The Will & Purpose of God
Christianity has had a chequered career over the last 2000 years, spawning numerous variations, some trivial but some very dynamic. It would seem that the focus of most Christians has been on the establishing of the thing called CHURCH. If it is judged by the amount of money, effort and manpower involved, it would be safe to say, no other issue involving Christianity is of more importance.
The strange thing is that Jesus never once suggested that the disciples or anyone else should become involved in establishing a “Church.” There is no command in scripture concerning such a project, in fact Jesus said very plainly, “I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH.” It could only be that we are either ignorant of what Jesus was talking about, or we believe he is falling down on the job and needs our help!
Personally I believe both of these to be the reason for our preoccupation with the establishing of the organization we call “CHURCH.” In some cases there is a Church building on nearly every corner. Each one with its own identifying name on the notice board, and the name of the man in charge. The size of the congregation depends mostly on the eloquence and knowledge of the preacher, but the list of facilities also plays a big part.
There is often fierce competition between Churches for members, as they represent the only source of income in most cases. For this reason the people are taught “Tithing” is obligatory in God’s eyes today, especially if we want his blessing on our lives. This belief system has led to the development of the “MEGA” churches, with the focus on NUMBERS. The more members they have the more finance they have which allows them to expand their program and influence as far as they desire. Some of these are now termed as “WORLD MINISTRIES” giving the leaders Dignitary Status, and a life style equal to successful entertainers.
In looking honestly at what is called “Church”, we must ask the question , “Is it fulfilling the function Christ spoke about while he was on the earth?” If it is, then we must applaud those who give the millions to support it, and those who often neglect families to give of their time and talents, to build it.” BUT looking at the results that are not fulfilled we discover faithful Christians in the Church get sick, many are divorced, some with children on drugs, committing crimes, just as the rest of society who are not part of the Church! So we must ask the question, if this thing called “Church” is what God has planned, why is it is not affecting society more and stemming the tide of evil in the world. It would be hard to argue against the fact that the “church” has become largely irrelevant in today’s world.
Business men often join the largest church in the town more for prestige than for spiritual reasons. Some donate large amounts of money in the hope that it will put them in good standing with the community and hopefully with God.
Now my reason for expressing these “negative” thoughts is not because I oppose the “church” in its present form, and would seek to destroy it, for Jeremiah said that “Babylon is a golden cup in the hand of the Lord.” However I believe it to be important for us to have a clear picture of the CHURCH that Jesus spoke about, in Matthew 16.
What is the Church
Generations of brain washing has convinced many people that the Church is the BUILDING with a cross on the top. There is also a good percentage of Christians who believe that this building called Church, is where we find God. We are taught that it is the place to which we GO, if we want to worship God or to hear what God is saying to us today. These concepts are so ingrained that to take Church away from most Christians would bring on a spiritual heart attack in some, and in others a lingering death. In Islamic controlled countries where churches are destroyed, it means Christianity cannot function, for its center has been removed.
In China when Communism took over the country, the government confiscated the Church buildings turning them into factories, and put the Pastors in prison and so for most, Christianity was dealt a death blow. But for one group of people known as the “Little Flock” which was influenced by Watchman Nee, praise and worship continued with little change, but out of sight. Why was this so? The Red Guards came to arrest their leaders, but the people replied, “We only have ONE LEADER and his name is Jesus Christ, and he dwells in HEAVEN.”
So they could not arrest anyone as a leader even though eventually Watchman Nee was arrested. But they asked where their “Church Buildings” were, and the people said we meet in that shed and under that tree and in that field. So there was no property that they could take. The communists could not understand these “Christians.” Their Christian lives continued on except they met in cellars and in caves. They could not advertise any gatherings but people would just come together as if drawn by some imperceptible voice to a certain place at a certain time.
In this study I want to help you to discover THE WILL AND PURPOSE OF GOD, for your life today. God has become so closely aligned with Church, that in Christian thinking today, the two are almost synonymous. The result is that people GO TO CHURCH to meet with God and worship him. The inference is that they assume that is where GOD IS. However let us consider for a moment what the BIBLE means when it speaks about the CHURCH. In Matt. 16 : 13 Jesus asked the disciples who do men say that I the Son of Man am? They replied that people had some ideas, but the truth is they really did not know who he was.
Then Jesus went further and asked the disciples the same question, and Peter responded by saying, “Thou art the CHRIST the SON of the Living God.” Jesus told Peter that he was blessed because flesh and blood could never have discovered his identity, but he had received the revelation from his Father in heaven. Mat 16:18 - And I also say unto thee. "The emphasis is not on “Thou art Peter” over against “Thou art the Christ,” but on “The Father hath revealed to you one truth, and now I will tell you another truth, I will build my church.”
It is most important for us to listen carefully to what Jesus had to say, for his words have largely gone unheeded today. Peter was not speaking out of a knowledge that he developed in himself, BUT HE HEARD THE VOICE OF GOD. Jesus went on to say, “Upon this ROCK I will build my Church.” The Catholic Church believes Jesus was speaking about Peter the MAN as the ROCK, so developing the concept of PAPAL SUPREMACY based upon this disciple. But God help us if the CHURCH IS built upon Peter for he denied the Lord three times at his trial.
Let scripture answer the question for us concerning this ROCK. In Deut 32:4 we are told that The Lord, “He is the ROCK, and the ROCK of our salvation.” In verse 18 Moses speaks about the ROCK that begat thee, or gave birth to them. “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful , and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” So we know that this is not some literal ROCK, nor could it refer to Peter, but refers to The Lord himself. Peter certainly did not “birth” us and neither did the Living Water flow from Peter, but from CHRIST.
Having established the identity of the ROCK we now know the ONE upon whom the Church is built. It is the ROCK that is CHRIST. Paul tells us that “Other foundation can no man lay than that which has been laid which is Jesus Christ.” The foundation of the Church is not a set of doctrines but a PERSON. It is therefore plain for us to see that the CHURCH Jesus spoke of cannot be a physical structure or an organisation, because it is founded upon CHRIST, WHO IS SPIRIT. Further proof of this is, that those who constitute the Church have all been BEGOTTEN or BIRTHED out of that same ROCK, and therefore they also must be SPIRIT.
To say that Christ is the ROCK upon which the Church is built, is only a small part of the answer. Let us look closely at this revelation. Peter was the only one of the disciples who was able to tell the identity of Jesus that day. Jesus was a MAN with flesh and blood who was born of a woman thus identifying him with all of humanity according to the scriptures. “For as much as the children (of God) are partakers of flesh and blood, he (Jesus) also himself took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who through FEAR OF DEATH were all their lifetime, (from the cradle to the grave) subject to bondage.” Heb 2:14-15.
Everyone who looked at Jesus saw a MAN, who in the natural sense looked no different from any other man. Nicodemus “saw” something unique about him because of the things he could do that other men could not do. But that day Peter saw beyond his natural vision into the reality of things. Instead of seeing Jesus as simply a MAN, he saw him as the CHRIST (Gk – CHRISTOS) the spiritual manifestation of the living God, dwelling in a body of flesh. Paul declared him to be the, “Image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." Col. 1:5.
What Peter was looking at, was the MAN God created in the beginning in his own likeness and image Gen 1:26. It is interesting that Abraham also “SAW” this Christ even in his day, and so was able to birth him in the Spirit according to Matt 1:1. Abraham’s faith not only allowed him to see the CHRIST but also to see “HIS SEED” as the stars of heaven. This is a heavenly company of people all having the same quality as the Christ himself. They are the CALLED OUT ONES or the CHURCH that Jesus said he would build.
In Hebrews 11:10 we are told that Abraham, “Looked for a city that has FOUNDATIONS, whose builder and maker is God.” As we look all over this world there is no social structure, government or organisation that has eternal FOUNDATIONS or could be attributed to GOD as the builder. The only BUILDING in this whole universe that has eternal foundations and has the evidence that it is a building of GOD is THE CHURCH WHICH IS HIS BODY. Here I am not referring to the human organisation that most people call the Church today.
In order to pursue the Spiritual nature of the CHURCH we must look further into the life of Abraham to see many wonderful truths revealed. God told Abraham that he would have a child who would be his heir. However Abraham and Sarah could not conceive under normal circumstances because Sarah was well past the time of child bearing. So being ignorant of God’s ways, they planned to have the child by NATURAL MEANS, using Hagar as a surrogate mother. Everyone was happy when Ishmael was born, for now Abraham had his heir.
But God had other plans that would over ride anything man could do. Abraham was told that Sarah would bear him a child who would be his heir, which caused Sarah to laugh. In the fullness of time Isaac was born, and as he grew so did the tension between himself and Ishmael, as well as between their mothers also. God had to finally direct Abraham to send Hagar and her child away as there was no inheritance for them in Abraham. This principle was made clear to Nicodemus when Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh IS FLESH, and that which is born of the SPIRIT is SPIRIT. “ Jn 3:3-5.
This was a hard lesson for Abraham to learn, but there were greater things that he was yet to learn over Isaac. The word of the Lord came to him one day saying, “Take now thine ONLY SON Isaac, whom thou lovest and get thee into the land of Moriah, AND OFFER HIM THERE FOR A BURNT OFFERING UPON ONE OF THE MOUNTAINS WHICH I WILL TELL THEE OF.” Gen 22:2. Abraham did not hesitate but began his journey to Mount Moriah. The meaning of this word “MORIAH” is most instructive for it means “CHOSEN BY JEHOVAH.”
We must learn today that only God can choose the place of revelation for us, which is not necessarily geographical, but is provided by a set of divinely engineered circumstances. As they neared the place only Abraham and Isaac were allowed to proceed for they were going to WORSHIP THE LORD.
We cannot pass any of these details for they are all full of meaning to us as the Spirit opens our eyes to see the invisible. This is the first time the word “WORSHIP” is used in the Bible so it hold special meaning for us. Abraham and Isaac are going to W-O-R-S-H-I-P. Now most people only see Isaac being tied up and put on the altar, and Abraham about to kill him when a ram is caught in the bush and becomes the substitute sacrifice for Isaac. With that explanation in mind tell me, WHEN DID THEY WORSHIP THE LORD?
If worship involves tying up your son with a view to killing him as an offering to the Lord, and then wrestling with a wild goat and killing it so as to burn it totally on an altar, then I would not be very keen to be involved. What does the word “Worship” really mean? It means to bow down, to prostrate one’s self before God. What is it beloved, that would cause us to prostrate ourselves before him?
Take off your shoes as we walk on Holy ground. Abraham and Isaac are going to WORSHIP, and it involves a BURNT OFFERING. Every sacrifice made under the Hebrew system was DEAD when it was OFFERED, and according to scripture God did not desire any of them. Heb 10:5. The only sacrifice that is acceptable to God is a LIVING SACRIFICE.
Now this was to be a BURNT OFFERING and that is very instructive. The Burnt offering is called in Hebrew olah; and means "ascending," the whole being consumed by fire and ascending to God while being consumed. Part of every offering was burnt in the sacred fire, but this was wholly burnt, a "whole burnt offering." It was the most frequent form of sacrifice, and apparently the only one mentioned in the book of Genesis.
So now we understand the setting for Abraham’s worship. It was on the top of Mount Moriah, the place chosen by God where the temple was built in Jerusalem. The BURNT OFFERING that wholly belonged to God was to be Isaac, the only son of Abraham the bearer of the “SEED”. Let us now look with the eyes of the Spirit as the events unfold. God had given Abraham the Son of Promise as his heir but now asks Abraham to offer Isaac as a BURNT OFFERING on the altar. What was God asking? Abraham, I want you to yield up to me that physical representation (Isaac) of your SEED, for there cannot be TWO SEEDS, (Isaac and Christ) and I will give you back the REALITY that is eternal.
Ponder these words carefully beloved and let not your carnal mind rob you of the Truth given to you here. Remember Isaac was Abraham’s ONLY son (given by God) and the one whom he loved. There was a beautiful but natural bond manifest here between father and son, which we do not despise nor rob it of its natural beauty. However in the final analysis it is only God’s purpose and desire that really matter, for they are part of eternity. So was that miracle birth of Isaac simply to bring joy to a barren couple in their old age. I think not!
THIS WAS THE SEED OF GOD bridging heaven and earth, having an EARTHLY FORM but a HEAVENLY REALITY. Abraham had to look beyond the external and see into the true nature of things by the Spirit. Thus Abraham was TESTED so that he would discover for himself whether he lived in the natural realm or the realm of SPIRIT wherein are all the REALITIES OF LIFE?
“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, AS IN A STRANGE COUNTRY, DWELLING IN TABERNACLES (TENTS) WITH ISAAC AND JACOB (WHO HAD NOT YET BEEN BORN) WHO WERE HEIRS WITH HIM OF THE SAME PROMISE. FOR HE LOOKED FOR A CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS WHOSE BUILDER AND MAKER IS GOD.” Heb 11:9-10.
It was on Mount Moriah that Abraham found the TRUTH IN HIMSELF as he was willing to step beyond all that is natural concerning HIS SON Isaac, by offering him up totally as a burnt offering wholly acceptable to God. BUT no knife was used, and no death occurred FOR THIS WAS A SACRIFICE OF THE HEART. This is the kind of sacrifice God is looking for, A BROKEN SPIRIT AND A CONTRITE HEART. The testing of Abraham was complete and the voice of God spoke clearly to him,
“Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do anything unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not with held thy son thine ONLY SON FROM ME.” This is the evidence of a broken and contrite heart.
Abraham received Isaac back (AS FROM THE DEAD) as CHRIST THE DIVINE SEED AND THE STARS OF HEAVEN, in whom all the promises of God are fulfilled. Such an offering is also required of you, beloved, but first you must CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN. The lowlands of human understanding will not equip you to render unto God that which is HIS. We must ascend the hill of the Lord where our vision mingles with Spirit and we see into the realities that the earthbound have never seen.
Paul challenges us, “I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your BODIES a LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY ACCEPTABLE UNTO GOD which is your Spiritual WORSHIP.” Rom 12:1. Here is the same test that Abraham faced on Mount Moriah. This challenge follows the chapter concerning the grafting in of the Gentiles to become partakers of the root and fatness of the Olive tree. Finally he states the basis for this challenge to present our bodies thus :-
“FOR FROM HIM AND THROUGH HIM AND TO HIM ARE ALL THINGS, FOR ALL THINGS ORIGINATE WITH HIM AND COME FROM HIM, AND ALL THINGS LIVE THROUGH HIM, AND ALL THINGS CENTER IN AND TEND TO CONSUMMATE AND TO END IN HIM. TO HIM BE GLORY FOREVER AMEN. "Rom 11:36. Amp.
Paul uses the word “THEREFORE” which means, in view of what I have just said, I want you to present your bodies. What exactly does this mean to us today? OUR BODY was made to be a receptacle to contain the divine image and likeness. According to Paul everything found its origin in God, and everything depends upon God for its existence, and finally everything finds its fulfillment and consummation by returning to God.
The presenting of our Bodies to God as a living sacrifice is an acknowledgement of our origin and the purpose of our being. However it goes far beyond this. Most Christians are looking for immortality for this physical body. Did Abraham want his natural son to LIVE FOREVER, NO! If immortalising Isaac’s physical life was all that he desired then Abraham could never have birthed the CHRIST through Isaac his seed. BUT Abraham saw beyond the physical and so was willing to sacrifice his natural son Isaac as a LIVING SACRIFICE, because the reality of his existence in Abraham’s understanding was not the physical body he had, BUT THE CHRIST he represented.
In exactly the same way we must see ourselves not from the point of view of our physical BODY fulfilling God’s will and purpose, but by the SPIRIT to see our INCORPORATION in the CHRIST BODY. So as we present our bodies to God as a LIVING SACRIFICE it is HOLY and ACCEPTABLE unto the Lord. This is OUR “Mount of Olives” experience, where Christ himself was drawn by the Father to present HIS body as a LIVING SACRIFICE. In the spiritual “suffering” of that offering he sweat as it were great drops of blood. In terms of REALITY it was there, alone, while the disciples were sleeping, that the real SPIRITUAL sacrifice was made and not at Calvary. Jesus had warned the disciples to pray that they enter not into temptation. This is the testing to ascertain the quality of their integrity or their commitment to Christ.
The disciples were not yet ready for such a test as the NATURAL still dominated the Spiritual, and Jesus knew that. The fact that they slept through that ONE vital experience showed they still needed a spiritual awakening. The cross was the physical outworking of a completed SPIRITUAL SACRIFICE.
Christians today have so majored on the PHYSICAL SUFFERINGS AND THE LITERAL CROSS on which the body of Jesus died, that the true SPIRITUAL SACRIFICE that brings LIFE TO MANKIND has been largely ignored. That Spiritual sacrifice was THE OFFERING OF THE BODY OF JESUS AS THE WILL OF GOD, ONCE FOR ALL, BY WHICH OFFERING WE ARE SANCTIFIED. Heb 10:10.
It is necessary that we be reminded from the history of Israel that the BRAZEN SERPENT Moses made at God’s request in the wilderness, that brought LIFE to a dying people, eventually became an IDOL and an object of worship. 2 Kings 18:4. Beloved it is time for us to put away our religious thinking and hear the voice of God. It was not the literal physical SERPENT OF BRASS on the pole that gave LIFE to those who were dying!! NO NO. It was that which the Brass Serpent represented that gave them life, and that was CHRIST.
Beloved it is not the wooden cross or the DEAD BODY that hung upon it that gives LIFE TO THE WORLD. It is what that cross represents in putting to death the OLD MAN in that Spiritual sacrifice that Christ made on behalf of all mankind. In 2 Cor 4:18 Paul states , “The things that are SEEN (physical) are only temporary, BUT THE THINGS THAT ARE UNSEEN spiritual) THESE ARE ETERNAL. (The REALITIES).”
If we would follow the Master then we will also present OUR BODIES as a LIVING SACRIFICE, that the reality of what they represent in the SPIRITUAL scheme of things, might be realised. Paul says this is your SPIRITUAL WORSHIP. Christians world wide take a piece of bread or a cracker, and a sip of wine or grape juice, and say they have had “COMMUNION” and as a result they have received LIFE FROM GOD. Beloved these are only SYMBOLS of a HIGHER SPIRITUAL REALITY, and in themselves can not bring life to you. Jesus said, “Except you eat THE FLESH OF THE SON OF MAN AND DRINK HIS BLOOD, THERE IS NO LIFE IN YOU.” Jn 6:53. Was Jesus referring to the wafer and the sip of wine when he said those words.? What was Jesus really talking about?
The bread and the wine are just symbols being visible and physical, which DO REPRESENT a SPIRITUAL REALITY. But understand it is not the SYMBOLS that minister LIFE but the REALITY they represent. The Body and BLOOD of Christ is the SPIRIT AND SUBSTANCE OF HIS BEING, which we must EAT or assimilate into our being so that it becomes what we are. Jesus said, if we “EAT” his flesh and drink his blood it would imparts to us EVERLASTING LIFE, being a quality of LIFE enjoyed by Jesus Christ on this earth. Spirituality, is the ability to see into the REALITY OF THINGS, no longer considering the VISIBLE to be the REALITY.
The Body of CHRIST
It is important for us to understand what these terms mean in the scriptures. Most Christians consider that all those who claim to belong to Christ constitute the BODY OF CHRIST, but this is not so. First of all let us look at our physical body in the context of Christ’s body. We must bear in mind that CHRIST is not a HUMAN BEING, and neither is it the Surname of Jesus. Christ is the Messiah of the Old Testament who was invisible, but was able to appear at certain times in bodily form for a particular purpose.
This is the one created in the image and likeness of God in the beginning, that God called MAN. John calls him THE WORD or LOGOS who was in the beginning with God and was God. There is no mention of any corporeal body in connection with this one. However John goes on to tell us, “And the WORD BECAME FLESH and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the ONLY BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER, full of grace and truth.” Jn 1:14. If he BECAME FLESH then we know that he was not FLESH before he came to this earth
It must be evident to all that if CHRIST is SPIRIT then his body must of necessity be of the same substance. This we would call a SPIRITUAL BODY. Our problem is that the majority consider this physical body to be all that we are. Therefore when they receive Christ they believe they have eternal life and will live forever in some ethereal heaven in this same body with a few adjustments. Christians speak of family ties in heaven, and meeting parents and relations who have passed on before. So to be “SAVED” means that, what we see in the mirror is “saved” and will live on forever. This is the concept of immortality most Christians accept.
In reality, IMMORTALITY is a LIFE we can live now, in which there is no fear of death in any of its forms, for it has been destroyed and no longer exists. “Forasmuch then as the children (of God) are partakers of FLESH and BLOOD he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through DEATH he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who THROUGH FEAR OF DEATH WERE ALL THEIR LIFETIME SUBJECT TO BONDAGE.” Heb 2:14
There are two basic parts to our being, the SOUL and the SPIRIT which form the SPIRITUAL, invisible part of man, and the BODY which is physical and material. When we speak of D-E-A-T-H we consider it to involve the taking of LIFE from the BODY. This is a traumatic experience for all Christians who still live in the carnal mind where what we can see is the reality. The CARNAL MIND says :- I am a separate entity from God, having come from the dust and will return to the dust, and THIS IS THE DEATH which has come upon all men.
THE CARNAL MIND IS DEATH. While ever the Carnal mind functions in us, WE ARE DEAD. The GOOD NEWS is, that the WILL and PURPOSE of GOD for man has been revealed in Jesus Christ WHO HAS ABOLISHED DEATH, AND HAS BROUGHT LIFE AND IMMORTALITY TO LIGHT THROUGH THE GOSPEL. 2 Tim 1:10.
He did this by destroying the power of DEATH, that is the CARNAL MIND. He declared, “I and my Father are ONE,” with no separation at all. He said, “It is the FATHER IN ME that does the works.” He made it plain that the will of God is that we all may be ONE, as thou Father art in me and I am in thee, that they also may be one in us. He never suggested that we are, or could be separated from him.
This beloved, is the GOSPEL that destroys him (the carnal mind) that has the POWER OF DEATH, by convincing us that God and MAN exist separated from each other. It was because of the carnal mind that Nicodemus was told he MUST BE BORN FROM ABOVE before he could SEE the Kingdom of God. Jesus declared that GOD was his Father, but the Jews claimed Abraham was their Father. They did not believe that Isaac’s birth was not just a physical birth, but it was Spiritual. Sarah could not conceive nor give birth at 90 years when her body no longer had the capacity for such things, but BECAUSE GOD HAD PROMISED, the child was born. The carnal mind only recognized ABRAHAM and not GOD.
Because we are SPIRIT created in Christ Jesus and not just flesh and blood, we must also have a SPIRITUAL BODY. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. So there must be another ETERNAL BODY that belongs to those that are SPIRIT.BEINGS Paul suggests that we already know about such a “body.’
“For we know that if our EARTHLY HOUSE of this tabernacle (Temporary Tent) were dissolved, WE HAVE (not will get) WE HAVE a BUILDING OF GOD, A HOUSE (not a tent) NOT MADE WITH HANDS E-T-E-R-N-A-L IN THE HEAVENS. 2 Cor 5:1.
Where is that “BODY” NOW? This is the ”BODY” Christ has NOW IN THE GLORY, which is not a flesh and blood Body Christendom tells us he has up in the sky somewhere. Flesh and blood cannot dwell in the realm of Spirit. But I want you to notice that Paul uses the word “BODY” in the singular and never in the plural with regard to the BODY OF CHRIST. THERE IS ONLY ONE BODY OF CHRIST!! There are not a million SPIRITUAL BODIES IN THE HEAVENS waiting for us to put them on.!! THERE IS ONLY ONE and that one, is THE BODY OF CHRIST.
That BODY is available for us N-O-W to put on, so we are told to PUT OFF the old man and his way of life, WHICH IS CORRUPT ACCORDING TO THE DECEITFUL DESIRES, AND BE renewed in the spirit of your mind. Then PUT ON THE N-E-W MAN (WHICH IS CHRIST) WHICH AFTER GOD IS CREATED (NOT BORN) IN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUE HOLINESS.
Paul says, “If any man be IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATION.” 2 Cor 5:17. Beloved we are speaking in this section about the BODY OF CHRIST about which Church theology has distorted the Truth leaving the saints confused.. Every one who is BORN OF GOD was CREATED IN CHRIST Eph 2:10. So in the realm of Spirit or heaven, there will only be that MANY MEMBERED MAN that is CHRIST. James confirms our origin when he says, “Of his OWN WILL BEGAT HE US WITH THE WORD OF TRUTH that we should be a kind of firstfruits of the HIMSELF KIND.” God’s will and purpose for man is this, “As we have borne the image of the EARTHY, we shall also BEAR THE IMAGE OF THE HEAVENLY which is CHRIST.” 1 Cor 15:49.
Paul says to Timothy, “Without controversy, great is the mystery of GODLINESS or GOD LIKENESS. God was manifested IN THE FLESH, Justified in Spirit, seen of messengers, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, and TAKEN UP IN GLORY” 1 Tim 3:16. Beloved when we see beyond our physical identity into the reality of OUR BEING we are not looking at FLESH AND BLOOD at all, BUT WE ARE LOOKING AT CHRIST the SON OF THE LIVING GOD.
CALLED OUT UNTO HIM
What has Abraham got to do with the Church today? More importantly, what has he to do with Peter identifying who Jesus is? Let us walk together through this experience with Peter for we all must be like Abraham and live in the land of promise AS IN A STRANGE COUNTRY. This spiritual walk requires a new mentality and a new consciousness or it will be impossible for us walk with God.
Peter is the impetuous one, yet deep within there was a search to know God. Jesus met him while he and his brother Andrew were fishing, and taught them how to catch fish. Peter is the first Name in the list of disciples. He was in the boat when Jesus came walking on the water and it was Peter who asked him to call him over which he did and without hesitation, Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water while his eyes were on Jesus. Peter was one of three who were selected by Jesus to accompany him on many occasions.
Now Peter is looking at Jesus just as Abraham looked at Isaac, and he is challenged to declare his identity. Just having Jesus with them was such a wonderful experience for Peter, therefore his natural eyes declared this was Jesus of Nazareth, but deep inside the Spirit rose up to declare, “Thou art the CHRIST THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.” Peter had seen into the true nature of things, and saw GOD MANIFEST IN THE FLESH. The outer form could not add to or subtract from his true identity. But more than this, we see the personal challenge that came to Peter from the Spirit.
Are you willing to offer up the physical Jesus you know and have grown to love, as your burnt Offering, in order to release the CHRIST THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD, to be the Savior of the world? Are you willing to lay upon the altar what YOU are in the natural, just as Abraham did with Isaac, believing that what you see in CHRIST, is also the reality of your own being?”
This beloved is the challenge all of us must face if we are to become ONE WITH THE FATHER. It is to this altar of burnt offering to which we are called, as a test to reveal to us whether we LIVE BY THAT WHICH IS REALITY or THAT WHICH IS PASSING AWAY. We will not be willing to offer our BODY AS A LIVING SACRIFICE WHOLLY ACCEPTABLE UNTO GOD WHICH IS YOUR SPIRITUAL WORSHIP, until we believe OUR LIFE is in CHRIST and not in OUR FLESH AND BLOOD BODY.
Here is the testimony concerning Abraham in the hour of his testing. “By faith Abraham when undergoing trial, has offered Isaac, and he who received the promises offered the only begotten, he to whom it was spoken that IN ISAAC SHALL THY SEED BE CALLED, reckoning that God is able to be rousing him from among the dead also, whence he recovers him in a parable also.” Heb 11:17-19. (Concordant Ver.)
When Abraham returned from Mount Moriah he was walking in ANOTHER WORLD, that is the Kingdom of God, with his SON who is not just Isaac but THE CHRIST whose seed would fill the whole world. Thus Abraham REJOICED TO SEE THE DAY OF CHRIST even while living in the midst of a heathen society. However when Jesus came into this world it is said the WORLD RECEIVED HIM NOT, because they only saw a MAN as a root out of dry ground, having no form nor comliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men a man of sorrows and acquainted with death, and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not.
BUT, TO AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM, (AS THE CHRIST OF GOD) TO THEM GAVE HE THE AUTHORITY TO BECOME THE SONS OF GOD, EVEN TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN OR INTO HIS NAME ( WHICH IS HIS TRUE CHARACTER) Jn 1:12.
The Greek word ECCLESIA that is translated “Church” in our Bibles is an interesting word. The “EK” means OUT OF or FROM with the rest of the Greek word meaning to CALL or summons. So we can see that the Church or ECCLESIA are simply, “THE CALLED OUT ONES.” Then we must ask the question, “WHAT are they called out of, or from?”
They are called out of the “WORLD” formed by the carnal mind. They are called out from the duality of good and evil and cause and effect into a world in which GOD IS ALL AND IN ALL. They are called out of DARKNESS or ignorance of God into the Kingdom of LIGHT, and called out of DEATH INTO LIFE.
Further answers to this question emerge as we look at the history of Israel. We need to understand that the history of Israel serves as a kind of “parable” of a reality that was yet to come. Paul reminds us that what happened to Israel was to be our EXAMPLE or FIGURE that represented a spiritual reality. 1 Cor 10:1-6. Among other things Paul mentions that they all “ATE THE SAME SPIRITUAL MEAT.” What was this “spiritual meat?” It was the MANNA, and simply means, “WHAT IS IT?” This we are told was a type of the BREAD FROM HEAVEN that is CHRIST who said, “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE.”
It is the eating of HIS FLESH that separates us from those who walk in darkness. HIS FLESH is the substance of his being and we partake of it we take it unto ourselves. Then Paul tells us that they ALL drank of the same SPIRITUAL DRINK that was the water flowing from the ROCK during their wilderness journey. BUT again this was simply a TYPE or FIGURE of the WATER of LIFE, Jesus said would flow from our innermost being. John 7:38. By being united both in the MANNA and the WATER that sustained Israel in their 40 years of wandering, we have a TYPE or FIGURE of the eternal REALITIES that have been revealed to us today IN CHRIST. John uses these things to explain how we are constituted the BODY OF CHRIST through partaking of a REALITY that was only symbolised in Israel’s history.
The rock on which Christ said he would build his CHURCH includes not only Peter’s confession, but the confession of every one who is BORN OF THE SPRIT, that CHRIST would dwell in humanity constituting them a NEW CREATION. 2 Cor 5:17. The perpetuity of this church is guaranteed because The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. This is not some physical force that is said to oppose the Church, but refers to DEATH which Christ has destroyed.
Hades is so often translated HELL in the King James Bible which follows Greek Philosophy that connects it with ORCUS and the infernal regions that are supposed to be in the depths of the earth. From this the Church developed its concept of a burning fiery HELL to which all unbelievers are supposed to be sent. But Jesus is telling us that there is no power on earth or anywhere else that can affect the purposes of God regarding the CHURCH that is HIS BODY. The reason being that DEATH HAS BEEN ABOLISHED through the appearing of Jesus Christ in us. 2 Tim 1:9-10.
BUILDING THE CHURCH
Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will BUILD my Church.” The natural mind assumes that this involves constructing some physical structure, which has been the course the present day church has followed. I have seen in my short experience so many fellowships meetings in homes or some rented building, suddenly feel the urge to BUILD A BUILDING, and appoint a “full time” Pastor and so become a “recognised church.” I have been asked many times, since I touched reality in God to start another fellowship. Some have offered me a home and a vehicle, to entice me to come and Pastor their group. All such invitations I have refused since understanding what Jesus was saying concerning BUILDING HIS CHURCH.
There has developed a special type of ministry connected with the church, know as “CHURCH PLANTERS.” These people say they have a special calling on their life to go out and “PLANT” churches. Well, Jesus never said anything about PLANTING CHURCHES, but he did say HE would BUILD his Church. Paul speaks about himself and Appolos saying they brought the Truth to the people in Corinth planting the Good Seed in their hearts and watering it, but LIFE and growth ultimately remains the prerogative of God. 1Cor 2:5-6.
What then is God’s building program? Let Peter answer the question himself as he writes to the Christians in the five Roman provinces in Asia. He says, "You are built a spiritual house" (oikodomeisqe oikoj pneumatikoj). It is difficult to resist the impression that Peter recalls the words of Jesus to him on that memorable occasion. It was Peter’s confession which provided the basis for what Jesus was teaching, so let us hear what Peter says much later in his epistle.
“As new born babes desire the sincere milk of the Word that you may grow thereby. If so be that you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming as unto a LIVING STONE, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, YOU ALSO as LIVING STONES are BUILT UP A SPIRITUAL HOUSE a Holy Priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable unto God by Christ Jesus. 1 Peter 2:2-5.
This is what Peter understood Jesus to mean when said HE WOULD BUILD HIS CHURCH. It had nothing to do with bricks and mortar for it was a SPIRITUAL HOUSE “built” out of LIVING STONES that are the saints. This HOUSE is in fact the HOUSEHOLD OF GOD and Peter here uses the same verb as Jesus used in Matt 16:18. This “building” rests upon the PRIMARY FOUNDATION STONE that is CHRIST. It now becomes obvious that man could not “BUILD” what Jesus had in mind concerning the CHURCH, for it is the SPIRITUAL DWELLING PLACE OF GOD.
Paul establishes the fact that Christ purposed to dwell IN US and that our BODY is the TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST WHICH IS IN YOU, which you have of God and you are not your own. (literally, you are no longer who you were) - For ye were bought with a price, Glorify God therefore in your body. But the argument stands clear, that we have been redeemed (we are a purchased possession) and our body is now THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST.
However do not assume Paul is speaking here of your flesh and blood BODY, as being the Temple of God. If that were so, then every time someone passed away God would need another Body and the BODY OF CHRIST would not be ETERNAL. The Body which is HIS TEMPLE is your SPRITUAL BODY WHICH IS CHRIST, for it is in HIM that the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily.
Paul speaking to the philosophers on Mar’s hill made it abundantly clear that GOD DOES NOT DWELL IN TEMPLES MADE WITH HANDS. Acts 17:24. The Greek word used for the Temple that is our body, is NAOS. This refers only to the inner sanctuary called the MOST HOLY PLACE, which is the dwelling place of God. So from the understanding of our bodies being the Temple we understand God has BUILT HIS OWN DWELLING PLACE.
Peter continues the revelation of God’s dwelling place by explaining that God’s purpose is not simply that our body is God’s temple. God’s BUILDING PROGRAM does not include millions of TEMPLES but the BUILDING TOGETHER of each individual to form ONE SPIRITUAL HOUSE, A HOLY PRIESTHOOD, A CHOSEN GENERATION, and a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS. There is only ONE BODY and there is only ONE TEMPLE.
He calls those he is BUILDING TOGETHER, A CHOSEN GENERATION, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD AND A PURCHASED PEOPLE, that you should shew forth the virtues of HIM WHO HAD CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELLOUS LIGHT. Beloved let us ponder deeply these words that we may escape the superficial concepts that have been fostered by God’s people through the carnal teaching of men.
From what we have shared we must understand that the FORMING of the BODY OF CHRIST and the TEMPLE OF GOD results in BRINGING GOD”S PEOPLE INTO UNION WITH ONE ANOTHER AND WITH GOD. There are no “select of the elect” who have some advantage over others for we are all ONE IN CHRIST.
Today I look to see anything of such unifying activity among the people of God but my heart is heavy as I discover the divisions still remain. Where is the recognition of CHRIST’S DWELLING PLACE within the saints today? Even those who claim to be filled with the Spirit of God still look for the MAN JESUS to return from some place up in the sky. Where is there evidence of a building together of a people to form ONE SPIRITUAL HOUSE today. Christians are often divided deliberately by Church leadership, who are so engrossed in satisfying their ego that the UNITY OF THE BODY of CHRIST is just a mental concept with no reality. They sing, “We are one in the spirit we are one in the Lord,” but never is that unity allowed to develop. Loyalty to a group is the badge of belonging, and must take precedence over every other call upon their lives. Beloved these things ought not to be.
Israel had come to the third month after being CALLED OUT of Egypt, and this would be the time of the feast of Pentecost, but this had not yet been instituted. We take up the story as God calls Moses up into the mountain where he first heard the call of God upon his life. Israel was baptised unto Moses both in the CLOUD and in the SEA. However at this point Israel seemed to have remained separate from their GOD hearing his voice only as it is relayed to them through Moses. This is what God said to them.
“You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I BEAR YOU ON Eagle’s Wings, AND BROUGHT YOU UNTO MYSELF. Now therefore if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my Covenant, then you will be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine. And you shall be unto me a Kingdom of Priests, and a Holy Nation.” Ex 19:4-6.
In these words we see the heart of God revealed, and his purpose in calling out his people is clearly expressed. Let us consider these words carefully. Israel’s deliverance from slavery under the task masters of Egypt was not an indication of God’s love for Israel in contrast to what would seem a lack towards other nations. This would make God’s actions very arbitrary. However our God is a God of LOVE and that love extends to the whole world.
But in these words to Israel we can see God had an all embracing purpose in CALLING OUT Israel UNTO HIMSELF. They were to be a NATION OF PRIESTS to function as intermediaries between all mankind and God. Of all the peoples on the earth they were to be a special TREASURE unto the Lord However natural Israel never fulfilled the divine purpose, so it was reserved for the SPIRITUAL SEED of Abraham in this our day.. All these things are examples for us today. Thus we see the purpose of God for his called out ones in this our day. We are to be what Israel failed to become because of their unbelief. Let us consider this purpose of God a little more.
All through history God has raised up Prophets and Priests which he sent unto the people to bring a word of correction or direction. Since Adam left the Garden of Eden MAN has wandered in a wilderness seeking for LIFE in the midst of death. He searches for Truth but does not even know where to look.
God called Abraham OUT OF UR of the CHALDEES. Was there some divine purpose in the choosing of this man, or was this experience in Abraham’s life simply pure chance? History from God’s point of view is actually HIS STORY. The Psalmist asked the question, “WHAT IS MAN that Thou art mindful of him and the Son of man that thou visitest him?” Psalm 8:4. Then goes on to answer his own question, “Thou hast made him just a little lower than Elohim, and crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands, thou hast put all things under his feet.”
We have yet to discover within ourselves the divine purpose for our very being. Our birth was no accident or some arbitrary choice on the part of our parents. Behind every life there stands GOD and until we become conscious of this fact we will never understand who we are nor why we are here. Life is wrapped up in GOD because HE IS OUR LIFE, and therefore the only true fulfillment of that life is in HIS plan and purpose.
It is said of Abraham, “Being called through FAITH, Abraham went out.” Heb 11:8. Abraham’s journey was a script he was writing for all men who would follow the pathway of FAITH. Abraham’s FAITH began to raise his consciousness as he heard the voice of GOD out of the midst of his being. While those all around him wandered through life this man began to take a deliberate step in a certain direction even though at that time he had no idea where it would lead.
THY WILL BE DONE
Darkness is enveloping the earth today at an alarming rate, crime and wickedness abounds with there being no answer to these things coming from our world leaders. Did you know that God would provide himself with the answer. Not as the Bible Teachers suggest that Jesus will return from the sky and take away all the saints leaving the world to wallow in the misery of a great tribulation. NO, the TRUTH is that GOD is calling OUT a people UNTO HIS NAME, having his nature allowing them to escape the corruption that is in this world. These will be the SAVIORS who will flow down from Mount Zion.`
God says, after this I WILL RAISE UP THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID which has fallen down, and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up. That the residue of men might seek after the Lord and all the Gentiles upon whom my Name is called, saith the Lord who doeth all these things. Acts 15:16-17.
The manifestation of David’s Tabernacle is a PEOPLE IN WHOM CHRIST DWELLS IN FULLNESS. The purpose of this people is to manifest CHRIST ON THE EARTH. For God was IN CHRIST reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and has committed to US THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION. So that NOW WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST.
Beloved we have not been redeemed just to go to heaven when we die, we have been BOUGHT WITH A PRICE and are not our own. All of creation is waiting for this people who have been called out from among the dead ones, and who are the Sons of God, to set them free. It is time to abandon everything in our lives that does not accord with the will and purpose of God for us today. This is not the day for us to be building a ministry or a name for ourselves. This is not the day to organise man made programs expending money and effort on things that are not accomplishing God’s plan for his Ambassadors to bring the message of reconciliation to all men.
There are prison doors to be unlocked. There are the oppressed that need to be set free, and there are the broken heated that need to be helped, and the proclamation of LIBERTY FOR ALL in this world of sin and death. It is for this purpose that the SPIRIT of the LORD is being poured out upon his people today. For the first time there are many who are hearing the JOYFUL SOUND of the VIOCE OF THE LORD, and are responding to HIS WORD. The prisons of theological carnal reasoning are being broken open and those whose minds have been kept in darkness are now seeing the LIGHT OF GOD and are discovering the LIGHT of LIFE.
This is a NEW DAY and we must march to the beat of the heavenly choir and not be guided by the dead doctrines that have sapped the energy of God’s people over the years. Beloved it is the TRUTH that makes men FREE
This is the day when God says, “BEHOLD I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW FOR THE TABERNACLE OF GOD IS WITH MEN AND HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM AND THEY SHALL BE HIS PEOPLE AND GOD HIMSELF SHALL BE WITH THEM, AND BE THEIR GOD!
May you be blessed.