Thursday, January 31, 2019

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 158

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
(A study in Book of Revelation Part 158) by J. Preston Eby.

THE BEAST OUT OF THE EARTH (continued)
“And he causeth all…to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads…Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six” (Rev. 13:18).

The first key to unlocking the “mark of the beast” is this beautiful expression: “Here is wisdom.” If it’s wisdom we’re talking about, then it’s not philosophy, it’s not intellect, it’s not seminary training, it’s not mathematics. Notice that our text does not say, “Here is a riddle; let him that is bright solve it,” but plainly states, “Here is wisdom.” Clearly, we must have something different!

The second key to unlocking this great mystery is this admonition: “Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast.” The person who has understanding does something — he COUNTS! The mystery yields only to the understanding, that is spiritual understanding, for Paul prays that our understanding be enlightened by the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus the enlightened understanding equals divine revelation! HERE IS WISDOM: Let him that hath revelation count (calculate) the number of the beast. It should be evident to all who read these lines that this, too, is wisdom: Let not him who has no revelation attempt to count (decipher the meaning of) the number of the beast! It is clear, the mystery has a spiritual meaning. If we have spiritual understanding we will be able to count or calculate the meaning of the number of the beast. Let us trust the Holy Spirit to make it real to our hearts!

Here is wisdom — Count the number of the beast. Why would that be wisdom? The word “number” means a fixed or definite amount. It is also a limited amount, not more and not less than what is given. What is the significance of that? God has not placed upon His people a number! The scriptures reveal that God has placed a token, a sign, a seal, a mark, and a name upon His elect people — but never a number! A mark, yes, but not a number. A name, yes, but not a number. “To him that overcometh…will I give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (Rev. 2:17). “Him that overcometh…I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God…and I will write upon him my new name” (Rev. 3:12). “And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1). But the beast has a number, and we are admonished to count the number of the beast! And what is his number? We all know that the number is six hundred sixty six — 666!

No one who reads the book of Revelation with a spiritual mind can have failed to notice that the word “name” is far more than an appellative. It expresses the inner nature and state of being of the person to whom it is applied. Thus, the “beast” represents something wild and ravenous in nature, the “whore” denotes something unfaithful and impure, and the “Lamb” is one who is meek, pure, and self-sacrificing. The “name” of the Father expresses the character of Fatherhood, the “name” of the Son reveals the character of sonship, the “name” of the city of God which comes down from God out of heaven bespeaks the implantation of the divine nature and character into the life of the man or woman who is born from above.

Let me say again, as I have said so often in this series, one can never understand correctly the book of Revelation so long as his eyes are fastened on events in the outer world. The understanding of “the beast” and “his image” and “his mark” comes only by the inner illumination that the Spirit brings. That is, they are revealed by the flooding light radiating forth from the indwelling Christ! In that true light of God all that is not born of God appears as it truly is, that it may be duly brought to judgment, dealt with and eradicated from our lives. The fiercest beast I have encountered in my years upon this earth is the beast of old Adam’s nature, the carnal mind, the human consciousness, the seed of the serpent slithering about within my very own bosom. Yes, there is a beastly system which arises right out of this earthiness, yet the heart of our natural life is still deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? How I praise God with joy unspeakable and full of glory for the penetrating light of God’s Christ which uncovers the subtleness and deceitfulness of this wild beast, the bestial nature lumbering about in, and rising up out of, OUR EARTH!

Thousands of God’s elect who read these lines today have been illuminated by the Holy Spirit to see the carnal church system of man for what it is — the beast out of the earth having two horns like a lamb, but speaking as a dragon. They see it also as the harlot, Mystery Babylon the Great. In truth it is an unholy trinity — a wild beast, an unclean harlot, and a corrupt city. Truly we have come to loathe the carnality, shame, self-righteousness, spiritual fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, deception, and tyranny of this corrupt system! Was it not the light of the mind of Christ arising within our lives that caused us to see it as it is? And oh, what struggles and dealings and strippings we passed through as God purged our hearts from the love of Babylon and our lives from its fleshly ways!

 Now let us return to the number, 666. A lot of weird and varied explanations have been given for the number 666. It is because the numbers of the Greek alphabet have each a numerical value, that endless attempts have been made to find some man’s name the total value of whose letters make up 666, under the erroneous idea that the beast is “a man,” and 666 the numerical value of that man’s name. Scarcely has anyone noticed that the apostle John does not say, “interpret the number of the beast,” as he surely would have done had it concealed a man’s name, but “count the number of the beast,” thus signifying that it is in the correct understanding of the nature of the number itself that wisdom will be displayed! One brother has pointed out that the least probable of all interpretations are the attempts of many interpreters to find in the cipher 666 the name of one or another of the conspicuous characters of modern history. All such are merely guesses and speculations, and somewhat wild ones at that!

The truth is, we can never fully comprehend the reality to which the spirit of inspiration points until we compare this mark, this number in the forehead, with the very next verse — Revelation 14:1. Remember, in the original there are no chapter or verse divisions. It is a continuous flow, and no sooner does John finish with this mark, this number in the forehead of those who worship the beast and his image, than he says, “And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with Him an hundred and forty-four thousand, having His father’s name written in their foreheads.” The contrast is between 666 and 144,000. That is the mystery! Yet, the number 144,000 is not written in their foreheads, only the Father’s name is written in the forehead! Six is the number of the natural man, and we will speak more of this later. 144,000 is the number of divine government. In reality, twelve is the number of divine government, and twelve squared by itself and multiplied by one thousand is divine government brought to its absolute fullest, totality, and perfection!

As I have mentioned, six is the number of the natural man. The natural man is a beastly man, his power is the power of the flesh, his intelligence is that of the dust realm, his thinking is earthly, his nature is beastly, his ability and authority are limited, and all this describes not only the natural man but also the character of that religious system which rises up out of the soulical nature of this man. Six is the number of toil, works, self-effort, sweat, and fatigue. In that long-ago covenant of God with His earthly people He commanded them, “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work.” Even earlier the Lord had told the sinful Adam, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee…in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground” (Gen. 3:17-19). The full week is not expressed in the six, but in the number seven. The seventh day is the day of man’s rest, when he rests as God rested, when he enters into God’s rest and rests with Him, thus experiencing ultimate unity, union, and oneness with God in the fullness of HIS LIFE. The seventh day was hallowed, made sacred. In it man realizes his divinity, his divine nature, the new creation man — Christ. But the seven is lacking in the six! Therefore six speaks of the fullness of man, man in all his powers, but without God, apart from God! Have you ever wondered who it was that taught the world that every grave should be dug six feet deep? A common expression for stating that a man is dead is to say that “he is six feet under.” It is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of this fundamental truth: The natural man is a dead man — dead to God, dead to truth, dead to reality, dead to spiritual and heavenly life. In Adam he has descended into the classification of the lower creatures — the beasts. And natural men, educated natural men, natural men with high degrees from prestigious universities behind their names — anthropologists, biologists, and scientists of various disciplines — are often only able to see the animalistic life of the natural man, and therefore espouse the unenlightened theory of evolution! From the day of Adam’s fall until now his thoughts, his works, his inventions have only been beastly.

Six being the number of the natural man, and also the number denoting the toil, work, effort, sweat, and fatigue of that man, can we not see that 666 is the more than one-hundredfold accumulation of the number six, representing nothing other than the never-ending, never rest-attaining labor and toil of man’s own working, those self-consuming, self-destroying but non-attaining WORKS OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS which are the hallmark of all of man’s religion! The number 666 is therefore the symbolical number of all the false churches, all the self-driving, all the flesh-oriented programs, running, working, organizing, doing, doing, doing, but never coming under the leadership of the Spirit or the divine government of the mind of Christ!

We are marking out the character of wisdom, because wisdom is what directs one to spiritual understanding, which in turn gives the ability to calculate, discern, understand — count the number of the beast! To count the number means to know the quality or nature of that which the number stands for. The man who is unable to count, discover, or understand the nature of the beast as revealed by his number is not a wise man! He is devoid of understanding, and is, therefore, a foolish man. Wisdom sees all things as they really are! There are no illusions and no delusions with wisdom!

As I stated previously, for many decades and centuries God’s people have been speculating about this strange phenomenon John describes as the “mark of the beast.” Yet there is a depth in this that goes far beyond what many of us have imagined! Revelation 13:17 lists three alternatives, two in addition to what most Christians have heard of. Let us see! “…that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Notice the three alternatives. (1) the mark of the beast (2) the name of the beast (3) the number of his name. It is indeed remarkable that the Holy Spirit speaks of “the number” of the name of the beast; that is, the number representing and standing for the name. Why not be content with the name itself? John might have been satisfied with the knowledge that the “name” of the beast, whatever it be, must be a name which expresses the inner nature of the beast; and he may have said no more. But the Holy Spirit revealed a further detail — not the name alone, but the number of the name — a most profound depth of insight into the nature of the beast!

No man could “know” the name written upon the white stone given to him that overcometh “save he that receiveth it.” In other words, no one but an overcomer can have that experience which enables him to truly comprehend the “new name” — the nature of God wrought within. The world can never understand the man who has received the call to sonship. Much less the new nature itself! What strange mysterious element is there in the nature of the new creation man that keeps him pressing relentlessly onward toward an invisible goal when friend and foe alike tell him that he is a fool to continue pursuing a vision which brings him nothing but misunderstanding, separation, persecution, tribulation, loneliness, and friendlessness? The inner command to completely and forever forsake the corrupted courts of Mystery Babylon to put on the mind of Christ, to be conformed to the image of the Son, and to know the wonder and glory of sonship to God, makes him endure the cross, despise the shame, incur the scorn of fellow Christians and the wrath of the church systems, scoff at tribulation, and count every loss to himself as a gain for Christ. Ah, such a walk can never be understood by any save “he that receiveth it!” Oh, yes! The glory of sonship to God is worthy to be written on pages of gold with the ink of silver, but none of earth’s vaunting philosophers and theologians can ever comprehend such truth and character and divine purpose as lies within the Christ-nature!

In contrast to this, those who are partakers of the nature of the beast do not “know the name” stamped upon them, do not discern the character they bear, and have no idea of the carnality and deceitfulness of the nature and system in which they walk, for they are deceived. “And he doeth great wonders…and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth…” So many people today are worrying about what the mark of the beast is going to be. They themselves have taken that mark! The very fact of their not knowing what that mark is proves they have taken it, for only deceived people receive it! History reveals how that during the inquisitions and persecutions by the Roman Church in past centuries, many believers who would recant to escape torture or death were branded on either the hand or forehead, or both, with a cross, even as cattle are branded to denote ownership. But that visible mark, which allowed those who took it to live and carry on ordinary business pursuits, was merely an outward mark to denote that they now subscribed to and upheld the doctrines of Rome and the deceptions of the wild, ravenous beast. Bearing a more subtle form of the mark, the whole realm of organized Christianity today subscribes to those same kinds of doctrines, traditions, rituals, and deceptions in varying degrees.

Those who walk in carnal minds and dead-letter-of-the-word understanding of the things of God can never understand what the mark is! Those imbued with the spirit and nature of the bestial religious system of man bear the mark of the beast but are completely devoid of understanding of what it is! But HERE IS WISDOM: Let him that hath understanding COUNT the number of the beast! Such understanding comes alone by revelation! There are two marks — the mark of the Father’s name and the mark of the beast — and it takes a revelation to know either! As it takes revelation from on high to know the “new name” of the Christ, so it takes revelation from God to count the “number of the name of the beast!”

One of the earliest occurrences of the symbolic use of this mysterious number — 666 — is in the primitive case of the giant who defied the armies of the Lord in the days of David — Goliath of Gath. This man symbolized the bestial system of the world. Goliath was six cubits (and a span) tall (more than nine feet). His spearhead weighed 600 shekels of iron. “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” asked David (I Sam. 17:26). David’s glorious victory over Goliath beautifully typifies the victory of Christ and His body over the bestial system. The persistence of the number six in the family as well as the stature and equipment of Goliath is one of the keys to the understanding of the “number” of the beast. Goliath had a brother of great stature who significantly had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot! (II Sam. 21:20-22). Such information is by no means coincidental, but the events were planned and orchestrated by the Spirit of God and are written for our instruction, learning, and admonition upon whom are come the ends of the ages!

The full significance of the number 666 however, is disclosed in the book of Daniel in the account of King Nebuchadnezzar’s great image set up in the plain of Dura, of dimensions sixty by six cubits. “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold whose height was three-score cubits and the breadth thereof six cubits” (Dan. 3:1) Goliath grows in dimensions and in importance the nearer we get to New Testament times. The image on the plain of Dura is ten times the dimensions of Goliath, and the number of the beast in Revelation, chapter thirteen, is ten times that of the image of Nebuchadnezzar! The connection in history and prophecy is clear and certain.

Prior to the erection of this golden image King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a great image and was told by Daniel that the dream was a revelation from God of the course of human history from that time all the way down to the day when the kingdom of God should be established in the earth. The image Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream had a head of gold, and according to Daniel’s interpretation that head of gold was the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar himself! “Thou art this head of gold” (Dan. 2:38). The dream-image traced the rise and fall of the four great empires of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome, which dominated the civilized world, in succession, right down to the day when Christ came into the world and forever changed the course of history, establishing a kingdom among men which is eternal and heavenly and which therefore could not pass away, but must grow, develop, increase, and ultimately conquer and destroy all worldly power in the course of its redemptive, reconstructive, and transformative purpose.

History reveals the accuracy of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s interpretation. The image of world empire with all its power and pride was brought down to nothing by the power of the WORD OF GOD! All this was clearly made known to Nebuchadnezzar, but rather than bowing before the majesty of the God of heaven who gave even him his authority and kingdom, his importance as the “head of gold” went to his head and he was blinded by his own importance and glory. Deceived by the falseness of his own heart he sought to grasp after the worldly glory that was his, and filled with delusions of grandeur he began construction of an immense image of gold which he set up in the plain of Dura. Its precise measurements — sixty by six cubits — showed the impressive dimensions of his pride, as he modeled the image after the one in his dream, but instead of making the head alone of gold, he made the whole image of gold, usurping all the power and pride of all kingdoms UNTO HIMSELF! He forgot the prophet’s warning — “Thou art this head of gold…the God of heaven HATH GIVEN THEE a kingdom, power, strength, and glory…” and lifted up his heart in self-pride, usurping the glory of God, taking that which was given by God and using it to his own ends and for the glorification of HIMSELF, requiring that all mankind should worship HIS IMAGE whenever they heard the music of his pretentious orchestra. The worship of the image meant in fact the worship of himself, who designed and built the image.

It is a horrible blasphemy against God to exalt the flesh and the world of man, in the place of God, and to take the high and holy things of God and use them for the promotion of SELF. And do not think for one moment, precious friend of mine, that the error of Nebuchadnezzar has not been repeated again and again throughout church history, and especially in this our day! Hear now these sobering and anointed words which some years ago came across my desk and are just as true today (if not more) as they were then:

“There is a great and damning fault among Christians which seems to be past explanation. It is a fault that has developed and grown more grotesque as the years have come and gone. Men and women have come to desire and covet spiritual things, not for the glory of God and the honor of His eternal purpose, but that they themselves might become great men in the earth. Many a man has spent long periods in fasting that he might attain a great spiritual gift, yet all the time he is supposedly seeking the gift, his talk shows that his mind is full of hope that he will become a great and powerful minister to whom people will look with awe and pride. This is wrong seeking and a very great evil. Many a man has sought after the gift of healing — not because he was burdened for the sick, but because the gift would bring him honor among the people. He expected that it would bring him crowds and fame and money. Oh, let men search their hearts before they ask God lest they ask amiss to consume it upon their own lusts (James 4:3).

“Man is not satisfied by possessing earthly things. He secretly wants to possess the things of God as well and that for himself apart from God. Why did Nadab and Abihu wickedly offer strange fire before the Lord? Did they not want to possess for themselves what only God possessed? Why did Simon, the sorcerer, offer money for the gift that Peter had? He cared nothing for God, but in the gall of his bitterness and the bond of his rebellion he wanted to possess for himself something that belonged only to God and must not be had apart from Him. Do you not think that this strange desire exists today? Do men desire the gifts of God to bring all glory to God, or do they covet them as a means of self-promotion and self-exaltation? How is it that so many men who seem to have gifts from God soon become the center of a little universe of their own where all roads lead to them and all fingers point in their direction? Let us face it. Men not only want to gather temporal things about themselves, but they also crave to have eternal things for themselves and to possess them in themselves and for the benefit and glory of themselves. The carnal mind is an eternal enemy of God! It is a beastly mind! It refuses to become subject to the law of God, and indeed it is powerless to do so. But it secretly desires the things of God, wisdom, righteousness, and power, so that it may be AS GOD.

“The whole church system itself is not one whit different. At the present time the existing church system appears to be making significant gains all over the world. Probably more people go to church than ever before in history, but, while numbers increase and costly buildings are erected in ever increasing and lavish profusion, while world-wide efforts costing billions are the thing of the day, the people for the most part have lost their sense of the majesty of God. Gaudily clad worldlings talk glibly about being born again; they speak with tongues, honor the pope, and even join their voices with those who hail Mary as the mother of God. Full well do they fulfill the words of Jesus spoken to the church of Laodicea, ‘Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked’ (Rev. 3:17). God’s counsel to all who are joy-riding with the system is: ‘Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see’ (Rev. 3:18). The gains of the church system have practically all been external gains and the fearful loss has been internal. The beauty of the life in the Spirit has been exchanged for the luxury of fine temples with comfortable pews. The songs which once swelled from hearts filled with God’s Spirit and holiness are now on the hit parade, being popularized by unsanctified professionals from Hollywood or Las Vegas. It is an enormous, degenerating calamity! It is an abomination that maketh desolate!” — The Page.

To Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Daniel said, “Thou art this head of gold.” But Nebuchadnezzar took the glory conferred by God and used it to deify himself! He built his own image and commanded men to worship it. His image was all of gold, the gold of the great city of Babylon. All its wealth was the wealth of the world, mined and fashioned by the hands of men. And was this not what the devil offered Jesus when he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, saying, “All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Mat. 4:8-9). Ah — the same voice heard centuries before on the plain of Dura! And it is heard still. It is reckoned with today BY ALL WHO WOULD FOLLOW ON TO KNOW THE LORD. Oh, yes!

An image has been erected on the modern plain of Dura, by the modern king of Babylon, the image of the beast, and just as in Daniel’s day, the beast causes all who will not bow the knee and pay homage to this image of the beast should be killed — cut off. Thank God! There is in our day a remnant, a Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego company who refuse to bend the knee or to pay any homage to the beast or his image! The ultimate test for every son of God is just this: What will he do with what he receives from the Lord? Will he use it to his own ends, for his own profit and exaltation, or will he, like Abraham of old, offer it as a sacrifice upon the altar of full obedience to God? Every man and woman who has received the call to sonship will sooner or later face this test, and how he or she deals with it will determine whether he or she stands in his or her place among the manifest sons of God or whether he or she becomes just another one of the many antichrists.

The self-exalting spirit is not the Spirit of God — it is the spirit of the golden-gilded monstrosity of Babylon. By it millions are deceived to flock to the charisma of covetous men. If you will listen to these modern-day Nebuchadnezzars, these self-appointed kings of Babylon, you will seldom see the humility of God’s Christ, but the showmanship and arrogance of one who purports to be the very power of God. It is given them to give life unto the image of the beast and cause the image of the beast to speak. This image speaks great swelling words, professing to be some specially chosen vessel, commissioned to bring the gospel to the whole world in these last days. To listen to their glowing reports and exaggerated testimonies one would be led to believe that just about the whole world is turning to God and marching to Zion. Yet, I do not hesitate to tell you that if their human effort, their public relations companies, their monthly fund-raising letters, their begging for money, their lavish fund-raising seminars in the world’s plushest resort hotels, and their abominable gimmicks were taken away, their programs would collapse before year’s end!

Now let us return to our previous thought of the “number of his name” — 666. On that distant day upon the plain of Dura Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide. Throughout the book of Revelation the number seven is prominent as the sacred number of completeness and perfection. The contents of the book opened by the Lamb is contained under seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials — a trinity of sevens. It is in this book that the “number” of the beast is also represented as a trinity of sixes, and the contrast, as well as the intrinsic meaning of the number, intimates, that whatever else it may be, it is a perfect number of imperfection, or rather a number denoting perfect or absolute imperfection. In the Bible the number six refers to man — is uniquely a human number. Man was created on the sixth day, man’s appointed days of labor and toil are six, the Hebrew slave was to serve for six years, and for six years the land was to be sown. Six is the number of man’s unredeemed nature, old Adam — THE FLESH! The 666 is then, as it were, the number six swollen, blown up — in its greatest potency — and yet, when increased to the uttermost, it is still no more than six — FLESH! Human nature, that is, the natural man, old Adam, always falls short of the sacred number seven, the fullness of divine power, glory, and perfection. And try as it may, it can never be more than the lesser six — which is also the broken twelve — the broken government of God! It is therefore the rule of the flesh!

The number then is important, not the name. We are never actually given the “name” of the beast, but we understand the name by the number of the name. We listen to the words, “His number is six hundred sixty six,” and we have enough to make us tremble. It is flesh raised to an exceedingly high level of manifestation! In this number there is a depth of perverseness, pride, presumption, self-righteousness, religiosity, deceit, carnality, and shame which no one can “know” except him to whom it is revealed by the blazing light and deep searching of the Spirit of God. David, understanding something of the awful depth of the wickedness of the human heart cried out, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24).

Perhaps now the enlightened mind can understand how it is that from the very beginning, when Adam was banished from the blessed garden of God, six has been the number of man’s labor apart from God’s rest! And oh! how man labors! The carnal mind is always contriving new ways to work “for” God. In this hour we are continually being admonished to “get involved,” get involved in politics, get involved in the church programs, get involved in community activities, or in a hundred different things. “Christians should be involved!” they say. The church system is crying for people to become involved in her activities, and her programs are legion, but in all this cry for involvement I hear very little being said about GETTING INVOLVED WITH GOD! The Lord’s command to the apostles was, “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” In simple language this means to do nothing until you are so yielded to God that He can work THROUGH YOU! The firstborn Son of God said that He did only those things He saw His Father do, and spoke only those words He heard from His Father. Does that not explain why He spent thirty years in Nazareth, the place of no good thing, doing nothing so far as His sonship ministry was concerned? Ah, He was not really doing nothing, for He was growing in stature, and in wisdom, and in favor with God and man. He was becoming! The Father was not showing Him any great works or speaking to Him words to be uttered in the hearing of men. He waited for the “time” of His showing to Israel, and until that day His only “involvement” was with His Father!

As one has written, “Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.” But the beast will have none of this! He is busily engaged in his own human effort and grandiose program and has no time to seek God, no time to wait upon God, and no time to become that son that the Father’s heart is yearning for. Even if he holds a Wednesday night “prayer meeting” it never seems to be a prayer meeting, but becomes a teaching session, testimony service, planning discussion, or something else. Other than a formal opening and dismissing prayer, there is nothing there that will transform men or move the heart of God.

Let anyone reading this who has had experience on a church board in the organized church systems try to recall the times when the board waited upon God and truly consulted the Lord until He revealed His will in the matters under discussion! Or try to remember the times when any chairman suggested that the brethren should fast and pray and wait in holy brokenness before God to see what instructions the Holy Ghost had for them on a particular question. Board meetings are habitually opened with a formal prayer or a brief “season of prayer,” after which the Head of the church is respectfully silent while the real rulers take over!

What church committee goes to the Holy Spirit for direction? Do not the members invariably assume that they already know what they are supposed to do and that their only problem is to find effective means to get it done? Plans, rules, literature, visitation, fund-raising dinners and projects, guest speakers, entertainment, concerts, dramas, advertising, music, and all kinds of inventive methodological techniques to promote the “work” of God absorb all their time and attention. The prayer at the beginning of the meeting is for divine help to carry out their plans! Apparently the idea that the Lord might have some instructions for them never so much as enters their heads. After all — who ever heard of “waiting on the Lord” or expecting to “hear from God” in a committee meeting!

What foreign mission board actually seeks to obtain and follow the guidance of the Lord? They all think they do, certainly, but what they do in fact is to assume the scripturalness of their ends and then ask the Lord for help to find ways to achieve them. They may pray all night (not likely!) for God to give success to their enterprises, but Christ is desired as their helper, not their Lord. Human means are devised to achieve ends assumed to be divine. These then crystallize into “policy,” and thereafter the Lord doesn’t even have a vote!

In the conduct of meetings where is the Lordship of Christ to be found? The truth is that today the Lord rarely controls a service, and the influence He exerts is very small. We sing of Him, clap to Him, and preach about Him, but He must not interfere; we will worship our way, and go through our time-honored forms, rituals, and ceremonies, and it must be right because we have always done it that way, as have the other churches in our sect. And those in the so-called “move of the Spirit” and “sonship” and “kingdom” walk are generally not much further advanced. Doesn’t everyone know that a meeting must begin with a few choruses, followed by singing in the spirit and a brief season of worship, and then is the time for a prophecy or two? A few more choruses, a little more worship, prayer, announcements, offering, and the sermon, following which the pastor or guest minister gives an “altar call” and/or operates in his “gift.” Don’t be deceived, brethren, we have created our very own little pattern, our unique little form, our “Spirit-led” SYSTEM! Surely, beloved, you cannot miss the obvious “number of his name” in all of this — 666 — flesh, FLESH, F-L-E-S-H! Oh, yes, even in the high places of God the flesh grasps after the things of the Spirit for the promotion of SELF. The carnal mind is always desirous of spiritual gifts. It likes to appear honored of God and accepted. That is why there are so many false prophets, false teachers, false healers, and false miracle workers in the world. Men who love people to think they are the great power of God will, in spite of all their apparent wonders, hear God tell them on that day, “I never knew you!” “I was never intimately acquainted with you!”

The beast out of the earth is the religious system that arises out of the soulical nature of man. While we once looked about for a laser-tattooed identification number, or a microchip in the forehead to be the “mark of the beast” — was it not truly there for us to see all along, for John plainly told us, “HERE IS WISDOM. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the NUMBER OF MAN and HIS NUMBER IS SIX HUNDRED, THREE SCORE AND SIX.” Now, I am aware that the King James Bible says that “it is the number of a man,” but the indefinite article “a” is supplied by the translators and is not necessarily included in the Greek, since that language has no indefinite article. It can quite well be translated without an article at all, as in Psalm 8:4, “What is man (not a man), that thou art mindful of him?” In our text the word for “man” is not Adam, but anthropos, meaning “a human being; humanity; human-kind.” It denotes the human race as against any other species of being. The Concordant New Testament correctly translates it, “for it is the number of mankind.” Anthropos is the word used in II Timothy 3:17 wherein we read, “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” “Man of God” is not referring to a particular man, or one single man, but rather to every man of God. It is a corporate expression denoting a company of men. Likewise, the number of the beast is not referring to one man; it’s every man who possesses a soulical nature capable of spawning religious attitudes, actions, traditions, and systems! Thus we see that the number of the beast that is called the number of a “man” is the number or nature of a “corporate man” or set of men and not one man we are to look for. This “man” is already here and has been here from the dawn of history! He has found a unique expression since Christ birthed His church in the earth, bringing forth in the midst of the Lord’s people another system, a beastly religious system calling itself “the church” and which bears a striking resemblance to the Lamb of God but speaks words which sound like the voice of the dragon!

In the case where a number is used to denote the characteristics or the nature of a thing, the article is unnecessary. With this understanding the statement, instead of being an insoluble puzzle, becomes perfectly clear. The number of the beast is the nature of the beast, and the number 666 is shown to be the NATURE OF MAN! Not “a” man, but MANKINDALL NATURAL MEN! It signifies the measure of man, that is, his inward state of being manifested by his outward actions, and how these are perceived by those about him. As the wise man wrote, “I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, that they might see that they themselves are beasts” (Eccl. 3:18). “Here is wisdom — let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast.” The one who is wise is the one who within himself has this living understanding that the nature of the beast is also the nature of man! Therefore, the nature or character of “religion” and the carnal church system is — FLESHLY!

The power that initiates this marking of all mankind with the bestial nature is the dragon — that ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan. Can we not see by this that it was in Eden that the mark was first impressed upon mankind! The terrible truth is that a man with no God-consciousness, having never been quickened by the washing of regeneration, walking only in his own carnal understanding and perceptions, obeying the animal instincts that lurk in his members, that man, I say, in the quality of his life is no better than a beast! If you don’t believe that, then you have not come to an understanding of the truth. Remember this — not all beasts are wild! Some beasts are domesticated. Some of these domesticated beasts have degrees behind their names and teach in our schools, universities, and seminaries. Others of these likeable, loveable, domesticated beasts run for political office and hold positions in our government! Others have attained to positions in the church systems of man and are called “Father” or “Reverend.” There are good beasts, smart beasts, cute beasts, entertaining beasts, cunning beasts, wise beasts, hard working beasts, faithful beasts, but they are still beasts. I do not hesitate to say that we are living in a world of beasts! That’s the mark of the natural man, of the human nature, of the Adamic consciousness. A man apart from union with God, for better or for worse, is no better than a beast.

The mark of the beast is not the myth fabricated by the church systems, it is not something imposed by government from some scientific world of computers and computer chips. In the 1960’s computers were the new, nightmarish things, and when people talked about computers they would whisper, “Ah, have you heard about the beast?” There was supposedly a huge computer in Brussels that had everybody’s name and number in the whole world! The wild speculations of religious deceivers went from there to the universal product code. “Why, that code is of the antichrist,” they chortled. “You see these two black lines here, those two black lines there — that is 666, the mark of the beast!”

I can hardly wait for that new identity chip because, you see, the joke will be on them — it will represent a mistaken identity, for they don’t know my true identity, because I have been born of God, God is my Father, and I am a son of God, a new creation species of Christ! A chip in old Adam’s forehead can in no way affect my true identity of the Christ-life that I am! I’ve already had my identity change. For me to live is Christ, for Christ is my life. You can put all the chips you want to in my fleshly forehead, or tattoo, or laser any mark you choose and it will not change one iota who I really am. The mark of the beast is already in the forehead of the old natural human identity. The moment we fall back into the old carnal, earthly, natural, human, Adamic way of thinking about ourselves and the world, and act out of that mind-set, the nature (mark) of the beast is manifest. Does this not show that any literal mark applied by man has no power whatever to either add to, or take away from, that which is already there?

In dealing with issues so vast and extensive as those we have considered in these messages on THE BEAST OUT OF THE EARTH, I am well aware that I have passed over many wonderful truths of overwhelming importance. As the beastly spirit has been uncovered, and the beastly religious system unmasked, my great concern has been that beyond it all men might truly, as never before, SEE THE LORD! My deepest desire is to know Christ, not antichrist. I want to know not just about Him, I want to intimately and fully KNOW HIM! The deepest cry of my heart is that the Holy Spirit will take the things of Christ and make them real to me. Therefore I am more interested in CHRIST than I am in the beast, and I am more concerned about the MARK OF GOD than I am with anything that pertains to the mark of the beast!

We stand before God in truth as did the queen of Sheba before Solomon as we read in I Kings 10:4-5, “And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her.” There is no more of our own spirit within us as we are melted before the revelation of the glory of the Lord in this great day of the Lord! For those who have received the call to sonship, incomplete as the present revelation is, yet we find that God is beginning to cause us to realize something of the magnitude and wonder of the work He is doing within our own beings as He brings His many sons to glory.

No man who ever lived walked more faithfully with God than our Lord Jesus Christ, and none was ever endued with so great an anointing as He. Mighty were the signs and wonders that followed the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, yet even that bountiful outpouring was given by measure, the mere “earnest” of the Spirit; but of Jesus Christ, the firstborn Son of God, it is written, “God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him” (Jn. 3:34). Time an again I have marveled at the wisdom with which He spoke, the nature in which He walked, and the power with which He ministered!

In the Gospel of John, chapter five, Jesus has come up to Jerusalem to attend the feast. As He reaches the city He comes to the Pool of Bethesda and looks into the pool. There are five porches around that pool. He passes through the porches, and at last comes to a poor man, sick for thirty-eight years, who has been pushed away from the sacred spring. The man is lying there miserable and weary and we can imagine the unutterable cry of his heart, “Oh, Yahweh Rophekha! Yahweh my healer! Hast Thou come to earth? Is it true that Thou hast come to save us? Oh, Yahweh Rophekha! Hast Thou come to open the eyes of the blind, to give hearing to the deaf, and to make the lame to walk? Oh, Christ of God! Hast Thou no hope for me?” He pauses as he hears the Voice. “Wilt thou be made whole?” And he looks up into the face of a Man who is looking down at him, asking that strange question, “Wilt thou be made whole?”

Now you can imagine a man in this condition, who has been carried there for over thirty years, turning around and saying, “What is the use of asking me such a question? My mother carried me here to this pool when I was a baby, my father brought me here when he could. The hands of those who loved me best are moldering in the grave, and I have only a few friends to carry me here now. But others push me back and when the water is moved I cannot get down to the pool. But I still hope. I have been thirty-eight years sick. Of course I am willing to be made whole! Why would you ask me such a question?” That’s what a man today probably would have answered. “Why of course I am willing!” But he doesn’t talk like that. The Man that is speaking to him has said, “Wilt thou be made whole?” and there goes right down into his heart a strange sensation, his whole being vibrates like a harp when every string is touched by a master hand. That Voice is unlike anything he ever heard. “Wilt thou be made whole?” Gently he explains that he has no man to help put him into the pool, but that others when he is coming, step down before him. Then he waits with his eyes fixed on the Man who has so strangely appealed to his will, for perhaps this Stranger is a good man who will tarry with him and help him into the water. He gets ready — but the very next moment he hears the Voice of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life, of Him who is the Lord of lords and King of kings say, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk!” And in a moment there comes into his body with that Word, power; and he rises, takes up that bedroll, rolls it up and walks home, set free from the bonds of Satan who has bound him for thirty-eight years.

Precious friend of mine, ponder if you will, this solemn inquiry: Have you truly seen and met Jesus the Christ? Has the Holy Spirit ever revealed to you that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God? Has He come to you, not as a man in the streets of ancient Jerusalem, but in mighty spirit-power to deal a death-blow to the works of the flesh and of the devil in your life, to renew your mind, transform your nature, and completely and forever make you whole in the image of God? If you have seen Him even through a glass darkly, you will be as Isaiah who wrote, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: and one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” If we see Him in this way, we will cry as Isaiah did, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

Thank God that is not the end of the story! I earnestly pray that God will give a spirit of true humility to all who read these lines, for we recognize the weakness and uncleanness of our outer man, the flesh. I know, as all honest hearts know, that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. But our Father has the remedy! Not only does He heal the lame by the Pool of Bethesda, causing him to stand tall and walk in the strength of manhood, but He heals every member of His body from all the impotency, blemishes, and corruption of the Adamic consciousness and raises up within us the image of God and the glory of Christ that we may walk tall and confident as God-men in the earth. Any man who sees the glory of God and longs to be rid of the filth of his flesh and the wretched defilement of the bestial system of the world will certainly cry with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24). The same Isaiah who made the humble and honest confession quoted above went on to reveal God’s goodness and greatness to usward. “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me!” Thus has the Lord revealed that when His purging process is complete in His apprehended sons, the hour of their sending forth will quickly follow. Even in the darkness of this dread day all creation is standing on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of God’s sons coming into their own! And truly we ourselves do groan within ourselves, waiting for the hour of unveiling, the manifestation of the sons of God!

Years later Isaiah revealed the faithfulness of the Lord unto His called and chosen elect. “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; thy shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Do you see the Christ high and lifted up upon the throne in your temple? What part does He have in your life? “Oh,” you say, “I am a member of the church. I attend its services, I take its communion, I participate in its outreaches, I sing psalms, I have had hands laid on me, I have gifts of the Spirit, I prophesy, and I believe in miracles!” You can have all these things and never see Christ! When we see Christ, my friend, neither heaven above nor earth beneath can find terms grand enough to express the wonder of His presence, or the miracle of His transforming power that comes into our lives with His Word, or the hope of His sonship revealed within us, for in seeing Him we are eternally changed into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another! Oh, the wonder of it!

To be continued…

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 157

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
(A study in Book of Revelation Part 157) by J. Preston Eby.

THE BEAST OUT OF THE EARTH (continued)
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (Rev. 13:16).

A comparison of various scripture passages shows that the words “token,” “sign,” “seal,” “name,” and “mark” are used in the Bible as synonymous terms. Thus, “the SEAL of God in the forehead” (Rev. 7:3), “the Father’s NAME in the forehead” (Rev. 14:1), and “the MARK of the beast in the forehead” (Rev. 13:16) all indicate the same principle at work. In this case it is not some literal mark to be made in the flesh, but a state of being in mind and nature which serves as a “mark of distinction” between those who are GOD’S and those who are of the bestial religious system of man.

When God gave Moses instructions for the keeping of the Passover feast, He said, “And thou shalt show thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt (the beastly world system)” (Ex. 13:9). The keeping of the Passover was like a sign on the hand and forehead, a mark, a reminder that the law — the ways and nature of the Lord — should always be upon their lips and in their hearts and lived out in the conduct of their daily lives.

The deep and hidden mysteries of God are never discovered by the investigations or probings of the natural mind because they pertain to a realm beyond the reach of the natural. Only by the spirit of wisdom and revelation from on high can we perceive the depth of meaning contained in the counsel of the Lord to Moses as He continued to instruct him respecting the observance of the Passover. “And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: and it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…and it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt” (Ex. 13:14-16). Again, the mark upon the hand and the forehead; not a little plastic card, nor a brand or a tattoo upon their flesh, nor a computer chip under their skin, but a taking into their MIND of the law of the Lord and a binding upon their hand — the OUTER ACTIONS — bespeaking the fulfilling of His law in all their doings.

Who among us would not willingly have our hand cut off or our forehead stripped of skin if anything so obvious and simple as that separated us from the glory of God? Thus, in the book of Revelation two ways are revealed: the way of the SEAL OF GOD and the way of the MARK OF THE BEAST! And each finds its reality in two areas — on the one hand, the seal of God in the “forehead” signifies the mind of Christ, and the seal of God upon the “hand” signifies the godly and spiritual way of doing things, in all outward actions. On the other hand, the mark of the beast in the “forehead” signifies the carnal mind, the beastly way of thinking, and the mark of the beast upon the “right hand” signifies the fleshly way of doing things, in all outward actions, especially religious actions.

Except in the case of left-handed persons, the “right hand” is the one generally used. Certainly if one pays homage to the bestial religious system of man, he will lend a hand of assistance to that organization. He will promote its programs, cooperate in its activities, be faithful in attendance to its gatherings, and support it with his money. By doing this he receives the symbolic “mark” in his “right hand,” which is the hand of service. By this course of action he reveals what sort of religious personality he is, and betrays thereby that he is not committed to a pure walk in the Spirit of God nor to service in the spiritual kingdom of God. The underlying principle is that if you want the religious system to “do business” with you, you must “do business” with it! You must lend your best hand to its aid and maintenance, and make an open-face appearance, detectable in your personality, to show that you belong to it as your owner and master.

How well I remember sitting on the platform of a large Charismatic meeting many years ago. I had been attending a weekly luncheon with some of the pastors in the city, and we were cooperating with this meeting in the hope that through fellowship with these people we might be able to reach some of them with the word of reconciliation, sonship, and the kingdom. A well known minister from a large Charismatic church on the west coast was the guest speaker. After giving his testimony, he called those with needs to the platform for prayer. With great flourish he entered into his “word of knowledge” routine by which he revealed to various ones what their problems were. I had sensed, all through the ministry that night, something strange. Like a lightning bolt from the sky, the Spirit spoke from within myself, “This is not of me — this man is operating in a psychic gift, not by the mind of the Spirit of God!” Then followed this piercing inquiry, “What are YOU doing here?” At that moment I would have welcomed a trap door to open beneath me, permitting me to just quickly and silently disappear! At that rebuke from the Lord I learned a valuable lesson — we do not make people pure by mingling with their mixture! We do not overcome the beast, by sitting at his table, partaking with him!

Therefore, we desire the seal of God upon our lives rather than the mark of the carnal, beastly nature of religion! When one insists on living after the carnal guidance of the bestial system, he takes upon himself the mark of the beastly mind, which is spiritual death. If one then lives in his outward actions out of that carnal religious mind-set and not after the revelation and leadership of the Spirit, he takes upon himself the mark of the beast in his right hand. No man by carnal wisdom or soulical strength can do the works of God! But to be spiritually minded and strong in the power of HIS MIGHT reveals the glory of the Lord in the land of the living!

Oh, how beautiful is the mark of the Father’s name upon the forehead! And let me tell you something. Everyone who has that mark has overcome the other mark! John the beloved makes this plain when he says, “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God” (Rev. 15:2). Beyond any doubt this group standing upon the sea of glass is the same 144,000 that John previously saw standing with the Lamb upon mount Zion, for they, too, had the harps of God and had the Father’s name written in their foreheads!

Oh, how grotesque is the mark of the beast upon the lives of men! It has a thousand different expressions, but I was greatly impressed by reading a little article by Bob Robin in which he shared this observation and experience: “Most religions are eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in every service. A young girl was brought to the nurse in the compound where I was staying. After a night of suffering as the fetus was breached, and the nurse could not turn it, the next morning I preached the parents and the young husband a sermon. According to their religion, they thought it was a sin to ride in a car. I told them God wasn’t killing the girl; the devil wasn’t killing her, but their religion was. I had to use an interpreter because the family spoke only German. I finally got them into the car and took them to Durango to the hospital. They were extremely frightened, thinking that lightning or something terrible would happen to them because they were riding in a car. But, in a very few minutes after we arrived at the hospital, the baby was delivered and the mother lived. Religion would have killed her!

“Many are raised in a religion where it is a terrible sin to go to a movie. I was raised with that kind of thinking. I asked my parents to go with me to see ‘The Ten Commandments.’ My father replied, ‘Why son, we haven’t attended a movie since we have been saved.’ I told them that it was time they did. My folks reluctantly went with me. My father entered the theatre looking like he had just robbed the First National Bank. But, when we got inside the lights were still on, and dad saw many people from their church there. The picture changed his whole attitude.

“Many times I have seen sincere people crawling on their hands and knees to the Church of the Virgin of Guadalupe, blood flowing from their skinned knees. How terrible is that TREE OF RELIGION! Martin Luther was on the steps of Pilate (which had been imported from Jerusalem to Saint Peter’s in Rome). Going up the steps which had all kinds of sharp rocks on each step, on his knees, he heard, ‘Martin Luther, the just shall live by faith!’ He went back to Germany, and started the Reformation” — end quote.

BUYING AND SELLING
“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Rev. 13:17).

Our good friends of the “futurist” interpretation of Bible prophecy, with their fascinating and best-selling books, persist in their horror stories of days now supposed to be impending when for a very brief period of time (say three and a half years at most) the saints, who refuse to bear in their foreheads the number 666, will be prohibited from engaging in commercial transactions! Sensationalism is always preferred to true spiritual understanding. The fact that many godly men are already in prison, or are prohibited from preaching the gospel in many parts of the world, means nothing at all to writers who either cannot or will not be persuaded that the book of Revelation is a symbolical and SPIRITUAL BOOK, intended to be SPIRITUALLY UNDERSTOOD; and that buying and selling, in the prophetical and spiritual sense, has a much more significant meaning than that of supermarket shopping!

Buying and selling in the spiritual sense has naught to do with the business of commercial trade. The prophet Isaiah faithfully exhorted the Lord’s people, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isa. 55:1). The prophet made it plain that he was not talking about worldly commerce or physical food, but about paying the price spiritually for the “milk” of God’s Word and the “wine” of His unspeakable joy and abounding Life. The wise man counseled: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Prov. 23:23). Literally speaking, we can neither buy nor sell the truth. Yet truth costs! While salvation is the gift of grace, attainment in the kingdom of God has a price tag attached to it. To “buy” the truth, or to “buy” wisdom, instruction, or understanding, means to pay the price to embrace and walk in the truth, and I have learned through many years of experience that the “price” of truth is oft times to simply be willing to “give up” or “sell” an error! Carnal nature must be “given up” or “sold,” exchanged for divine nature! I have also learned that, on another level, the “tuition” in God’s school of experience where one learns wisdom, instruction, and understanding, is sometimes very expensive! To the church at Laodicea, which prided herself that she was rich and increased with goods and had need of nothing, but knew not that she was wretched, poor, blind, and naked, the Lord admonished, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich” (Rev. 3:18).

“Buy of me gold” means to pay the price for the divine nature of our Father to be brought forth in our lives! “Tried in the fire” means that His nature has become an experiential reality within us through the processings of God. It speaks of an intimate, direct encounter with God that causes all that is contrary to His nature to be consumed by the all-consuming fire of His Spirit, resulting in our transformation into the likeness of Christ. Our Lord has called upon His elect, the overcoming sons of God, to buy of Him this gold tried in the fire, that we may be rich! Now there’s a “prosperity message” worth preaching! Now we know what the true riches are! The riches of which He speaks are not the riches of the world, either of money, material things, or of stature, position, fame, or self-glory. All those things are mere tinsel that the baby Christians seek after, the earth dwellers, who mind earthly things, and who worship the beast and his image! The riches of this world corrupt the spiritual man and prevent a manifestation of the true Life of God. The gold that we are to buy of Him represents a life that has been tried and tested, even as gold is refined, to bring forth the qualities of the Christ-life within all who are His called and chosen ones. The gold of which our Lord speaks is symbolic of the divine nature and the divine life of those who put on the Lord Jesus Christ. The gold of the realm of the spirit represents the spiritual riches of the saints, for Christ said that we should buy this gold tried in the fire, “that thou mayest be rich.” Therefore gold represents our true wealth! Jesus pointed out to the multitude gathered at His teaching, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15). Oh, how men seek after things! The man, however who lives and walks in the attributes of God is a rich man indeed! And he has paid a price to obtain his true wealth!

There is a pattern in the book of Revelation that shows that the first use of a word establishes the use and meaning of that word throughout the book. In this case, the first use of the word “buy” is with a spiritual application. To “buy and sell” means, naturally, to engage in the ordinary pursuits of life, and to exchange one item of value for another. If the purpose of the whole vision in the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation is spiritual, then applying this as a symbol on the spiritual plane reveals that those without the distinctive mark of the bestial system have no more recognized standing in the carnal church systems than men who are not allowed to buy or sell have in a community. If one in a particular business has his license revoked, he then has no authority to buy or sell in that industry. In like manner, if the church systems of man do not put their “stamp of approval” upon your life and ministry, you have no authority or standing to “deal” in spiritual things within their precincts! Thus, “selling” as a symbol, spiritually indicates the dealing out of truth, the ministering of the things of the Spirit of God, while “buying” typifies the acceptance of truth, the receiving of the things of God, regardless of the personal cost!

And is it not true that a man of God walking in the Spirit of the Lord and in the blazing light of heaven’s revelation, independent of all the man-made organizations, creeds, methods, and programs of religious Babylon, WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO LABOR AMONG THE CHURCH SYSTEMS, after the truth for which he stands becomes known, or until he should take their mark upon him by joining himself to them? And if he holds meetings in the community, the members of the churches are often warned by their leaders against “buying” — receiving — from this ministry because of his not having the mark or name of the beast. Their ministers are specially marked, for they come trained out of their theological seminaries with the stamp of their respective doctrine and traditions upon them and a license from the sect to engage in its ministry; and those not thus marked or designated HAVE NO PLACE AMONG THEM! Even if there is not much difference in their beliefs and practices, still, a Methodist minister cannot pastor a Baptist Church, nor can an Anglican priest say mass at the Roman Catholic Church! You must bear their mark! Whether a man is a man of God with a heaven-sent message matters nothing at all — you must bear the mark! Some of the Lord’s people bring a few of the old concepts and ways over into this kingdom walk, keeping just enough of it alive so that it enables them to still buy and sell with the folks in the religious systems. Then some of us are just radical enough to make a clean sweep of it all! This also reveals the manner in which the beast causes those who will not worship the image to be killed — an analogous killing; namely, an ecclesiastical cutting off, an excommunication or a repudiation — the absolute refusal to either “buy” or “sell” the things of God with you unless you take upon you THEIR MARK!

Elaine Cook related in one of her writings how John Bunyon, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, was jailed for many years for refusing to obtain a “license” to preach. He refused to take the mark or pay homage to the image of the beastly systems of man, so he was forbidden to deal out the truth and people were kept from obtaining it from him!

How many of my readers would be permitted to “take communion” in most of the churches in your city on Sunday morning? How many could teach a Sunday School class in one of those churches? Ah, matters not whether you are a saint of God, filled with His Spirit, and bearing His Word — you cannot “buy or sell” with them unless you take the mark and pay homage to the image! You see, dear ones, there is not the slightest possibility that I will be invited to say mass at Saint Benedict’s Catholic Church next Sunday. There is absolutely no chance that I will be called to be the “pastor” at First Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, or the Assemblies of God! I do not stay awake nights wondering what I will share next week at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. You see, I don’t bear their mark, neither will I worship their image! And no man can “buy or sell” the spiritual things of God within those man-made institutions save he that has the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. That is the mystery.

The facts just stated are well illustrated by the following circumstances which I borrow from another brother. A number of years ago a precious brother in the ministry went into a certain town to find a place to conduct a series of meetings. He was directed by a Presbyterian lady to their pastor, who, she said, sometimes rented their church facilities for various functions. When he called on the minister and made known his errand, the first question asked him was this, “Are you a member of the Presbyterian Church?” The brother answered in the negative. He did not have the name of the beast. The next question that greeted him was this, “Do you believe the Westminster Confession of Faith to be orthodox?” He answered, “No, sir.” He did not have the mark of the beast. The last question asked was, “Do you belong to any of the various orthodox Protestant denominations?” The brother said, “No.” He did not have the number of his name. The answer was, “You cannot use our building.” You can neither buy nor sell!

Furthermore, organized religion, both Catholic and Protestant, is big business! The Charismatic movement is big business, too! Religion, in fact, is the biggest business in the world today! You and I, if we refuse to subscribe to its mockery, are excluded from carrying on the Father’s business with it. All who refuse to subscribe to the traditions, dogmas, and defilements of the religious systems are ostracized, accused of being heretics, and anathematized in as true a sense as were the martyrs of past ages who refused to bow down to the bestial system of this world!

I have been encouraged and emboldened through many years by the writings of brother Ray Prinzing. In connection with our present subject he wrote, “We would not in any way try to fit another into those dealings which God has with us. But just by the way of example and illustration: When God dealt with us concerning the leaving of religious organized systems, He also made it clear to our own heart that we were never to become involved in a personal kingdom-building program which would involve our being organized as a ‘tax deductible non-profit organization’ so as to appeal to the finances of others for our support. This has been our position over these past years, and while God has led us to send out a lot of literature, it is with our trust in Him alone to provide. True, were we duly organized as non-profit there would be tax benefits for contributors — but it would mean bowing to the system as recognized by the world. By no means do we infer any condemnation for those so organized, for we are in a transition time, and many have been set up for years in a government recognized deductible status, which God has so used. But, as we said, God dealt with us, and ‘if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor’ (Gal. 2:18).”

HERE IS WISDOM
“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six” (Rev. 13:18).

Here is wisdom: Let him that hath understanding count. The wise king Solomon said, “Wisdom is the principal thing,” but, in the same verse he hastily added, “and with all thy getting get understanding” (Prov. 4:7). Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ…may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation…the eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (Eph. 1:17-18). This beautiful prayer of the apostle demonstrates vividly the truth that wisdom is a state of being. We could say it has a “passive” quality — this wisdom comes only from the inworkings of God! Understanding and revelation are spiritual synonyms. Understanding has an “active” quality. The person who has understanding in our text above does something — he COUNTS! The mystery yields only to the understanding, that is spiritual understanding, for Paul prays that our understanding be enlightened by the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus the enlightened understanding equals divine revelation! HERE IS WISDOM: Let him that hath revelation count the number of the beast. It should be evident to all who read these lines that this, too, is wisdom: Let not him who has no revelation attempt to count (decipher the meaning of) the number of the beast! What a word that is!

The key is this beautiful expression: “Here is wisdom.” If it’s wisdom we’re talking about, then it’s not philosophy, it’s not intellect, it’s not seminary training, it’s not mathematics. Notice that our text does not say, “Here is a riddle; let him that is bright solve it,” but plainly states: “Here is wisdom.” Therefore we must have something different! Though one might study and search forever, plying endlessly through mountains of musty volumes, trying to figure out the enigma of this number, he would never come to the correct conclusion, for the carnal man sees through carnal eyes, and having eyes, he sees not, neither does he understand. There is therefore only one word of advice that I can give. Do not try to figure out by much study the marvelous mysteries of God’s word, but CONCENTRATE ON CHRIST. Christ Himself is the truth and beside Him there is no truth. Christ is also the wisdom of God and the apostle tells us that HE is made unto us wisdom. Oh, yes! Wisdom is a Person, and wisdom is a state of being. It is the state of being of the Christ-man. Our knowledge of God and our understanding of the things of God depend entirely upon where we look. Paul penned these significant words to the saints in Colosse, “IN HIM are HID all the treasures of WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE” (Col. 2:3). If you are looking anywhere else beside Christ Himself to understand the mysteries, you are surely looking in the wrong place. Christ Himself is the great treasure house where all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are concealed and garnered up. In Him, and in Him alone, are to be found all the rich blessings which wisdom and knowledge bestow!

The more intimate and vital your relationship with Him, my beloved, the more the truth of the deep things of God will unfold within your heart. But like a choir of bewildered voices, ascending in pitiful petition to God, so those who try to understand the mysteries of God with human reasoning come to cry at last, “Lord, how can we know the truth? Which among this confusion of voices can we believe? Which among this conglomeration of interpretations is right?” There is, thank God! one answer and one only. It is the answer given by Jesus centuries ago. “I AM…the truth!” Seek not the truth from the learnings of men. Seek Christ, for He is the truth! If the Christ Himself does not bear witness within you of the things written even in this message, then lay it aside, put it on the shelf, or file it in file thirteen. As you live in blessed communion with HIM, there will come that inward sense of knowing; the words of life and light that then cross your path from God’s anointed prophets and teachers will strike a responsive chord in the deepest recesses of your spirit, bursting forth with the harmonious melody of understanding! Here is wisdom: Let him that hath understanding, let him that hath revelation — COUNT! It is clear, the mystery has a spiritual meaning. If we have spiritual understanding, we will be able to count (discern the meaning of) the number of the beast. Let us trust the Holy Spirit to make it real to our hearts!

Understanding is an ability and faculty of the mind. Without mind there can be no understanding. A man’s understanding corresponds precisely to the condition, development, or quality of his mind. Every created life form possesses mind, and the understanding of the creature is limited by the quality of its mind. Quality of mind is, basically, an inherited characteristic. For instance, a cat thinks like a cat, knows as a cat, understands as a cat, and acts like a cat because it was born a cat — therefore possessing the brain and mind of a cat. We have a cat in our home. I have noticed that this cat will come and sit in the bedroom while I watch the evening news on the television. While I am very interested in the news, the cat has positively no interest at all! She couldn’t care less! Oh, yes, she often sits on the corner of the bed and stares straight into the television screen. It is not that she doesn’t see the pictures flashing across the screen. She sees them, alright, but she doesn’t understand them — so eventually she curls up on the bed and goes to sleep! It is simply impossible for cats to understand things human. Humans are of a different and higher order than are cats. Cats may see men, and may observe their movements, yet there is no common ground of knowledge. The cat has no comprehension of what it sees. It discerns only things pertaining to its own realm. It has positively no understanding of the ways of man, or of the meaning of his movements, or words, or habits. Cat minds function on the level of cat nature, while human minds function of the level of human nature.

Likewise, God is of a different and higher order of life and nature than are humans. The mind of man functions on the level of human nature, whereas the mind of God functions on the level of divine nature. There is no common ground of knowledge or understanding between the two. Therefore, the natural man is totally incapable of comprehending that which pertains to the realm of God! For natural minds to comprehend things spiritual is equally as impossible as for cats to comprehend things human. And so, until humans receive of God’s Spirit — the Spirit that knows and understands the things that pertain to God — it is impossible for them to have any understanding, either of God, or of His word, or of His ways. With what truth did Paul write to the Corinthians: “For who could really understand a man’s inmost thoughts except the spirit of man himself? How much less could anyone understand the thoughts of God except the very Spirit of God? We have now received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God Himself, so that we can understand something of God’s generosity towards us” (I Cor. 2:11-12, Moffatt Translation). And then after men receive from God, the depth of their knowledge and understanding on the divine plane is wholly in proportion to the measure of the indwelling Spirit!

All understanding is in the mind, therefore, the understanding of God is in the mind of God, which is also the mind of the Spirit, the mind of Christ, and the mind of the new creation Man! We do not understand the spiritual realities of God with our natural minds. It is not the same mind that understands how to drive your car that also understands the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Not at all! It is the new mind, the mind of Christ within, that understands things spiritual! When the Lord Jesus received the seven spirits of God He received the Spirit of Understanding (Isa. 11:2-3). This was not the same understanding of the same mind by which He built furniture in Joseph’s carpenter shop! Oh, no! This Spirit of Understanding is one aspect of the fullness of THE MIND OF GOD — to understand the true nature of all things as God understands!

It has always, from the very beginning, been the serpent-dragon’s policy to misrepresent the truth, to distort and carnalize the word of God, in order to hinder mankind from beholding the great beauty and majesty of the eternal purposes of God. The more absurdities the dragon-spirit can get interwoven into man’s doctrines and concepts respecting God, the church, the divine plan and purpose, eternity, the destiny of man, etc., the better he will succeed in alienating men from Truth and Reality. Thus for centuries the great adversary has been working most successfully and has covered and hidden some of the most precious and wonderful truths under the most specious and repulsive errors, and the progress of the Lord’s people has been correspondingly slow. But, thank God! we are now living in the time when the veil of ignorance is being dissolved, and when the Lord’s people are being drawn by the Spirit to look away from the creeds, traditions, superstitions, and systems formed for their enslavement during ages past, and to look away to CHRIST HIMSELF WHO IS THE TRUTH AND THE WISDOM OF GOD! Therefore lean no longer upon thine own understanding! Judge neither by the sight of the eyes, the hearing of the ears, or the reasoning of the mind, but seek that living SPIRIT OF UNDERSTANDING that comes from God alone!

This Spirit of Understanding is one of the seven spirits of sonship that shall rest like a cloud upon the manifest sons of God. “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding…with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod (spirit) of his mouth, and with the breath (spirit) of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins…the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:2-9). By these shall the glory and order of God’s kingdom be established throughout the whole earth! Any man who reigns in that glorious kingdom must, first, be a partaker of the reality of these seven spirits! Let us pray for the Spirit of Understanding!

May that deep and fervent cry expressed from the heart of the Psalmist become even the cry of God’s called and chosen elect in this great hour: “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding that I may learn Thy commandments” (Ps. 119:73). How readily did the Lord incline His ear unto the Psalmist’s earnest petition, and with what speed did He send forth the answer, for in verses 102-104 we read: “I have not departed from Thy judgments: for Thou hast taught me. How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.”

Now we know the deep meaning of the words: “Here is wisdom: Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast!”

Even so, let it be unto us, our Father!

To be continued…

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 156

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
(A study in Book of Revelation Part 156) by J. Preston Eby.

THE BEAST OUT OF THE EARTH (continued)
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth…and he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (Rev. 13:14-15).

The sole and ultimate purpose of the signs and wonders done by the beast out of the earth is that men may believe and follow the beast — the false prophet. For we read in the words of our text that by these he so deceives men that dwell on the earth, the earth dwellers, that is, the carnal Christians, that they do whatever the beast tells them to do. And who can deny that it is the manifest blessing of God in salvation, deliverances, healings, etc. which enables the church systems of man to deceive the people into truly believing that those very systems are ordained of God — His church in the earth!

And what does the beast instruct them to do? This is where we approach one of the most flagrant popular misconceptions and misrepresentations of this chapter — the mistaken notion that the false prophet makes an image either of himself, or of the first beast, and then commands men everywhere to worship that image. Nearly all commentators make this erroneous assertion, which is the result of an inexcusably careless reading of the text! Nowhere does it say that the beast made or set up an image! What it does say is, “He deceiveth them that dwell on the earth…saying to them that dwell on the earth, that THEY should make an image to the beast…” Notice that the false prophet does not make the image, but that under his influence, as he speaks for the beast (human government, world system, worldly order), he entices the earth dwellers, the carnal Christians, to make such an image! Thus, it is the worldly, carnal-minded Christians who make the image, and the false prophet causes them to worship or pay homage to this image!

This image is everywhere in the earth today, and it is an indisputable fact that untold millions of earthly-minded, carnal Christians pay homage to this image. But let us look at how it all began. One historian has pointed out that in the early centuries of this age, as the church grew in numbers and wealth, the anointing and the anointed ministries were shoved aside, and startling developments began to take place. Bishops became influential, not as humble servants of the flock, but as powerful, authoritarian men. Dioceses and parishes were established. Ecclesiastical centralization commenced. The weapons of excommunication were forged. The festivals of the church (Easter, Christmas, etc.) were created, along the lines of pagan celebrations. Catechetical schools were created to teach the faith systematically. The formulas of baptism and the sacraments became of great importance. Costly and ornate edifices were constructed for worship. The services became ceremonialized and elaborate. Sculpture and painting were enlisted in the work of providing aids to devotion. Relics of saints and martyrs were cherished as sacred possessions. Religious observances were multiplied. The church, with its array of gaudily bedecked clergy and of imposing ceremonies, assumed much of the stateliness and visible organization and worldly splendor that belonged to the heathen governmental-religious system which it had supplanted. The church as a spiritual organism, the living body of Christ, was lost sight of as its degrading role as a powerful, controlling, state-sponsored political organization took form. Christianity was now a pageant, a ritualism, a vain philosophy, a superstition, a formula, a powerful, dominating organization fashioned after the pagan governments of earth!

And thus, precious friend of mine, the IMAGE of the beast of the world system of man was complete! The church had become a human institution with human government, worldly wisdom, and political power — just like Rome! The divine order of God by the Spirit, could not be tolerated. What is said concerning this image of the beast applies to sectarianism as a whole and the human organization and carnal structures and programs and methods of all her so-called “churches.” They may differ as widely as the various systems of human governments and religions symbolized by the first beast, yet they can be represented by the single symbol of an image to the first beast, because they are all built upon the same general principles — are but human organizations, institutions, and systems, with sectarian names, unscriptural organization and government (boards, secretaries, presidents, committees, etc), static creeds, and unspiritual methods and practices, all contrary to the ways of the Spirit of God!

And is not this the same picture of every organized church in the world — including the so-called “non-denominational” denominations? Are they not all “incorporated” and “chartered” by the State (first beast)? Do they not all have a system of government patterned after the other denominations of Babylon and the business corporations of the world system? Do they not all have a “board,” “majority vote,” and an organizational structure mandated by the worldly government of man? Are their ministers not registered with the government, acting as civil servants of the government by carrying an “approved card” issued by a “state-chartered” organization so they can marry the living and bury the dead? Even if they are not, how often their lives are still tied to the beast system which controls their methods of operation. How the multitudes pay homage to the IMAGE of the beast! It is a sad fact that untold millions of Christians are more devoted to their church systems than they are to the Lord Jesus Christ. They can witness open rejection of God’s precious Word, blatant resistance to His Spirit, and the vilest profanation of His holy Name, without uttering a word of protest; but let anyone say a word against their church, and instantly they are aroused to the highest pitch of excitement — beast worshippers! To exalt such earth-born, man-made, carnally-controlled, unscriptural, unspiritual institutions and lead people to adore and submit to them is but a species of idolatry and rankest deception. Those who construct the “image” are deceived, as it is written, “And he deceived them that dwell on the earth…saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast.” Can you not see the mystery?

May we all be found faithful in fulfilling the ministry our Father has prepared to flow through us, whether it be teaching, preaching, gifts of the Spirit, administration, intercession, helps, or giving. These are all spiritual ministries that flow through those who dwell in union with Christ in the heavens of the Spirit. But let us never encapsulate these in a form or organization whose authority is conferred by the government of man. We are not a for-profit business, nor are we a non-profit organization. You will not receive a tax exemption from Caesar if you support us. Many years ago the Lord dealt with us powerfully that we should never form any kind of government-chartered religious organization, as that is but the first step into religious Babylon. The authority of all man-made, government-chartered organizations is derived from the State, as is evidenced when a minister says at a wedding, “By the authority vested in me as a minister of the gospel and by the state of Texas (or any other) — I pronounce you man and wife.” That preacher is able to perform a wedding as an agent of human government because of the ministerial credential he carries in his wallet. The Lord Jesus did not issue that credential! The government gave the authority to the state-chartered organization to issue that card! It’s authority is not God — it is the government! The authority is from the wild beast out of the sea, the bestial world system of man! God doesn’t channel His spiritual authority through the government!

Every organized church and non-profit religious corporation is in contract with the State when they become “non-profit,” making the government a partner in, and grantor of, each religious corporation. It is our conviction that the kingdom of God must not be wedded to the carnal government of man, nor willfully subjected to any control of the State, for that is the spirit of the harlot. I am not a constitutional lawyer, but my knowledge both of the spiritual ways of God and the principles of human government lead me to the belief that the “chartering” by the State of a church entity is not only an abomination to God, but is patently unconstitutional in the United States of America, and a blatant violation of the basic constitutional principle of the separation of Church and State. How can the Church and the State be separated when the Church is chartered by the State? And never forget — with the power to charter comes also the power to control, as some religious organizations have learned by bitter and costly experience. Cross that beast of human government and his vicious, wild nature will come out!

I cannot express this truth more powerfully than George Hawtin has done in his message on Repentance Toward God And Faith Toward Jesus Christ. He wrote, “Yesterday a minister sat in our parlor with whom we spoke freely of the ways of God. Before he left, he apologetically informed us that he was a member of a certain denomination, but he said with noticeable chagrin, ‘You almost have to belong to a denomination to be properly recognized by the government, to get income tax deductions, to perform marriages, and to obtain half fare on trains and buses.’ How interesting that is! Is there really something very special in the word incorporated, which is so proudly displayed on the official documents of every sect in the land? Have you ever considered that the word incorporated you so proudly display on your letterhead signifies that the system you think to be the church is in fact incorporated with the world system? Could Christ be a part of a thing like that since He openly declared, ‘I am not of this world?’ Was He not saying, ‘I am not of this world system?’ But you proudly display the fact that both you and your sect are openly incorporated with it when you should be as your Master who said, ‘I am not of this world.’ You should not partake of its systems nor in any way fall under its dominion. The true church is no more a part of this world system than Christ is a part of it. Well did He say to those about Him, ‘Ye are from beneath; I am from above. Ye are of this world; I am not of this world’ (Jn. 8:23). Let all who long for sonship, all who would be peculiarly His, turn from all these vanities that men have devised. Let us break our connections with all that is from beneath and let us walk with Christ as pilgrims who have no continuing city in this world but who seek one to come, whose builder and maker is God.

“Let the heart of every faithful pilgrim be assured of this: Though the world is full of religious sects and denominations of every kind which blind men to truth and obscure that holy virgin thing which Christ called ‘My church,’ yet His church is in the earth, untouched, unsullied, and undefiled, a pure virgin church to be presented to Him without spot and without blemish. That church is not and never was a denomination, nor is it a sect of any kind. His church is as pure a virgin as Christ Himself. As Christ was born of a virgin undefiled and untouched by the powers of human organization or procreation, so also is the virgin church. His church is not incorporated with the world system. It cannot possibly be. The names of its members are written only in heaven, even in the Lamb’s book of life, founded long before the foundation of this world” — end quote.

We have endeavored to be faithful to the word of the Lord in our lives and stay clear of all Babylonish entanglements. Some precious brethren still entertain the notion that if they are not incorporated under the government they cannot function, and that without tax-exempt status the people of God will not support their ministry. That is a lie of enormous proportions! Is it the government that determines what we do in the kingdom of God, or is it the leadership of the Holy Spirit? The word of the Lord to us in this regard has been so powerful that we have been constrained to obey regardless of the cost. And it does cost, beloved, as I am sure there are those who will not give if they are unable to get tax deductions, and we ourselves must pay our taxes. But that is neither here nor there, for ultimately God is our source and if our work is His work He will see that it prospers unto that for which He has ordained it. Therefore, for the past forty-five or more years we have endeavored to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:15-22). In my opinion taxes are Caesar’s — and the ministry is God’s! And I here and now bear record that great is HIS FAITHFULNESS!

In our former days in the religious systems of man, in both thinking and actions we bore the image of the bestial system of this world. In all our religious promotions did we not think like the world, plan like the world, advertise like the world, organize like the world, promote like the world, and act like the world? Who would deny that the religious systems’ whole vision, methodology, and attitude is in accordance with the world’s system. Just as the church, following the time of Constantine, “paganized” Christianity by mingling with the worship of Christ pagan practices of idols, images, altars, incense, candles, vestments, saints (bearing the characteristics and virtues of the deposed pagan gods), Christmas, Easter, and a thousand other things, so in our day the church systems’ planning and program is all in harmony with the “spirit of this age” as they continually adapt themselves to what ever the world is doing!

Let the devil hatch rock music out of the cesspool of the demented culture of drugs and sex, and the church will immediately “Christianize” it by giving the harmonic dissonance “Christian words.” They call it “Christian rock.” It is not! You cannot have Christian rock any more than you can have Christian drug lords, Christian harlots, Christian thieves, or Christian liars! It is not even Christianized demonism — it is demonized Christianity! And now we have another Christianized perversion — “Christian” hip hop. The church systems are always trying to keep step with the world, appropriate to themselves the world’s program, and somehow make it “Christian.” It is the image of the beast! Let a worldly book come off the press about near-death experiences, and soon “Christian” books on near-death experiences will line the bookshelves. Let diet books become the big money maker, and immediately “Christian” diet books and programs will flood the market. What great imitators are those earth-dwellers, those carnal Christians who construct their “image” of the beast!

You see, my beloved, those who make an “image” of the bestial system of the world are not leaders, setting the standards for mankind, but followers, mimicking and adapting the world’s standards and ways under the pretense of following Christ. If television talk shows is what the world is doing, then let us entertain the saints with “Christian” talk shows! These image-builders are always followers and imitators, and the “image” they construct — how much like the beast it looks!

God is not well pleased with the world of believers who are all too willing to proclaim the praise of God with their lips and raise their hands in seeming consecration, while they pay homage to the image of the worldly system they have created, prostituting the holy truths of God with the unholy program and methods of the world. God is well pleased with those who seek only His will, His ways, and His glory. God is well pleased with those who reject the fleeting pleasures of sin and the worthless glitter of the prestige and position of this world. God is well pleased with those who forsake the excitement and noise of the crowd, who abandon listening to all manner of fantastic oratory, who in their hearts are no longer entertained by man-made programs, soulish concerts, so-called Christian television shows, and carnal schemes of a church system that has forsaken the leading of the Spirit of God.

If the people of God today would stop following after preachers and personalities, turning a deaf ear to the slick advertising of unscrupulous men who love to promote themselves, if they would forget about revivals and crusades and supposed signs and wonders and begin to turn the knob of their prayer closet door, seeking not to run here and there, and do this and that, but seeking to enter into harmony with the mind of Him who worketh all things after the counsels of His own will, to do only those things they see the Father doing, to speak only those things they hear of the Father, then all the world would know that the Father is glorified in His sons even as He is glorified in His Son. Let us seek God that He might fashion our lives according to His eternal wisdom, conforming us into the image of His Son, so that the glorious image of God may be seen in us instead of the image of the beast!

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should… speak…” (Rev. 13:15).

This verse reads literally, “And it was given him to give spirit to the image of the beast.” “To give spirit” is the same as to give life. The Greek word is pneuma meaning “breath” or “spirit.” With only one exception, in every other place in the book of Revelation where this word is used the reference is to the Holy Spirit. For instance, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10). “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 2:7; 2:29; 3:6). “And immediately I was in the Spirit” (Rev. 4:2). “The spirit of life from God entered into them” (Rev. 11:11). “Yea, saith the Spirit” (Rev. 14:13). “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness…” (Rev. 17:3). “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain…” (Rev. 21:19). “The Spirit and the bride say, Come…” (Rev. 22:17) Imparting “life” or “spirit” to the image of the beast signifies that now the life-giving ministry of the Spirit is being administrated through the image — the organization. “He had power” to give this life is in the Greek “it was given him” to give life to the image. It is something that God cedes to him, that which he would have no power at all to do of himself. Every living body is animated by a spirit. “The body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26).

There are many organizations, including religious ones, that are dead, having no spiritual life in them at all. Political organizations, business organizations, charitable organizations, and the list goes on and on. Then there are religious organizations — Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and a thousand others that contain no spiritual life whatever, for HE who IS the LIFE has no place in them. But this image, this “Christian” image, in spite of being fashioned like unto the systems of the world, does possess a show of life! What many of us missed in times past is the mixture in this Christian beastly system. We thought this beast was only evil, entirely a monster, totally non-Christian, and that its appearance as “the lamb” was entirely contrived. We could not believe that he could perform any miracle that wasn’t a trick, or have any life that wasn’t demonic, or speak any word that wasn’t vile. But multitudes of the Lord’s people are in this beastly system, and there is still One who walks in the midst of the candlesticks! And the image speaks — proclaiming a measure of the word of the Lord. What a paradox this is! What a mystery is this!

Yet, this is not the true way of the Lord, nor is it sanctioned by the Lord. He truly condescends to meet with and bless those who call upon His name in spite of all the corruption surrounding them, but what a mixture it is! Only the Holy Spirit can teach us these things. Only the sharp two-edged sword of the Spirit can divide it, separating between soul and spirit. How we praise God that the consuming fire of His dealings and processings in the lives of all who have received the call to sonship has been kindled to THOROUGHLY PURGE AND CLEANSE OUR HEARTS from the spirit and ways and image of the beast, until once and for all we forsake all the apostasy and shame, giving ourselves wholly and only unto Christ, that He may teach us how to walk and worship and minister in spirit and in truth. When our minds are one with Him and all earthly tradition and program and system has vanished away and He takes His royal seat upon the throne of our hearts, then we are truly able to walk as the sons of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Then are we led by His Spirit and can grow up into Him in all things, putting on His mind, conformed to HIS IMAGE, to be His sons and His daughters indeed! Aren’t you glad!

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (Rev. 13:15).

Taken literally this certainly sounds ominous, and it is true that the earth has been stained by the blood of the martyrs who have been slain as “heretics” by the church systems of man, from the days of the Papacy, the Inquisitions, the Reformation, and in many lands then and now throughout the earth. Yet millions more have been slain metaphorically, that is, denounced, cast out, ostracized, excommunicated, anathematized, and cut off. The deeper meaning of “killed” is to be killed spiritually, that is, to be condemned. And because being condemned is signified by being killed, it speaks of all who pronounce damnation upon those who do not acknowledge the doctrine of their faith as the divine truth of God, and who condemn all who do not think as they do, and as far as they dare, they deny that they are brothers and sisters in Christ. And all this is done simply because men refuse to worship their image of the beast!

Consider both the image of the beast and the image of Christ. Which do you bear in your body, in your attitudes, words, actions, worship, and ministry? Ah, yes, God is forming the image, the very likeness of His Son in the lives of His called and chosen elect! We all understand that Christ is the image of God, the express image of His person; and we also understand that God is forming within us the very image of His Son. We know that this image of Christ is not a literal statue of wood, stone, or gold. Likewise, the image of the beast is not a literal statue as men suppose, but a likeness of the first beast, the beast out of the sea, the likeness of the bestial world system of man. “Saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” It is not a natural, literal image that the earth-dwellers, the carnal Christians make, but a lifestyle, means and methods, structure, organization — and entire system of religion! And it is fashioned after the system of the world!

THE MARK OF THE BEAST
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads…” (Rev. 13:16).

For many decades and centuries God’s people have been speculating about the strange phenomenon John refers to as the “mark of the beast.” There has been an immense increase is such speculation over the past few decades as man has moved swiftly into the computer age. There has been much confusion surrounding this mark as people cast apprehensive eyes toward various events that arise — social security numbers, credit card numbers, account numbers, identification numbers, “bar code” marking systems, microchips, smaller than a grain of rice, that can now be implanted under the skin for tracking, health, or economic information, hand imaging systems, etc. — wondering if these developments portend some future hour which shall climax with a fearful “beast” or “antichrist” demanding that they take a mark, without which they cannot buy or sell, which might forever seal their doom, or else cause them to give their life in martyrdom as the price for remaining true to God.

It is a shocking marvel to see how easily Christians are deceived by the dead letter of the Word! There is nothing more carnal than the message men have preached about the antichrist and the mark of the beast. I say that it is carnal because it genders fear, not perfection! It has created a whole world full of Christians who are cowards waiting to be evacuated off to some far-off heaven somewhere instead of becoming overcomers right here upon the earth. Above all, it stresses a natural, physical concept rather than a SPIRITUAL REALITY! Most folks have the idea that the mark of the beast is the number “666” and that it will be laser tattooed or otherwise applied to, or inserted in, the right hand or the forehead. Now, it is true that there is technology available to encode a personal number for every person for tracking purposes, identification, health information, or to protect our security in financial transactions; but don’t you think that if we all get the same number, 666, it will be a bit confusing to figure out who is who and whose account is whose? Not only do people not have revelation — they simply don’t think! There have been multitudes of people who have lived their entire lives in fear of the mark of the beast. They died believing and fearing that some day this would come. I ask, my dear brother, my precious sister, what good did it do them to believe that? It did not bring life, deliverance, peace, joy, love, victory, overcoming power, nor any of the things men so desperately need. Without any hesitation whatever I must reiterate that this kind of literal interpretation and fear tactics has not added anything to our spiritual understanding, but has rather caused the Lord’s people to continue groping about in the dense darkness of spiritual ignorance and superstition.

It seems to me that the key to the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation is found in verse nine: “If any man have an hear to hear, let him hear.” Throughout the scriptures these words always accompany statements of profound spiritual significance. “It says what it means, and it means what it says!” a Bible-thumping literalist preacher will shout from his pulpit. But I beg to differ. It says what the Spirit of God says it says, and it means what the Spirit of God says it means! If the beast and his mark are to be fulfilled literally then one has but to read the words with natural eyes, understand them with a natural mind, interpret them with natural reason, and watch the panorama of world events to see the natural fulfillment. Any carnal-minded theologian or even an atheist, for that matter, could figure it out on that basis! But if the message is deeply spiritual, it will be understood only by “he that hath an ear to hear!” And so it is with this truth in mind that we have sought the Lord for an understanding of the spiritual nature of the mark, and would share with you that which has now been quickened to us. May the spirit of truth make it personally real to every heart!

The preachers have everyone looking outwardly for the mark of the beast and that’s exactly what the dragon inspires — get people to look away from the true source, from the spiritual realm, to fear inanimate objects of man’s invention. That’s the craftiness of the carnal mind — every new advance in technology, each new card, laser, or computer chip — surely one of these will be the mark of the beast imposed upon mankind! The spiritual mind understands that the mark of the beast is the mark of the second beast, the one that comes up out of the earth, out of the soulical religious dimension of man’s life. It should not be difficult to understand by this that it is, therefore, first and foremost, a spiritual mark — not an economic or political mark. The mark of the beast identifies those who have subscribed to the authority, doctrines, structure, practices, and spirit of the bestial religious orders of man. Practically every Christian living is in some way associated with, or submitted to, this wanton religious harlot who calls herself “the church.” The message of chapter thirteen of the Revelation is not, “You’d better watch out, be very careful or you will get branded with the mark of the beast.” The message is, instead, that because of carnal-minded religion almost every believer already bears the mark of the beast and we must get rid of the mark of the beast! We must be transformed in the way we think, in the way we worship, in the way we serve, in the way we act. It’s not a matter of someone stamping, tattooing, burning, or inserting 666 on the forehead. Should the government arrest me today, knock me out with an injection, and somehow apply the numbers 666 on my forehead, there is no way under heaven that it could affect my relationship with my Father, because it would not change one iota the way I think, act, or my heart condition before God! Therefore, it cannot be an outward, physical thing! We are dealing with spiritual realities! You cannot examine any man or any woman physically to determine whether they have received the mark of the beast. It is impressed in the forehead or in the hand — signifying one’s thinking and one’s actions!

“Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six” (Rev. 13:18).

The number of the beast denotes the nature and character of the beast. The beastly system is ingrained in the minds of God’s people and they are so saturated with it in their very natures that they can neither think nor function apart from it. God’s name is not in their foreheads. They do not have the mind of Christ, but rather the distorted mind of the beast of religion. They are incapable of either thinking or acting outside the “box” of “going to church,” “being religious,” and “doing things” according to the carnal order of the religious systems. Someone has well said that numbers may not have the appeal of a modern “thriller,” nevertheless they constitute an integral part of God’s language unto man. The number of the beast is not a Greek number. It is not written with numbers as we have in English, but with Greek letters, just like Roman numerals. Each letter in the Greek alphabet has a numerical value — here the numerical value of the Greek letters given is 666. All the words in the New Testament have a numerical value. If you study Biblical numerics you will discover the perfection of the mind and wisdom of our God! The Bible is not an accident. It transcends every other book that has ever been written. No human genius could make it so finely devised!

Of all the words in the Greek New Testament there are only five words that have a numerical value of 666. There is neither time nor space to study all of these words at this time, but it is interesting to note that the very first one is used thirteen times — and that first word with the numerical value of 666 is the word tradition. Isn’t that fascinating! (The other four words are perish, side, wealth, and scattered). Jesus used this word “tradition” when He upbraided the scribes and Pharisees, saying, “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Mat. 15:6). While we’re waiting for the police to arrest us and tattoo a number on our forehead, or while we’re afraid it might be the bar code on our groceries, the credit card in our wallet, or a microchip under our skin, millions of the Lord’s people are willing to fight you for their religious traditions and will excommunicate you and declare you a dangerous heretic if you dare to question their time-honored traditions, dogmas, and religious myths, fables, legends, folklore, superstitions, and fairy tales! The church systems are heavy-laden with the traditions of men which have made the word of God meaningless, ineffective, and powerless. When you dare to attack their man-made traditions is when you witness the spirit of the beast rising up out of the earth! We not only want to be free from the beast, but our desire is to have erased from our minds the imagery we have of him, all the traditions in our thought processes that can only be consumed by the blazing light of HIS UNVEILING!

Another erroneous idea is that the beast forcibly inscribes or implants this mark upon those who dwell upon the earth. Yet that is plainly not the testimony of scripture! The Greek here is quite different from the idea given in the English as to the application of this mark. Our English version says that the beast “causeth” all to “receive” a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. This might lead us to think that the mark was forced upon unwilling men. If you check the margins of most Bibles, or a Greek Interlinear, you will find that the original states that the false prophet “causeth all…that they should give themselves a mark…” The picture behind these words is that of masses of people cutting or burning the mark upon themselves as a result of the influence of the false prophet upon their minds and hearts. Oh, yes! The people take upon themselves this mark! This is the result of exposing themselves day after day, Sunday after Sunday, year after year, to the influence of the false prophets of the religious systems! Attending all the services, participating in all the functions, joining all the seminars, reading all the books, listening to the tapes and CD’s, watching hours of “Christian” television, like sheep led to the slaughter we yielded ourselves to the teaching, the program, the traditions, and the system, until we got all “committed” and so saturated with its dogma, program, and ways that we could neither think nor function except in terms of established orders, denominations, non-profit corporations, boards, creeds, church buildings, programs, activities, meetings, seminaries, rituals, sacraments, ordinances, etc., etc. We took upon ourselves the mark, the number, the nature, the character of the bestial system!

This is what happens to all under the influence of the beast. John saw that he “causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, that they should give themselves a mark.” What a word that is! It signifies classes of believers, all in the church, of whatever condition, stature, status, learning, or degree of growth and development in Christ, ALL under the influence of the beast take upon themselves his mark. Small and great — those who are babes in Christ, and those who have reached positions of ministry and power — ALL alike receive the mark! Rich and poor — those who are rich in word, gifts, abilities, and those who possess little of spiritual attainments — ALL alike receive the mark! Free and bond — those enslaved in the great and most powerful of religious systems, as well as those who are “free,” those in less controlling systems, the “come outers” and the “independents,” though they come out of Babylon, yet Babylon is still in their hearts and they at once commence to construct their own system — ALL alike bear the mark!

The particular Greek word which has been translated as “mark” in our text, is the word charagma. Eight times in the book of Revelation it is translated as “mark.” Its meaning is “an engraving, an impressed mark.” It is significant to note that this Greek word is from the same root from which we get the Greek word charakter, from which in turn comes our English word “character.” This unfolds to our understanding the true essence and quality of that which is engraved or impressed upon men — the inward thinking and outward actions which bring forth an expression of the CHARACTER formed in the image of the very source from which the mark comes. Either we will find ourselves expressing the character of God, or else the character of the beast! It signifies bearing in the manifestation of our life the very imprint and likeness either of the Spirit of God or of the bestial religious system of man. We all know how the “character of the beast” is stamped upon all the adherents of the religious systems of the world by one of the greatest brainwashing operations the world has ever known! Often by the style of their church building, by people’s dress, their ornamentation, the way a woman wears her hair, their mannerisms, speech, prayers, worship, in the unique way they pronounce certain words, or even in the way they carry their Bible one can discern which system’s mark they have taken upon themselves!

God has so dealt by His Spirit in the lives of His called and chosen elect until we have come to loathe and despise this confused and grotesque bestial religious system of man — yet we discover from time to time that even unto this day this little lamb-like beast is so subtle that it still seeks to seduce us into bearing its stamp upon our thoughts and actions. Ray Prinzing has pointed out in one of his booklets that the practices and handiwork of the carnal system, and the thinking thereof, are not overcome in one grand leap. There is a daily and continual “dying” to all the old as we take upon us the new. There is the constant hating of, and turning our backs upon the bestial system, and every phase of our soulish life, as we in turn “put on” the mind of Christ.

I want to know the Christ, the Lamb of God, not the beast with two horns like a lamb, who speaks as a dragon. I want to know not just about Him, I want to intimately and fully KNOW HIM. I want the Holy Spirit to take the things of Christ and make them real to me. Therefore I am more interested in THE FATHER’S NAME UPON MY FOREHEAD than I am in anything which belongs to the bestial system, since to bear the mark of God insures one against coming under the other (Rev. 13:8). Now Jesus came to IMPRINT OR IMPRESS HIMSELF UPON MEN! Even from the time of His first appearance He sought to have His character impressed upon those who followed Him. When Peter and John had healed the lame man at the gate of the temple, and addressed the multitude gathered, it is written, “Now when they saw this boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Jesus came not to be just a great teacher or prophet. He came not to just forgive sins and take people to heaven. He came to IMPRINT OR IMPRESS HIS CHARCTER UPON US! Just as the influence of the beast causes men to take upon themselves his mark, so those who abide under the influence of the manifest presence of Christ take upon themselves the marks of His identity. “PUT YE ON the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Can we not see by this that God is acting to SUPERIMPOSE Himself upon us, completely saturating us, by the instrumentality of Jesus Christ. That is the glory of sonship! Both the Father’s name and the mark of the beast are superimposed upon men. The word “superimpose” carries with it the idea of the fusion of metals, or even of unrelated elements. In some instances in this fusion, there is no definite line of demarcation left, for both the elements have completely mixed, while in other instances the fusion is there, but the elements do not mix. Today we have various alloys which are metals which have actually mixed together. But this does not always happen. We have an illustration of it in the tabernacle in the wilderness. Different elements were brought together but there was no fusion. The planks in it were all covered with gold, as were various other items and furnishings. The gold was superimposed upon the wood until only gold could be seen. The wood was completely hidden but was not mixed with the gold.

This hiding is what we are being brought to by the sealing of God, but in the end there will be the TOTAL FUSION OF GOD AND MAN. We are from both God and man, our spirit has come from the bosom of the Father, our body and soul from Adam. We are a combination of God and man! Once we were spirits superimposed upon by the life of Adam. Through redemption we are now men with God superimposed upon us through the putting on of Jesus Christ! We have not yet experienced this in its fullness, for when we do we shall have disappeared from sight and only GOD will ever be seen! “Now he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” All through the ages God will so combine Himself with us through Jesus Christ that we will be ONE with Him, but only HE shall be seen!

 God superimposed Himself upon us by measure when He first sealed us with the “earnest,” which is the “firstfruits” of the Spirit. “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:3-4). “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (Acts 10:44). Here the words “upon” and “on” denote SUPERIMPOSITION — upon, over. While the saints tarried, while Peter spoke the word, the Holy Spirit SUPERIMPOSED THE CHRIST upon all who were present. And now we continue on from glory to glory! Praise God, to some degree God has STAMPED THE IMPRESSION OF HIMSELF UPON US! Daily growing in grace, knowledge, wisdom, love, peace, joy, righteousness, and power we are constantly being changed by the Spirit to bear in our lives the mark, the image, the character of God! The end of the work is that “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” The deep cry of our heart is so wonderfully expressed in the words of the hymn:

“Oh to be like Thee, Oh to be like Thee,
Precious Redeemer, Pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, Come in Thy fullness,
STAMP Thine own image — deep on my heart!”

I am blessed by the following words from the pen of John Macbeath. “Christ’s influence is attractive; it is authoritative, and it is assimilative. In the days of his strenuous apostleship Paul declined the counsels of his friends and claimed the right to tread the appointed road: ‘From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” What these marks were we cannot precisely tell. It is certain that he bore traces of weariness and suffering for Christ’s sake. Imprisonment, persecution, torture, left their marks upon a life prematurely old. All sorts of marks are branded on our lives; worry and care carve their wrinkles on the brow; poverty, toil, dissipation stamp their seal upon our nature; self-indulgence and evil passion leave their mark somewhere, and the mark will not always hide. Purity, refinement, high-mindedness inscribe their form upon our lives. The thing that masters us, in some inscrutable way discloses its mastery to the world. Paul was attested by the marks of Christ. They were possibly the scars a cruel world had inflicted, but to him they affirmed the ownership of Christ, and the fellowship of His sufferings.

“But there are other marks, the marks of likeness, traces of resemblance, evidence that we are being ‘changed into the same image.’ Divine dream and human hope meet here! God’s high purpose is that His people should be ‘conformed to the image of His Son.’ This is sure evidence that human hopes are justified and destined to fulfillment. ‘I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness,’ urges one who, waking morning by morning, endeavored every day to bring his life nearer to the Divine likeness and yearned for the satisfaction that could only come with perfect resemblance” — end quote.

To be continued…