The theme of exodus and exile is one of the most salient images of the Christian scriptures. Its importance to the cultural identity of Judaism for example, is paramount to say the least. It transcends the narrative of Old Testament stories and ingrains itself into the heart of Jewish theology. Yet these themes are not just pertinent to the Jewish culture. Few Christians are ever taught of their significance in regards to the daily traverse of the “narrow way” of righteousness. You see, these thematic events are not just entertaining stories for Sunday school or merely allegories in which to find some moral message. No, these themes are at the very core of what it is to be a child of God, to be called out to journey the treacherous walk towards sonship and ultimately inheritance. From the great banishment in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3) to the call of Jesus to his true church to “come out of her my people,” (Rev 18:4) these enigmatic themes set the tone for the subject of the redemption of Gods people and ultimately, the restitution of all mankind. More importantly however, these powerful images speak to us here and now!
“Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt 3:12)
The path of truth is a perilous journey. If you have been studying with us, no doubt you have suffered through the threshing floor of emotions where the hard truths of God’s Word have surfaced and the foundational orthodox teachings of Christendom have been thrown to the wind. When the great exodus from falsehood takes place in our lives, we are often uprooted from the only way of life we have ever known. How easy it is to reminisce of our time in Egypt, the community, the worship services, the feeling of belonging, the prayer times and pot-luck dinners? Yet could you ever go back to church knowing what you do now? - back to slavery? Where to now anyway? Waking from the matrix is a sobering affair. All of this new information is staggering is it not? No hell, no rapture, no tithing, no freewill! These things we had previously built our houses upon are nothing but dust and sand! They are illusions, smoke and mirrors – they are DECEPTION! And furthermore, our friends, family, housegroup leaders and Pastors will never understand unless they too are called out from the “candlestick” realm of the church, into the throneroom of God.
So if you are in a state of shellshock, if your mind is a whirlpool of emotions and spiritual turmoil, fear not – for the only one who commands the storm to calm has Himself brought you here – to this moment of surrender. If you have journeyed with us this far down the rabbit hole, you undoubtedly would have pleaded with the Lord to confirm these truths either to be Spirit inspired – or alternatively, the work of the enemy. What does the Spirit testify to you? Yes, we have all been down this path. It is a lonely road, but the only road. The threshing floor is where the “men are sorted from the boys” so to speak. It is a violent but necessary process. So, be at peace. For only those called out by God are set to walk the long road of freedom through the long lonely wilderness, to the Promised Land.
Think of all those Bible characters that were uprooted from their homes in order to fulfil this spiritual mandate of election. Adam and Eve, Abraham, Elijah, Joseph, Jacob, Moses, King David, John the Baptist, Paul and even Jesus – anyone with divine calling – were made to run, hide or suffer in the wilderness. It is ONLY through suffering the perils of the wilderness, that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds - into mature and functional Sons and Daughters, into His very likeness!
This threshing floor is where Christ meets us and where our carnality is exposed to the fire of his holiness. Yes, when the risen Christ comes to us, He does not come to make peace but to make war! This war in us is every bit as epic as the apocalyptic symbols of the scriptures suggest. The heavenly places inside us are thoroughly shaken and the carnal beastliness within us rallies to make war against the whole host of Heaven! And when does this war take place? When you are in bondage to slavery in Egypt, when we are suckling at the breast of the harlot Babylonian church? No! It is only when we are “called out” that the adversary comes to us to devour. Only in the wilderness do Lions and Wolves make their homes. It is only in the wild that we are called to conquer the neighbouring land. Oh yes, to possess the land means a fight!
“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matt 11:12)
There’s no way around it. The kingdom of God suffers violence - for “...we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
How many believers understand these scriptures? Know this. True Christianity is not a faith for the faint hearted! You see, leaving the falsehoods of Christendom is not meant to be an easy task. In fact, it is one of the hardest things we will ever go through. It is only in exile that you receive true revelation – be assured of that! This exile that we find ourselves in IS the path of righteousness. The most potent characters of the Bible all walked this walk – some for days, some for months and some for many years! Yet this is the pattern of the called and chosen – and they are spiritual types, templates if you will – for us to follow spiritually.
You see, their stories are our stories. Their journey is our journey. The story of Adam and Eve is not an isolated case of two people ruining it for everyone. They represent the journey of every man and woman that has ever breathed upon the face of the earth. The slaves of Egypt wandering the desert unto death, is every bit necessary for us to emulate spiritually. We must die completely to the old ways in order to grasp the Kingdom. What these protagonists of the scriptures represent, is every facet of our own natures, their failures are ours, their weaknesses are ours, their complaints and fearfulness and disobedience are equally ours! Do not be deceived into thinking that you would have done it any differently like the church would suggest we should. These are not mere moral stories, they are mirrors of the human condition in the oil press of God’s will. This is the process of salvation and redemption – the ONLY process. Welcome to the narrow way, where few dare to tread.
The Process of Getting Saved
There is a great fallacy that persists throughout mainstream Christian churches; you have probably heard it before. You know, the one that states that “Christianity is the only faith where it is all done for you and you don’t need to do anything – Christ has done it all for you already’..” Really? We don’t need to do ANYTHING? Sounds easy peasy. Just say the sinners prayer and hey presto – Jesus makes it all better, sit back and enjoy the ride. Is it that easy? What are the actual requirements for salvation through Christ in our very lives?
“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”(Luke 17:33)
He who seeks to live will die, but those who die shall live? What the heck! But He has already done it right? Sit back and relax? Or how about this one.
“if anyone is willing to follow behind Me, let him deny himself, and pick up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:22-23; Mark 8:34)
“I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20)
Well that doesn’t sound like much fun? Ready yourself for crucifixion daily? Really? YES REALLY! Believe the scriptures. There is nothing EASY about living in the Spirit, in following our master. It requires our all and nothing less! It requires our very “life.” Getting saved is NOT a quick or easy process. It is the MOST DIFFICULT thing to do EVER! It is a lifetime of suffering the chastisements of our Heavenly Father. To be a child of God requires the DISCIPLINE of the Fathers hand DAILY! Yet what do the scriptures say of God’s chastisements?
“If you are not disciplined - and everyone undergoes discipline - then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.” (Heb 12:8)
Know this, if you are constantly living in the candy coated Christian realm of “material” blessing and good health and wealth for all in the shadow of the big rock candy mountain – you are NOT a true SON of God and a co-heir with Christ! No-one living this lifestyle could ever be salt and light to this dark and desperate world! They can NEVER be the elect of God!
Christendom simply does not comprehend the deep things of God – not even the basics. Let’s recap. If you believe how it’s worded in the King James, that God created man (past tense), in the image of God, you will NEVER EVER understand the scriptures. If you don’t understand Genesis 1:26, you will never understand the scriptures because that verse tells us why God made humanity; and if you don’t know why He created humanity, how will you ever know what this is all about? And here’s a typical Christian. Now, you know we’re not talking just disparagingly about Christians who believe these things, we all believed them! We’ve all been deceived. And we know they are deceived yet we love them. Here’s a common heresy. “If Adam and Eve had not sinned, there would be no such thing as death.”
See, what Christendom teaches is that God created first of all a great Archangel, one of his most spectacular creatures of all. Right? And the whole thing went belly-up! Bad idea…He gave it His best shot, but it didn’t work. Well, He was a novice. This was His first attempt at something really big like this. And it just didn’t turn out. His own creation turned against Him. He says then, “well, let me try something different. We tried the spirit beings, let’s try the physical beings.” So He made Adam and Eve. Made them perfect. Some preachers even teach that when God made Adam, you couldn’t even see him; he was so radiant and beautiful, so absolutely glorified, you couldn’t even see he had a body. He was so glorious. But God screwed up again, see, He gave him this thing called “free will” and boy, that went bunkers. Now God is trying for six thousand years to get us back as good as we were when the whole thing failed!! Is that not basic teaching? We want to get back to as good as it was? When it FAILED? If we truly have free will, at what point in eternity do we lose it that we don’t do the same thing all over again: turn against God. Do people think about this stuff in Christianity? NEVER, never ever do they think about this!
It doesn’t say, “so God CREATED man”. The word is CREATING. And the words are, “Creating is God humanity.” That’s a difference “He created man,” than “Creating is God humanity.” It’s a process, it’s still going on. If Adam was the best God could offer, it wasn’t very good because it failed. Then what does Christendom teach? That God said, “instead, I’ll call out a nation and I’ll give them my Laws.” But that went belly up too! If you listen to Christianity (they won’t admit to it) but if you listen to what they say, they say, well God is just one big failure after another. Everything He touches turns to rust. But that’s not the truth of it. God is creating Man in His image. We’re not there yet. Now, when you understand that, you can follow this all the way through the bible. This is an ongoing work, you see. And all the “failure” it’s all by design. Nothing has ever taken God by surprise. Only by design, everything happens by design. He sees the end from the beginning. He KNEW that Adam would sin. We are all a work in progress – that’s the plan!
And remember this fallacy - about the tree? They teach that; “All God asked is for Adam to leave my tree alone! You know, you can have your trees and leave mine alone!” But who created this tree? God created this tree, right. Was this a good tree? Completely good? This is a tree of good and evil. Why in the world would God create a tree of Evil? Why would He create a tree of Good and Evil all in the same tree? Now, you can easily see a Tree of Good, and a Tree of Evil: eat the Good, but don’t eat the Evil. No, He put them both in the same tree! What? Do we understand the wisdom of this? This is not some stupid folklore where the guy got screwed up, He didn’t know how to separate Good and Evil so put them in the same tree…this is the wisdom of God! You can’t separate Good from Evil. You cannot come to a knowledge of Good without Evil. You cannot know Up unless you know what Down is. You don’t know what Sweet is unless you know what Sour is, or you would never know what sweet is. They say, Adam and Eve were so happy in the Garden, everything was so nice….as opposed to what? They say, the weather was so warm…as opposed to what? If they were never cold, they didn’t know that they were warm! If they were fed, they would have never experienced hunger…how would you know it’s a good feeling to be fed if you never went hungry?
God created everything that is necessary to take Man, which He did create back in the Garden of Eden, and turn him into the very image of God. This takes a lot of doing. This is not a “snap of the finger”. And this is not a magic formula. And this is not, like a one off repeating of the “sinner’s prayer!”…Anybody have a second hand on their watch? Okay, when I drop my hand you time me…ready?
“Lord Jesus, I confess that I’m a sinner. I believe Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood for me. Come into my heart and save me, I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Eleven seconds. Does anybody in their right minds truly believe that you can be saved in eleven seconds? Apparently getting saved is easier than falling out of your chair. That’s how easy it is to get saved. But know this, “getting saved” is the hardest most difficult thing that any human being in the history of the universe will ever do. There is nothing harder than “getting saved”. It is the hardest thing any human being will ever do in all of eternity. It’s the ultimate hard task. Yet, when you read the scriptures, it doesn’t sound that way.
“And it shall be that everyone who shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
Now, we’re not denying that scripture. What we’re saying is Christendom doesn’t know what that scripture means! Indeed if you do call upon the name of the Lord, you shall be saved. Notice, it is in the future tense. It doesn’t say you “have been” saved: if you believe you “have been already” saved. There is no scripture in the bible that says anybody has ever been saved while they were still alive. You know that? There is no such thing as “being saved” in the past tense, while you are still alive. There’s a reason why Christ says, “They’ll hate you and persecute you and everything, but he that endures until the END has “already been” saved….no, you endure to the end and then you “SHALL be saved.” You are not saved, unless and until, we come up in the first resurrection. That is the only proof that anyone will have that they are saved, if you come up in the first resurrection. If you don’t, then you are not saved; it’s just axiomatic, if you don’t come up in that resurrection
Well, that scripture is true but we need to comprehend a new way of thinking about the scriptures. Because this is a big book (Bible), there is a lot of stuff in this book. There are single scriptures in here that have been debated by hundreds and thousands of theologians for hundreds and thousands of years! One scripture! There are singular scriptures, one verse, that have had hundreds of volumes written about them.
Jesus Christ is the Son of Man. What does that mean? They debate it, and they write books on it. One scripture, or half of a scripture. There are tens of thousands of scriptures in this book! If a hundred thousand theologians in two thousand years can’t figure out one phrase, how are we ever going to know what is in this book? It’s a big book! There’s a lot in there. How in the world are we to learn 1200 pages of these difficult scriptures, what they mean and how do you apply them to your life? It’s an enigma. It’s overwhelming. It’s unfathomable. But there’s a way…
There is a way to understand the scriptures. Not in a day, but in a relatively short period of time, you’ll get the main points, and then you’ll build upon that. You’ll get the idea, and you’ll say, wow.
Understanding the Scriptures
After Jesus’ resurrection, before he left his followers, it says he opened up to them the scriptures. Remember that? He opened up their understanding to the scriptures. Oh yeah? And how did he do that? They were with him for 3 1/2 years and they didn’t understand the scriptures. But before he left he, it says He opened up their understanding of the scriptures…how did he do that? How do you sit down and open up my understanding to the scriptures? God has ways. God can teach you things. That’s why you’re reading this. This is no accident that you are sitting in front of your computer screen.
Christianity was at its conception a rogue religion in the eyes of the Jews. The early disciples went awol as far as their interpretation of the scriptures went – it was as revolutionary as the very teachings of their master. You could say that Christianity was a revisionist coup! Throughout the gospels, there a several quotations from the Old Testament with some reference to Christ - yet when you go back there and read it, you think, “this has nothing to do with Christ!” He’s talking about something else. But the Apostles say it’s talking about Christ. “What? I don’t see it…” Why did they do that? It’s just so audacious! Right in the beginning in Acts, (before the Holy Spirit came) Paul says;
“For it is written in the book of Psalms let his habitation be desolate and let no man dwell therein and his bishopry let another one have.” (Acts 1:20)
Now that sounds like it might be a quote from one of the Psalms, right? No. He took two Psalms;
“May their habitation be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents.” (Psalm 69:25)
“May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.” (Psalm 109:8)
Part of this one and part of that one, and put them together. It says, “let his habitation..” It doesn’t say “his” habitation when you go back to read it, it says “their” habitation. He takes part of a verse here and part of a verse there, changes the words, and says, “this is what God says we should do.”
This is bold stuff! This could even be blasphemy – Yet this is one example of many where scriptures are alluded to in order to present spiritual assurance or an apostolic mandate. If you were to do anything like that today, you’d be deemed a heretic! Everybody would scream “context!” They would scream “you can’t just lift that out and say it like it’s a truth.” Most of us just have no idea how far down the road theology has gone.
Peter too, he also takes a scripture from here and there, part of one, part of another, CHANGES THE WORDS and says, “What God is telling us here is that we have got to find a replacement for Judas.” How could he do that? Does anybody know how he did that? How could he get away with that? You don’t have to be too much of a theologian to look at that and try to find that in the book of Psalms, and you have to go to two Psalms, and then you find he changed the words…HOW DID HE GET AWAY WITH THAT?
Is that scriptural or is that heresy, what Peter did there? Jesus Christ, before He left, He opened up the scriptures to Peter. What did He tell him? What did He tell him, that he could do that…? He showed him, that whenever the scriptures talk about Israel, they are talking about Him. You follow that? Whenever the scriptures talk about Israel, it has reference to Christ. And whatever has reference to Christ has reference to us! Because Christ is in us: as Christ is so are we. Are you following that? Right there is a “spiritual principle” – one of many that we must learn if we are to discern “spiritual things.”
“In as much as you’ve done it to the least of these, my brethren, you’ve done it unto me!” (Matt. 25:40).
That’s essentially what He taught them! “Any scripture you read, it has reference to me (Christ)! And if it has reference to me, it’s talking about you!” Therefore, when we read Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, it’s referring to us spiritually – there’s a spiritual principle at work. Peter could take any scripture….and this “Context, context, context” just doesn’t fly. Because spiritual things can’t be matched with physical things – they just don’t match. The spiritual context is; if it’s talking about Israel, it’s talking about Christ and if it’s talking about Christ, it’s talking about us. That’s an amazing principle to grasp. It’s so important to get these principles right if we are to journey through the wilderness – cos let’s face it, you’re not gonna learn these things in captivity. The Bible as we have it is as good as the translators ability to interpret – no Bible is perfect but some versions are much more accurate than others. Anyway, the point is that even though the Bible is a collection of books from multiple authors from multiple eras of history (whether some books should be included or exclude is beside the point) it is spiritually – completely parabolic from beginning to end! Just as God is ONE, so is His WORD!
CONNECTING THE DOTS – LINE UPON LINE
Precepts and foundations are so important in understanding the scriptures properly. It’s not until you match the whole sum of the Word that truths become apparent. Let’s continue with our previous example.
So you have a scripture that says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, (Acts 2:21)” And that’s true. But you have to know what it means. And Christians will pick out a verse like that and say, “This is all you have to do…” They find the scripture with the lowest common denominator, with the least amount to do, and if it says that will save you than they say, “That’s it, that’s the one I want!” You see, they want that simple one.
But then in Acts 6:31, it says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.”
Well which is it? CALL upon the name of the Lord, or BELIEVE in Jesus Christ….and then you’ll be saved.
Well then in Mark 16:16, it says, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”
Well, now we are getting down to: You call upon the name of the Lord, you believe on the name of the Lord, you’re baptized and then…..?? You’ll be saved, right? Well, that is if there were no more scriptures.
But then we have a scripture in John 10:9 that says, “I am the door, by Me if any man enter he shall be saved.” Well what if you don’t enter by the door? If Christ is the door and you have to enter in at the door to be saved, if you don’t enter in at the door can you be saved? Well, you wouldn’t think so.
And then we have in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace, are you saved, through faith”
Now let’s see if I’ve got this straight:
1. believe on the name of the Lord
2. call on the name of the Lord
3. be baptized
4. enter in at the door of Christ
5. and then by grace
6. through faith
And then you will be saved. Right? Wrong Paleface, because there’s more!
“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor 1:21)
So now I’ve got to:
1. believe on the name of the Lord
2. call on the name of the Lord
3. be baptized
4. enter in at the door of Christ
5. and then by grace
6. through faith
7. and now I’ve got to listen to the foolishness of preaching before I can be saved???
That in itself is grace at work – that it PLEASES God to save those that believe by the foolishness of people like us. The FOOLISHNESS, not the great wisdom…..the foolishness of preaching will save you! That is, if you follow that along with 1 Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, but… you’ve got to come to a knowledge of truth” or, 1 Cor 15:1-2, “I declare unto you the gospel by which you are saved..”
Okay, so by the gospel I’m going to be saved, if I get all this knowledge of the truth, and if I enter at the door, and if I’m saved by grace through faith, and if I’m baptized and believe on His name, and call on His name… then I’ll be saved, FOR SURE, right?
“Being reconciled you shall be saved by His life.” (1 Cor 3:15)
We need to have faith in His name and we need to call upon Him and be baptized. We need to walk through the door and be saved by grace through faith, and the foolishness of preaching. We must come to a knowledge of the truth, and then we will be saved. Well, there are a few more too.
“If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ (we haven’t read that yet!), and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you shall be saved.” (Rom 10:9)
Are you following all these? Do you see all these scriptures? Do you think any one of them was written in vain? That we can just cling to one and say “we’ve done it!” That’s how watered down Christianity has become! So now we’ve got to:
1. Confess with your mouth
2. and believe in our heart that He raised Jesus from the dead
3. and we know that we’ve got to be reconciled to God
4. and take on the quality of Christ’s life
5. and we’ve got to walk through the door
6. and be baptized
7. and we’ve got to listen to Ray’s foolishness of preaching
8. and we’ve got to call upon the name of the Lord….etc. etc. etc.
And now you’ll be saved? You haven’t even started! Well, WHAT IS ALL THIS STUFF? WHAT IS IT? Why is all this stuff in the Bible? How do you do all this stuff?
There’s more, we could go on for days, there’s more and more and more…. and THEN you shall be saved! If you’ve got to do all that then why does it say, “Whosever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”? Because that’s all you have to do! But what about all the rest??? It’s ALL ONE! That’s why salvation is a process – we are getting saved little by little, yet we’ll only be proved saved at the resurrection!
If you do any one of these in the spirit, you will be saved. Any one of them. They’re all the same! Each one comes from a little different perspective, but they’re all the same. You need to learn the principal; you need wisdom to know what the word of God is all about.
Now this is actually basic stuff, yet you don’t learn these things in church, even though we’re doing nothing but reading scripture! They’d say, “we’ve heard enough of this heresy!” You see – teachings like the “sinners prayer” are commonly accepted doctrines – most preachers adhere to them, for no other reason than tradition! Yet it’s complete and utter bunk!
All the SAME!
“And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?” (Mark 4:13)
Remember this? It’s worth repeating. How many ever read that verse? How many of us know what it means? Yet it’s another vital foundation to our spiritual journeying. Christ opened up their (the Disciples) understanding and they knew what the Old Testament was talking about, how? They could apply it any way they wanted to, as long as they had that principle in tow! Whatever they said would be true. The Holy Spirit will show you how to do that, and it will all make sense, and it will all be true, but you’ve got to know what the principle is. This is not church (candlestick realm) stuff – this is throne-room stuff!
Did you read what that says? How will you know this scripture, how will you know ALL parables? If you don’t know this parable, how will you know all the other parables? If you know one parable, you know them all. If you spiritually understand the parable, that is, because there are some variations of them. Sometimes they give both sides of a situation, sometimes they only present one side of a situation. But it’s still the same parable. If you understand a parable you understand all parables, because it’s nothing but a repeat.
In the same way - All these things; believe in the Lord, call upon the name of the Lord, confess with your mouth, enter through the door, by grace through faith, be baptized etc. etc. etc.… It’s all a different perspective – but it’s the same command! Those are not a dozen different things that we have to do in sequence! It’s all ONE! To walk in obedience and son-ship – you have to be doing all this at once – that’s the road to salvation. It’s not an isolated incident like “the sinners prayer,” it’s a way of life – you do it daily, there’s nothing DONE about it – it’s about the doing it!
So, there are 39 parables recorded in the gospels, but there are only ONE! The Kingdom of God is like this or like that; it’s like a farmer, it’s like a fisherman, it’s like a guy hunting treasure, it’s like a woman putting leaven into a meal. It’s all the same parable! You’ll find this theme, running not just through the parables, but running through the whole scriptures. Many are called, few are chosen. Do you know what all the parables are about? All of them, every one of them. Do you know what they are about? Many are called, few of chosen. That’s what they are all about. Are you getting it? Every parable is about many called, few chosen. Just look.
The Wise Virgins... the Foolish Virgins. Same thing.
The Lost Sheep... the 99
The Old Cloth... the New Cloth
The Wheat... the Tares
The Carnal Mind... the Mind of Christ
Judge Now... Judge Later
Physical Israel... Spiritual Israel
The First Adam... The Second Adam
Heart of Stone... Heart of Flesh
First the Shadow... Then the Reality
The True Gospel... Another Gospel
Image of the Earthly... Image of the Heavenly
The Tree of Good and Evil,
The Pharisee... the tax collector
Some was sown in the good soil... some was sown in the stony places
Seed of the Woman... Seed of Satan
Joseph... Joseph’s brothers
The Shadow... The Reality
The Law of Sin and Death... the Law of the Spirit of Christ
The Rich Man... Poor Lazarus
The Faithful Servant... The Evil Servant
The Elder Son... The Prodigal Son
The Old Wine Skins... The New Wine Skins
The House on the Sand... The House on the Rock.
It’s all the same thing.
Eonian Chastisement... Eonian Life
First the Physical... Then the Spiritual
The Old Covenant... The New Covenant
The Carnal Law of Moses... The Spiritual Law of God
Physical Blessings... Spiritual Blessings
Temporary Blessings... Eternal Blessings
First Resurrection... Second Resurrection
The Image of Man... The Image of God
The bottom line is that the Word of God is essentially one big parable. It’s all ONE. God is ONE. His message is ONE. You just have to know what that ONE is. THE ONE IS JESUS CHRIST! That’s the ONE. Because He’s the first Adam, and He’s the second Adam. And when we are given the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, guess what? We become ONE! This is so easy, but the greatest minds that ever lived cannot comprehend this. This is spiritual stuff. There’s no other way to understand the scriptures, Theologians never will. Some have doctorates galore, yet most don’t know what the gospel is! Some read Hebrew and Greek fluently yet they don’t have a clue as to what the gospel is! Just amazing. Yet here are the disciples, a bunch of commoners with the keys to the kingdom. This walk of salvation is a profound one - and it’s all leading to the divine requisite of the Garden – from the Image of Man, to Image of God. It’s a big jump! That’s what you call a quantum leap!
Now here’s what you have to understand: there is nothing in this creation that is not necessary. You may say, “Well, God could have done it a different way.” You could well argue that we don’t need child molesters, rapists and genocidal maniacs for God to accomplish what He wants? It’s a hard learnt truth- but we do! It’s necessary! Evil is a necessity in order to know the depths of God’s grace and purpose. The depths of these evils that currently flourish upon the face of the earth shall cease and a perfect justice dispensed, yet currently they teach us about ourselves in a most profound way. We shall explore this more throughout this series.
Its own Interpretation
That God’s Word is ONE is an enigma to the carnal mind and is caustic indeed to carnal Christianity. It is a thorn in the side to anyone trying to make light of the deep truths of the scriptures. For example, let’s go back to: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:10). Is that true? Absolutely that is true! All you have to do is call upon the name of the Lord. That’s all you have to do. But what does that mean? Well there’s a scripture that tells us, thank God for that. There’s a scripture that just flat out tells us what that scripture means.
“Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say!” (Luke 6:46)
Oooh.....So how do you call upon the name of the Lord? Well firstly - Jesus tells us, “Why do you call me Lord Lord, and do not the things that I say.” You’ve got to have the whole counsel of God. Woah – isn’t that verse a kick in the teeth! This example (just one verse out of many hundreds) is a profound reminder of how cutting the scriptures are – they are not for the faint hearted. Yes, every verse means what it says, but Peter also tells us that “no scripture is of a private interpretation” (according to the King James translation). But that word “private” means “own.” The scriptures can state something: “Whosever shall call upon the name of the Lord…” and that’s a true statement, but that’s not its own interpretation. Here’s a verse that interprets that: If you’re going to call upon the name of the Lord, if you’re going to call me Lord, you’ve got to do what I say! You can’t separate the scriptures. They are all in harmony, all of them. They do not contradict.
A Lord is a Master, and a servant obeys the Master. That’s why He’s your Master, a Master is somebody you obey! If you’re going to call the Lord Master, you had better obey Him. He says do what I say, well what does he say? Well He says;
“For I say unto you, that except your righteousness exceed that of the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mat 5:20)
Let’s carry this on a bit further. Were the scribes and the Pharisees righteous? You bet they were. They kept the Law of Moses better than any of us could ever do. Will they be in the Kingdom of God? Absolutely not! Yet Christians will tell you, you’ve got to develop this Godly character, keep the Law of Moses…. but Jesus Christ said, “You’ve got leave the Pharisees in the dust or you’ll never be in the Kingdom of God…”
“Verily, verily I say unto you, except a man be born again… (means spiritually begotten, spiritually converted, spiritually regenerated)… he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
“But I say unto you that whosever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Mat 5:28)
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these, adultery, they which commit such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21)
It isn’t JUST that if you look upon a woman and lust after her you’ve committed adultery, if you commit adultery you’ll never be in the Kingdom of Heaven. There’s another scripture that says that. You can’t throw that scripture away. It’s part of that other scripture. It defines it... it interprets it.
“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Mat 5:39)
How many do that? Do we really have to do that? Somebody sues us, we sue them back, right? Isn’t that the way? Sure it is. We have to stop doing those things. We have to start doing what’s right. Always. You can’t do it unless you are regenerated, born again, converted, spiritually in your heart, and have God’s spirit. These things are too tough. Even with God’s spirit it’s tough! You just can’t do it with a carnal mind. God is the only one who is going to see us through it.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)
That’s a “verily, verily” too by the way. He didn’t just say that... He said “truly, truly, except a grain of wheat die.” We’re the grain of wheat, we have to die. Who wants to die? Where are you going to get a congregation of 25,000 skillion Christians if you tell them you’re going to teach them how to die? I don’t want to die, who wants to die! If you’re going to be a follower of Jesus Christ, you have to die. That’s not pleasant, it’s not fun and games, it’s just not all that much fun. It’s rewarding, there’s a joy to it, but it’s not fun.
WALKING THE LINE
Walking these truths is light years away from just talking about them – it really is. They are galaxies apart – and we are ALL guilty of it. Yet the fruit of the Spirit of those things that should be manifest in our lives, is the very proof that we are calling upon the name of the one we call “Lord!”
“Verily, verily I say unto you in as much as you did unto the least of these my brethren, you’ve done it unto me” (Matt 25:40).
These scriptures are hard to swallow. Few of us (and we mean FEW) ever contemplate our masters bidding, let alone DO IT! Here’s another gut buster. You see, however we treat humanity is how we’re treating Christ. They are in the physical image, already of God, not the spiritual image yet. But we are physically created, we do physically exist. So we need to think about that. It’s easy to hug and say nice things about our own little group and then look upon the others as trash. We can’t do that! You’ve got to be just as cognizant of people out there in the world and what their needs are, and so on and so forth. It’s rewarding, so we should do it when there is opportunity. How do we treat our fellow man? Good Lord – the truths hurts!
“Verily, verily, I say unto you that a rich man shall hardly enter in to the Kingdom of God” (Matt 19:23).”
Another “verily, verily.” If you’re rich and wealthy and constantly have your mind on it, the wordly success, the fame, the adulation, you simply won’t be called to rule in the Kingdom of God. Because your mind is on the wrong things. God’s not looking for people like that. Jesus Christ said I’ve come to call the sinners to repentance. I didn’t come here to call the rich, famous and successful and the wise and the noble, according to this world. He didn’t say he wasn’t going to call ANY, just NOT MANY.
“But I say unto you, love your enemies” (Matt 5:44)
Well how far would we get with this in any Christian church? What do the majority of Christians do with that scripture?Easy – it’s too hard, they throw it out. They’ll never be in the Kingdom of Heaven, not until they love their enemies. Not only love your enemies, you have to do good to those that persecute you. You have to pray for those that despitefully use you, you have to do that too. Why? “That you may be the sons of your Father” (Matt 5:45). Let’s be completely honest here. Most of us are just as selfish and quick to anger as anyone in the world – we are quick to pass judgement, with little mercy and less patience. How we all feeling now! Yeah..they are talking about YOU! With much fear and trembling we MUST consider the weight of these commands from the one we call master and Lord! Remember, true sons of God are being made in HIS image. These are attributes we MUST possess if we are being moulded into rulers of men. When you have children, they’re in your image, they’re just like you. We’re born into the Kingdom of God, through the resurrection. We will be like God, we will be in the image of God. We will see Jesus Christ as He is, because that’s how we will be. Immortal, with spiritual bodies, with great power. But it’s at a huge personal cost.
You read a scripture like:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)
And the churches quote that all day long, of course there’s more, if you keep reading:
“For we are His workmanship (Gk: achievement is a more accurate word), created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)
“Wait a minute, I thought there were no good works?” No, not YOUR works, not through YOUR works lest any man should boast. But through the works that God prepared for you, that will follow right on the heels, yes it will. There will be good works or you won’t be in the Kingdom of God – they are the very proof of God’s workings kin you.
Paul said study to show yourself approved. He said to Timothy, you have to study, if you don’t study the scriptures you won’t know all this stuff. But doesn’t show us such an overwhelming amount of stuff that we can’t do it! That would discourage us. He’s the one that’s got to empower you, He will empower you to do it. But know this. You sure aren’t going to be saved by an 11 second prayer. That is sheer nonsense!
Scratching the Spiritual Surface
The bottom line is this. You can’t fake compassion. You can’t fake forgiveness. You can’t pretend to be patient and you certainly can’t fake loving your enemies. Only the Spirit of God in us can produce these kinds of fruit. Yip. If we’re gonna call on the name of the Lord, we have to be true servants of our master i.e doing what he asks of us, living these principles with GENUINE purpose – not with a sigh, or begrudgingly, or out of duty. It should be second nature to the Sons of God. Not only that, but as we walk in obedience, we should find ourselves beginning to comprehend the spiritual witnesses and principles of God’s Word with more understanding. Now notice:
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. For this is the witness of God which He has testified about His Son. He who believes on the Son of God (this is the Lord) has the witness in himself. He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he does not believe the record that God gave of His Son. (In many bibles it will say, “he that believes not the TESTIMONY,” my margin says testimony) Because he believes not the testimony of the son of God, and this is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His son. He that has the Son, has life, and he that has not the Son of God, has not life. These things I’ve written unto you that you believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:9-10)
Again; call upon the name of the Lord, if you call Me Lord do what I say. Believe on the name of the Lord, “These things I have written that you believe on the name of the Lord, the Son of God!” What do you do if you believe on the Lord? What’s the problem with those who don’t? It says, if they don’t believe the “testimony” that God gave of His son... they don’t believe that! They won’t be in the Kingdom of God because they don’t believe the testimony that God gave of His son! What is that testimony? Get ready…and now we’re tying this all back to all the things we have learnt regarding the profound symbolism of the types, shadows and allegories of the scriptures! Yes, it’s all about the unfolding revelation of the one and only.....“the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:1-2)
Those who do not believe the testimony that God gave of His son, they are the ones who won’t be in the Kingdom of God! “For this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.” His testimony of His Son and “These things were written that you believe on the name of the Lord.” You’ve got to believe this testimony of Jesus Christ that His Father gave Him. Now that’s not its own interpretation, remember? You have to match spiritual with spiritual. What is that testimony? “The revelation of Jesus Christ which GOD gave onto Him… He bare record of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” It’s the same words! The Book of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus Christ!
Now we get into the meat of all this – and by the way, we’re only going to scratch the surface in this study. All these scriptures, stories, all that history, all those prophets and scribes and kings, all that war and suffering, conquering and exile, disobedience and judgement – all the epic stories of the Old Testament – they all point towards CHRIST IN US!
What are we going to do with all this – all this symbolism? How does it all play out? Well, we hope that this series will start to shed some light on some of the most profound spiritual truths found in the Bible. And what’s in it for us?
“Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.” (Rev 1:3)
If you’re going to call upon the name of the Lord, you have to do what the Lord says. In John we read that if you’re going to call upon the name of the Lord you’ve got to believe the testimony that His Father gave concerning Him. Revelation says, this is that testimony - 22 chapters. And get this - John was so sad when they were going to open the seals of this book. Why was he so sad? Why would John be so sad about that?
“And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” (Rev 5:2-4)
Why would he cry? What’s so important about these seals that John would weep like a child? Because he just wrote, you’ve got to keep what’s in there! Now we can’t even open them. That’s a catch-22, I’ve got to do what it says, but I don’t know what it says! Who can open this up? The Son of God, He can. This is His testimony, He knows how to open it. So He opens up the seven seals... then there’s seven trumpets... then there’s seven plagues.
Before we get there we have the seven churches. So let’s start to unfold some of the mysteries of Revelation and how they apply – and always remember – REVELATION is a book written to believers, a book that reveals Christ within us! Too few understand that that is what all this symbolism is all about! The 7 churches (7 meaning ALL or complete) who Christ is addressing, represent the church as a whole. And who is the church? You and me! The 7 churches represent all the carnal aspects of candle stick realm Christianity. Let’s look at them.
The church of Ephesus, it says they left their first love, and they had these Nicolaitans (who were those that exercised power), we call it church government. Christ said the Gentiles will rule with authority, but not so will you in My church. The Nicolaitans loved that power. What was the admonition to Ephesus? To repent, then if they overcame, they would get to partake of the tree of life.
Then he talks to Smyrna and they had those that were of the synagogue of Satan. They say they are Jews, but are not. They say they are converted to Christ, that’s what that means... but they are not. So the admonition is to be faithful unto death and if you overcome I’ll give you the crown of life.
Then at Pergamos they had the doctrine of Balaam. And they also had the Nicolaitans and they were told to repent. If they overcame they would be given the hidden manna.
And then Thyatira had the doctrine of Jezebel and the very depths of Satan in their church. They were told to hold fast and if they overcame all their sins, they would have rulership over the nations in the Kingdom of God with Jesus Christ.
Then we have Sardis, which was spiritually dead and they had defiled garments, that is, they were not righteous, they were not morally upright. They were not living properly and they were told to repent. If they overcame they would not have their names taken out of the book of life.
Then we come to Philadelphia which was just like all the others, they had the synagogue of Satan among them. Those that said they were converted, but were not. They were told to hold fast and God would make them pillars in the temple of God, if they overcame.
In Laodocea, they were lukewarm and poor and blind, wretched and naked. They were told to repent and if they overcame they would sit on the very throne of God and rule on the very throne of God itself.
Now the book of Revelation is clearly addressed to these “seven churches which are in Asia.” Considering the purpose of the book of Revelation, why is the book addressed and delivered to seven specific churches only? Well, only by the revelation of the mind of the Lord can we understand this! An important key is found in the repeated use of the number seven. Numerology has always been a subject of special interest to students of the scriptures, though too many misunderstand their application as literal. Most biblical numbers convey a spiritual, metaphorical, or allegorical meaning. While several numbers have some sort of mystical significance in the Bible, the ones of primary importance are three, four, seven, and twelve. Interestingly enough, all of the numbers convey some aspect of completion, wholeness, totality, perfection, or power.
In the book of Revelation, numbers do not actually define amounts at all, but they represent concepts. The number twenty-four, for example, is meaningless as an amount - there are not exactly twenty-four elders sitting on twenty-four thrones up in some far-off heaven somewhere; but what the number signifies, the priesthood of God, is vital. The number 144,000 mentioned in the Revelation is relatively unimportant as a number; but when we understand that it is a multiple of twelve, and that twelve is the number of divine government, then twelve squared by itself times a thousand (the number representing the day of the Lord) represents the absolute fullness and perfection of divine government within a people in the day of the Lord!
Seven is very significant in the economy of God. It is the most frequently used number in the Bible! The Hebrew word for seven is sheba. From it is shaba, meaning “to be complete…to seven oneself, i.e. swear by repeating a declaration seven times.” That is how the ancients swore, by repeating the oath seven times
instead of placing their hand upon a Bible or merely invoking the name of God Seven speaks of completion, fullness, perfection.
Nothing can be added to or taken from it without it becoming marred. Being a prime number makes it divisible only by itself. The week is complete, full, and perfect in seven days. Seven completes the colours of the spectrum. There are seven notes in the musical scale. The cells of the human body completely replace themselves every seven years. Jesus said that when the unclean spirit is cast out of a man, but the man’s house (body) is not filled with God, the spirit returns with seven others more vile than itself and the end of that man is worse than before. Mary Magdalene had seven devils cast out of her. Armed with the knowledge of the significance of the number seven in scripture it becomes clear that in both of these cases the Lord was speaking metaphorically. Rather than seven devils, there was total or complete possession by sin and demonic power! Thank God, in the midst of that unfathomable depth into which Maryagdalene had fallen, she was forgiven, delivered, and lifted into life by Jesus!
This magnificent number seven is used for the grouping of many things, which John saw in his visions on the isle of Patmos. In chapter one, we find seven golden candlesticks which are the seven churches, seven stars and seven angels which are the messengers of the seven churches. In chapter four there are seven lamps of fire burning before the throne which are the seven spirits of God. In chapter five we see a scroll sealed with seven seals, and a Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes which again are the seven spirits of God.
Also there are listed seven things that the Lamb receives — power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory, and blessing. In chapter six the Lamb opens the seven seals, one at a time. In chapter eight John saw seven angels with seven trumpets. In chapter ten we find the mysterious seven thunders, which John was not allowed to describe. In chapter twelve there is seen in heaven a great red dragon having seven heads and seven crowns on his heads. In chapter thirteen a beast rises up out of the sea having seven heads. In chapter fifteen we see seven angels carrying seven vials (bowls) which contain seven plagues, which are the “wrath of God.” In chapter seventeen we find a woman riding a beast which has seven heads. These seven heads are described as seven mountains (kingdoms) which have seven kings. In chapter twenty-one we again see one of the same seven angels who had the bowls which had contained the seven plagues and thereafter in the book of Revelation there are no more sevens. Everything from that point onward is counted in groups of twelve! That’s progression right there! That’s what’s gonna happen to us – onward and upward, from glory to glory!
SEVEN CHURCHES — THE WHOLE CHURCH
Anyway, let’s not forget, that the seven churches were actually real churches in Asia, (Asia Minor.) They were located on the western end of Asia bordering on the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. It is a small area now in Turkey, about the size of Oregon. Historians have noted that the seven cities mentioned in the biblical text form an irregular loop or circle. The order in which the cities are named is that in which a messenger naturally might be sent, as he followed the great circular road that bound together the most populous and influential part of the province.
Ephesus, the chief city and capital, naturally is mentioned first; then Smyrna, located about forty miles to the north; then Pergamos, some fifty miles further northeast. From there, continuing clockwise around the loop, your next city will be Thyatira, some forty miles southeast; then Sardis, thirty miles farther south; and Philadelphia and Laodicea, about thirty and seventy miles to the southeast of Sardis. It is also interesting to note that this circle of churches lay in the very territory where the apostle Paul had laboured as an apostle, founding many of the churches. Without doubt the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians was circulated around this same circle of churches, for it was the custom in those days for letters to one church to be shared with all the others.
As we read the messages of the Lord to the seven churches we are made painfully aware of the fact that the anointing, glory, holiness, and power of the early days had already lost much of their freshness and potency, as the second generation of believers came along. All the same conditions which prevail in the church systems today were already manifest in the primitive church of John’s day! So, the churches are seven in number because seven in the Bible is always the number of completeness.
There of course were many other local congregations existing contemporaneously with the seven mentioned in Revelation – so it’s the symbolism that speaks to us. After all, the seven churches to whom John wrote were not even the most important! The churches in Corinth, in Rome, in Iconium, in Lystra, in Derbe, in Miletus, in Antioch, in Heliopolis, in Colossae, in Thessalonica, in Babylon, or even Jerusalem itself, are not mentioned. Instead these seven are singled out! Their selection, however, is deeply significant.
These cities where the churches existed lay along the Imperial Post Road. This Roman highway was built about 133 B.C. It is because God knew these seven were facing patterns of trials, tribulations, errors, dealings, faith, steadfastness, victories, and triumphs that would be common to all the Lord’s people down through the entire church age. The spiritual instructions are, “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churchES” — PLURAL!
Thus the Spirit tells us that every believer should hear what the Spirit says to ALL the churches! Every overcomer is admonished to hear ALLTHAT THE LORD SPEAKS TO ALL THE CHURCHES! Therefore, however much there may be in the seven messages to the seven churches having applicability to the seven churches existing in John’s day, or the church in previous times and generations, the messages must be considered in relation to the complete church throughout the age. The messages are prophetic! They are to the whole church realm of yesterday, today, and tomorrow! The seven churches represent not only the conditions existing at the time John wrote, but conditions which may be expected to reveal themselves in the midst of the Lord’s people throughout the entire age. That is precisely why that, out of all the churches existing in John’s day, exactly seven were chosen for this Revelation — the number of totality and completeness!
The key to all the mysteries of the book of Revelation is found in the very first chapter, where the occasion of the writing of the book, by whom it was dictated, and for whom it is intended, is made crystal clear. It was given to John by the angel of Jesus Christ — by the Holy Spirit — to be sent to the seven churches. The seven churches represent the complete church. The key to all the mysteries of the book of Revelation is —THE CHURCH! The church is — THE CALLED! The book of Revelation is therefore the unveiling of Christ’s wonderful, marvellous, awesome dealings with every saint of God whom He is calling out! If God is calling us out of any realm of the world, or the religious, we should expect to experience within ourselves all the things written in this book! Yes, like the “called out” hero’s of the Old Testament, we too have a spiritual mandate to exodus the Old Land and its ways – the carnal religion of Christianity – and make our way through the wilderness towards sonship.
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Rev 2:7)
“Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” (Mat 13:16)
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy.” (Rev 1:3)
Interesting that whenever the Lord Jesus wanted His disciples to realize they could understand His words only because God had opened their ears, He used these expressions. It makes sense then that the Lord uses this phrase seven times in the book of Revelation! The seven churches with all their virtues and problems represent different spiritual states or conditions in the whole church realm. What these churches did right before the Lord we are called to do, and what they did wrong we must abandon, asking God to purge and purify us from it. These churches represent for us the progressive way to the throne of God; for the final promise to the overcomer in these churches is that to him it will be given to reign with Christ upon HIS THRONE.
THE CITIES OF OUR NATURE
Isn’t it amazing – is this not the struggle we ALL face inside? As each of us overcomes spiritually within ourselves all that these churches faced, we receive the greatest reward of all - His mind, likeness, nature, glory, and power! Few realize that the meaning of the names of the cities in which the seven churches were located have a special and prophetic spiritual significance. Asia itself, for instance, means slime or mire, an apt type of the world, of sin and death, of the carnal mind and Adamic nature, and the false religious realms out of which we have been called!
Ephesus means desired or desirable, a term applied by a lover to the woman of his choice.
Smyrna means myrrh, a symbol of sorrow, suffering, and death, an apt picture of the trials, troubles, and tribulations through which we are passing on our journey into perfection.
Pergamos means marriage, elevation, or firm union, and truly each of us is married to, and in firm union with, either the flesh or the spirit!
The meaning of Thyatira is incense, bespeaking of the outflow of grace, praise, and worship through our lives.
Sardis means remnant or escaping ones, signifying that God is always bringing out a remnant unto His purposes.
Philadelphia means brotherly love.
Laodicea conveys the idea of the people’s right, the people’s judgment, or the people’s choice, expressing the negative aspect of the rule of the flesh and the carnal mind of which the Lord says, “I am about to spew you out of my mouth.” Those who overcome in this realm are qualified to REIGN WITH CHRIST ON HIS THRONE!
None of these names are irrelevant, for they were chosen by divine wisdom to speak to us of the great works of God in the lives of His elect! And what does it all mean spiritually? This is profound! The church at this city or that indicates the Lord’s people who are at that particular STAGE IN THEIR SPIRITUAL GROWTH, development, and overcoming in Christ! Amazing huh?
One may be at the stage of suffering, another at the stage of the offering up of spiritual incense, while others are at the stage of brotherly love, and many are at the place of choosing between their rights, their ways, their will and HIS! The spiritual condition in these churches and their standing with God varied greatly. We may be sure that the messages sent by Jesus to these churches applied to each of them personally, yet we may be equally certain that the messages were prophetic and were intended to portray the spiritual condition of the church throughout
the age, and indeed our very own circumstances and experiences!
If the things written therein were simply literal and intended to address actual events and conditions in the churches of that day, then it would difficult to see how they could serve as “signs” and “symbols.” (Rev. 1:1) Ingenuously seven actual Asiatic churches were selected by the Holy Spirit in which were found the traits which have been used by the Lord to prophetically set forth His dealings with the church as a whole and within each of the Lord’s called out elect individually. Oh, the wonder of it! Oh, the mystery of it!
That’s why we see Christ, the very spirit of Christ within each of us, walking in the midst of the churches as Judge, with eyes as a flame of fire, searching the thoughts and intents of the hearts of all the called out ones, inquiring how far each of us has answered to, or departed from, our heavenly privileges and potentialities. The Lord
passes sentence on what He finds, approving what is right and condemning all that is contrary to His nature; warning as regards the evil, and giving encouragement and strength to the overcomer! It is within that the Christ is walking, and it is within that the judgment is taking place! Again – don’t look out in the world for the fulfilment of these prophecies, they are being fulfilled WITHIN!
Christ walks amongst us
The idea that Christ walks amongst the church (the candlestick realm – the home of carnal babes) is a comforting symbol. All these temple symbols found in Revelation speak of the progression towards the throneroom – or the Holy Place. God dwells in us – remember we are His temple. Our spirit is personified as the Most Holy Place typified by the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle of Moses. God in His glory dwelt in the Most Holy Place of old, over the mercy seat, between the Cherubim. Now, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” There is the fullness of God in the Most Holy Place of our spirit! In the words of the Lord to the Laodicean church, we see a remarkable picture of God coming out of the Most Holy Place to fill all realms. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” says the Lord. “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20).
So this is the picture we see in the book of Revelation. The seven churches (warts and all) of Asia are saluted by John. He was shown the seven candlesticks “which ARE the seven churches.” God raised up this prophet that could see and foretell in detail the entire church age before it could transpire. This is what the messages to the seven churches are all about! John beheld the good and the evil of the church age. He declared the blessings and the curses of this age. He saw the strength and the weakness of the church, and indeed of each one of us. He saw the church in its beginnings and in its consummation. He beheld the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ and he exposed the false church systems, the swaggering harlot of this age with her unholy spirit, her false doctrines, her man-made organizations, and her carnal methods and programs. John shows forth the full revelation of all the fullness of Christ and His church during the age and the glory that should follow!
If you want to know what the church is like, look at the seven churches! There you have the divinely inspired portrait of the church realm painted by the brush strokes of the Holy Spirit. Were they not imperfect, carnal, childish, idolatrous, heretical, rebuked? The Lord commends and praises them on one hand, while warning and rebuking them on the other hand! Is that not how a Father deals with his kids? Makes sense huh! Just like us, the early church was a mixture of duality - flesh and spirit, truth and error, law and grace, spirituality and carnality. Yet remember, the great, heavenly, and eternal promises are made to the overcomer alone!
THE REALM OF THE GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS
Of course, the Candlestick realm is the realm of the CALLED (indeed a Holy Place) but only the CHOSEN are sanctified as to enter the Holy of Holies. Anyone familiar with the layout of the temple symbols would immediately associate the seven candled lampstand with the Holy Place, where too the Alter of Incense and Table of Shewbread stood. This of course is a realm of ritual, a plain higher than that of the outer court where physical sacrifices were made, yet only a high priest can enter the throneroom! These symbols require serious study in their own right – but for the purposes of this series, let us consider that the temple system shows us an intricate picture of spiritual conversion and sanctification. Outside stands the worldly multitudes, inside the Holy Place Christ walks amongst the seven churches looking to call those “few” towards true sonship within the Holy of Holies – whereby He calls us to “come up hither.” Yes many are called but very few are chosen for this special honour.
Yes the Candlestick realm though consecrated as holy ground is still but the realm of men. The Temple priests could safely enter and carry out religious responsibilities and ordinances within the confines of the Temple walls – how like the church today - full of the business of ritual and observances. Yet the full measure of the fullness of Christ within us, lies beyond the curtain – one that has been truly rent to those called
to a higher spiritual law.
Truth be told, most believers live in this candlestick realm, this dual life of ordinance and observance, this split personality existence of spirituality and carnality. Just as the Temple priesthood could come and go, so to do most Christians in their daily spiritual walks. Sometimes we think and act out of the spirit, while at other times we function out of our outward fleshly life. This explains why the golden candlesticks had so many problems and were chastened by the Lord! In this realm, we cannot reform our carnal mind or Adamic nature. It doesn’t work! Only by the overwhelming presence of God in our lives can body and soul be brought into union with the nature of God in our spirit. Laws, rules, regulations, condemnation don’t change anything.
The exodus from Church life as we have known it, from the realm of the candlesticks is a necessary prelude to the journey of election. One of the most important lessons we can learn is that we do not possess the power within ourselves to change, to become better people. It is only by Gods calling upon our lives that his Spirit drags us (often kicking and screaming) towards sonship. Christendom teaches that we must choose good over evil, we must choose Christ, we must choose to do better.
The church lays burdens upon those in bondage to sin, it thrust its laws upon them and tell them they can’t be a follower of Jesus and do the things they do. They cast them out of fellowship until they straighten up and do right, but when has that ever helped anyone? When has this ever done in love, with the serious intention of bringing them back into the fold? People don’t need condemnation - they need help!
This of course brings us to a truth that is at the same time both wonderful and dreadful. The seven churches in the book of Revelation had all kinds of problems, yet they were “golden” candlesticks and Christ walked “in the midst” of
them in terrible glory! You see, we are prone to look back on the early church through “rose-colored glasses,” seeing only the ideal, the positive, and the good.
Many preachers are trying to build up a “New Testament Church,” to reproduce the exact order they see in the churches in the days of the first apostles. But they quickly forget that the church had always struggled to retain purity. By the mid-50’s AD, the Galatian churches were steeped in doctrinal error. The Ephesians struggled with the bondage of the law. Even the Philippians, the fruit of Paul’s most successful labours, were marred by selfish ambition and disunity. The Colossian church was overrun with heresies and legalism. The Thessalonians, as stunning as their conversions were, yet were beset by outbreaks of immorality and apocalyptic fanaticism. The Corinthians had experienced the most dramatic manifestation of the power and gifts of the Spirit, yet notwithstanding this, they had profound problems with sexual perversion and moral misconduct, false doctrines, drunkenness from an excess of wine right in the meetings at communion, and total confusion and chaos in the manifestations of the gifts! Wouldn’t that be a wonderful “New Testament Church” to reproduce? The fact is, ALL churches ARE already New Testament Churches without trying to reproduce anything! It is but the symptom of carnal man.
In reality, the seven churches are simply seven stages of our out-calling from realm to realm until we are perfected in the image of Jesus Christ to stand in the fullness of the mind, nature, will, glory, and power of God! Ask yourself - Have the flaws in your own character been magnified in your eyes until you despair of ever attaining to the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus? You are not alone! This is the start of the journey to sonship – simply knowing that you CANNOT meet the mark by human means. Only Christ can enter into the lives of his believers so as to cleanse His church, to sanctify and purify His elect, to purge and refine and make whole.
The sum of ONE
These inward conditions pertain to ALL who seek to live to please God. It’s all the same condition, it’s all the same symptoms, it’s all ONE! Each one of us .It doesn’t matter if you call it “losing your first love” - “the Nicolaitans” - “being faithful onto death” - “the depths of Satan” - “defiled garments” - “spiritually dead” - “lukewarm” - “Jezebel” - “Balam.” It doesn’t matter, it’s all the same sin, crime and corruption. What were they to do? Hold fast! Don’t be taken away with all these winds of doctrines. Repent, overcome and what do you get? The tree of life, the crown of life, the hidden manna, rulership in the Kingdom of God, the book of life, pillars in the temple of God, rulership from the throne of God. It’s all the same! It presents it from different points of view, but it’s ALL ONE! And yet the symbol of “the seven churches” that speaks to us in our state of carnality is just one of many images that seek to enlighten us regarding our inner state and the struggle within.
We’ve also got seven vials, seven seals and seven trumpets. We got the white horse conquering, we’ve got the red horse, the second seal, sword killing. The third horse, black, famine. The fourth horse kills a fourth of the earth. The fifth seal, saints are killed. The sixth seal, men fearing from the wrath of God. The seventh seal, fire falls onto the earth. Then we get the trumpets. The first one, a third of the trees and grass dies. The second, a third of the seas and ships are destroyed. The third, a third of the rivers and fountains and stuff are polluted. The fourth one, the sun and the moon and the stars don’t give their light. The fifth, the scorpions torturing and hurting mankind. The sixth, a third part of men are slain. The seventh seal, Christ returns. Then we have the first woe, sores and horrible diseases and what not, for those who have the mark of the beast. Then the rivers and the fountain are turned to blood in the second plague. Then in the third one everything in the sea dies. In the fourth one the sun scorches men. In the fifth one, there’s darkness and pain and suffering. In the sixth one, we have armegeddon. In the seventh one, we have earthquakes and fires and the mountains are removed. And all these symbols relate to Christ in us! It’s all so mind boggling. Yet hopefully during the course of uncovering the foundational blueprints of the scriptures, we will begin to slowly see the relevance of all this - It’s all the same thing!
It’s not talking about physical chronology or eschatology of the chronological order of events leading up to the return of Christ. This is for us, we’ve got to keep this. How do you keep the darkness? How do you keep “everything in the sea dies”? How do you keep that? You have to know what it means... it’s a symbol. He’s signified this book in symbols. Why? So nobody on earth would ever understand it, except the very ELECT!
You can’t understand these scriptures with a rational human mind. The carnal mind has NO ability to comprehend spiritual things. Scholars have poured over the scriptures for millions of hours and still cannot understand these things. These words are SPIRITUAL, these are spiritual words, these are symbols. They are all the same. And thankfully, it’s not as hard as we thought when God’s opens it up. In fact it takes on a simplicity.
These mountains, what are mountains? These are mountains in our life, not mountains over there in the Rocky mountain chain. These are mountains - HUGE things in our life that have to come down!
The sea is the flesh - humanity. Everything in the sea has to die! This isn’t talking about killing fish in the Indian Ocean. Of what value is it to kill the fish in the Indian Ocean?
This is for us, the people who have the testimony of Jesus Christ have to live all this stuff. What is it? IT’S ALL ONE! It’s just like the parables and all of those other things... tree of good and evil, the 5 wise and 5 foolish, the tares and the wheat and every parable and every teaching. It’s all ONE! Directed toward us! All these things, the Old Testament, it’s all for US!
“And all these things happened to them as examples; and it is written for our warning on whom the ends of the world have come.” (1 Cor 10:11)
Why is all this Old Testament in here, hundreds and hundreds of pages… why is it in there? Why was it preserved? Why was it so meticulously copied, letter for letter thousand and thousand... we have about five to ten thousand copies of the Greek scriptures. Some of them are recent, 1800-1900’s. Some of them go back to the 4th and 5th century, really old. Why... “For our admonition upon who the ends of the age have come…”
It’s an astonishing revelation to come to terms with – that every story, every event, every act and every proverb and parable pertain to our own spiritual journey. When that revelation finally sinks in, you find yourself reading the scriptures in a completely different light. The events become secondary to the spiritual truth or message. Just one example - Why did the young Sheppard boy David gather five stones yet smite Goliath with but one? Well....because many are called but few are chosen that’s why! Do you see that? It’s everywhere in the scriptures, it really is – you’ll begin to see all sorts of spiritual types and shadows when God’s Spirit opens our eyes!
And what’s even more profound , is that those Old Testament “types” and “shadows” won’t even be chosen as the elect. Indeed the “first shall be last and the last shall be first!” It was not for their admonition, it’s for OUR admonition. Many of the patriarchs of old died in their carnality. King David was never converted, he was never born again, he was never begotten anew, he was never spiritually regenerated. His very dying words were, “Make it bloody, kill my enemies!” He told Solomon, “You’re a wise man, you’ll know how to do it, but make it bloody, I hate those guys…” Those were his dying words. Do people like that go into the Kingdom of God? “But I say unto you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES!” It was written for our admonition.
Likewise, before Pentecost (when Christ gave His Spirit - the Spirit of truth to all who believed,) He NEVER converted a person in His whole ministry. Why? Because these people could not understand Jesus’ words! The Holy Spirit had not yet been given as to give understanding! Even his Disciples were perplexed. It’s just amazing. If you said that in a church today they’d be throwing rotten tomatoes at you. But it’s a profound fact. Jesus had many followers initially – but they were there for the magic show, the healings and the miracles. His words fell on deaf ears. And why? It wasn’t for them, it was for US to understand! In His whole ministry Jesus Christ never converted one person! Not one!
LIVING THE SYMBOLS
But we DO have the Spirit of truth! It teaches US spiritual things, even the deep things of God – AMEN! When we get a glimpse of the depth of these symbols – they begin to take on a new shape and form. It’s a long journey to live them though! All these things take a lifetime. If we’re going to walk the walk it’s gonna get messy. We’re going to live “the seals.” For example - A third part of the man died... that’s a third part of the man in us that is going to die, a third part of the carnality. God works in increments, He wipes out some of the trees and then He burns some of the grass… what are the trees and the grass? These are all things in us. We have islands, and mountains, and trees, and grass. All of these are belief systems and ideas and doctrines and philosophies of life and all these things. They are all going to be burned out and broken down and destroyed. All of those seven seals, seven trumpets, seven plagues, they are all things that must happen in our lives.
Where have we heard this kind of talk before? How about John the Baptist quoting Isaiah:
“As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.” (Luke 3:4-5)
Valleys being filled in? Mountains being made low? What the heck is all this about? All these things pertain to us! These things are going to happen in us, the deficits will be cancelled out, the lofty obstacles will be levelled in the presence of the Lamb – these too are symbols of Christ’s reign in us. You may well ask; “Well I don’t remember any trees being burned down – physical or spiritual!” First of all, you won’t even know some of it is happening until it’s over.
“And I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day and I heard a voice BEHIND me as the voice of a trumpet and I turned to see the voice that spoke to me and being turned I saw…” (Rev 1:10)
You won’t see some of these things until they are behind you. You’re going to have to look behind you to see where you came from, to see where God has been taking you. Some of us wouldn’t want to live tomorrow if we knew what was coming, you know. Be thankful that you don’t know everything that’s coming. Be thankful that you only have to take one day at a time. You don’t want to know what every day has to hold. Take it one day at a time as God presents it to you.
There will come a time, when you can look behind you, and see where God’s been taking you all these years. You’ll see it plain as day – all the trees and grass and mountains coming down, I know what it means. It’s all one, all this stuff. Are you getting it? It’s all one thing. Whether you believe on Christ or enter the door of Christ or call upon the name of Christ or accept His grace through the faith of Christ, it’s all one thing. It’s all Christ coming to you, living His life in you!
You notice how many things in Revelation are described as “for a times, time and half a time” - “for a year, years, and half a year” - “for a season, seasons, and half a season” - “for 42 months” - “for 1260 days.” How much is 3½ years, 3½ seasons, 1260 days and 42 months? How much is that? It’s all the same! It’s a symbol of something spiritual. Christ’s ministry lasted 3½ years. You know how long that is? 42 months - 1260 days... Why do we have these, why are they in there? Why is that over and over in there? Because Christ lived in the flesh in his ministry for 1260 days, 42 months, 3½ years. He’s going to live that ministry in us!
And that’s why we live these things that take 42 months, 1260 days and 3½ years. And that 3½ years will be His ministry. it’s a symbol, however long it takes. It’s going to go through this generation of believers and then this one, then this one and on and on because Jesus Christ is, was and will be. He’s not in the past and coming again in the future, He’s here now! He was here before and He’ll be there in the future, He is, was and will be!
Winning souls for Jesus
You see, this isn’t Sunday school stuff. This is spiritual meat. And when you’ve been suckling milk doctrine for so long, it’s tuff to digest. Again, we’re only scratching the surface here of the depths of the mysteries of God’s Word. It’s too much to explain thoroughly – WAY TOO MUCH! Let’s just accept that there is much for us to learn in future studies to come. So we’ve established that the walk of salvation is an arduous one. It comes at great cost because dying to the carnal flesh is a painful process. Our natural inclination is to sin every time and it takes the grace of God to enter our lives to nurture the spiritual man, to drag us to obedience. It takes a life time and few will be counted worthy to be called Kings and Priests in the Kingdom to come.
Seriously. Are there really two billion faith-filled Christians in the world today – worthy of the high calling in Jesus Christ? Have the Scriptures been proven wrong? Is prophecy way out of wack? Did Jesus’ gospel produce more fruit than He had anticipated in this present wicked age? Did Jesus miss-calculate how many believers would be here to greet Him upon His return? Do two billion professing Christians make Jesus a false prophet? Here is the prophecy from Jesus’ own mouth:
“…SHALL HE FIND FAITH ON THE EARTH?”
Here is a prophecy of Jesus concerning how much faith He expected to find on earth when He comes to establish His Kingdom in the earth:
“And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall He find FAITH on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8).
The answer of course is: "Little: He shall not find but very little faith." Jesus asked a rhetorical question the answer to which was obvious, and therefore needed no answer—OF COURSE He will find virtually no faith on the earth when He comes! That is because “many are called but few are chosen.” And only among the “few chosen” do we find the “chosen and faithful” (Rev. 17:14).
How many of these two billion Christians are the result of huge winning souls for Jesus campaigns, rallies, revivals and conferences? Many are counted as believers based on repeating some form of the sinner’s prayer are they not? Yip, when tens of thousands are encouraged to repeat a sinner’s prayer at one of these evangelistic meetings, they are then pronounced “saved.” But are they really? Only God is the final Judge, however, the Scriptures speak clearly of such folly.
No doubt most of us during our Christian walks are familiar with the concept that we can “win people for Christ.” “Winning souls for Jesus” is of course fundamental to the evangelistic endeavour of preaching to our friends and workmates and family. It is taught throughout the whole world of Christendom. Christians are taught they must “witness for Jesus” and in so doing will “win” some souls for Jesus. Many Christians feel a definite need to try and reach people for Jesus before they die. The basic premise is that if anyone is not reached and persuaded to accept Jesus as his personal Saviour before he dies, then he will at death immediately go into the pagan Greek hell of hades and be tortured in fire for all eternity. How indeed can we fulfill our obligation to witness for Christ and become effective teachers of God’s Truths to our family, neighbours, or perfect strangers?
Shocking as it might sound to most, the Scriptures know nothing of “winning souls for Jesus.” It is nothing but an ineffectual man-made doctrine of the carnal mind. But isn’t there a Scripture somewhere that speaks of “winning souls?” No, not really.Once only do we find any words regarding “winning souls” in the King James Bible:
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30).
This verse, however, has absolutely nothing to do with saving the souls of those who believe in Jesus as their Saviour. The Hebrew word kal from which the word “winneth” was translated, is used hundreds of times in the King James, but only once is it translated into any form of the word “win.” It means to, take, bring, fetch, acquire, rescue, etc., but “win” is a poor choice of words. Besides, spiritual salvation through Jesus Christ is not the topic of Proverbs 11:30.
Two New Testament Scriptures:
In Phil. 3:8 we read, “…that I may win [Gk: ‘gain’] Christ…
And in I Pet. 3:1, “…they also may… be won [Gk: ‘gained’] by the conversation [conduct] of the wives…”
The other dozen times this Greek word kerdaino is used, it is always “gain” or “gained.” Example: “Lord you delivered unto me two talents: behold, I have gained [Gk: kerdaino] two other talents beside them” (Matt. 25:22).
Why didn’t the King James translate this: “behold I have WON two other talents…?” Surely even these translators could see the implications of increasing our God-given talents by gambling with them for higher “WINNINGS.”
Christians need to get all this gambling terminology out of their heads when it comes to the doctrines of God. Salvation has nothing to do with winning some; losing some; betting on statistical odds; taking chances, and all such Las Vegas crap table nonsense. Salvation is not a matter of a first chance or a second chance or any chance. Salvation is “sure.”
“SURELY, He Who spares not His own Son, but gives Him up for us all, how shall He NOT, together with Him, also, be graciously granting us ALL?” (Rom. 8:32, Concordant Literal New Testament).
GOD PREDETERMINES WHO GETS SAVED AND WHEN
“Now we are aware that God [Who? GOD. Men—ourselves? NO—GOD] is working all together for the good of those who are loving God who are called according to the purpose that, whom He foreknew, He designates beforehand, also, to be conformed to the image of His Son for Him to be Firstborn among many brethren. Now whom He designates beforehand, these He calls also, and whom He calls, these He justifies also; now whom He justifies, these He glorifies also” (Rom. 8:28-30, Concordant Literal New Testament).
That’s a powerful scripture! It is ALL OF GOD. See, it is not wrong to tell others of your knowledge of God and His Word. It is not, however, your responsibility to “get people saved.” Only God can do that. It is GOD who does the calling:
“For ye see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen [Who? ‘GOD’] the weak things of this world to confound the things which are mighty” (I Cor. 1:26-27).
It is GOD who does the dragging:
“No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent Me, draw him [Gk: ‘drag him’]…” (John 6:44).
It is CHRIST Who chooses from those His Father dragged:
“Ye have not chosen Me, but I HAVE CHOSEN YOU” (John 15:16).
Eventually this will include all mankind:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).
And all will respond to God’s judgments and chastisements:
“That at the name of Jesus EVERY knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those in earth, and those under the earth; And that EVERY tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11—See also Isa. 26:9b).
And let’s not forget:
“…no man CAN say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit” (I Cor. 12:3b).
Which is totally contrary to the obtuse teachings of some Christian leaders who state that; “Yes, every knee will bow, and if they don’t GOD WILL BREAK THEIR KNEES." Oh the unscriptural foolishness of carnal minded men.
But does orthodox Christianity believe that these Scriptures mean what they say? Of course not, and that is why they quote Phil. 2:12 “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” thinking that this takes Sovereignty away from God and places it back with man and his fabled “free will.” Not so. They forget to read the next verse which tells us why we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling:
“For [‘for’ means ‘because’] it is GOD [Who? Man? NO! ‘GOD’] which works in you both TO WILL AND TO DO of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
SALT AND LIGHT
“Ye are the salt of the earth… Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:1,14,16).
The same lesson applies to those of us being called out of the bondage of Christendom in regards to how we operate in the light of these new found truths. It’s one thing to “preach” to others but as we can clearly see, unless the Lord sows the seed, no amount of ploughing and watering will change anyone’s mind to “accept” Jesus or the truths we have acquired Salt does not make any noise, and light does not argue Scriptures. Neither salt nor light makes any sound whatsoever. Maybe there is a lesson in there.
Too many of us learn a few truths of God and think we are ready to take on the world. Some start by trying to embarrass their Pastor with their new-gained knowledge. Usually they fall flat on their face on the very first try. It’s all about motivation. If your motivation is carnal, God will not back you. “But my motivation is to show them God’s truths.” Yes, sure, but here’s the stone cold truth. THEY DON’T WANT TO HEAR GOD’S TRUTHS! Leave them alone and let them taste your salt and see your light and admire your good works, and perchance they will even praise God for your new-found humility. Our fruit and our actions will speak oh so much more eloquently and profoundly that our proud and puffed up knowledge of the scriptures – that’s for sure.
This is another aspect of our walk into exile that we must come to terms with – that we can’t even begin to explain our walk about in the wilderness to anyone. It’s all too easy to be accused of back sliding, of going off on some weird heretical tangent – our ramblings of “salvation for all” and “Hell is not scriptural” are deemed as a sure sign that we have lost the plot and are now food for Satan.
You will simply never argue anyone into accepting the truths of God’s Word. As salesmen are often taught: “You might win the argument, but loose the sale,” so don’t argue. And this: “He who is persuaded against his will; is of the same opinion still.”
So again, how do we demonstrate our knowledge of the truth? Notice the admonition of the Apostle Peter:
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation [Gk: ‘conduct’] honest [Gk: ‘honourable’] among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may BY YOUR GOOD WORKS, [Not your clever Bible arguments], which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (I Pet. 2:11-12).
Your good works and righteous character will pay dividends to others eventually - if not in this life, then in the Judgment. It’s that simple.
A Spiritual Sidebar
It’s a strange process, that this indwelling of righteous character - one that is literally seen by those around us - is birthed only through accomplishing the unseen and intangible. It seems such an oxymoron having to live out symbolic instruction because it’s really weird - All this stuff about symbols, and figurative language, and allegories, and parables, and metaphors, and devils and serpents, and monsters from the sea having seven heads and ten horns, and fires in a lake which is not really a lake, but is a spiritual lake and not literal fire, and heads that are not heads, but mountains, and the mountains are not mountains, etc., etc., is nonsense to the carnal mind. It all sounds like some endless scavenger hunt or some ancient version of ‘Dungeons and Dragons,’ yet this is MARVELOUS stuff! It is amazing how God has hid the truths of His plan of salvation for the world, from the world, and yet when one follows His instructions in unlocking these mysteries, IT ALL MAKES PERFECT SENSE AND ALL THE SCRIPTURES HARMONIZE BEAUTIFULLY!
Anyway, WHY DOES GOD WORK THIS WAY? Why doesn’t He JUST SPEAK CLEARLY AND WITHOUT PARABLES AND METAPHORS AND SYMBOLS AND EVERYBODY WOULD UNDERSTAND HIM? Then there wouldn’t be a thousand religions and five hundred Christian denominations! We would ALL KNOW THE TRUTH and WE WOULD ALL BE SAVED WITHOUT ANY LAKE OF FIRE!
The truth is, God never intended for everyone to understand His Word or His Plan except for the few that He calls in every generation. He is not even trying to save the whole world in this lifetime or even in this age. The prophet Habakkuk tells us this,
“For the earth shall be FILLLED with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).
Oh it “shall” shall it? WHY NOT NOW? Wouldn’t it be better NOW if the earth were FILLLED with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord? Why later? Because it is God’s way. Lets quote Hab. 2:3 from the Revised Standard Version:
“For there is still a vision for the APPOINTED TIME; it speaks of THE END, and does not lie., If it seems to tarry, wait for it, it will surely come, IT WILL NOT DELAY.”
God’s ways take time and He does everything according to His schedule, and EVERYTHING IS RIGHT ON SCHEDULE.
Why God hasn’t even called whole categories of people during the past two thousand years:
“For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, ARE CALLED” (I Cor. 1:26).
And of those called, only a “few are chosen.” And those few are admonished to search, and hunt, and dig for the truth. None of this is an accident nor is it God’s plan gone amuck. God’s plan is on schedule to the millionth of a millisecond. God knows how many hairs were lost on your head today because He had already planned how many you would lose, a long time ago.
God is considerably smarter and more powerful than most people could ever conceive. Who but God would have designed and created the Hebrew and Greek languages. (People the world over are still saying, "It’s GREEK to me")! God caused these languages to die out. Later God revived these two ‘dead languages’ in Italy, France, and England during the period of time God preordained to be called the Renaissance. Before this, no one spoke Hebrew or Greek in Europe, and very few scholars understood these languages. God planned that this alone would be a major barrier to understanding His Word. And when God finally put it within the hearts of men to translate His word out of the Greek, it was found to be jam packed with metaphors, parables, figurative language, and ancient idioms, difficult to translate. How amazing that we are only even considering these deep musings on the revelation of God’s truths long after these languages had died and risen from the ashes. Part of our education into understanding God’s Word is to recognize that much of the hidden gems of truth are shrouded in mistranslation.
No Error-Free Translations
One of the most daunting parts of the migration out of carnal Christianity is to come to terms with the fact that the Bible as we know it isn’t perfect. We’ve been conditioned for so long to believe that the nice leather bound tome we have on our bookshelf is the perfect Word of God, that we consider it blasphemy to even consider the opinion of others. The fact is, that it is nothing more than a historical book(s) that requires stringent historical textual critique, like any other ancient body of work. Honest Christian scholars know that the idea of an “inerrant” or flawless translation is not even possible. It just isn’t possible to translate one language into another language PERFECTLY. It cannot humanly be done! There are many words, idioms, and colloquial sayings in many languages that simply HAVE NO EXACT EQUIVALENT in other languages. But that’s okay. It is possible to understand God’s Word even with these difficulties, differences, and imperfect translations. That is because the real understanding is in the SPIRIT and not in the LETTER. Certainly God uses both, but the emphasis is on the former and not the latter.
So God knows that understanding His Word is not a casual task that can be accomplished without great effort. Paul told Timothy to STUDY, rather than just casually read the Scriptures. Even with the aid of God Spirit, we must study, God does not miraculously cause His saints to memorize and understand all Scripture.
So why? Why so many translations of the Bible today? Why not just one perfect one? Why don’t those who understand Hebrew and Greek just get together and whatever the word in Hebrew is, translate it into an English word that means the same thing, and we will have a perfect translation with no errors? There is no such thing. There is no such thing as a “perfect” word for word translation from one language to another
Every nation and every culture has its own ways and customs. Add to this problem, the fact that the languages of Scripture were dead for centuries and had to be rediscovered. Add to this, customs that no longer exist. Add to this, words that have gone out of use, etc., etc., etc, and you will see the colossal task of translating 3500 year old Hebrew into modern English or 2000 year old Greek into English. There will always be minor or major changes in the interpretation when translating. This is one reason why Peter tells us that no Scripture is its OWN INTERPRETATION. We must compare Scripture with Scripture. Likewise, we must have TWO witnesses of Scripture before a binding truth is established.
THE INERRANT KING JAMES?
Of course, many believers cling to the myth that the King James Bible is “inerrant” (incapable of error). It is, in fact, a doctrine of some denominations. But there have been over ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND changes in the King James Bible. Most of them are relatively minor changes such as spelling, grammar, etc. Nonetheless, all should agree that any translation requiring a hundred thousand corrections hardly could be called perfect and inerrant. In the front of some 1611 Editions of the King James there is an eleven-page dissertation entitled: “THE TRANSLATORS To The Reader.” And in it the translators freely confess their inability to translate the Scriptures flawlessly.
The 1611 KJV also has notes in the margins. Unfortunately, these have all been removed from most modern printings. Hundreds of times you will find in the margin, notes stating what the Hebrew or Greek literally said even though they saw fit to translate it otherwise. You can’t criticizing this practice. Often it is necessary because it is not possible to translate word for word and have it make sense in English. Most of the corrections made over the centuries have been positive, however, there still remains a few major errors that desperately need correction. As we know: the words “hell” and “eternal” have no equivalent in either the Hebrew or Greek manuscripts!
Some of the mistakes that have been made in the past are pretty funny too. Those who claim that the KJV is inerrant are not aware of the fact that one edition of the King James left out the word “not” in the seventh commandment. Thou shalt murder anyone? Any takers? There were, in fact, three different corrections and revisions of the KJV in its very first year of publication.
The 1716 Edition had Jesus commanding the adulteress to, “sin on more” instead of “sin no more” In a 1795 Edition Jesus is reported to have said to the Syro-Phoenician woman, “Let the children first be killed” instead of “Let the children first be filled.” They called that Edition The Murderer’s Bible. In the 1792 Edition of the King James Bible has Phillip denying Jesus instead of Peter denying Him.
STRAINING "AT" A GNAT?
And there are still obvious errors remaining in the KJV after four hundred years of corrections, revisions, and editing. In Matt. 23:24 we read this in the KJV, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” So what’s wrong with that? It’s incoherent! Christ is speaking of “swallowing,” as in “swallowing a camel.” But “straining at a gnat” has nothing to do with swallowing a gnat. In four hundred years, the revisers of the KJV have not caught that slip. Most other translators have caught it and translate it properly:
“…strain out the gnat” American Standard Version.
“Blind leaders! You filter your wine to get rid of a gnat, and you swallow a camel” - C. H. Rieu. (Although Mr. Rieu uses too many uninspired words, he nonetheless, does translate the idea properly).
-“strain off a midge, yet gulp down a camel”- New English Bible
“you call yourselves leaders, and yet you can’t see an inch before your noses, for you filter out the mosquito and swallow the camel” - Phillips Translation. (Again, Mr. Phillips uses too many uninspired words, however, he too nails the meaning quite well).
JESUS OR JOSHUA?
One more: Two obvious mistakes that were made in the 1611 Edition of KJV also have not been corrected to this very day. In both Acts 7:45 and Heb. 4:8, the name “Jesus” appears where “Joshua” is actually meant. Actually Jesus and Joshua are spelled the same in Greek, but, nonetheless, the translators were inattentive or they would have caught this error.
THE KING JAMES AND WILLIAM TYNDALE
Now we don’t point out these errors simply to disparage the KJV. Not at all, but to merely show that those who claim “inerrancy” in translations are just plain ignorant of the facts. All Bible translations are imperfect – that’s the plain truth. In fact, the truth be known, if the words sheol/hades, and olam/aion, were properly translated the King James would be a great translation. The rhyme and meter of the King James is unparalleled. And this has been accomplished without sacrificing accuracy. Dispite the obvious errors, It is a masterful work of translating.
Of course, the 1611 Translators shouldn’t get the lion’s share of the credit for this accomplishment. Perhaps as much as 90% of the KJV is the work of Translator William Tyndale, irrespective of the fact that the KJV translators do not even acknowledge his contribution to their work.
And so it was Tyndale who accomplished this magical rhyme of Scriptures and yet stayed very precisely to the original Hebrew and Greek wording besides properly interpreting the meaning of thought. Of course, we all know, it was really God Himself Who intended the most popular version of His Word on earth, to have that special quality about it. Sadly, Tyndale translated only about twelve books in the Old Testament before the Church thought it necessary to strangle him and burn his body for his sin of making the Word of God available to the common people.
If translators attempt to translate thought for thought rather than word for word, then the translators become, of necessity, interpreters. In those cases where a word, thought or idiom cannot be translated perfectly, the translators attempt to do the best they can. This is the reason that using multiple translations is helpful. Although the translators of The Living Bible may have gone a little far when they translated Job 41:30 thus: “His belly is covered with scales as sharp as shards; he drags across the ground like a steamroller!”
Struggling with the WORD
The subject of translation and interpretation is really important to understand. Most Christians are blissfully unaware of the literal processes let alone the spiritual application. It takes a mature mind to understand that the historical manuscripts must be held up to the highest scrutiny. It takes a spiritual mind to sift the deep things of God. And it takes an obedient mind to put spiritual things into practice. We have touched on this before, but we’ll briefly recap on the subject of spiritual understanding. Remember, if the apostles had trouble understanding the words of our Lord, when they were right there with him, and no language translator was needed, seeing that they all spoke the same language, is it little wonder that we have trouble 2000 years later, speaking totally different languages?
On the evening of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus was teaching His disciples many things. At one point in the evening the disciples said: “Then said some of His disciples among themselves, ‘What IS THIS that He says unto us?’…” (John 16:17).
They said therefore, ‘What IS THIS that He says, ‘A little while?’ we CANNOT tell what He says. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask Him, and said unto them, Do you enquire among yourselves of that I said, ‘A little while and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?’ (Verses 18-19).
Jesus then explains His statement more thoroughly in verses 29-31,
“His disciples said unto Him, Lo, NOW SPEAKEST THOU PLAINLY, and speakest NO PROVERB. NOW are we SURE that Thou knowest all things, and needs not that any man should ask you: by THIS we believe that you came from God. Jesus answered them, ‘DO YOU now believe…?”
To avoid open embarrassment, the disciples said in effect: “Oh, okay, now we get it … now You’re talking Lord, now it’s all plain. Now that you aren’t speaking in parables and proverbs and symbols, we see now what You’re talking about. NOW we understand.” Oh really? Jesus let them know that they didn’t understand at all!
UNDERSTANDING COMES ONLY FROM THE SPIRIT
In John 16:4 we read this,
“But these things have I told you, that WHEN THE TIME SHALL COME, ye may remember that I told you of them.”
“I have yet MANY THINGS to say unto you, but ye CANNOT bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into ALL TRUTH: for He shall not speak of Himself [Jesus IS this Spirit of Truth]; but whatsoever He shall hear [from His Father], that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father has are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you.”
So why didn’t the disciples understand these things when Jesus first taught them? As we already know - Because they weren’t converted as yet! They did not have the Spirit of God as yet. That is the ONLY way we can ever understand these deep symbolic mysteries of God:
“But God has revealed them unto us BY HIS SPIRIT: for the Spirit searches ALL things, yea, the DEEP things of God” (I Cor. 2:10)
“But we have the MIND of Christ” (Verse 16).
Part of our spiritual Exodus, is being aware of those who claim to know God’s Spiritual Truths, but know precious little about God’s Word, the Scriptures. God’s Spirit never contradicts His Word, but the Church’s teaching contradicts God’s Word in hundreds of places. You may well find yourself from time to time just shaking your head in disapproval at something some minister is bellowing from the pulpit on television. This is because, these truths are sinking in, they testify so much with the Spirit, that carnal preaching just becomes nauseating!
God has hid these mysteries from the world and even from the Church, not that we are the only one to begin understanding these things. Because there have always been some in every generation that God gave this understanding to. And there are now people scattered around the world that understand these deep mysteries of God and His prophecies for the future. They are few in number however.
Notice Revelation 5:10,
‘And has made US unto our God KINGS and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”
Now Proverbs 25:2,
“It is the glory of God to CONCEAL a thing: but the honour of kings is to SEARCH OUT a matter.”
And so if we are to be kings, it is our honour to “search out” these things. You must want it more than anything in the world; more than anything in life, more than life itself! If you want life, you must SACRIFICE your life.
Remember when a young man came running to Jesus and fell down before Him intently desiring to inherit the kingdom with Jesus? He was a commandment keeper, but he was also rich. Then we read this:
“Then Jesus beholding him LOVED HIM [how many times have you read this verse and never saw those two little words ‘loved him?’], and said unto him, ‘One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatsoever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and FOLLOW ME."
Many have failed to see in this verse that Jesus offered this young man the opportunity to not only inherit the kingdom of God, and to have eternal life, and to have treasure in heaven, but to be Christ’s apostle right then and there! Would you have taken Jesus up on such an unbelievable opportunity - to be His very apostle? They wouldn’t have needed to cast lots to replace Judas with Mathias - Jesus would have already had the ‘twelfth man.’ But the young man sadly turned Jesus down. Oh yes, it was ‘sadly,’ but he did turn Jesus down. He said, “Thanks … but no thanks … the cost is too great!” And don’t forget that phrase already, “Jesus LOVED him?” Yes, and Jesus loves him still, and He will always love him, even if this young man will probably have to go through the lake of fire to be purged of his wicked “idol of the heart.”
IDOLS OF THE HEART
You see, this is where the rubber meets the road. Christianity is a faith that demands all. Christianity today - as a whole, doesn’t come anywhere near to comprehending what obedience to God actually involves. Look at yourself and ask. Would you have taken up Christ’s invitation to become an apostle with Him? Oh really? And just what idol of your heart are you willing to give up? Many spiritually blind believers think that they truly are disciples of Christ, but they go out telling the world that Jesus Christ will not take away the sin (singular ‘SIN’—ALL SIN) of the world, as John the Baptist plainly said under inspiration of God, that He would (John 1:29). And that Jesus Christ is NOT the SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD, even though His Father plainly said that He is (I John 4:14). And that God will not have all mankind to be saved, though God inspired Paul to say that He WILL save all mankind (I Tim. 2:4, & 4:10). Are such deceivers worthy to be called disciples and apostles of our Lord? These evil and unscriptural doctrines are idols in the hearts of millions! And until they repent and get rid of these “idols of the heart” (Ezek. 14:4), they cannot be Christ’s disciples or apostles.
Today the church is full of self proclaimed evangelists and Apostles - they are only these in title however. The very church of God where Jesus Christ “walks” in their midst and “holds the seven angels of the seven churches in His hand,” nonetheless, has in its midst, “them which say they are apostles, and ARE NOT … but LIARS.” They say that they are circumcised in heart Jews, but they are NOT,
“I know the BLASPHEMY of them which say they are [circumcised in heart] Jews, and are NOT, but are the SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN." (Rev. 2:1, 2, 9).
Yes, this is strong language – these are bold accusations. Yet it is all part of God’s plan. It is God Who has created this universe as we see it. God has determined the best path in bringing about His purpose. Sharks, weeds, spiders, and poison mushrooms are all part of God’s master plan. As are hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, earthquakes, and disease. We may not always understand it, but we cannot deny its existence. What we also cannot deny if we believe the scriptures, is that evils beset the church as they do the world. Very few ministers of the world would ever be able to preach a bold sermon on the 7 churches of Revelation. Most pastor haven’t the slightest understanding that these seven (God’s number of completeness) churches represent the WHOLE CHURCH OF GOD down through centuries to our very day. There aren’t very many clergymen that would want you to know just what evil lurks in their hallowed halls of heinous heresy.
God’s word teaches those with the eyes to see - mysteries and secrets that have been withheld from most Christians for centuries. The understanding and overcoming of these mysteries is also a huge part of God’s master plan for those whom He is enlightening in this dark, dark world. God is calling out (for that is what the word church means) a people that are desirous of knowing His will at all cost. This calling out is the exile of the called and chosen!
Coming out – coming quickly
Now we don’t want to go repeating ourselves regarding the 7 churches, but we have to understand that this is the realm from which “the called” must come from. Locked within the symbolic language of the seven churches of Revelation is one of the most intriguing revelations of the spiritual weaknesses of mankind that we could ever discover. Out of these spiritual weaknesses, God is calling a people that will have great strength. Much of the strength and character and godliness are acquired by the very act of coming out of this corrupted system. Make no mistake, the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are the churches of the Living God! They are not pagan churches, neither are they Satan’s churches, but they are GOD’S churches! Again - it is none other than Jesus Christ Himself Who
“...walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks [which are the seven churches]” (Rev. 2:1).
“He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit [of GOD] says unto the churches” (Rev. 1:7, 11, 17, 29, 2:6, 13, 22).
We must understand what the Spirit says, which Christ interprets to mean having an ear (a spiritual ear) that can understand. This is not some game of Dungeons and Dragons. This is real life. This is the way God has designed it. God has shrouded the mysteries of life in parables and metaphors and symbols.
When Adam and Eve could lazily pick their fruit and food with little effort, they had little appreciation for them. God wants us to desire His way above life itself. He wants us to sell all that we have so that we can purchase the pearl of great price. He wants us to buy a field that has hidden treasure in it. God wants us to use our body, mind, and spirit—everything we have, to acquire the HIGH CALLING.
Paul said, forgetting the things that are past, he pressed onward and upward. We are not trying to sound melodramatic, but that’s just the way it is. We really do wrestle with “spiritual forces of wickedness” (Eph. 6:12).
“What you see, write in a book, and sent it unto the seven churches...” (Rev. 1:11).
And these evils DO refer to the church! This is not our opinion – this is Jesus Christ to the seven churches (seven—the complete church of God from the time of Christ’s departure until the time He judges the world).
Here is some wisdom concerning the prophecies of Revelation. John wrote in a book what he saw at the time of the vision. The seven churches of Asia Minor already existed at the time of his vision. But the vision is not all history to those who read it down through the centuries, not at all. The things written in this book are both present and future to the reader:
(1) “…to show to His servants things which must shortly [Greek: ‘quickly’ or ‘swiftly’] come to pass…” (Rev. 1:1), and
(2) “For I testify unto every man that hers the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things[written in this prophecy], God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book…” (Rev. 22:18).
Now then, if this book has already been completely fulfilled, how would it be “add to” or “take away from” the prophecy of this book? Such an admonition would be meaningless if everything in this book were already completely fulfilled by the end of the first century. The truth is, that the contents of this prophecy started with the vision of John on Patmos two thousand years ago and will continue until the return of Christ and the judgment of the world, and continues even beyond that until the end of the ages spoken of in this prophecy!
DEFINING: “COME QUICKLY”
And this is where understanding Revelation gets really interesting. This is where we learn what the spiritual focus of Revelation is really about in the lives of believers. Now what does Christ mean when He says, “I come QUICKLY?” By the way, the word “shortly” in Rev. 1:1 is the same Greek translated “quickly” everywhere else in Revelation.
“…things that must quickly come to pass…” (Rev. 1:1)
“…I will come unto thee quickly…” (Rev. 2:5).
“…I will come unto thee quickly…” (Rev. 2:16).
“Behold, I come quickly…” (Rev. 3:11).
“…the third woe comes quickly…” (Rev. 11:14).
“Behold, I come quickly…” (Rev. 22:7).
“And, behold, I come quickly…” (Rev. 22:12).
“Surely I come [Greek: ‘am coming’] quickly…” (Rev. 22:20)
Now, from the first verse in Revelation to the last verse, we are told of things that must come to pass “quickly.” But all this was written two thousand years ago and it has not as yet all come to pass. If two thousand years is “quickly,” you would hate to know how long it would take if it came about “slowly.” A contradiction in the Scriptures? Hardly. But is rather a contradiction in men’s interpretation of this prophecy. Preterists will argue that all of Revelation was already fulfilled in the first century AD? Oh really? Has “EVERY man’s work” been judged already in the lake of fire? And is it a fulfilled reality today that,
“God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away?” (Rev. 21:4).
Just look at the world news of the past two-four hours? We see tears, death, sorrow, crying, and pain, everywhere, every day! All scholars agree that Revelation was written in the second half of the first century AD. Are we to believe that God caused the most profound book in the entirety of the Bible to be written and fulfilled BEFORE virtually a single person had an opportunity to even read it?
What and how then, does anything in this book come about “quickly?” Good question. Obviously not everything in the whole book has come about “quickly,” because there is much yet to come about and be fulfilled. Just what then does come about “quickly?”
When Jesus tells John that He wants His servants to see what must “quickly” (or shortly, if anyone insists on using that word), He does not say that everything in this book must quickly or shortly, come to pass. Notice it: One time we are told that the third woe comes “quickly.” And all of the other six times it is Jesus Christ Himself that comes “quickly.”
“The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe comes quickly” (Rev. 11:14).
That is, it comes quickly behind the second woe. We have the first woe, then the second woe, and right on the heels of the second woe comes quickly the third and final woe. And so this use of the word “quickly” proves nothing concerning how long it takes to fulfill the whole book of Revelation. So really then, the only use of the word quickly that we need to understand is how it is used with reference to Jesus Christ “coming quickly.” Six times we are told, “I will come… I will come… I come… I come… I come… I come…” So it is JESUS CHRIST that “comes quickly,” rather than all of the prophecies of the book being fulfilled quickly in any ONE generation.
Now here finally is the key to unlocking our spiritual eyes in understanding why Jesus comes quickly, even though 2000 years on he is nowhere to be seen. This is no failure on his part – He means what he says. Nowhere in Revelation does it say that every prophecy in the book will be fulfilled, quickly in any one generation - either past, present, or future. It is not just in one end-time generation that Revelation is fulfilled quickly! NO! And here it comes.......It is fulfilled “quickly” in each and every person who “READS AND UNDERSTANDS” this prophecy! BOOM!
Did you get that? Let that sink in a moment. When is Jesus coming back quickly? When we read then understand SPIRITUALLY what is being fulfilled within us – through the maze of symbols strewn throughout Revelation! These events unfold in OUR lifetime when we read and live out this spiritual progression! The “end of the world and destruction of all things” scenario, the woes, the sufferings, etc, etc must take place in our lives in order for Jesus to “COME” to us! He COMES through ALL generations, even though there is an eventual culmination at the lake of fire and final white throne judgment. Yes, Revelation is a book for believers and what happens TO US – NOT the world! “write in a book and send it unto the SEVEN churches which are in Asia…” (Rev. 1:11). Yip, that’s us! This is how we are to interpret these scriptures! This is a COMPLETE revelation for ALL CHURCHES – for believers – not people in the world who have no comprehension of spiritual things.
Again, these seven congregations had within them all of the sins, weaknesses, and shortcomings of all congregations everywhere during ALL TIME. But on the positive side, all of the churches had at least a “few names” that were not spiritually defiled, and who will be in the first resurrection as Sons and Daughters of God to bring the rest of the harvest, the great fall harvest into the Kingdom.
Here then, is the beginning of true spiritual progression of exodus and exile. These churches that personify in symbol all of God’s church for the past two thousand years, are in fact, the training ground and the proving ground for the elect. Our previous church experiences count for something! That’s where the seed was planted and that’s the former land God calls us from before entering the new land! Coming out of this carnal system puts one among the called and the chosen and the VERY elect. Paul called it “the HIGH CALLING.”
ALL seven churches individually, have ALL the problems and ALL the strengths of all the churches combined. It is ONE prophecy, of ONE church, in ONE hand of Jesus, which combine the characteristics of seven churches in Asia that shared all of the good qualities and all of the shortcomings. Some think that Smyrna and Philadelphia did not have any shortcomings. They did. The Scriptures prove it.
All seven churches were spiritually “lukewarm,” which is like being spiritually “dead,” because they all “left their first love,” and they all had a members who “say they are Jews [spiritually circumcised and converted], and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan,” and all the congregations of the churches of God down through the generations have been ruled over by the “Nicolaitanes.”
ALL SEVEN CHURCHES HAD ALL OF THE PROBLEMS THAT EACH OTHER HAD, AND ALL OF THE CHURCHES OF GOD DOWN THROUGH THE GENERATIONS HAD ALL OF THE PROBLEMS THAT THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION HAD. IT IS A PROPHECY OF THIS VERY CHURCH THAT EXISTS AROUND THE WORLD TODAY!
This is how these churches in Asia are all SYMBOLS for what the Church of God would be like from the time John saw this vision, down through two thousand years of Church history, and out into the future when Jesus purges all evil from His Church and brings them all into the Family and Kingdom of His Father!
Carnal or Spiritual ears
This is the kind of territory where only the spiritually minded can enter and understand. Now we should all know that when Jesus repeats something, it is because it is VERY important. When Jesus wanted to emphasize something, He prefaced His statements by repetition What might it imply that Jesus has said seven times, “He that has an ear, let him HEAR …” This has got to be MOST important for Him to repeat it to all seven churches. Not only are the individual churches to hear what Jesus points out to them, but everything pointed out to the individual churches to be heard by ALL THE OTHER CHURCHES AS WELL.
“…let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches [all the churches].”
Doesn’t everyone have ears? Then why can’t they “hear” what Christ has to say to the seven churches? Because a carnal mind can’t understand Jesus. That’s why they don’t believe MANY of the plain statements of God’s Word, such as I Tim. 3:4 and 4:10. It is because you can’t hear the real meaning of God’s words with physical and carnal ears! And many of the leaders are among the most carnal in the church. It is appropriate to mention then that the realm of carnal thinking is food for Satan. That’s what Satan “dines” on; “DUST [of man] shall you eat all the days of your life" (Gen. 3:14).
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour [Greek: ‘swallow up’]” (I Pet. 5:8).
Yes, the Adversary eats “dust” and we, mankind, ARE “dust” of the ground. Satan does not feast on spiritual food - it would choke him! Satan dines on the carnal [flesh/meat] mind of men. While Jesus was physically starving for forty days, He was feasting on spiritual food from heaven! Satan thought he could trick Jesus into satisfying His need for physical FOOD before He was finished dining on spiritual food with His Father!
“Then was Jesus led up of THE SPIRIT into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered” […and so was STARVING, The Four Gospels By C.H. Rieu]. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made BREAD”(Matt. 4:1-3).
Satan should have realized that one doesn’t tempt a Spiritual Giant with a loaf of physical bread!
IT TAKES SPIRITUAL EARS TO HEAR SPIRITUAL WORDS
“WHY do ye [all of us] NOT UNDERSTAND MY SPEECH? EVEN BECAUSE YE CANNOT HEAR MY WORD. Ye are of your father THE DEVIL … He that is of God HEARS God’s words [words of SPIRIT, WITH HIS SPIRIT]: ye therefore hear themnot, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF GOD” (John 8:43-44 & 47).
“But the natural [soulish] man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are SPIRITUALLY discerned” (I Cor. 2:14).
The sad truth is, that practically the whole Church believes and teaches that Jesus spoke literal little stories about physical people, places, and things, so that everyone could understand Him. One cannot hear words of spirit with physical ears. All they hear is the physical vibrations in the air against their physical eardrums. Their heart and mind and spirit didn’t hear a thing! Most of the greatest theologians and thinkers in the law could not “hear” and understand Jesus. Little has changed in two thousand years! For as long as people think what Jesus taught was physical, and material, and literal, then they will never understand. Were the parables given to enhance understanding? Were the teachings of Jesus, temporary, physical, literal?
“…the words that I speak unto you, THEY ARE SPIRIT, and they are LIFE” (John 6:63)!
Parables have a SPIRITUAL meaning, and all of Christ’s teachings are SPIRITUAL. And that is because His very “words” ARE SPIRIT! Remember that Revelation is the “revelation OF Jesus Christ,” it is HIS testimony. The “words” of His testimony are therefore, also “SPIRIT.”
So once again: He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says. The words being spoken are those of Jesus, which “are SPIRIT,” and “the LORD [Jesus Christ] is that SPIRIT…” (II Cor. 3:17). Revelation is “The Revelation OF Jesus Christ.” It is not just a revelation from Jesus Christ. It is a Revelation OF Jesus Christ HIMSELF! If we can only believe what Jesus says of Himself:
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
Now here is one of the most pertinent concepts of all in trying to understand all this. Therefore the book of Revelation also contains what WAS, IS, AND IS TO COME!
Read and understand:
“Blessed is he that READS and they that HEAR the words of this PROPHECY, and KEEP those things which are written therein: for the time IS AT HAND.”
John to the seven churches which are in Asia
“…Write the things which you HAVE SEEN [past], and the things WHICH ARE [present], and the things which SHALL BE HEREAFTER [future]” (Rev. 1:2-3 & 19).
There it is. Can you see it? The “time is at hand.” For what? For, “he that reads and they that hear the words of this prophecy…” When would that be? Whenever the “he that reads and they that hear” are alive and reading this prophecy.
Remember what we learnt about “quickly?” Here then is how Jesus comes quickly to “THEE.” People have lived, read this prophecy in Revelation, and then at some time thereafter, died. They have lived, read, and died. Millions upon millions have already, lived, read this prophecy, and later died. When does Jesus Christ come to the readers of this prophecy? When they are alive. How long is that?
“For what is your LIFE? It is even a VAPOUR, that appears for a little time, and then VANISHES AWAY” (James 4:14).
If Jesus is to “come to thee,” He must come “quickly,” because however many years you may live; your life will be over “SHORTLY!” Isn’t this amazing? Why do we stare up at the sky for Christ to come when he is coming to all – in all – who read and understand that he dwells in us by his SPIRIT. The Kingdom is for overcomers, people that have walked in the Spirit and have had to overcome things in life. It is not for spectators staring into the clouds to be whisked away from all life’s troubles. Isn’t that what we learnt in our RAPTURE series?
Overcomers must COME OUT!
And what’s the point of all this then? All this overcoming? Well, the whole book of Revelation is a book about the LIFE OF JESUS written for: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To HIM [any individual member of the churches] that OVERCOMES will I give to eat of the tree of life" (Rev. 2:7).
Is this the sole reward of “HIM that overcomes?” NO!
There’s more; there’s MUCH MORE:
“He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death” (Rev. 2:11).
“To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it” (2:17).
“And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (2:26).
“He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raimnent; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels” (3:5).
“Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name” (3:11).
“To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (3:21).
No, the overcomers in one congregation, in one generation, don’t get one reward, while the overcomers in a different congregation, in a different generation, gets a different reward. No, the overcomers in ALL congregations, in ALL generations, get ALL these rewards. Therefore the prophecies to these churches are written for all the churches of God through all generations.
But of course, just as all the rewards are promised to all the overcomers in all generations of the Church, so likewise, do all the sins and shortcomings apply to all the churches throughout all generations. And the sins and shortcomings of God’s Church are monstrous!
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues. For her sins have REACHED UNTO HEAVEN, and God has remembered her iniquities” (Rev. 8:5).
Ah yes – The call goes out to the faithful once again – the exodus of the chosen. Yes, God is talking about His people, who are in His church, but … BUT, who must nonetheless, “REPENT” (Rev. 2:5 & 5, 16, 21, 22, 3:3, 19 - seven times, COMPLETE REPENTANCE), and “COME OUT OF HER.” Coming out of her is no small part of this “repentance” as we all well know!
WHY COMING OUT?
It’s interesting that the first mention of “the Church” is in Acts 7:38 where we read: “This is He [Christ, I Cor. 10:4] that was in the church in the wilderness…”
“This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.” (Acts 7:38).
That is in fact the first historical identification of a “church” in the Bible. The “church” came from the wilderness and finally had a permanent home headquartered in Jerusalem. This Old Covenant system was the “church” of old so to speak. But, was as it a holy, righteous, God fearing church? No, it was utterly corrupt. Let’s see what our Lord had to say about the “Church of God” in His day. Remember that the Scribes and the Pharisees were among the most zealous for the Law of Moses and they were the leading, ruling class of the day, along with the Chief Priests. They did indeed “sit in Moses’ seat.” Here then is what Jesus had to say regarding the religious leaders of Israel:
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O GENERATION OF SNAKES, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matt. 3:7).
“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, YE SHALL IN NO CASE enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20).
“But the Pharisees said, He [Jesus] casts out devils through the PRINCE of the devils” (Matt. 9:34).
“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why does your Master eat with publicans and sinners?”(Matt. 9:11).
“Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might DESTROY HIM” (Matt. 12:14).
“But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow [Jesus] does not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils” (Matt. 12:24).
“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from you. But He answered and said unto them, An EVIL AND ADULTEROUS GENERATION SEEKS AFTER A SIGN…” (Matt. 12:38-39).
“Then came His disciples, and said unto Him, Knowest Thou that the Pharisees were OFFENDED, after they heard this saying?” (Matt. 15:12).
“Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the LEAVEN [the false doctrines, ver. 12] of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6).
“And when the chief priests [oh yes, the very chiefest of the clergy was included with the evil Pharisees] and the Pharisees had heard His parables, they perceived that He spake of THEM” (Matt. 21:45).
In verse 43 Jesus said that,
“The kingdom of God shall be TAKEN FROM YOU [you Chief priests and Pharisees].”
Assuredly, the kingdom of God shall be taken from the chief priests and Pharisees of our day as well. They will not escape the lake of fire, although it will be the best thing that has ever happened to them.
WOE, WOE, WOE
“But WOE [deep distress, misery, grief, misfortune, calamity, sorrow, dismay] unto you, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES!” (Matt. 23:13).
Woe unto, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! (Ver. 14).
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES (Ver. 15).
Woe unto you, YOU BLIND GUIDES… (Ver. 16).
You FOOLS AND BLIND… (Ver. 17).
You FOOLS AND BLIND… (Ver. 19).
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES (Ver. 23).
You BLIND GUIDES (Ver. 24).
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES (Ver. 25).
You BLIND Pharisees (Ver. 26).
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES (Ver. 27).
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES!…you are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers… your serpents, ye generation of vipers [venomous SNAKES], how can you escape the damnation of hell [the judgment of Gehenna]” (Ver. 29-33).
“Wherefore, behold, I SEND [future] unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city” (Ver. 34).
And just when we think it couldn’t possibly get any worse than this:ENTER THE CHIEF PRIESTS -THE HOLIEST OF THE HOLIES
“Then assembled together the CHIEF PRIESTS, and the SCRIBES, and the ELDERS of the people, unto the palace of theHIGH PRIEST, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might KILL HIM” (Matt. 26:3-4)!
“Now the CHIEF PRIESTS, AND ELDERS, AND ALL THE COUNCIL [we use that same word ‘council’ today] sought FALSE WITNESS against Jesus, to PUT HIM TO DEATH” (Matt. 26:59).
Imagine that? The CHIEF priests, and elders, and ALL the council sought FALSE WITNESS to put their own Saviour TO DEATH! But that spirit is still alive in the church today! Look at what we have just read! This is the very CHURCH OF GOD we have read about - the Council, the Elders, the Scribes, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Priests, and the very High Priests! And we just saw what Jesus Christ had to say about them. The church leadership in the day of our Lord’s ministry was corrupt! Utterly corrupt and evil! The institutionalised church today is just as corrupt. Think of all the skullduggery that goes on – all the scandals – the abuse, the backing of unjustified wars overseas for financial gain. There is MUCH that we must “Come out of” that’s for sure. So it has always been this way – just look at where the apostle Paul came from.
The violence and oppression of the old covenant CHURCH against Jesus’ true believers cannot be underestimated. We of course can recall that there arose the GREATEST PERSECUTOR in the history of the church: PAUL THE PHARISEE
“…I AM a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee…” (Acts 23:6).
“…after the most straitest [very strictest] sect of our religion I live a Pharisee” (acts 26:5).
“Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, PERSECUTING THE CHURCH; touching the righteousness which is in the law, BLAMELESS “ (Phil. 3:5). Moffatt translates this word blameless, "immaculate."
And An American Translation by Goodspeed translates this verse,
“…and by the Law’s standard of uprightness, NO FAULT COULD BE FOUND IN ME.”
Phil. 3:5 contains one of the most unbelievable statements in all Scripture! It is almost beyond comprehension! Paul was not bragging or exaggerating when he said that concerning the keeping of the Law of Moses with its Ten Commandments, that he was nearing TOTAL PERFECTION! You must believe that that statement is true. Now then, what was one of the ways that Paul PROVED his “zeal” for God? Not just his duty. Not just what was required of him as a keeper of the law of Moses. But what did Paul do to go WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND the call of duty and service to God? What did he do to show his “ZEAL”
The American Heritage Dictionary: zeal n Enthusiastic DEVOTION to a cause, ideal, or goal, p. 1592.
What did Paul do, not to just be obedient, but to absolutely PROVE his devotion for God? What did he do to demonstrate this? Let Paul tells us,
“Concerning zeal PERSECUTING the CHURCH” (Phil. 3:6).
Paul showed his zeal for God by “persecuting the church.” But wait, there’s more. Did Paul act on his own, or did he have CHURCH AUTHORITY to persecute the church? He had authority:
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the HIGH PRIEST, and desired of him LETTERS to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2).
“As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders, from whom also I RECEIVED LETTERS unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be PUNISHED”(Acts 22:5).
So Paul had church authority to carry out these persecutions from the High Priest, himself! Here are a few of things that Paul did with regards to persecuting the church:
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter [MURDER] against the disciples of the Lord…” (Acts 9:1).
“For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that BEYOND MEASURE [Greek: INORDINATELY] I persecuted the church of God and WASTED IT [Gk: RAVAGED IT]” (Gal. 1:13).
But wait a minute. How could Paul be blameless in the law of Moses if he “hated” the church of God? Because the Law of Moses permitted (even COMMANDED) hating one’s enemies, even Jesus said so, that’s how! How can killing something be showing “zeal” to God? It’s IN THE LAW OF MOSES! Notice how Jahu showed his zeal for the Lord:
“And he [Jahu] said, Come with me, and see MY ZEAL for the Lord. So they made him ride in his chariot. And when he came to Samaria, he SLEW ALL THAT REMAINED UNTO AHAB in Samaria, till he had DESTROYED HIM, according to the SAYING OF THE LORD, which He spake to Elijah” (II Kings 10:16-17).
Aren’t we getting a bit side tracked here? What’s the point of all this? All this which we have just read about, is the very realm of CARNALITY that we MUST come out of! You see, now we are coming down to it. Too many Christians today claim to keep God’s commandments but show no signs of conversion. They are as murderous and jealous and scheming as the carnal church of old. There has always existed a Carnal church – a worldly church which has no time for God. Carnal Christianity today teaches that the NEW Covenant or Testament is keeping the OLD Covenant better. That’s right. They say that the New Covenant is keeping the OLD Covenant in your heart. That is clearly NOT what the Scriptures say. The New Covenant is decidedly,
“NOT IN ACCORD with the [Old] covenant which I made with their fathers” (Heb. 8:9).
“In that He says, A NEW covenant, He has made the first OLD. Now that which decays and waxes OLD is ready to VANISH AWAY” (Heb. 8;12).
Yes Paul – the near PERFECT Pharisee, came OUT of the religion of the Jews COMPLETELY.
“Yea doubtless, and I count ALL THINGS but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of ALL things, and do count them but DUNG, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:8).
The Christian world is teaching and striving to KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF MOSES IN THEIR HEARTS -The Apostle Paul already accomplished that feat and he called that great accomplishment of perfect commandment keeping - DUNG!
It was at this stage of Paul’s spiritual development and accomplishment that God labelled Paul “THE CHIEF OF SINNERS.” And so the Pharisees today are still commanding everyone, everywhere to “KEEP THE LAW OF MOSES?” The Church does not understand that Jesus Christ is the REALITY of what the Old Covenant Laws of Moses were but the shadow.
God converted Saul into Paul in a giant flash of light. God took Paul from the world’s greatest law-keeper and the world’s greatest sinner into the reality of Jesus Christ in a matter of SECONDS! Paul was shaken to his very foundation on that glorious day on the road to Damascus. Paul had to COME OUT of the mother church of which he was totally dedicated all the days of his life. Paul was a good Jew, but he was a bad Christian. Many things that the Church today aspires to are the very things that Paul repented of and called “dung.”
The “Jew’s religion” as Paul called it was the true Church of God that settled in Jerusalem after coming out of Egypt and out of the Wilderness. But within a short generation after our Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection, the Church of God, at the temple in Jerusalem, came to an end. And to this day, there is no more sacrificing, there is no more a temple and there is no more a Levitic Priesthood.
Ironically, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, “church” is mentioned in but two Scriptures. In Matt. 18:17 Jesus refers to “the church” and in Matt. 16:18 He refers to “My church” which He said HE would build. And the seven churches in Rev. 2 & 3 are representative of and the personification of the church that Jesus Christ built. It was THAT church that Jesus built, that Paul the Judaic Pharisee, persecuted. After all, Jesus prophesied that the church would be persecuted and scattered:
“And Jesus said unto them, ALL YE shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, ‘I will smite the Shepherd [the Christ], and the sheep shall be SCATTERED” (Mark 14:27).
The church multiplied in numbers very quickly after the Resurrection, but persecution multiplied also:
“And Saul was consenting unto his [Stephen’s] death. And at that time there was a GREAT PERSECUTION against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were ALL SCATTERED ABROAD throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1).
But don’t think that the persecution of the Church stopped just because God converted Saul/Paul, the chief persecutor. It did not. Following Christ is synonymous with persecution:
“Yea, and ALL that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer PERSECUTION” (2 Tim. 3:12).
Don’t be deceived into thinking that this persecution will come from the world of godless atheism. God is creating Sons that bear His Name, have His Spirit, have the Mind of Christ, and are the express image of our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ. It is the highest calling in the universe! Although the sacrifices are great, the rewards are FAR GREATER! If God is calling you to be a Son, you must come out of “Mystery Babylon the Great, mother of harlots, and the abominations of the earth.”
Leaving “the church” behind is one of the most difficult things a follower of Christ can do. Do not think that because you are alone and wandering the desert wilderness without a home, that you have failed. This is the place where we are humbled, brought face to face with our carnality – tempted in the desert, tested beyond measure! Yet it has a purpose! This is how we are BEING SAVED – being changed from glory to glory. This is part of the journey of dying to self, to becoming SPIRTITUALLY minded! John received the greatest revelation of all whilst exiled on Patmos. There’s something in that! That’s the pattern we must follow. We will look more closely at this process as well as the state of the church we left behind in our next study. We shall also look at some of the meanings of of the more pertinent symbols regarding what it is to overcome as one CALLED OUT for election!