righteousness of God in Him.”  Sons are coming to the place where they no longer say, “I have received, I have been given, I possess, I have,” but, “I AM!”  We once prophesied, “Thus saith the Lord…”  but now we must say, as Jesus said, “I say unto you…”  We are no longer something apart from Him, for we are bone of His bones, flesh of His flesh, life of His life, mind of His mind, spirit of His spirit, nature of His nature, word of His word, united with Him, made one in Him.  Oh, the wonder of it!  It is one thing to go out and tell the world that “the light of the world is Jesus.”  It is a greater thing to say, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee” (Isa. 60:1).  Then it is that “the nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isa. 60:3).

THE ALPHA AND OMEGA
 In the revelation of Jesus Christ to John on Patmos our Lord proclaims the superlative, transcendental, all-encompassing truth in five marvelous words: “I AM Alpha and Omega!” (Rev. 1:8).  Most believers, whatever their language, are aware that Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the alphabet used by the Greeks.  Alpha is the name given to the letter A, and Omega is the name for the long O, the last letter of the Greek alphabet.  For Christ to affirm that He is “A and O” is as though He were to say, “I am A to Z.”  The English language has twenty-six letters.  All the books ever written, all the libraries of the western world, have contained only these twenty-six letters.  These are used to program space research, label medicines, and give messages to the delivery man.  Every newspaper or magazine ever printed has used just twenty-six letters.  Arranged, juggled, and placed in millions of different configurations, only twenty-six letters are used for the communication of all information.

Jesus, as Alpha and Omega, likens Himself to the whole alphabet.  “I am the A, I am B, I am C, I am D and so on all the way to Z – do you get it?  Not only is He the letters, He is all that the letters can convey!  As one has written, “Is there any need in the whole realm of our experiences, our topics and our themes that the alphabet cannot be adapted to meet?  Has the alphabet ever failed poet or lover?  Has the traveler found it lacking, or has any philosopher, author, statesman, scholar, scientist or theologian proved it inadequate for literary needs?  Potentially the alphabet, with its twenty-six letters, contains all that is necessary for the expression of the utmost wisdom and knowledge.  If we wish to describe our feelings, disclose our hopes and dreams, or expound upon any subject of interest, we possess, in the alphabet, the means to do so.  Through the medium of words, thought is expressed, so that, in the letters of the alphabet, we possess the key that unlocks every gateway of learning, every door of knowledge, and every treasury of wisdom.” The declaration of Jesus that He is Himself Alpha and Omega conveys the thought of infinite resource and inexhaustible wealth.  The letters A to Z constitute a claim by which is set forth the absolute completeness of His character, wisdom and power.  Is this not  what Jesus is saying:  “I AM THE TOTAL REALITY OF ALL THINGS!  I am every letter, I am unique, I am substance, I am shape, I am image, I am form, I am essence, I am all height and depth and length and breadth of Being, not just words and letters, but the reality of life and power and value of all things, the WORD OF LIFE!”  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:1,14).

 Alpha and Omega is a revelation!  It is all that can be said of the Lord Jesus proclaimed in a way that can seen and understood.  It stands for the revelation of Jesus Christ!  By this word He is revealed!  Christ is the alphabet – the Word, all that can be said of God.  We’ve seen that in the figure of a Man who walked the shores of Galilee.  But we have only touched the shell of that Man, the outer image, not the inner intelligence.  The inner intelligence of the Lord Jesus represents His omniscient mind, His omnipotent power, and His divine nature.  In speaking of the inner intelligence of the Lord Jesus, we are speaking of the greatest reality of Being in the universe!  The truth we are entertaining at this point will prove that all our eternal hopes of sonship and the kingdom depend upon one thing and one thing alone: that the mind of Christ, the power of Christ, and the nature of Christ dwell in us fully.  This is the Alpha and the Omega – all that can be said of God written and inscribed in our inner life.   Here then is the truth of truths: God is the Word – the Word is God.  Language not only describes what has happened and what is seen – it creates.  “And God said, Let there be…and there was.”  God as the Word creates within us the substance of Himself!  The Alpha and Omega speaks into our being the reality of God!  When we speak of Christ as Alpha and Omega, we speak of Christ as the Word.  When we speak of Christ as the Word, we speak of that dimension of Christ by which God reproduces Himself within us.  If God by the Christ within you, my beloved, is speaking a word within you, it is a creative word!  Believe that word, walk in that word, live by that word and you will be changed!  You will be filled with all the fullness of God!  God will take form in you!  He will write Himself in living reality upon the tables of your mind and heart! 

Christ in us, the Alpha and Omega, is our only hope of sonship!

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord…the first and the last” (Rev. 1:8,11).  I have heard it said that when Jesus called Himself “the first and the last” He was claiming to be both the “first Adam” who stood in the garden of Eden and ate the forbidden fruit, and the “last Adam” who came to take away the sin of the world.  How could this be, my friends?  If Jesus had been the first Adam by whose disobedience sin entered into the world, through whom death passed upon all men, then would He not have needed a Saviour?  He would need another Son to save Him from His sin and death!  Now if this sinner, Jesus Christ, came to earth again as the last Adam by whose obedience the many are made righteous and given eternal life – how did Adam the sinner become Adam the righteous without a Saviour?  If He saved Himself without a Saviour then obviously there was no need for Him to come as our Saviour – for if one sinner can be made righteous apart from a Saviour, surely any man, or even all men, could make themselves righteous apart from the action of another.  If Jesus had been the first Adam of the Garden, He could not have been an acceptable sacrifice, pure, spotless, and without blemish.  We know, however, that He was the acceptable sacrifice slain from the foundation of the world and “…ye were not redeemed by such corruptible things as silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:18-19).

It is always a fatal mistake for any man, regardless of who he is, to add to the word of God.  That mistake will lead him into error and many strange and unscriptural absurdities.  When men say what the scriptures do not say they are strumming on harps that have no strings.  They make a lot of interesting noise, but there is no harmony with the rest of God’s revelation.  You see, dear ones, Jesus did indeed say, “I am the first and the last.”  But He clearly did not say, “I am the first Adam and the last Adam.”  When you add the word “Adam” to Christ’s statement you have qualified it and changed its meaning altogether!  You could add any word to His statement and make it mean anything you please!  Jesus proclaims that He is the first and the last – period.  This momentous statement reaches far beyond Adam – first or last!  It reaches from eternity to eternity and encompasses all things.  The statement corresponds to the other terms that accompany it – the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending. 

How gloriously do the New Testament writers describe what it means for Christ to be the first!

It would be of utmost profit for any of us to diligently study the oft repeated scriptural term “in Christ” or “in Him.”  With this thought in mind I would draw your attention to some scripture passages which appear to teach us that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things.  He is, of course!  But that is not the truth set forth in these particular verses.  The first passage we will consider is found in Colossians 1:15-17.  I will quote this first from the King James Bible for this is one of the passages that seems to say that all things were created by Jesus Christ.  “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature; for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.”

From this scripture we would be led to believe that the creation was made by the Son; but the word translated “by” here in the first instance is in the Greek en, and means “in,” not “by,” and this is the way most of the other translations have translated it.  “For in Him were all things created.”  If you have other translations, check them, and you will see that this is correct.  The Greek preposition en clearly defines location or position.  In the second instance in this passage where the word “by” is used – “all things were created by Him and for Him” – the word translated “by” here is the Greek word dia meaning “through,” “on account of,” or “by the agency of.”  You will find nearly all translations have translated it this way.  Weymouth’s rendering of this is lovely, “For in Him were created the universe of things in heaven and in earth, things seen and things unseen, thrones, dominions, princedoms, powers, all were created and exist through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in and through Him the universe is one harmonious whole.” 

Isn’t that beautiful?

You see, there is a whole world of difference between something being created by Him, or created in Him, and my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will make this real to you.  I think, as we proceed with this thought, we will clearly see what the Spirit has said.  It is unfortunate that the translators were so inconsistent in some of the translations.  In this statement, “For by Him were all things created that are in heaven,” the word by, and the word in, are both translated from the same Greek word en, yet in the first instance it was translated “by,” and in the second instance “in,” as it should be.  This is misleading to the reader!

I am not a carpenter by any stretch of the imagination, but when we were on the mission field in Mexico back in the 1960’s, I built most of the furniture we had in our house, crude though it was.  From rough lumber I constructed kitchen cabinets, tables, chairs, beds, and a variety of other items.  Even I was amazed at how serviceable and attractive some of these articles turned out to be!  They were made by me, but when I left the place where they were, they were all sold and left behind, and I was separated from them, never to see them again; for, you see, they were not part of me.  Though they were made by me, they had no part with me.  But if somehow they had been made in me, rather than merely by me, then wherever I went they would be with me, for they would be a part of me, of my very being.  If the creation had been merely made by the Son, then it could be a thing apart from Him, and not a part of Him.  When we see that God the Father created the universe IN THE CHRIST, and the whole of created things was in the beginning an integral part of His Being, then that is an altogether different picture.

Words are totally inadequate to articulate a truth so sublime, so I must leave this ultimately to the blessed spirit of Truth to unfold within your spirit.  You see, when God planned the present universe, He planned it in and around His Christ.  The Christ is the center and the circumference of all!  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.  The whole vast creation was made in Him and for Him.  Before the sun ever kissed this earth creation began in Him and it will end in Him, for He is the beginning and the end.  The Christ is the beginning of the creation of God!  “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION OF GOD” (Rev. 3:14).  Do you see how this theme is stated again and again in different terms throughout the book of Revelation? Christ is the beginning of creation and He is also the end, all things must begin in Him and end in Him, for this is the Father’s purpose for His Son!

Our God and Father has been pleased to leave us in no doubt or uncertainty as to how or where all things began, but in clear, unequivocal language stated the source and goal of all things for our assurance and joy.  All originated in Him, created from the substance of His own divine energy and Being, and held together in a harmonious wholeness in His eternal Word, or the Christ.  But, for His own wise purposes, all did not remain that way!  We have already explained the Greek preposition en which means “in” and denotes a position of rest, an established location.  According to the scriptures ALL was created IN the Christ!  The scriptures are clear, however, that all did not remain “in” Him.  We are assured that there was initiated another stage of activity whereby all things were brought “out” of Him.  Nothing can be clearer than the fact that “in” and “out” are opposites!  You cannot be both in and out of any place or thing at the same time!  Coming “out” from a place or position involves a process, an action.  There is another Greek preposition, ek, meaning “out of.”  It indicates action.  If you come out of your house – that is an action!  The word of God declares that not only were all things created in God and Christ, but there was a process by which all things came out of God.  Let us read it:  “We are aware that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God except One.  For even if it so be that there are those being called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, even as there are many gods and many lords, nevertheless to us there is but one God, the Father, O-U-T   OF (ek) WHOM ALL IS, and we for Him” (I Cor. 8:4-7).  Again, “O, the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are His judgments, and untraceable His ways!  For who knew the mind of the Lord? Or who became His adviser? or who gives to Him first, and will be repaid by Him?  Seeing that ALL is O-U-T OF (ek) Him and through Him and for Him: to Him be glory for the ages!  Amen!” (Rom. 11:33-36).  Now let us read these last verses from the Emphatic Diaglott: “For who knew the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who first gave to Him, and it shall be given to him again?  Because OUT OF  HIM, and through Him, and for Him are ALL THINGS.  To Him be the glory for the ages.  Amen.”

This is without doubt one of the least understood statements in the word of God!  And yet, a true comprehension of the real purpose of God throughout the ages cannot be had apart from it.  Considering the creation of the heavens and the earth – the universe and all that is therein, visible and invisible – fresh from the hands of the Creator in all its primeval and pristine glory; God being all-wise and omnipotent; the question presses itself upon us: From whence came sin and evil?  From whence came darkness and death?  Why did God permit these to enter the creation which had been made in Him?  How did it happen? 

Why the disruption of the primeval state?

The answer to these monumental questions is to be discovered in the great fact of the creation being brought “out of” God!  When God lowered the creation from the realm of pure spirit existence in Christ in the heavenly sphere, to this gross material realm of matter and form, there occurred a mighty disruption, breaking up, or fragmentation.  The creation was “made subject to vanity” and the whole downward process of disintegration and dissolution was begun.  Just as our ascent back into the image and fullness of God is ever “from glory to glory,” “from faith to faith,” and “from experience to experience,” so the process downward into fragmentation and dissolution continued through various stages and vast ages of time until the lowest depths of frustration were reached.

The first downward step came when creation was lowered from the realm of pure spirit existence in Christ to this physical and material realm.  Not only did man begin in the spirit, later to be lowered into this material realm, but all things began in spirit and were subsequently lowered into this physical world.  The magnificent wonders portrayed in Genesis reveal this truth with divine certainty. We read there of “every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground…and the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath (spirit) of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:5,7).  Behold how great an understanding divine inspiration has placed upon all who have ears to hear!  These words teach us infallibly that there were plants and herbs before they were in the earth or ever grew in soil, and there was a spirit man who was blown into the clay model of the man Adam by the very breath of God.  The union of this spirit man with the clay model produced Adam the living soul!  That was the first step downward, even in the glories of Eden!  And then the Tempter came, man’s experiment with sin followed, and death seized man with its unrelenting power. 

Step by step, stage by stage, the whole creation came out of Christ!

How obvious today the vast difference between those who are either “in” or “out” of Christ!  “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.”  “Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ.”  “In whom we have obtained an inheritance.”  Of our state before we were in Christ, it is stated, “At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).  Outside of Christ is naught but ignorance, sin, sorrow, darkness, and death!  In or out – what a great gulf separates these two!  The very process of creation’s coming out of  God produced a disruption and fragmentation of the whole.  “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is ONE LORD.”  That statement doesn’t mean that Yahweh is the only God, true as that is.  It signifies that He IS ONE – that is, UNITED, UNIFIED, UNDIVIDED, UNFRAGMENTED.  All within Himself is harmonized, synchronized and joined in perfect unity.  That is God’s nature!  Therefore, in Him, creation was one harmonious whole without a discordant note anywhere!  It was preeminently a spiritual creation, vibrating as a symphony of unutterable beauty, a triumphant masterpiece of dynamic harmonious accord.  In the glory of that celestial beginning we were all sons of God; there was no trace of sin, no evil, no carnal mind, no adversary, no death, and no darkness or discord at all.  Everything everywhere existed in Christ and every spirit stood forth in its full majesty, pulsating the dynamic anthem of exulting creative glory.  What a song!

And that is how it is in the new creation!  For you see, beloved, the new creation is but the old creation re-conciled, re-deemed, re-generated, re-stored to its original place, condition, and state IN CHRIST!  The new spiritual creation is all that is “in Christ Jesus” in the fullness of what that means.  We are unified again in Him.  The new creation has already begun!  Step by step, just as we came out of God, we are now coming into God.   When the scripture says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” this is speaking of that little firstfruits company that is the first to enter into the new.  These become fully a new creation in Christ.  In the life of the one who has truly entered into Christ, and been unified again in Him, all the old has passed away and everything has become new!  Now I know this scripture is applied to all believers of whatever stage of spiritual experience, but if we consider this reverently and carefully , we can easily see that this not the experience of the average believer.  When we first believe on the Lord a new beginning takes place.  A change has started.  Some of the old has passed away, and some new things have taken their place; but how many believers can honestly say that all old things have passed away, and everything has been made new?  Our restoration is a progressive work!  It begins when we first turn to the Lord, and continues until we are completely in Christ.

The proto-type of this wonderful reality of restoration into Christ is our Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s what the book of Revelation is all about – it is the revelation of Jesus Christ!  When Jesus says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last,” – what a revelation that is!  Jesus often spoke of His Father being in Him.  He said, “It is not I that do the works, it is my Father that is in me.”  The Father dwelt in the Son and worked through His Son to accomplish His will.  But this isn’t all!  He also explained to His disciples this great truth, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?”  It wasn’t just that the Father was in Him, but He was also in the Father.  The glory of creation when it was created in God is thus revealed in our Lord Jesus the Christ!  When Jesus was praying to the Father for those God had given Him, that they might be one, that they might come into this glorious unity, He prayed thus: “That they all may be one, as Thou Father art in me, and I in Thee, that they may be one in us” (Jn. 17:21). 

Only this mutual dwelling can bring the oneness, the unity, the wholeness that God desires!

The only way all old things can completely and forever pass away is through our entrance back into God!  John 3:16 is called by many “the golden text” of the Bible.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  There is a marvelous significance in those words that surpasses any sermon I ever heard in my years in the church systems.  “That whosoever believeth in Him…”  The word “in” here is translated from the Greek word eis, which means “into,” denoting action and progression.  If we use the word “into” it reads like this, “That whosoever believeth into Him should not perish, but have the life of the ages.” Eis carries with it a sense of growth, and of going on into something.  It suggests a progressive salvation, as other scriptures tell us.  “Now is our (full) salvation nearer than when we believed.”  We didn’t come out of God in one grand leap, and we are not returning into God in one grand leap.  We were not delivered from all sin and death by “believing on” the Lord Jesus Christ one night in a revival meeting.  Oh, no!  But we are being progressively delivered, changed, and transformed as we constantly believe into Him!

It is this same Greek word eis that is used in many, many wonderful passages where the true meaning has been concealed by faulty translation.  I will quote just one passage for you and capitalize the places where the word eis has been used, and will use the word “into” in place of whatever word the King James Bible uses.  I think you will see the beauty of this, and perceive its special, deeper meaning.  “Till we all come INTO the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, INTO a perfect man, INTO the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…speaking the truth in love may grow up INTO Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ…from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body INTO the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:9-15).  In these verses we are told of the body of Christ and how the body grows and is built up by the ministry of every part.  We are exhorted to minister in love, so that the body can grow INTO CHRIST.   We are to grow up INTO the full stature of God’s Christ!

Paul Mueller has written a precious exhortation, “As we have grown and progressed in the kingdom of God, our understanding of Christ and of the Father also has increased, for we now see ourselves as being a part of Him.  We are the body of Christ, and He is the Head of this body.  Christ has said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”  Christ is the Spirit of God; He is the beginning of all things.  He is the Word that was spoken by the Father that brought all things into existence. And He also is the end of all things!  All things shall ultimately be gathered into Christ, to be unified with the Father that “God may be all in all” (I Cor. 15:28).  By the wisdom of the mind of Christ we now see that we are a part of Him who is the “Alpha,” or the beginning of all things, for we were originally in Him in spirit.  So also are we a part of Him who is revealed and seen now as the “Omega,” or as the end of all things.  We came out of God in our beginning!  And now we are returning into God, but with a redeemed mind (soul) and body.  We also are becoming a part of the glory of Christ!”

Our Lord called Himself the Alpha and the Omega in Greek, the Aleph and the Tau in Hebrew, or the A and the Z in English, or its equivalent in any other language, without in the least altering the figure of its significance.  Alphabetical languages usually have the letters arranged in a fixed order.  The first is often used as a symbol of the beginning and the last for the ending.  That is, our Lord claims to be what letters and language were meant to be, namely the expression of truth. HE IS THE W-O-R-D – the expression of the totality of God’s nature, wisdom, power, purpose and substance from first to last.  God is a spirit – an invisible, incorporeal, intangible, unapproachable Spirit.  But that hidden and unsearchable One may be uttered, expressed, manifested.  And that utterance, that expression, that manifestation of invisible Godhead is the Christ, the Logos, the Word – God projected from the plane of the invisible, intangible and unknowable into the realm of the visible, tangible, and knowable.  In that long ago beginning all things were created in the Christ, and apart from Him, outside of Him was not anything made that was made.  In Christ Jesus we see clearly our very own origin in God!  In Christ Jesus we see perfectly the original state of all things!  Oh, my Christ and my God!  In Thee I see how I, and all men, and all things once were!  My God and my Christ!  In Thee I see how I, and all men, and all things shall again be!  My Lord, that is the Word that Thou art to me!  In God’s revelation of Himself and His plan of the ages He has used many characters, but the first one was Christ and the last one will be Christ again.  All commences and concludes in Him!

Christ is the Alpha and the Omega.  Only the glorious mind of Christ can reveal to our hearts what that means!  Through a glass darkly I can see that He was the first, “before all things.”  Can I also believe that HE IS THE LAST?  If He is the beginning, can my feeble mind dare to comprehend what it signifies when He says that He is also the END?  Surely Ephesians, chapter one, makes this as clear as it can be at this juncture in our understanding.  Paul says that “God…chose us in Christ before the world began.”  He goes on from that beginning out of eternity to reach forth to that which will be at the conclusion of all ages of time, declaring that God is “making known to us the mystery of His will – of His plan, of His purpose.  And it is this: In accordance with His good pleasure  which He hath previously purposed and set forth in Him, He planned for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and CONSUMMATE THEM IN C-H-R-I-S-T…in Him also we had been foreordained in accordance with His purpose” (Eph. 1:4,9-11).  All that began in Christ – and that was all things, everything! – shall end in Christ, that He may be the first and the last, the beginning and the end.  If you can conceive of God taking Eve and putting her back into Adam,  as it was in the beginning, then you may also understand what is this glorious purpose that transcends Adam and Eve – when God takes the whole vast creation and MAKES IT ONE IN CHRIST AGAIN!  All of mankind’s yearnings and searching after God to fully know Him shall find their complete and eternal satisfaction there where all things are brought back into Christ.

The First and the Last bring before us both the time element and the substance of creation.  “For out of Him everything comes; through Him everything exists; and in Him everything ends!  Glory to Him forever!” (Rom. 11:36, Goodspeed).  “For out of  Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and  to end in Him.  To Him be glory forever!” (Amplified Bible).  Truly HE is the beginning and the end of all things!  The beginning, precious friend of mine, was not a date on the calendar.  The beginning was and is a glorious Person – our Lord Jesus Christ!  Christ Himself is the beginning!  If you consider with reverent honesty these words of significance and truth, you will understand as never before the spiritual words which open our Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  IN THE BEGINNING!  “I am the beginning.”  Thus, the spiritual translation of the first verse of scripture should read,  “IN THE CHRIST God created the heavens and the earth.”  Jesus Christ is “the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14).  All things were created in this beginning!  The beginning is neither time nor place.  The beginning is Christ Himself!  In Him all things were created and set in order in the beauty and unity and perfection and harmony of the Spirit of God!

What has now been provided in Christ is a re-turn, a re-storation, a re-newing, a re-demption, a re-conciliation, a re-surrection, a re-stitution.  The prefix “re” means BACK, AGAIN, ANEW – and all the words with this prefix indicate something that LEFT ITS PLACE AND HAS NOW MADE ITS CIRCUIT AND COME BACK TO THE POINT OF ITS BEGINNING.  Oh, mighty Christ!

                                            All God’s sons are coming home,
                                            All God’s sons are coming home;
                                            Home to the Father, home to the throne,
                                            All God’s sons are coming home!

                                            All creation is coming home,
                                            All creation is coming home;
                                            Home to the Father, home to the Son,
                                            All creation is coming home!

                                            Coming home, coming home,
                                            Never more to roam;
                                            Open wide Thy arms of love,
                                            Lord, I’m coming home!

To be continued…

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 13

 FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
(A study in Book of Revelation Part 13) by J. Preston Eby

THOU HAST MADE US KINGS AND PRIESTS
"Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father…" (Rev. 1:5-6). "Thou…hast redeemed us unto God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:9-10).

This passage is one of rare beauty. It is like a precious diamond, the effulgence of whose radiance dazzles the mind. It is a drop of pure distilled essence, whose fragrance fills the rooms of the heart of every man and woman who has received the call to sonship. It is a joy forevermore and a challenge to all who comprehend its message. It must be engraved deeply upon the heart of every son of God. It exalts and glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. "THOU hast MADE US!" THOU! There is so much depth to that text that I am afraid that we often do not perceive it. It is like a beautiful star-studded sky on a bright clear night and one cannot even begin to grasp the vast depth that lies above us. So it is with these marvelous words: "Thou hast MADE US TO BE KINGS AND PRIESTS!" The book of Revelation is addressed to those whom Christ is making to be kings and priests unto God! All the experiences of this wonderful book are prepared unto that end – to make us kings and priests unto God!

The unveiling of the sons of God is not the revelation of some people that can do something. No, it is the unveiling of some people that have become something. God is not concerned about taking us some place – to some far-off heaven somewhere. He is concerned with making something out of us. That is what redemption is all about! It is not a question of where we are going, it is a matter of what we are becoming. Two men may go to Miami Beach. One is a beggar, the other a business tycoon. They are both in the same place, but they are not both the same thing! There will be a lot of spiritual beggars in heaven! God is working not to take us, but to make us. "To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God" (Jn. 1:12). "Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests." "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Rev. 21:7). If Jesus is who He is, then certainly He can do all things, but the doing is incidental, merely a by-product of the being. Our vision in this new Day of the Lord is not in doing or going. We are following on to know the Lord! Our hearts are set on Him! We are not becoming occupied with ourselves, we are occupied with His purpose in us, with what He has said He would make us for His sake. "This people have I formed for myself."

"Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests."

When the light of God comes and shines into our heart, we become a light. When we feed on the bread of heaven, we become living bread. When we drink of the water of the Spirit, out of our innermost being flows rivers of living water. When He is made unto us righteousness, we become the righteousness of God. When He has fully saved us, we become the salvation of the Lord. When He reigns upon the throne of our hearts, we become kings and lords with Him. God will have a body through the earth in these days, a people walking in God, walking as God, terrible as an army with banners, whose only purpose is that the Father may be glorified! God is raising up a people formed for Himself, through whom He can reveal and manifest Himself in all His wonderful fullness. Come, let us now open our hearts wide to Him! Come, and as we gaze upon this glorious ministry and its life-flow to all the peoples of the earth, let us yield ourselves unto God that He may work HIS WONDROUS WORK in our lives, bringing us into such union with Jesus, our great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek, the High Priest of our profession, that we become in nature and power His Royal Priesthood in the earth!

Because all the earth is His, God is raising up a Kingly Priesthood to reign in mighty spirit power and authority over the earth, not to be little human dictators, or an external government of laws and systems headquartered in Jerusalem, or Washington, or London, but with an outflow of life and light and love, touching God with one hand, and humanity with the other, by their priestly ministry bringing the two together, that God may indwell men by His Spirit and live and rule in them in power and glory. The kingly nature in us is not to dominate over men’s lives, but to deal and break the power of selfhood and rebellion and sin and the devil that men may be reconciled to God. This is a King-Priest ministry, after the order of Melchizedek! Kings have power and authority. Priests reconcile in mercy and love. But once the reconciliation has taken place, and Christ is enthroned, we deliver men up to God, even the Father, that GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL. That is the principle of the kingdom of God! We rule only to subdue men to God – then GOD RULES IN THEM! He rules first through us, that He may rule finally in them. The manifestation of the sons of God for which all creation is in travail is nothing more nor less than the full manifestation of God’s fully developed and empowered government of KING-PRIESTS AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK. Throughout the age now ending the Holy Spirit has been forming, preparing, and equipping that body. In the new age now upon us that body shall be given power and authority over all nations and all things! In the ages yet to come the kingdom shall be expanded from realm to realm, from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high, for of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end!

A thousand, yea, tens of thousands, a mighty army is being touched by the fire from off the altar of God! A great Kingdom of Priests is being set ablaze with the life and love and power of God that will cause the nations of the world to turn to the living God in these crisis days. Too long have men occupied themselves in religious efforts to embalm the spirit of yesterday’s revival, wrapping it in the grave clothes of ecclesiastical systems and securing it in sepulchers that speak only of the past. If you want to bless humanity, if your desire is to see the world transformed and the captives set free, if the cry of your heart is to see sin and sorrow and death driven from men's lives until there is a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, then forget, once and for all, all the old-order church system methods of the past, for none of them have converted the world, delivered creation, or brought in the kingdom of God! None of them are sufficient for this new Day! Until we see that God is doing an entirely new thing in the earth in this Day, we haven’t learned the ABC’s of sonship.

Even now a move of God of world-wide dimensions is in the making! It is being formed in a people, in a sonship company that is becoming the embodiment and personification of all He is. This will not be a revival of evangelistic crusades, television programs, musical concerts, bus ministries, or the building of church buildings, but the overflow of divine passion and power from people who have been so consecrated to God that their hearts and their hands have been filled with HIMSELF. These will not minister in organized meetings, there will be no pulpit, no choir, no song service, no prepared sermons, no organization or promotion of any kind. These will minister spontaneously in every place at all times – in the fields, on the streets, in the homes, in the business establishments, in the restaurants, in the hospitals, in the churches, in the schools, on the airplanes, buses, and trains – wherever they are to minister, by command of the Spirit they will appear in power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost! They will minister to the meek and lowly and needy, to the great and mighty, to the common people and to kings, presidents and prime ministers, to all men everywhere without respect of persons.

None will be able to gainsay their wisdom or their revelation or their power!

Already bright clouds are gathering on the horizon, clouds of a multitude of witnesses to the deep and vital work God is doing in the lives of His apprehended ones in preparation for the long-awaited manifestation of the sons of God! The celestial rivers are running full, and great glory is about to break forth upon the earth. This is the time to gird up your loins, like Elijah of old, and run before the chariots. In due time the clouds shall burst and empty themselves upon the earth. Let your heart be lifted high, for God is on the move, and this can be YOUR HOUR OF MANIFESTATION! Only that will erupt and overflow from God’s people which has first been inworked by Father’s hand. This sonship ministry will not flow from gifts of the Spirit, but from the very life and nature of Christ formed in His body. The ministry of kings and priests is not a gift – we are being made kings and priests – it is a becoming! Do not belittle or depreciate this day when it may seem so little is happening in your midst, my beloved. The accent of the Spirit is not on the external works and gifts and manifestations in this hour – we have already had all that! His concern is with the inner development of the Christ, the formation of all He is as life and nature within, our becoming the essence and substance of His very Being! Right now the greatest service we can give to others is to die out to all our own ego-self, to all the antiquated religious methods of the past, that the living of His Life becomes its own declaration of all that He is and can do, to His glory and praise. Amen!

COMING WITH CLOUDS
"Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him" (Rev. 1:7).

The book of Revelation contains deep and rich teaching for the elect saints concerning the coming of Christ; symbolic, mysterious, wonderful, but always to be approached reverently, humbly, with head bowed low and shoes removed from off our feet, as people standing on holy ground. The coming of the Lord as revealed in the book of Revelation is complex and progressive, extending through a variety of diverse scenes, stages, events, and manifestations, until He has come in such measure of fullness that we know Him finally in that dimension where HE IS the glorious fulfillment of all that our heart has yearned for, and desired so earnestly. All the lacks swallowed up into completeness, all the voids filled with His fullness, and we know the bliss of HIMSELF as our all-in-all!

Almost two thousand years ago John on the isle of Patmos saw unfolding before Him the enthralling drama of the coming of His Lord. As the awesome sight began to unfold he cried out in astonished wonder and surprised joy, "Behold! He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him." This phrase, He cometh, is from the Greek erchomai. It is the third person singular, present indicative. Any reader who knows the conjunction of verbs knows what that means. First, it means HE COMES as a present tense reality. The verb is present indicative. He comes. He is in the act of coming. Behold! He is now coming! In other words, He has been coming, He is still in the act of coming, and He continues to come. This is extremely important. More than once the coming of the Lord is spoken of in this tense throughout the book of Revelation. It’s not merely a future thing, not something that shall happen somewhere down the course of history, but it is something that is. Oh, that God with flames of His holy fire would burn this truth indelibly upon the hearts of all who read these lines!

The church world is either looking back to an historical Christ, or forward to a futuristic coming of Christ. They miss this word erchomai altogether, their spiritual understanding never being quickened to this grand truth that HE COMES - He is coming, He continues to come, He will continue to come, until He has come in the fullness of every dimension in which He can come. It is something that is happening right now! It is happening in your life right now! It means that He comes from one place to another. He comes out of the realm of spirit to be manifested in flesh, out of the realm of the invisible to be expressed and revealed in a visible, tangible way to the physical creation. Erchomai means to come, to make one’s appearance before the public. It means that He comes and appears before the view of the people round about. And this coming has already happened, it is happening now, and shall continue to happen! This is the revelation that so captivated the apostle John that he could only exclaim with amazement, "Behold! He comes!" And we have been just as amazed as the Spirit has borne witness for a number of years now among the Lord’s people that soon Christ shall come in a manifestation of Himself on a plane, and in a measure, never before seen or experienced by men upon this planet. He shall come to be glorified in His saints, manifested in His sons to set creation free. The bondage of corruption, the power of sin and death, shall first be broken from off God's people, then from all humanity.

Yes, He has come in measure, and He shall yet come in fullness!

There are two more words: "With Clouds." "Behold! He cometh with clouds." "With" is from the Greek preposition meta. It means with, but it also means together with, in the midst of, among, between, in common with, with the help of, and by means of. Here are the ways He comes: Behold! He comes with clouds, denoting an association. Behold! He comes together with clouds, denoting a communion. Behold! He comes in the midst of clouds, denoting an indwelling. Behold! He comes among clouds, denoting a fellowship. Behold! He comes between clouds, denoting a union. Behold! He comes in common with clouds, denoting a participation. Behold! He comes with the help of clouds, denoting an interdependence. Behold! He comes by means of clouds, denoting an instrumentality.

From the dawn of history the way in which God has displayed His glory has been in the form of a cloud. This glory cloud of God has taken different shapes and different sizes on various occasions. When it was time for the children of Israel to begin their exodus out of Egypt, the glory of God took the form of a pillar of fire enshrouded within a cloud. "And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them in the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people" (Ex. 13:21-22).

What did the glory of God signify every time it appeared? The glory cloud of God signified the unique presence of God! It always told the people of Israel, when it appeared, that Yahweh was uniquely present in this place, at this time, for a special purpose. When the glory of God as a cloud led the children of Israel out of Egypt, it signified to the people that God was with them in a very real and sovereign way. "And the Lord went before them in a pillar of a cloud." God was in the cloud! The almighty God Himself dwelt in that cloud by day and in the fiery pillar by night. That strange pillar of cloud and fire was the visible manifestation of His glory and presence. While Israel walked in the light of His fiery presence, no calamity could harm them, no enemy could attack them, no evil could befall them, nor plague come nigh their dwelling. God was with them in sovereign power in all their marches! "And the Lord said unto Moses, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe for ever" (Ex. 19:9). And again, "And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat" (Lev. 16:2).

When the cloud came down out of heaven and rested on top of mount Sinai, it signified that God in a unique sense had come out of the realm of spirit to meet with the children of Israel in His manifestation on the earth plane. When they saw the cloud enter into the most holy place in the tabernacle and later in the temple, it signified again that God in a special sense was taking up residence within that worship structure within the nation of Israel. The light that shone in the holiest of all behind the temple curtain of blue and purple and scarlet and fine twined linen, laced with threads of gold and figures of cherubim, was not the beams of the sevenfold candlestick of the holy place, nor even the radiance of the sun in the outer court. It was the glory light of God’s own divine majesty! Through time the Israelites called that glory cloud of God the shekinah. The word shekinah means "to dwell." And since the glory cloud always signified that God was present at the place where the cloud appeared, to dwell in a special sense, they called it the shekinah or dwelling glory of God!

The disciples of Jesus had become accustomed to seeing Jesus the man, Jesus the healer, Jesus the teacher, Jesus the miracle worker. They had heard Him tell of the majesty and glory of His Father in heaven, but had never grasped the significance of the glory, majesty, and power of the Christ who walked the road with them. On that momentous occasion when the Lord Jesus took Peter, James, and John up into the mount and was transfigured before them, suddenly there appeared a bright cloud – a cloud with a light in it! And out of that bright cloud the voice of the Father spake concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. "This is my beloved Son – hear Him!" It is more than coincidence that, as Peter spoke, a cloud overshadowed them and a Voice came out of the cloud. One of the significant facts in connection with the glory cloud of God’s presence is that God always spoke from the cloud. This began first on mount Sinai. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee…and the Lord came down upon mount Sinai…and the Lord called Moses…" (Ex. 19:9,20). At a later time God spoke from the same cloud after that it had descended upon the tabernacle. "And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses" (Ex. 33:9).

What was that bright cloud with the light in it from which the voice of God spoke on the mount of Jesus’ transfiguration? It was none other than the pillar of cloud housing the glory fire, the shekinah glory of God that had led the children of Israel in their exodus out of Egypt and guided them for forty years! As Jesus prayed on the mount, He was transfigured before His chosen disciples. At that moment of transfiguration the glory cloud enveloped Him and God spoke from the midst of the radiance of glory. In the wilderness this glory, this cloud, and the voice out of the cloud are all brought together: "And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day He called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire" (Ex. 24:15-17). On the mount of transfiguration the Son is enveloped in the cloud and we are commanded to hear Him. The writer to the Hebrews then identified this voice and this glory in these remarkable words: "God…hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son…who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person…" (Heb. 1:1-3). Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory!

He is indeed, the presence in the cloud and the very cloud and fire of the presence!

Let every reader of these lines be assured beyond any possible shadow of doubt that it was this same shekinah, this very same glory cloud which the eleven disciples beheld in spell-bound astonishment on the crest of the mount of Olives that blessed day when the Lord ascended into mid-air and suddenly a bright cloud, like a chariot of God, bore Him speedily away, concealing Him from mortal gaze. "When He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight," the record states. An accident? An illusion? A marvelous coincidence? Not on your life! This is the equivalent of saying that the cloud which hovered over Israel in the wilderness; the cloud which rested upon the glorious tabernacle of old; the cloud which dwelt between the gleaming cherubim in the most holy place; the cloud which filled Solomon’s temple until the ministers could not minister by reason of the blazing glory; the cloud which overshadowed the virgin girl Mary when she came to be with child; the cloud which enveloped the Son of God and revealed His glory on the mount of transfiguration; that cloud is the very same cloud that received the Lord Jesus into its midst and out of the sight of mortal eyes! The cloud that received Jesus out of the sight of those startled disciples certainly was no ordinary rain cloud which happened to be blown across a torturous sky. It was the blazing shekinah cloud which had always veiled the divine majesty of God from time immemorial!

Here is where I wish to point out a most significant fact of scripture which has entirely been overlooked by most Bible students and nearly all preachers and teachers. All the way through the scriptures, from the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, to the ascension of Christ from the mount of Olives, God consistently manifested Himself in ONE GLORY CLOUD. There was always only ONE SINGLE CLOUD! One cloud before the camp of Israel. One cloud over mount Sinai. One cloud resting upon the tabernacle in the wilderness. One cloud shining in the most holy place. One cloud filling Solomon’s temple. One cloud overshadowing the virgin of Galilee, implanting the seed of the Christ. One cloud shimmering over the summit of the mount of transfiguration. One cloud in which Christ ascended from the mount of Olives. Christ ascended in one single cloud of God’s glory – the very same cloud in which He had manifested His presence throughout the long ages of time!

It is when we come to the return of the Lord that we notice a distinct difference! For suddenly the one single cloud disappears and we are introduced to a great plurality of clouds! Let us see! Christ departed this earth in one cloud. He comes again in many clouds! "Behold, He cometh with clouds: and every eye shall see Him" (Rev. 1:7). Daniel in vision beheld Him thus: "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like a Son of man came with the clouds of heaven…and there was given unto Him dominion" (Dan. 7:13-14). Jesus Himself said, "And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Mat. 24:30). And again, "Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Mat. 26:64). Finally, the apostle Paul relates this dramatic experience: "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds…and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thes. 4:17). In the CLOUDS! More than one cloud. Many clouds.

A great company of clouds!

Why are there many clouds attending Christ’s coming, and what are these clouds? Let us not for one moment forget that we are dealing with the cloud of God’s glory, presence, and power – the shekinah! When the firstborn Son of God was in the world John said of Him, "We beheld His glory" (Jn. 1:14). When did they behold His glory? You may reply that they beheld His glory when He went about doing good, healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, performing miracles and teaching and speaking as never man spake. Ah, yes, I am sure that in all those things they beheld a glory, but the apostle Peter reveals to us what is really meant by their beholding the glory of the Son. "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory (the glory cloud), saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount" (II Pet. 1:16-18).

How very significant that at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry He said, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also shall be one in us…and the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them…I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one…that they be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which Thou hast given me" (Jn. 17:20-24). And this is the crux of the whole matter! From the dawn of creation’s light until Jesus stepped upon this planet, God manifested to His creation in a singular way His own glory. He, the one eternal God, exhibited His presence in the form of one glory cloud! But as Jesus approached the cross, and the glorious events to unfold thereafter, He disclosed the grand truth that God purposed from eternity to SHARE HIS GLORY WITH A VAST FAMILY OF SONS…that glorious body which is the fullness of Him that filleth all in all!

Let us see, then, what great encouragement God has given us concerning His glory. "And ye know how we exhorted you…that ye should walk worthy of God, who hath called you to His kingdom and glory" (I Thes. 2:11-12). Peter asserts: "I…also am…a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed" (I Pet. 5:1). "Whereunto He hath called you…to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thes. 2:14). "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18). The writer to the Hebrews adds this significant testimony: "For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10). As the spirit of revelation and understanding floods our minds, we are left without question as to the meaning of all this. There is to be a mighty and universal revelation of the glory of God, that very same glory which was revealed in the cloud of old, but now an intensified many-splendored glory in the many clouds of God’s sons!

Another evidence that the "clouds" with which Christ comes are in fact the sons of God in their glory is couched in the terminology of the scriptures on this subject. In most places the passages in question speak of Christ coming "with clouds." There is only one other group of plurality of objects of which it is stated that Christ comes "with" them, and that is – the SAINTS! "To the end He may establish your hearts…at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ WITH ALL HIS SAINTS" (I Thes. 3:13). Jude says, "And Enoch also… prophesied… saying,  Behold, the Lord cometh WITH TEN THOUSANDS OF SAINTS" (Jude 14). The Amplified is helpful, when it reads, "Behold, the Lord comes WITH MYRIADS OF HOLY ONES – ten thousands of His saints." But the Interlinear reading from the Diaglott translation gives the clearest of all renderings from the Greek text, so we note, "Lo, comes Lord IN HOLY MYRIADS OF HIMSELF." Myriads of Himself! And all of them partakers of His divine nature, conformed to His image, imbued with His mind, filled with His life, radiating His glory! Myriads of Himself, of His own kind, born of His seed, reproducing His life, a many brethren company of sons – all His sons. Though there are multiplied testimonies to this truth, we will add but one more: "And the Lord my God shall come, and ALL THE SAINTS WITH THEE" (Zech. 14:5). The beloved John sees this same scene in wonder-filled vision and cries out, "Behold, He cometh WITH CLOUDS; and every eye shall see Him!"

When Jesus ascended two thousand years ago, He ascended glorified in that singular glory cloud in which He had dwelt from eternity. He was the one God manifested in all fullness in one Man, the Son. But, blessed be God! As He comes again, "He shall come to be GLORIFIED IN HIS SAINTS, and to be admired IN THEM that believe" (II Thes. 1:10). Centuries ago the apostle Paul wrote these words to the saints at Rome, "And if we are children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also GLORIFIED TOGETHER" (Rom. 8:17). Christ coming "with clouds" certainly shows that each of these sons, to whom is given that same glory that Jesus had from eternity, shall stand ultimately in his own realm of the glory of the Lord. The glory is shared, so the cloud which represents that glory is shared. Each elect son becomes a manifestation of the glory – of the cloud – of the shekinah! In the light of truth so sublime let us search our hearts and sanctify ourselves in the knowledge that we are the body of Christ. The cloud of old rested upon the tabernacle and filled the temple with the glory of the Lord! We are now His tabernacle and His temple! We are now His ark, His most holy place, and His holy mount! The glory is now given to us, rests upon us, increasingly fills us, and shall radiate out from this holy habitation of God forevermore! In Old Testament times God dwelt in one single cloud. But now He says, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them…and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord" (II Cor. 6:16-18).

As the clouds pour out the rain upon our land, so the heavens pour down water upon the earth. When a cloud becomes so heavy with droplets that it can no longer hold them, it spills over, and we have rain. "O Lord my God, Thou art very great…who layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters: who maketh the cloud His chariot: He watereth the hills from His chambers" (Ps. 104:3,13). The clouds are the chambers of God containing the water of life! A cloud is full of water and water speaks to us of life. Water typifies both the Spirit of God and the Word of God (Eph. 5:26; Jn. 7:37-39). A cloud speaks to us of a vessel which contains water, or contains life. God by His Spirit gives living water to refresh and impart life to His creation! It is the nature of a cloud to empty itself. "If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth" (Eccl. 11:3). When the cloud gets filled up, it rains! That is the nature of the clouds – rain pours out! Now, all that God is is being formed in His sons, we are becoming a receptacle, a vehicle for all the fullness of God, filled up with the life-giving properties of our Father!

HE IS FILLING THE CLOUDS!

The nature of each son will be to pour out that life just as God poured it into Jesus and Jesus is pouring it into us. If the sons, as the clouds of heaven, be full of God, they will pour Him out upon all who dwell in the earth-realm! A true ministry has life to give, and is willing to empty himself in order to give life to a dry and thirsty people. Pour out his life for others – that is what Jesus did! We shall empty out that same life on a groaning creation and quicken all who are held in the bondage of corruption! The apostles Peter and Jude both tell us that false ministries are "clouds without water…carried about of winds." A true ministry, then, is a cloud with water. A true ministry has life to give! A true ministry is willing to empty himself out in order to bring that life to a dry and parched land! Jesus was a bright cloud laden with water, for "the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give His life…" Prepare to rain, O ye clouds!

The one glory has become the multiple glory! The one cloud of His presence has become many clouds of His presence! The Lord is coming to be glorified in a many-membered body, in the clouds of His presence! These are the clouds of His glory into which the triumphant saints of God are being "caught up." Our "catching up" is being brought to that high spiritual sphere where we become one with that whole great "cloud of witnesses," the spirits of just men made perfect! They without us cannot be made perfect, but they with us are the very perfection of God expressed out of the high realm of the heavens of God’s Spirit. What a glorious union of forces when those of our generation on earth, and all those overcoming saints of all former ages who have gone on before us, are joined together, becoming an indestructible force in the full, total and complete manifestation of God’s majesty, power, and glory at the manifestation of the sons of God! Gird up your loins, beloved, for I hear the sound of abundance of rain!

The Resident within the shimmering cloud of glory is just the Lord Himself! The Lord is the source of the dazzling light, for it is HE who causes the celestial host to shine forth, thus forming the "cloud" and manifesting His glory thereby. Be not discouraged, my beloved, for our Lord shall complete all of His work and purpose in us, lifting us up into higher realms of His Spirit, and completing that union with the whole body of the firstborn. The life of God is taking form! The clouds are coming together! The clouds are gathering rain! The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together!

Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him!

This treasure we have in earthen vessels (II Cor. 4:7). Ah, there is a glory even now as we glorify God in these mortal bodies. Christ had and disclosed such a glory in that dim and distant past when He walked the shores of blue Galilee. But, blessed be His name, in His resurrection He came forth in new garments, clad in a sin-free and death-free body of incorruption and immortality! Now His wonderful life is swallowing up the sin and death in us, bringing to His chosen ones also a change of raiment, and in His due time we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, for this corruptible is putting on incorruption and this mortal is putting on immortality. Only as we daily put on the Lord Jesus Christ are we changed! "Putting on" is not a passive thing. We are putting on the Lord Jesus Christ; we are putting on incorruption and immortality; and because we are putting on the life, mind, and nature of His resurrection, we are being changed! When we are fully changed by the power of His resurrection we shall be bright clouds out of whom God shall shine and out of whom the voice of God shall speak. We shall be pillars of clouds by day, and pillars of fire by night, to lead and guide all humanity from the bondage of Egypt to the blessing and abundance of the Promised Land!

Though His glory has generally been hidden throughout the ages, at certain times and on special occasions that hidden glory has flashed forth into prominence before the eyes of the few who by the predestined counsel of God were permitted to experience unspeakable things unlawful for a man to utter. We are coming ever nearer when God shall unveil His power and glory before the face of all nations and peoples in a manner far beyond any measure experienced by men of any age! The whole world shall soon see the glory of the Lord in an unprecedented way! From earth’s teeming millions of all ages there is a people arising in the image of Christ. Those who watch the spiritual heavens shall soon see clouds as they have never seen before! We have seen the clouds of earth’s atmosphere, inky black clouds, and clouds of snowy whiteness; clouds brightly tinted, and many silver lined; clouds made brilliantly gorgeous by the afterglow of the setting sun. But we never yet have seen clouds made magnificently glorious by the blazing splendor of the Son of God! We have seen clouds charged by flashes of lightning. Not yet have we seen clouds charged with the power of omnipotence and flashing with the incorruptible radiance of Christ’s life and immortality! Afar off we have seen the morning clouds as they have enwrapped the distant mountain peaks and splendidly capped the hilltops. We have yet to see the clouds which enfold the blazing form of the Mighty One! We have seen clouds driven as chariots to carry rain to the dry and thirsty fields. But CLOUDS ARE FORMING IN THE HEAVENS OF GOD’S SPIRIT THAT WILL BE SEEN, THAT WILL BE THE CHARIOT OF HEAVEN’S KING OF GLORY AS HE COMES TO REFRESH AND QUICKEN AND RESTORE ALL THINGS!

What a sight for eyes to behold! How it enraptures the faithful ones who "love His appearing" and have hoped to the end "for the grace that is to be brought unto them" at "the revelation of Jesus Christ." Of a sudden the blazing light of day will take on a new brightness, above all the glory of the sun, and grow still more light, more bright, and more dazzling, until the eyes of men behold the advancing glory of God’s Christ! And with the glory clouds of myriads of like ones unto Himself the all-conquering Christ will appear in all the fullness of Himself in the earth! These brilliant bands will fill the glory-flashing skies from end to end and flood the world with life, light, and love! How magnificent will be the advancing pageantry of the skies! How sublime beyond all mortal comprehension will be the revelation of Jesus Christ!

No wonder John followed his exclamation concerning the Lord coming with clouds with this significant explanation: "…and every eye shall see Him." This beautiful text has often been misused and abused in an attempt to prove the erroneous theory that Jesus will return as a flesh and blood man and be suspended in the sky until every individual throughout the whole earth has had an opportunity to see Him. But this crude interpretation of the prophecy is quite out of harmony with the Bible’s use of language and the symbolic scheme of the book of Revelation. Let us note, for example, how scripture uses the function of the eye to symbolize discernment. After Job’s long experience of calamity and trial, and the revelation of God’s heart to him, he cried out in communion with God, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but NOW MINE EYE SEETH THEE!" (Job 42:5). All will concede, I believe, that Job did not see God literally, but he saw Him, nonetheless. Jesus said to His disciples, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see." I doubt that any would contend that Jesus was reminding the disciples to reflect upon how fortunate they were not to be physically blind!

To "see" means to know. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall know God." A pure heart is one to which all that is not of God is strange and jarring. A heart that has no desires but for the glory of God, whose affections all center in Him, whose delight is in His perfect will, such an one will truly see and know the Lord! It is better to know God than even to see Him by the eyes of sense. There were many who saw Jesus who did not know Him. They saw the Christ, but they knew not that He was the Christ. They saw His miracles, but they did not know Him. They even rejected Him and hated Him, some of them. You could see Jesus Himself in bodily form today, but unless your heart be quickened, cleansed, and transformed, you could not know Him to be the Christ.

It is only purity of heart that gives purity of sight!

I don’t believe every eye is going to see Him because they are watching TBN, CBN, CNN, or reading USA Today. Every eye is going to see Him because there is coming such great grace and mighty power at the revelation of Jesus Christ in His body that it shall produce a supernatural quickening in the lives of all who behold the appearing of the Lord. Their spiritual eyes shall be opened and they will understand and know what they have never known before! They will not see as they have seen before, but their minds and hearts will be changed and transfigured in the light of His glory. What a hope!

A beautiful illustration is found in the gospel of Luke. The aged prophet, Simeon, who had received the promise from God that he should not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, came by the Spirit into the temple, when Joseph and Mary brought in the child Jesus. "Then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: FOR MINE EYES HAVE S-E-E-N THY SALVATION." What kind of eyesight is this? A little babe in the arms of his mother, and yet Simeon’s eyes were opened to see – not just the form of the babe, but THY SALVATION! This certainly was not an uncommon sight, mothers were constantly coming into the temple with their children, to do for them after the custom of the law. And no doubt there was a vast multitude of other people in the temple on that day; they, too, saw the babe in the arms of his mother, but they did not see THY SALVATION, for having eyes, they saw not – "and the world knew Him not."

When the scripture said, "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together," God is saying the same to the world today. The unveiling of the sons of God is the revelation of the glory of the Lord! When the glory of the Lord is revealed, which is the salvation of God, it is the fulfillment of the word of the Lord to His elect through Isaiah, "I will give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that THOU MAYEST B-E M-Y S-A-L-V-A-T-I-O-N UNTO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH." When the kingdom of God fills the earth, the earth will be filled with righteousness. WE ARE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD! When the glory of the Lord is revealed, the earth will be flooded with light. WE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD! The reason the world will know the sons of God to be the salvation of God is because God pours out His Spirit upon all flesh. All humanity, with that quickening of the Spirit, will have their eyes enlightened to see in the body of Christ the salvation of God, to see in the sons of God the glory of God and the righteousness of God. The world will see God’s elect as the righteousness of God because we are becoming righteous sons! The world will see God’s elect as the light of the world because we are becoming a glorious shining people! The world will see God’s elect as the salvation of God because we are becoming a fully-saved people!

"Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him!"

To be continued...

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 12

 FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
(A study in Book of Revelation Part 12) by J. Preston Eby

LOOSED FROM OUR SINS
"Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Rev. 1:5).

I know nothing deeper in God than love, nor believe there is anything deeper than love, nay, there can be nothing deeper than love! The being of God is love, and love demands an object — the beloved. That is the whole meaning of creation! And it is the greatest proof that God has always, eternally been a Creator — this present creation is not the first, nor will it be the last. If God never brought forth or created anything until six thousand years ago or twenty billion years ago, then He could not have been love before that event, for there was no object of love, therefore no expression of love. God would have been throughout eternity — before creation — loveless. Our existence is not accidental — it had to be! God must love, for God is love; therefore God must bring forth and create. "For God so loved the world." The reality of love is a property inherent in the essence of the lover. The Divine Lover, God, cannot love in a limited way because in His nature and being He is limitless, so He loves to the furthest limits of possibility. That is the meaning of the cross! That is the meaning of God’s plan of the ages for the reconciliation of all things! Creation and redemption are therefore intrinsic to God’s very life, they are the outer landscape of His own being, God making Himself visible to Himself and simultaneously making Himself visible to us. Creation is in some sense God’s very self, as Eve was Adam’s self. And in this relationship with His creation God’s love is revealed through blessing and redemption in the interchange of giving and receiving!

The message which beams from the cross of Christ like the blazing rays of the noon-day sun is one of SACRIFICIAL LOVEREDEEMING LOVE. The truth of love in Jesus Christ was that He loved without retaliation for evil, a love that suffered long, even to the agonies of the cross, and then was kind enough to pray, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And I declare to you that regardless of what other sins those wicked men may come into judgment for, they will never stand in the judgment condemned for killing the Son of God, for HE AND HIS FATHER FORGAVE THEM! This truth of the love of God in Jesus Christ must also be true in us, the younger sons of God. Jesus did not love people because He loved Himself, as it was under the law. It was the Father’s unconditional and all-surpassing love flowing through Him, surging as a mighty river out to humanity, overflowing redemptively, so that He could say, "Let your love for others not be based on love for yourself, but on what is true in Me: If the Father could love Judas through me, and love Peter through Me, and the people that crucified Me, then let the Father’s love so find expression through you!"

Through many years we have sung a beautiful chorus that goes like this: "His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundaries known unto man; for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again." This is a lovely chorus and I love to sing it and I say it is true. In Jesus Christ, there is no limit to His love, no measure to His grace, and no boundaries to His power, for He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and His infinite mercy endures throughout all generations and ages. If I say there is one sin, one condition, one creature, one place, one age or group of ages unto which His love and His grace and His power shall not reach and triumph, then I lie and know not the truth. Jesus loved His friends, He loved His enemies, the man who betrayed Him, the man who denied Him, the mob that cried, "Crucify Him!" and the men who nailed Him to the cross. If His love does not triumph over every one of them, then the cross was a farce! There just is no limit to His love! You can never find a place where you can say, "So far He will love, but no farther." Is that love true in us? Or do we say, "Well, I will only stand so much, I will only forgive so long, I will only trust so far, and that is the end of it." God is teaching and training every son that His love should find no limit in us, His grace no measure in us, and His power no boundary in us.

This is the first mark of sonship!

Oh, that all men might learn God’s one and only everlasting Gospel, the Gospel of love — and then preach it! And be it! Love alone can draw A-L-L MEN to Calvary’s crimson fountain. Only a Calvary love can transform a world gone mad, and revive a sleeping church obsessed with her deliriums into a thing of beauty and praise and usefulness. And anyone who is lifting up to a lost and dying world anything or anyone other than Jesus and His wonderful love is simply living a wasted life. The love of God must be lifted up IN US! The sons of God are the Sons of Love, for GOD IS LOVE!

Although God "so loved the world," still there is a special sense in which Christ "loved us" and gave Himself for us — those He is making kings and priests unto God that we might reign over the earth. The book of Revelation is written to kings and priests! Some time ago, in Bill and Elaine Cook’s paper, Monty Williamson shared the following beautiful testimony which speaks so powerfully of Christ’s love for His called and chosen elect. "A while ago I had an experience with the Lord Jesus Christ that I would like to share. As I was waiting on the Lord in prayer, I was part of a scene that I will try to describe. I was with the Lord’s army traveling across the sky, headed for earth. We were all riding on beautiful white horses flying toward the Lord’s enemies to do battle. As I took in the scene, I realized I was in the front line of the Lord’s army. I took in the view and felt honored that I was allowed to be at the front where I could see the vistas of the earth beneath and know that I would be one of the first to join in this great battle.

"As my eyes moved to the left, I realized that I was riding beside Jesus. He smiled at me and I felt so loved and understood. I was overwhelmed that I was at His right hand as He rode into battle. I felt so loved and honored. I was shocked that I was beside Him, and questioned in my mind why I was allowed to ride there. In return, He just loved me and let me know that it was right that I was beside Him. I felt humbled and greatly loved. I savored the moment and it was one of the greatest feelings I have ever had — to be riding on a white horse with Jesus heading into the battle! After a bit I began to wonder about the others who were riding with us and I felt a little sad that I was at the front with Jesus and that others were not. I was thinking that maybe I should rotate my place with others so that my brothers and sisters could share the joy of riding beside Jesus. I felt Him whisper that it was "Okay" and that I should look around.

"As I looked back, I saw the most incredible picture. I saw the rest of the army — as I looked at each one, I noted that they were all looking to the person on their left. On their left was Jesus, riding beside them! As I looked closer, I realized that from each person’s perspective, each one was riding beside Jesus and saw themselves at the front of the army, riding on His right side. The same picture that I had at the first, where I saw myself at the front of the army and at His right hand, was the same vision that everyone else had. We all thought that we were riding at the front of the army beside Jesus! For everyone, Jesus was beside them having intimate fellowship with each one at the same time. My love and awe for Jesus soared! It is just like Him to be able to make each one of us feel the most loved at the same time. He is the Head and we are the body. Does any part of the body feel neglected by the head? No! It is the same with Jesus, our Head. He is able to make each of us feel intimately loved all at the same time. It is something very hard for the finite mind to wrap around, but it is possible with God. His love for us knows no bounds!" — end quote.

LOOSED FROM OUR SINS
John dwelt in spirit before the door of the opened heaven as he walked about the barren slopes of Patmos. Time after time he saw in visions the glory of God, and of the Lamb, and of the kings and priests upon His throne, and of all the redeemed of the ages. The celestial scene filled John’s heart with joy, praise, and wonder, and stirred by what he saw and heard in the heavenlies, he cried out, "Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests — to Him be glory and dominion for the ages of the ages, Amen!"

We need to know what "washing" means. It would be well for us to point out that some Greek manuscripts read "loves" (present tense) in place of "loved" (past) and "loosed" rather than "washed." In Greek the only difference loosed and washed is the letter "o." The idea would be, therefore, "Unto Him who loves us (continuously), and who has loosed us from our sins in His own blood." Since Christ has "loosed" or released us from our sins, the idea here would be that the blood of the Lord Jesus has freed us from the claim and power that sin once had over us.

There was a type of this action in the Old Testament at the time when Israel celebrated the annual day of atonement, in which the people were cleansed from all the sins that had accumulated during the previous year. The atonement was done through a priestly sacrifice. In Leviticus 16:5 it is declared that the "two kids of the goats" constitute a single offering for sin. "And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering..." The reason for this is that both goats speak symbolically of the work of Christ in taking away our sins, and the sins of the whole world.

What a tremendously meaningful ceremony the day of atonement was! The people of Israel had to plan weeks in advance for this day. Here is what took place on the day of atonement. Two young goats were brought before the gate of the tabernacle and presented to the high priest. These two goats were carefully chosen and were to be of equal character and quality in weight, height, and purity. A lot was cast upon the two goats. One lot was for the Lord, and the other lot was for the scapegoat. The goat selected for the Lord was to be offered as a sacrifice. A scarlet cloth was wrapped around its neck to distinguish it for sacrificing. The other goat was designated as a scapegoat and kept outside the holy precincts of the tabernacle. The first goat was taken in through the gate to the brazen altar in the Outer Court where it was slain, and its blood was collected in a bowl. The high priest then took the blood of "the Lord’s goat" in through the Holy Place and on in through the veil to the Holy of holies, where he presented it before the presence of Yahweh with incense. He sprinkled the blood upon the mercy seat once, and in front of the mercy seat seven times. Outside, every person in the camp lay prostrate throughout the entire sacrificial procedure. No one saw any of it as it happened. Yet the ritual meant that atonement was being made for their sins! Their transgressions for the whole year were being dealt with — atoned for — forgiven, remitted, covered.

In contrast, the next part of the ceremony was meant as a very visible, illustrated sermon for every Israelite to see. Indeed, at this point, everyone was to stand and rejoice! Coming out of the Most Holy Place the high priest lingered in the Holy Place long enough to change out of his special clothes designed for that occasion and put on his regular priestly garments. Then he emerged and made his way to the gate of the Outer Court where he laid his hands on the scapegoat. Now, the Hebrew word for scapegoat means "the goat that went away," or "removal." And the priest’s act of laying hands on the scapegoat symbolized the transference of all the people’s sins to the head of the animal. Aaron confessed over the scapegoat all the sins of the children of Israel, saying, "Oh Yahweh, your people, the house of Israel, have committed iniquity, transgressed, and sinned before You. Oh Yahweh, forgive, I pray, the iniquities and transgressions and sins which your people, the house of Israel, have committed and transgressed and sinned before You; as it is written in the law of your servant Moses, ‘For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you: from all your sins you shall be clean before Yahweh."

All the sins of all the people of Israel were transferred to the head of the scapegoat and then the goat was put into the hands of a "fit man" to be sent away into the wilderness, unto a land not inhabited. There the goat was let go and left. The "fit man" mentioned in Leviticus 16 was a strong, physically fit man chosen for the important task of leading the scapegoat far away into the desolation of the wilderness and leaving it there. The fit man put a leash on the scapegoat and led him out of the camp. And what a sight that was to the people! All of Israel stood watching, as at a parade, cheering, clapping, rejoicing as the scapegoat was led away. It was an object lesson that every citizen of Israel — including children — could understand: "Not only are our sins forgiven to be remembered no more — but they are taken away from us! The fit man couldn’t take the goat to just any place in the desert — he must make an arduous journey to a most remote, inescapable place, so far away that there would be no possibility of the goat wandering back into their midst.

It must be a complete, permanent, irrevocable removal!

The Lord Jesus Christ is the key character with both of these goats, for both animals together constitute one sin offering (Lev. 16:5). In the sacrifice of the feast of Passover the people could choose between a lamb or a goat. In the feast of Atonement, however, there was no choice, only the goat could be used. Goats were used in the flock as leaders and protectors. "The Lord’s goat" represents Jesus who went before us into the Most Holy Place to open up the way through the rent veil. There are many things to learn from types and anti-types, for by them truth is taught with more force than any spoken word. You will notice then that no sins are confessed over the head of the first goat, the "Lord’s goat." For you see, this is Jesus the perfect sin-offering, pure, spotless, unblemished, undefiled, holy, harmless, separate from sinners, who by His blood, His own precious and divine life, has, as our forerunner, entered into the holiest of all, opening up the way for every son of God to follow.

The writer to the Hebrews proclaimed this blessed event in these words: "For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:14-22).

And what does it mean that we may enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus? To Moses God said that He gave the blood upon the altar to be an atonement for the soul, because THE LIFE OF THE FLESH IS IN THE BLOOD (Lev. 17:11). That is, the blood in the body is the life of the body. Ah — the power of any blood is in the worth of the life! In the blood of Jesus THE POWER OF THE DIVINE LIFE DWELT and worked — hence its intrinsic value. He was the Son of God by conception, and the Son of man by birth. He was a specially prepared body to contain a specially prepared blood that was to be the life of all humanity! This blood was precious from the fact that it was a unique blood which could do something for all humanity that no other blood could ever do. It was the Word of God that became flesh (Jn. 1:14), who was made a man. It was the life of God that dwelt in Him! That life gave His blood, every drop of it, an infinite value. The blood of a man is of more worth than that of a sheep. The blood of a king or a great general is counted of more value than hundreds of common soldiers. The blood of the Son of God! It is in vain the mind seeks for some expression of its value! All we can say is, it is His own blood, the blood of the Word made flesh! The life is in the blood. As the value of this life, so the value of the blood.

In Christ there was the life of God; infinite as God is the worth and the power of that blood!

When Adam transgressed, the life of God which had been breathed into his nostrils, fled from his soul, and by that separation all that was left was a residue, that mortal something which flowed in the veins of his body. This blood contains nothing of the life of God, and in its composition is similar to the blood of the animal kingdom, for when the glorious power of divine life was separated from Adam’s soul, he entered into the kingdom of death. Before this Adam’s spirit and soul had existed in blessed union. The record states that Adam was made a living soul. From the Greek the statement reads, "The first man was made a zoe psuche (living soul)." Zoe, throughout the entire Greek New Testament, is always used in reference to the life of God — divine life. Psuche, on the other hand, is used of the natural life of animals and men. Since both words are used of Adam’s life in the beginning, it is clear that he possessed a physical life imbued, infused, injected, impregnated, and permeated with the glorious incorruptible life of God! That is what made him not simply zoe, and not merely psuche, but zoe psuche!

This life, zoe, is the life Jesus promised to give to man when He said, "I give unto them eternal life (zoe), and they shall never perish." This, beloved, is the life that fled from Adam’s soul when he transgressed, leaving his outer man ashamed, fearful, and dead. The life is in the blood, but our blood being devoid of zoe life, incorruptible and divine life, is in reality dead blood and capable of sustaining only physical life, and that only poorly until man returns to the dust from whence he came. It is not without significance that, when the bodies of men are embalmed, the first act is to remove the corruptible blood that the dead body may be better preserved. The fact that a chemical in the veins can preserve a dead body is the proof that the quickening power of incorruptible zoe restored to union with the blood of redeemed men will result in life and immortality! Instead of incorruptible and, therefore, deathless blood, Adam’s blood corrupted through sin and became subject to death. To redeem this dead sinner, life must again be imparted! The only remedy for death is life! This life is in the blood, so blood must be furnished which is sinless and incorruptible. Now none of Adam’s race could do this, "for in Adam all die." There was only one, yes, only one, who could furnish that blood, the virgin-born Son of God, the man from heaven, the last Adam, with a human body, but sinless, supernatural blood, inseminated by the Holy Ghost!

Jesus came to bring life to the world! Here is where His blood differed from the ordinary blood or life of men. His blood was precious in that it was able to do something for mankind which man’s own blood or life could not do. The natural blood or life of mankind was only for a few years at most, but the blood of Christ was the life of the ages. So there must somehow be a discontinuance of the blood of a few years, that the blood or the life of the ages might be injected into mankind.

Let us notice one thing further. The red liquid that ran through the veins and arteries of the body of Jesus is not the blood whose power redeems mankind and all things unto God. There is no biblical basis for attributing any unusual properties to Christ’s body fluids. The term "blood of Christ" is far more significant than any magical or mystical power falsely attributed to His physical blood by those who are ignorant of the truth. And here I must speak a word against one of the popular myths that has been widely circulated among God’s people. Various teachers have maintained that human blood is in some mysterious way "congealed light." Now that term carries with it a certain kind of mystical aura, and a rather scientific sound. But the truth is that it is neither scientifically founded, scripturally sound, nor spiritually veracious. Blood is composed of the very same chemical and mineral substances of which the earth is made. If blood is "congealed light," then your refrigerator, automobile, house, and a bunch of bananas and a cup of coffee are just as truly congealed light! Blood is mostly water, but in the blood many substances are dissolved and in this fluid float specks of matter that do not dissolve. From the lungs it takes oxygen breathed in, and from the digestive organs it takes food substances and carries these, as well as disease-fighting cells, to all parts of the body. The liquid part of the blood greatly resembles sea water. This liquid part of the blood without all the solid particles, but including the various chemicals in the blood, is called plasma.

The thing of importance about the precious blood of Jesus is not its physical structure, but the glorious fact that blood bespeaks LIFE. What Jesus poured out was His life, His holy, pure, undefiled, divine, heavenly, incorruptible life, the zoe, the quickening spirit, the life of GOD! He lived and walked out that glorious life in human form and then poured it out as an offering to God. And God took the offering and poured it out, in return, upon mankind! "He...spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, HE HATH SHED FORTH THIS, WHICH YE NOW SEE AND HEAR" (Acts 2:31-33).

Ah — the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God, but in a new dimension — the divine and incorruptible life of God as it had been perfected and lived out in the life of the Son of God — was now shed forth as the Spirit of the Son to be received by all men to transform and lift them up high into the holiness, wisdom, and power of God. The precious blood of Jesus! There is an old Roman Catholic dogma which says that Christ carried His blood with Him to heaven in a bowl. Without even knowing its source, evangelical Christianity clings to that ludicrous idea from the Dark Ages by perpetuating a form of mysticism around the physical blood of our Lord. The bowl of blood is indeed a type from the outward, physical ceremony of the day of Atonement. But in its spiritual fulfillment there is no bowl in the universe that could have contained what Jesus carried into the heavens! When Christ entered heaven (see Hebrews, chapters 8-10), He carried not physical blood, which of necessity would be corruptible blood, but His DIVINE-HUMAN LIFE. He did not transport a bowl of blood or a bucket of blood; He entered in His resurrection body, with the full power of that divine life He had poured out on behalf of Adam’s doomed race. If He had not poured it out upon the cross, He would have forever remained the only perfect man — the only manifest Son of God. But, blessed be His wonderful name! He shed His precious blood, He released His human-divine life, He poured forth His quickening Spirit that all may drink thereof and live!

Beloved sons and daughters of God! The blood of Jesus! The blood of the Lord’s goat! Oh, think what it means. God gave it for your redemption from Adam’s race and your transformation into the image and glory of God. God accepted it in the true tabernacle, in heaven itself, in the heaven of God’s Spirit, when the firstborn of the new creation entered there and presented it on your behalf. God points you to it and asks your to believe in its omnipotent energy, in its everlasting sufficiency. Ah, this celestial man was injected into a whole world full of men descended from the earth-man to impart something we had lacked from the day Adam was driven from Eden’s bright portals. That something was life, living blood, for He said He came to give life to the world. He could impart a life to the world that would change it completely! When our spirit is quickened by His Spirit, and then brought into marriage union with soul and body there is raised up within us LIFE AND IMMORTALITY!

What it means is just this. Jesus, through death and resurrection into the incorruptible realm of God, has entered into the Most Holy Place of heavenly life. And now, HE HAS GIVEN US HIS LIFE! His life is His blood, and by the quickening of that divine life in our spirit we become the new creation. You cannot bring old Adam into the Holiest — for the body (natural consciousness) of the Lord’s goat was left at the tabernacle gate! ONLY THE BLOOD (DIVINE LIFE) ENTERED INTO THE HOLIEST. Notice! While the King James Version reads, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus," the Greek text actually reads, "Having therefore, brethren, confidence into the entrance of the Holiest in the blood of Jesus." The Greek word is en — IN. Entering in the blood of Jesus. What a word! If it is the blood that is carried into the Holiest, how else could I get into the Holiest, unless I would be IN THE BLOOD? Do you see it? He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. In the union of our spirit with His Spirit we are "in" the blood or life of Christ! It is in this union of life that we are given the boldness, the ability to enter in to the Most Holy Place! In the power of that life we have now entered in! In the blood, the divine life of Jesus in our spirit, we now enter into the Holiest of all!

We cannot reform old Adam. We cannot redeem our old humanity with its desires and lusts. We must leave our human consciousness behind at the gate of the tabernacle, for that human consciousness is represented by the dead body of the Lord’s goat. That dead body does not go into the Holiest! We must leave our old human consciousness, our old Adamic mind and identity, out at the altar of sacrifice (the cross) and enter into the presence, glory, and power of God in our new life in the spirit! Only the new creation can enter in! We have tried to make Adam "behave" so we could be pleasing to God. We have put our flesh under laws and rules and regulations and tried to make it be good. It hasn’t worked! It cannot be done! Leave the old carcass behind and enter in your spirit into the presence of God in the Most Holy Place. There is no sin at all in your regenerated spirit! And that is who you now really are! As a new creation you haven’t done anything wrong! Your regenerated spirit has not sinned! In your true identity you are not guilty!

There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!

Someone says, "But my flesh still wants to sin. My flesh still flies off the handle, cusses, thinks evil thoughts, makes bad choices, criticizes, is fearful, deceitful, selfish, hurtful, and lusts after evil things." Sure it does — for "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." That’s how flesh is! Flesh can’t be any different! You can’t make flesh holy! It’s born of the wrong seed! But there is a further truth. "That which is born of the spirit is spirit." Oh, yes! That which is born of the spirit is your regenerated spirit and it is like Christ. You don’t have to try to make it like Christ. It is! And that’s the real you! That’s the new man that you are! That’s the spiritual man, the heavenly man, the divine man — Christ. And that is the man who may enter into the Holiest any time, at any place, day or night. When the flesh has mis-behaved and would heap guilt and condemnation upon your head, leave that old carcass at the tabernacle gate and enter on in to the presence of God in the Most Holy Place! Enter in the blood, in the life of Jesus in your spirit! Oh, the wonder of it!

Now surely someone will accuse me of preaching "greasy grace" and charge me with saying that you can just let your old flesh do everything it wants to do and still be a son of God in the Holiest of all. But you see, my beloved, we have only considered the first goat — the Lord’s goat. God’s dealing with sin doesn’t end there. It is true, however, that in the Lord’s goat we can enter right on in to the Holiest while the scapegoat is still standing there at the tabernacle gate. What made the feast of Atonement so wonderful was the inclusion of the second goat. Thank God for the second goat! God has shown us by types and shadows how it is that Christ removes all sin from the experience of His people. Sin will no longer be a problem in my life. The feast of Atonement is not only a day of entering in, it is also a day of release, being freed from all temptation of sin in our lives.

When the scapegoat was led away into the wilderness by a fit man and left there, never to return to Israel, through that action, the people were to understand that their sins had been sent away. That was but a makeshift arrangement and was given only to crudely illustrate what God was doing. In this ritual action there was no provision made for any change in the people who committed the sins. The sins were simply symbolically rolled off from one year to the next. But it was a type of the work of God! In John 1:29 we read, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." The words "take away" mean to lift or to take away. It means to completely remove, banish, exile, cast out, disown, depose and dismiss — our sins! Again we read,

"And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins" (I John. 3:5).

Can we not see by this that Jesus is not the second goat — He is the fit man! The scapegoat is your human consciousness, your carnal flesh. Jesus has been chosen, selected, ordained and manifested to TAKE AWAY our sins! Can you see it? HE does it! I warn you — don’t try to do it yourself. Not just any Israelite could lead that scapegoat away where he would never return. Oh, no! Only the fit man could do it! If you try to do it all your efforts will only end in defeat. You are not strong enough, smart enough, or good enough. That’s why a fit man has been chosen for the task! You will never last long enough to get that sin-laden goat of your flesh far enough away in the wilderness so that he doesn’t some day wander back into your life again. Only the fit man can accomplish it! He has been manifested to bear, to lift, to carry, to lead away, to take away our sins. He has been manifested in order that He might come into relationship with our human life, and passing underneath the load of human sins, to lift them, and take them away!

Either this is the most glorious gospel that a man has ever heard; or it is the greatest delusion to which man has ever listened. If it be true that Christ Jesus has been manifested to somehow, in some mystery that the carnal mind can never fathom, in order to take hold of my sins, my sins, my sins, my impure thoughts, my words of bitterness, my stubborn selfishness, my unholy deeds, and life, and lead, and bear them away — that is the best news I have ever heard! I long for that more than all! Consider the testimony of the angel Gabriel to the virgin of Nazareth: "And thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins." When the songs which the shepherds heard that holy night breaking the silence upon the Judean hills were heard, what said they? "There is born unto you this day a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

Whether through the second goat we have been saved from our sins or not, in the first goat, the Lord’s goat, in and by his blood, WE HAVE BOLDNESS TO ENTER INTO THE HOLIEST OF ALL. You do not have to be delivered from your sins in order to enter boldly into the presence of God and enjoy the fellowship of His life. At the stage of our initial regeneration performance is not the secret to God’s presence! If performance were the secret to God’s presence, we would of all men be most miserable, for which of us can say that we have not sinned and have had no consciousness of sins since we were converted? No one of us would be prepared to say, "I have never deliberately done the thing I knew I ought not to do!" That is consciousness of sins! But that does not exclude us from the love, presence, and glory of God! After all, God is our Father! Be honest with me. Unless you are a harsh, vindictive, tyrannical brute, does your child’s failure, misbehavior, disobedience, or rebellion exclude him or her from your love, from your fellowship, from your care, from your concern, from your counsel, from your table, from your provision, from your blessing, from your home, or from your presence? NO! Then why should our lack or failure separate us from coming boldly to the throne of grace?

Let us come boldly that we may obtain grace to help in time of need!

Now that we are a new creation in our inner man, why do we (I speak for many) not have more victory over sin in our outer lives? It is because we have not yet appropriated the second provision of the day of Atonement for dealing with our sins! What did Jesus come into the world to do? He came to save His people from their sins — not merely from the guilt, consciousness, and punishment of sin, but from the sins themselves, the petty as well as the heinous, the respectable as well as the loathsome. His great work is to send away sin — to expel it from our hearts, to banish it from the earth, yea, to cast it into the abyss of non-existence behind the back of God. This is Christ’s "holy war." He came carrying it into our world and has brought it right into the roots of our lives and the throne room of our hearts!

On the day of atonement, in the body of the scapegoat, sin is finally and completely dealt with! In the spiritual application of the fit man and the scapegoat, God deals with the "goat nature" once and for all. Some time ago, in commenting on the day of Atonement ritual, Elaine Cook shared an experience: "Having at one time kept both sheep and goats, we understand their natures. When we took a load of sheep to town, we heard not a sound from them, but when we carried goats, the air would be resounding with the sound of horns butting and the sides of the truck would rock from the conflict within. The goat nature is quite opposite to the lamb nature. What does all this mean to us? In simple terms, it means that God is going to deal with our sinful, rebellious nature once-for-all! The goat was not killed, it was completely removed!" This, beloved, is an integral part of the feast of Tabernacles, even the day of Atonement that precedes the fullness of that great feast! The day of Atonement prepared the worshipper for the feast of Tabernacles, even as the seventh chapter of Romans precedes the glorious eighth chapter and prepares us for the glory of manifested sonship described in that rich eighth chapter.

It is my conviction that this ritual foretold of the warfare between the flesh and the spirit — between the natural man and the spiritual man within us. During these last years of walking and progressing with God in the Spirit, we have been brought to the place in Christ which corresponds to the day of Atonement and hopefully we have yielded all the iniquities of the man of flesh, for it is here at the place of atonement that sin is dealt with. The desires and motions of the outer flesh man must be SENT AWAY, even as the scapegoat was sent away from the camp of Israel, bearing all the sins of the people. But you see, the sinful goat-nature can only be sent away by the hand of the fit man, Christ, who is ordained to take him away! What does that mean? It means that only the presence and power of Christ in our lives is able to overcome sin in the flesh! Truly He is within us accomplishing this! This is not a work that is wrought from without on our behalf — it is the work of Christ in us! That is why we have to experience the life of the first goat before we can appropriate the departure of the second goat!

Some people think that if they have sin in their lives Christ won’t dwell in them, that His presence will flee, God will turn from them and the heavens become as brass against them. People have the crude and unscriptural notion that somehow God is too holy to look upon sin. That is a lie of Babylon! How can sin ever be conquered in my life if Christ is not raised up in me? And if Christ won’t dwell in me, fellowship with me, and bless me because of my sin, how can He ever be raised up within me to the point where the spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes me free from the law of sin and death? That is the whole point of chapters seven and eight of Romans!

Paul describes the distress that is characteristic of many believer’s lives. "For I do not understand my own actions — I am baffled, bewildered. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe. Now if I do habitually what is contrary to my desire, that means that I acknowledge and agree that the law is good and morally excellent and that I take sides with it. However, it is no longer I that do the deed, but sin which is at home in me and has possession of me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out; for I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds I do not desire to do are what I am doing. Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it — it is not myself that acts — but the sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law of my being that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands. For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self — with my new nature. But I discern in my bodily members — in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh — a different law at war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs — in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh" (Rom. 7:15-23, Amplified).

Our experience in this physical realm is certainly no different than the apostle Paul’s! "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh (outer man), dwelleth no good thing." The thing he didn’t want to do he did, and the thing he wanted to do he couldn’t. What an experience for an apostle! Paul enlarges on his struggle with "sin in my members." Sin in my members is simply a euphemism for "the desires of the flesh" or "the carnal mind." And don’t tell me you don’t have them! Many of the Lord’s people are in denial, claiming that since their old man is dead, the fear, anger, covetousness, lust, deceitfulness, and other carnal and ungodly emotions they feel are just an illusion, a habit, a hang over, a mistaken identity from their former old man who is now really dead, gone, and non-existent. Let me tell you the truth! Your old man is dead, but you do still have sin in your members — the desires of your flesh. The man who says he has no fleshly desires because his old man is dead is either caught up in wishful thinking, self-deceived, or lying. Therefore, the old man and the flesh are obviously not the same, for if they were, your flesh would be dead! How could you still have the option of either "sowing to the flesh" or "sowing to the spirit" if your flesh no longer exists? Look up all the scriptures on the flesh and you will see that all God’s saints in physical, mortal bodies still have it! "The flesh wars against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh," Paul wrote. Has that ever been your experience? If the flesh were dead, the war would be over! Perhaps for you it is, and I rejoice for you if it is, but I seem to still get involved in a skirmish now and then!

This is a large subject that would take a book to exhaust, but I can assure you that if the "old man" is who most people think he is, and truly dead, we should all be perfect, sinless, pure, undefiled, and overcomers in every sense of the word. We should not need to mortify, or put off, or put away, or cleanse ourselves from, or overcome anything because all those things would be non-existent! Dead men don’t lie, dead men don’t deceive, dead men don’t cheat, dead men don’t fly off the handle, dead men don’t gossip, dead men don’t fight, dead men don’t covet, dead men don’t criticize, dead men don’t lust, dead men don’t make mistakes, dead men don’t get depressed, or struggle with anything. If uncle Charlie has died and is lying in his coffin, I can walk up to him, tell him what a splendid fellow he is, flatter him, and heap praise upon praise on him, and he will never smile, appear pleased, or puff up with pride. He’s dead! On the other hand, I can stand there and swear at him, abuse him, slap his face, yell about what a scoundrel he is, and he will not swear back, strike me, or jump out of the coffin and knock me down. There will be absolutely no response — for he is dead! Dead men don’t do anything!

Dead men don’t keep on doing evil things and then excuse it by saying that they just didn’t know they were dead; it was just such a habit that they have to remind themselves that they are dead so they can learn to act like dead men! What drivel! Yet, I have heard great preachers proclaiming such foolishness, in an effort to rationalize why Christians have fleshly, ungodly emotions and desires, and do bad things, when their old man is dead! It should be clear to any spiritual mind that either the old man isn’t dead or we have mis-identified the old man! I think it is the latter. God isn’t playing games with us! Do saints still struggle with the carnal mind and the works of the flesh? Do saints still sin? "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I Jn. 1:8-9).

Ah, precious friend of mine, "sin in our members" and the "old man" are not the same! Every scripture throughout the whole Bible bears witness to this fact. Let me give it to you in the simplest of terms. There are many, many scriptures, but two will suffice to point the way. "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Rom. 7:22). Notice what the inward man does. He delights in the law of God — righteousness! But even though the inward man, the new man, delights in righteousness, the awful power of sin lies in our members. Now let us look at the old man. "Strip yourselves of your former nature (the old man) — put off and discard your old unrenewed self — which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion" (Eph. 4:22, Amplified). These two passages tell us this: The new man is a nature that delights in righteousness; the old man is a nature that desires or delights in that which is corrupt. The old man, therefore, is our old unregenerated spiritual state in which we desired and delighted in the flesh! Please notice that it is the nature that desires and delights in sin — it is not the "body of sin" (the flesh) itself! It is so important that we see and clearly understand the distinction Paul draws in his writings between "sin in our members" which is "the flesh" — and the "old man." These are not interchangeable terms! Sin is the power and principle of evil rooted in our members, in our flesh, in our body! The old man, on the other hand, is our old unregenerated spiritual state in which we delighted in the sin in our members! And the new man is our quickened, regenerated spiritual existence by which we now delight in righteousness. "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my (inward man) mind" (Rom. 7:22-23).

How much plainer can it be!

Any thinking person should understand that once our spirit is quickened by God’s Spirit our old unregenerated spiritual state NO LONGER EXISTS! The scriptures have only one thing to say about your old man...HE IS DEAD! Therefore, you are not having any problem at all with your old man, for dead men don’t do anything! The proof of this is that you no longer delight in sin! Oh, yes, sin is still in your members, and you can sin, have sinned, and may sin again. But when you do sin — are you happy about it? Spiritually, does it make you feel good? Does your spirit say, "Amen!" Or is your spirit grieved? Do you now regret your weakness, your failure? Right there is the answer! The nature that delighted in sin is dead, it is gone! Your new man now delights in righteousness! You now want to do what is right, you now desire to please God, you now hunger for righteousness! That is the difference between the old man and the new man. And that is why you have still struggled with the flesh and with sin. If the flesh and sin were the old man, there would be no more conflict. Dead men don’t sin! The fact that there is now conflict in your life between sin and the new life of Christ within you is the proof that your old man is dead and that Christ in you is alive. Before you were regenerated there was no conflict!

The old man took pleasure in unrighteousness!

Let us look at this truth of being "loosed from our sins" from another angle, from the perspective of the sin-offering; not the sin offering of the two goats on the day of Atonement, but the ordinary sin-offering that any man could offer when he sinned. Come with me now to the camp of Israel. There is a man here by the name Eliezar. Eliezar has sinned. He has done a terrible wrong. He didn’t mean to do it, but he did. He was overcome by his own passion and in a moment of weakness succumbed to the lust of his flesh. In sorrow Eliezar goes out into his flocks and chooses the very best of his bullocks. He brings the animal to the tabernacle gate as a sacrifice — a sin-offering. The priest takes the bullock and slays it for Eliezar, offering it according to the requirement of the law. Eliezar lays his hands upon the head of the bullock as it is slain, indicating that his sin is imputed to the bullock and the bullock is paying the penalty of his sin. As soon as the sacrifice is finished, Eliezar is free! His sin is atoned for! His sin is forgiven! His sin is removed! He is loosed from his sin and all the guilt and penalty of it! He can never be condemned, judged, or punished for the wrong he did. It is erased. The sin-offering is complete, all-sufficient, and irrevocable. With this burden off of him, Eliezar is now free to work out his problems, to seek God, to press forward, to give himself to learning how to overcome, to be worthy of the sacrifice made on his behalf!

Does sin condemn us to separation from Christ, to a doomed, lost, and hopeless state? Does sin separate us from the love of God, from the fellowship of God, from the presence of God, or from the blessing of God? NO! For we are justified by faith in Jesus our sin-offering, who once and for all offered Himself up for us. We are not justified by our performance — we are justified by the sin-offering that has been made for us! Shall we continue in sin, then, that grace may abound? God forbid! Performance doesn’t save us — but it does qualify us for a place and position in the kingdom of God! "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (I Cor. 6:9-10).

Inheriting the kingdom is not the same as being justified by faith! To inherit the kingdom means to rule and reign with Christ! It denotes responsibility and position, authority and power, dominion and rulership! It means to sit upon the throne! Contrary to the childish teaching of the church systems, responsibility and rulership in the kingdom is not given to every believer in Jesus. The throne is not promised to "him that believeth" nor to "him that is justified." The throne is promised "to him that overcometh!" "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches!"
(Rev. 3:21-22).

Before this process of overcoming begins we are, by faith in Jesus our sin-offering, completely released from all our sins and from all the guilt, condemnation, and judgment of those sins freely by His grace! Because this was not taught to us in our churches when we first came to the Lord, many of the Lord’s precious little children have been wandering around spiritually maimed, not knowing who they are, thinking that God still remembers their sins, and that He is angry with them, holding their weakness and failure against them, shutting the heavens up against them every time they fall. Men will not let you forget when you stumble, when you cannot break your sinful habits. Preachers, especially, will not let you forget! This is the good news — your sins are gone! The ones you committed before you were saved are all gone. The ones you have committed since you were saved are all gone. And the ones you have committed today are all gone! The one sin-offering has forever taken care of all your sins! That is the assurance you have by faith in Jesus! Don’t follow the example of ignorant men who won’t let you forget, and don’t let the adversary pull that number on you, for Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and he accuses through men and he accuses you through you. You say, "But I sinned!" Yes, you did. You say, "But I failed God!" Yes, you did. You say, "But this is the one-hundredth time I have flunked the same test!" Yes, it is. To which your heavenly Father responds, "Your sin is forgiven, remitted, released, sent away. It’s not in my ledger. I don’t know what you’re talking about." That is the gospel — the good news — my friend! Any so-called gospel that makes the sin-offering Jesus has provided less than that is not the gospel at all!

Every child of God must know that God’s love and acceptance of them in the Beloved in unconditional. Until we know that, we have underestimated His love! How many times can the prodigal return home? Only as many times as the Father’s love will accommodate! On one occasion Jesus was talking alone with His disciples about prayer. Peter asks a question. It is never difficult to think of Peter asking a question or making a few remarks. He asks, "Master, how many times must I forgive a man? Seven times? Apparently Peter thinks he is growing in grace. He can actually think now in terms of forgiving a man seven times in succession! But the Lord in effect says, "Peter, you haven’t caught the idea. You don’t get it! Forgiveness is not a matter of mathematics; not a matter of keeping tab on somebody; it is not that you have forgiven someone six times, so you will go for one more. You must forgive not seven times but seventy times seven — in one day!" And Peter’s eyes bulge open with an incredulous stare — "four hundred and ninety times — one man — in one day — Wow!" Methinks that Jesus is thinking that Peter will lose count, or get tired of counting, and finally get it, concluding that forgiveness is not optional, it has no qualification or boundary — it is absolutely, at all times, for all people, and in all circumstances unlimited and unconditional!

Nobody taught or manifested the all-encompassing and totally unconditional love of our heavenly Father more than Jesus. The sin question is settled! Under the law, when the sin-offering was slain, all was forgiven. Mattered not how the offerer felt, how mature he was, how perfect he was, how spiritual he was — his faith in the sacrifice wiped the slate clean. Jesus has now made the one sacrifice forever, and by our faith in the Father’s love for us we are accepted of Him regardless of our failures. The secret is just this: HE IS MERCIFUL TO OUR TRANGRESSIONS UNTIL WE ARE ABLE TO OVERCOME THEM! Only His life within us can ever overcome them! If He withdraws His life because we fail — even if we fail four hundred and ninety times in one day — then we are hopeless! But He doesn’t! He freely forgives every time and floods us with His love and His life in the expectation that eventually His life will become strong enough in us to conquer all. That is His way! And it is the only way it can be if we are to be completely saved and perfected.

What a plan! What a Saviour!

Then what are we supposed to do? We are supposed to quit trying to deal with sin, and fall in love with Jesus! The more deeply we fall in love with Jesus, the more time spent in His presence, the more we fellowship with Him and eat at His table, the easier and more natural it becomes to subject ourselves to Christ and let the Spirit lead us. The more we will desire to please Him! As we commune with the Lord and listen to His voice, this teaching is life; this teaching gives us spiritual food; it gives us spiritual drink; it raises up within us spiritual substance so we can grow up into the nature of the new man. Victory over sin and the flesh is not our own doing! We cannot produce it! But Christ raised up in our lives will lead us to it! Jesus overcame all things, lived out the nature of God, and manifested the power and glory of God. But He did not do it Himself! He said, "I can do nothing of myself" (Jn. 5:19,30). His complete victory came through his fellowship with, and His subjection to, the Father. "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works" (Jn. 14:10). And that is also where our power and victory are! Christ in us must do the work. And we cannot make Him do it; we can only let Him do it. And He will do it as we live in His presence! Come, come, my friend, into the Holiest in the blood of Jesus, in the power of His life within your spirit, come right on in and enjoy His abundance! Sin will then, in due time, take care of itself. As soon as you have entered in, the stage is set for the second stage of your experience in Christ — the scapegoat of your flesh can then be sent away!

Paul, at one time in his experience, felt what we all feel in our struggle with the flesh. In desperation he cried out, "O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from the shackles of this body of death?" (Rom. 7:24). And then came the revelation of the glorious solution! "O thank God — HE WILL! through Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, our Lord!" (Rom. 7:25). And right on the heels of this the explanation of how Jesus Christ, the fit man, sends the sin and flesh man away: "For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law could not do, its power being weakened by the flesh. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, God condemned sin in the flesh — subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power. So that the righteous and just requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit — our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit. For if you live according to the dictates of the flesh you will surely die. But if through the power of the Spirit you are habitually putting to death — making extinct, deadening — the deeds prompted by the body, you shall really and genuinely live..." (Rom. 8:2-4,13, Amplified).

Oh, yes! The fit man is within us, and as we walk in His presence, soaking up His life, yielding to His Spirit, communing with His mind, submitting to His leading, the goat nature is sent away into a desolate land, an uninhabited wilderness, never to return! Only the mighty, living presence of Christ raised up within us as life can send the flesh man away! The flesh with all his works is sent into a state of desolation — trapped, dried up, starved, neutralized by the ascendancy of the Spirit in our lives! This is what is happening in the life of every son of God! The day of Atonement is being fulfilled within us spiritually, preparing our hearts for the exceeding glory of the feast of Tabernacles! The fullness of God is at hand! The greater than Pentecost lies directly before us! The sons of God in this very hour are experiencing the finishing touches of God’s great redemption in preparation for the outflowing of His glory unto creation!

To be continued...