KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
TO BE THE LORDíS PRAYER
HALLOWED BE THY NAME
What a depth of thought, what a wealth of meaning, what a world of reality, the model prayer contains that the firstborn Son of God has given for His many brethren with the opening words, "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name!" This is the first petition of the Lordís prayer. But while it is the first upon our lips, I fear that it is often the last in our minds and hearts. Even in the secret place of prayer, many of us think first of ourselves and our own needs. "Oh God, bless me, help me, make a way for me, speak to me, meet my needs, heal me, use me..." and on and on we go. But Jesus does not put our needs first. "Hallowed be Thy name" comes first because it is the gateway in the mind and heart of the Father. Before we pray for the coming of the Kingdom, before we pray for Godís will, before we pray for daily bread, before we pray for the forgiveness of sins, we are to pray that the name of God ó God Himself ó be hallowed.
What does it mean to hallow? To many it suggests cloistered halls, ivy-covered walls, long robes, dismal chants, halos, musty dim cathedrals, solemn music, and other tired, religious traditions. Because the old Anglo-Saxon word "hallowed" is not used so much in our modern world, we shall do well to remind ourselves that it means "sanctified," "separated," "held sacred," "reverenced." It means to be set aside for a specific purpose. For example, if I said to you, "Please set that bowl aside for the dinner with our friends tonight," then the bowl would become "hallowed," that is, set aside for a specific function. It would not be used for any other purpose until the special dinner.
The words "saint," "holy," and "hallowed," are synonymous. In the King James version of the Bible the first two translate two Hebrew words, GADOSH and HASIDH. The root idea of the first is separation, and in a spiritual sense it means that which is separated or dedicated unto God, and therefore removed from secular use. The word is applied to people, places and things, as: the temple, vessels, garments, the city of Jerusalem, priests, etc. When God set Himself to teach the world about holiness He called a man, Abraham, to Himself and separated him from all the people of kindreds, tribes, and nations. Throughout the history of Abrahamís descendants the Lord called for one separation after another to show what He meant by holiness. The idea of holiness pervaded all the ceremonial worship of the tabernacle and the temple; each ordinance was designed to reflect holiness upon the rest until the idea, expressed intently in so many ways, was applied to God Himself. The animals of the land were divided into clean and unclean; from the pure class the purest was selected, one without spot or blemish; this was to be offered in sacrifice by a class of men set apart, separated from all other men ó the priests; this separated group must wash the pure sacrifice in clean water, separated from all other water. And so on and on.
If a person, activity or thing is separated unto God and for God, the Bible calls it "holy," being separated unto holiness. For example, the Lord Jesus in Matthew 23:17-19 shows us that gold, if used for the temple, and a gift, when placed upon the altar, becomes "sanctified" or "holy". All the gold in this world is for human use and is therefore common; however, if a portion is separated and placed in the temple for Godís use, it becomes sanctified or hallowed. Again, if an ox or a sheep are among the herd, they are for human use and are common. When chosen and placed upon the altar, however, they become an offering unto God, being separated unto holiness. It is altogether a matter of whether they are for human use or whether they are separated and belong to God. Before they are separated, they are common; after they are separated, they become holy. Simply speaking, holiness means all that pertains to God, and all that is of God, unto God, and for God!
Holiness or hallowed means to be separated and different from all else. In the whole universe only God is inherently separate and different from all else; thus the scriptures affirm that ONLY HE IS HOLY. However, if a person, place, thing, or activity is separated unto God and for God, it is also called holy, being separated unto holiness. Objectively, the saints are Godís chosen and peculiar people, belonging exclusively to Him by virtue of His own choosing and grace. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are NOW THE PEOPLE OF GOD" (I Pet. 2:9-10). Subjectively, we are "called to be saints" and unto this end are experientially being separated from all sin and defilement, yes, and also separated unto all that is just and pure. HE is the set apart One. Even in the days of His flesh, He was separated, cut off, without the camp, set apart from all that bespoke of man, flesh, self, tradition, religion, and set apart unto all that bespoke of the fulfillment of the will of God. There are days, seasons, experiences, circumstances where we feel so separated, cut off, in a barren place. But we come to realize that it is not so much our separation, as it is HIS SEPARATION. To go without the camp, bearing His reproach, would be far more than we could endure, were it not for the fact that actually this is HIS SEPARATION, a part of HIS BECOMING OUR SANCTIFICATION, as we are separated in union with Him.
The saints are Godís chosen and peculiar people, belonging exclusively to Him, made one with Him, to bear His nature and glory, that HE might be glorified in the earth. One more and more comes to know what it means to be a saint as he follows on into deeper and deeper measures of His dealings and further separations unto His purposes. As we become ONE WITH GOD the world does not understand what has happened; but they know that a separation has taken place between us and them which is more than bodily separation. Although we are living and moving among them, and they see us at our earthly tasks and daily living, they realize that we have mounted up beyond them and their understanding.
Many times it is most grievous and perplexing to those who know not the Lord, as well as to those Christians bound in the religious systems, who cannot understand the workings and separating processes of the Spirit of God, to have one who is near and dear to them in the flesh, separated from them in the spirit. Though the body with its personality, is still in the home, office, or business, it is as though the loved one were not there. In such cases, how often do they who are watching the lives of those who are following hard after the Lord, entreat them that they will return; that they will again be unto them as they once were. When an apprehended one has entered into this experience, he has counted all things but loss, and suffered the loss of all things that he might win Christ. Truly HIS DRAWING leaves us no choice but to FOLLOW ON that we might know HIM in all His glorious and eternal reality! As we follow on to know the Lord, earth and friends fade away in the exceeding brightness of our vision of Christ. Our eyes are fixed with a steadfast gaze upon Him who has gone before us, opening up the way into that fuller glory which lies BEYOND THE VEIL.
As someone has written, "Those apprehended to be conformed to the image of the Son of God have been caught away in the Spirit and set in the ranks of the chariots of the Lord, even among the company of the overcomers who shall come forth in the name of the Lord to rule and reign and conquer and bless until all things have been subjected unto God. Those called to this high calling are being separated from all that binds them to a lower order, that they may enter into His fullness. Many people find it a lot easier to be "one" with the Babylonian religious systems, where the crowds are, and the excitement, than to become separated and go out beyond, leading the way for others to follow. How I rejoice that God is now calling a people ó saints ó separated ones ó to a realm beyond the norm of religious activity, beyond the programs and promotions, beyond the sensationalism and hand-clapping, beyond the revivals and crowd assemblings, into the new and seemingly strange paths of HIS LEADING. The separations are not easy, friends and loved ones and brethren do not readily understand, especially the preachers and organizations who try to hold you to their own programs ó which programs are often BEING USED OF THE LORD to enrich many lives with salvation, infilling of the Spirit, healings, etc., with their methods and techniques for an outreach to bless the world. We praise God for His blessing on every level where He chooses to work, but when the call comes, FOLLOW ME, wait upon ME in deep separation and holy brokenness for the greater glory soon to be revealed, those "called to be saints" come aside to make ready for the next great move of the Spirit!"
"Hallowed be Thy name!" That is what I desire above all things. I desire in my own life that sense of the majesty of my Father that will sanctify and make sacred all that I think, say and do. Thy name be hallowed in me! That is first and foremost. And I long for this knowledge of the presence and love and power of the Father to be in all men in my world. So my first and unending petition is for the name ó the character ó of my God to be recognized and responded to and participated in among men.
TAKING GODíS NAME IN VAIN
The third commandment is, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain" (Ex. 20:7). We live in an age where profanity is commonplace and blasphemy is equally commonplace, where cursing and swearing are habitual and looked upon not as heinous sins, but actually as virtues. Many Hollywood film producers feel that unless films are filled with profanity, vulgarity and blasphemy they will not have a good box office. It is tragic that the state of morals and spiritual life in our country has descended to such a condition that producers would seek to make vulgar films in order to gratify the public. When reverence toward God and purity is lost, then reverence for integrity and human life goes with it. One of the reasons why there is so much violence and crime in our streets today is because men and women have lost their reverence for the living God and the goodness that proceeds only from Him.
Woodrow Wilsonís father, a minister of the Gospel, was at one time in the company of a group of men when one of the men used Godís name profanely, and then looked over and saw Dr. Wilson. The man apologized. "Oh, excuse me, Dr. Wilson. I didnít realize that you were present." Dr. Wilson answered, "It is not to me, sir, that you owe your apology." It is amazing how many times people have apologized to me for their blasphemy and profanity, when it is not my name that they profaned. How absolutely incredible it is that people are more concerned about offending a mere man that they are about offending the holy God of the universe!
But ó men often put far too narrow an interpretation on the words, "Hallowed be Thy name." We limit their application literally to a name or title such as "God," "Jehovah," "Yahweh," "Lord," or "Jesus Christ." As though it meant we are not to misuse the name, but always treat it reverently and discreetly, and to speak it with bated breath. When someone vulgarly uses the expression, "God d---," we say they are "taking Godís name in vain." Or when in exasperation or anger they cry out, "Jesus Christ!" we accuse them of "taking Godís name in vain." But when we come to look at the real meaning of the name of God, we find that it has much wider bearings and much deeper significance.
The real profanity of man is not some swear words we use. Those words are more stupid than sinful. The true profanity is our thoughts, desires, attitudes and actions that fall short of the character of God, that reveal and express a nature baser than His in a life that is professedly His son or daughter! The way we hallow that wonderful Name of names is by living what we preach, by revealing in our lives the nature and character of God. If through our spirit we at all times express the heart of our Father, then we do indeed hallow His name. To walk as a worthy son is to sanctify the Fatherís name in the earth. It is the sweetest incense in the temple of worship.
The Jews held the sacred name of Yahweh in such reverence that they would not even pronounce it lest it be profaned upon their lips. Yet these Jews, with all their seeming reverence, were continually taking Godís name in vain! Oh, they were not cursing or using profanity ó but the name of God was called over them in vain. As a people they had become the vehicle of Godís revelation in history, but again and again they had proved false to the trust. Many of them, while scrupulously hallowing Godís name with their lips, were defiling it in their hearts, attitudes and actions. They read into Godís nature their own ignorance and prejudices, and made Him altogether one like unto themselves. They did exactly as the idolaters whom they despised; they built up a God for themselves, not out of wood and clay in the image of a beast or a man, but out of the materials their own hearts supplied; and He was harsh, narrow, vindictive, bigoted, and cruel as they were. And the secret of the bitter hostility of these men toward our Lord Jesus Christ was, that He came to teach them a new God. His work was to depose this glorified Tyrant whom they worshipped, and set in his place a loving and tender Father, infinitely just in His dealing with sin, but infinitely merciful in His dealing with sinners. In the eyes of Jesus Christ, the theology of the scribes and Pharisees did real dishonor to God. It libeled His character, besmirched His reputation, and took His name in vain.
When we hear people cursing, using the title of Christ, God, or Jesus, we regard them as taking Godís name in vain. The reality is, such profanity has nothing whatever to do with "taking Godís name in vain." In order to take Godís name in vain one must first "take" Godís name upon him. It is not by words spoken ó it is in a standing, position and relationship. To take the Lordís name is to take His nature and authority, for the name expresses the nature and character of God. Most folk who curse and swear with the Lordís name have never taken the name, or yet taken God as their Lord and Master. They have made no effort to take the Lordís name upon them, or to live and function in His name. At every wedding the minister or officer says to the bride, "Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?" She responds, "I do." She "takes" the man for her husband and she also "takes" his name. She is no longer Sally Smith ó now she is Sally Jones. She has taken a husband and she has taken a name. Now, if after taking this man and his name she does not love him, refuses to live with him, spurns his support and fails to fulfill her responsibilities or receive her privileges as Mrs. Jones ó she has "taken his name in vain." It is all to no avail, for naught, in vain. She is called "Mrs. Jones" ó but it is in vain.
Today an alarming number of men and women have taken the name of the Lord in vain. They call themselves Christians (Christed ones) or children of God. Yet they deny the nature and the character of the One whose name they have taken. They do not live up to their responsibilities as the people of God, nor do they walk in the privileges of their relationship to God. When a woman loves her husband, shares all with him, makes a happy home and compliments him in every way ó his name is hallowed, honored, enhanced, enlarged, exalted and magnified. This is what the Lord has in mind with His people. "I will mention the lovingkindness of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel...so didst Thou lead Thy people, to MAKE THYSELF A GLORIOUS NAME" (Isa. 63:7,14). "God at the first did visit the nations, to take out of them A PEOPLE FOR HIS NAME" (Acts 15:14).
Ray Prinzing has commented upon this: "The lovingkindness of the Lord, His great mercy to us-ward stagger the mind, and stir deep into our spirits, when He illumines the fact that HE IS APPREHENDING A PEOPLE TO BECOME HIS NAME, to be a living expression of His nature and character in the earth. Under the blessings of obedience promised to Israel, God declared, ĎAnd all the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lordí (Deut. 28:10). Evangelicals for years have quoted the scripture, ĎIf my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their landí (II Chron. 7:14). We do rejoice in this promise, though we do well to remember who it is that is called ĎMy people,í or, as the margin gives, Ďupon whom my name is called.í First of all, this was written for the WHOLE HOUSE OF ISRAEL. God gave them His name, placed it upon them, and thus identified Himself with them. But just as much as the law was written on tables of stone, and not on the fleshly tables of their heart, so also they carried His name on the outside, but they had not BECOME HIS NAME WITHIN. Outward profession, and inward state of being, are often two different things. They mouthed allegiance to their God, but their hearts wandered far from Him. ĎYe turned and polluted my nameí (Jer. 34:16).
"How could they pollute His name? It was HIS NAME, it stood as a revelation of His nature and character, and His nature and character remained pure. It was because He placed His name upon them, so they polluted His name when they polluted themselves. In the measure that they bore His name and then went and corrupted their own lives, they were also polluting the name of the Lord. Thus it is written, ĎLet every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquityí (II Tim. 2:19). Everyone who Ďnames himselfí by the name of the Lord, takes upon himself His name, needs to watch how he bears that name, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless if he bear that name in vain. Christendom looks with horror at those who use the name of ĎJesus Christí in their curses and profanities. We agree, THIS OUGHT NOT TO BE DONE. But we also see that Christendom has been far more guilty in polluting the name of the Lord by calling herself by His name, and yet not manifesting His character before the world. HIS NAME becomes mixed in with all their selfish pursuits, all their ego-kingdom-building schemes, and it is a reproach unto His name. ĎSo didst Thou lead Thy people...í with one purpose in view, with one rare objective to be fulfilled, ĎTO MAKE THYSELF A GLORIOUS NAME.í If He already had a name, He wouldnít have to MAKE one. The fact is, there is a whole composite company which become a NEW REVELATION OF HIS NAME" ó end quote.
HALLOWED BE THY NAME
In order to learn the meaning of this prayer, let us go back to the beginning, to Godís original intent for man. CHRIST is the image of God, the scripture says. I know these words may seem to be incredible, but they are truth ó the very first mention of the "image of God" is applied, not to Jesus Christ, but to our forefather ADAM. "And God said, Let us make MAN IN OUR IMAGE, after our likeness: and let them have dominion...so God created MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE, , in the IMAGE OF GOD created He him" (Gen. 1:26-27). As we consider the wonderful advent of man created "in the image of God" we can only conclude that this is a spiritual man brought forth out of the very spirit-substance of God Almighty, and bearing His own divine nature, character, power and attributes. The image of God is the nature of God reproduced in man. Thus, man is the true image of God. The divine nature was best and fully expressed in the man Christ Jesus who shed upon mortals the truest reflection of God and lifted manís sights higher than their poor thought-models would allow. Jesus revealed to men their true origin, heritage and destiny. He came to show man what man really is, was intended to be, and through redemption shall be ó THE IMAGE OF GOD. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. In Jesus Christ you see man as he was in the beginning and as he ever shall be world without end ó THE IMAGE OF GOD. Of Him it is written, "He is the expression of the glory of God ó the Light-being, the outraying of the divine ó and He is the perfect imprint and very image of Godís nature..." (Heb. 1:3, Amplified). Christ, and humanity in Christ, is like a ray of light that comes from the sun ó man, the extension of God, emanates God.
Some years ago a brother shared a word of revelation with which I heartily concur. In the following paragraphs I will share as faithfully as I can the concepts he set forth. In that wonderful day when the Lord God planted a Garden in Eden for the man in His image, God stood in the boundary between heaven and earth and did a most incredible thing. He stretched forth His hands of omnipotence and took this terrestrial ball in one hand as with the other he grasped the heavenly realm. He moved the two toward one another. He brought the spiritual realm, the timeless realm, the dimensionless realm toward planet earth and moved earth toward the heavenly realm. The two moved closer and closer until they kissed each other. The two realms touched ó entering into union with one another. The area where heaven and earth met together and overlapped He called Eden. The place where these two realms met, overlapped and interfaced became unlike earth and unlike heaven, that which had never existed before ó not heavenly and not earthly ó the Kingdom of Heaven on earth! The only thing that it can be likened to is the resurrection body of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was visible, but utterly spiritual. He brought His physical body out of the tomb and appeared in a body possessing an earthly form and appearance, but it was a glorious metamorphosed body limited neither by time or space. Here in this realm where heaven and earth meet and mingle all that is visible becomes spiritual, and all that is spiritual becomes visible. Everything upon this earth that is seized upon by the spiritual is transformed by the spiritual, and there is created here the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. When you take the heavenly and the pristine earthly and join them together, what is formed by that blessed union is far more beautiful and glorious than either.
Man, formed of the dust of the ground, lay just outside this realm of the interface. God came to man there ó just beyond the shining Eden, just outside the glorious spiritual-physical realm. God came to man in the lowlands of the earth realm. He breathed into the man, so magnificently formed of the earth, He breathed into him the spiritual realm, the life-giving winds of heaven. Man is the only being into whose nostrils GOD BREATHED THE BREATH OF LIFE. Manís "breath of life" is not air ó it is the Spirit of the Almighty which giveth understanding ó intelligence and wisdom! All other creatures also had a "breath of life," but it was not breathed into them from God. Only the light that God IS was more glorious than this exquisite creature ó man in Godís image! And the magnificent wonder is that this man could see right into the heavenly, spiritual world. The animals canít peer into that realm, the fish have no knowledge of that realm ó no creature on earth can see beyond this gross material realm except the man in Godís image. Please mark this! Here is a physical, visible creature who can see the unseen. He is not frightened by it, nor is he intimidated by anything or any creature he beholds in that glorious realm. He is at home with who he is and who they are. He looks around and all things are open to him. He sees all, perceives all, understands all. The face of God bent down and looked into the face of man, and man looked up into the face of God, and they looked like each other! They looked like Father and son. They bore an incredible, remarkable resemblance. God stretched forth His hand, Adam stretched forth his hand, and stood up from the dust and faced his Creator. He belonged to this planet, but the winds of heaven were within him. He belonged to the heavens as well as the earth. He is the only creature that has ever been, is now, or ever shall be, that BELONGS TO BOTH REALMS!
Man in Christ, man in Godís image, is Godís government in the Kingdom of God. Was not this magnificent purpose burning in the heart of the Most High when on the sixth creative day He proclaimed the wonderful decree: "Let us make man in our image...and LET THEM HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" (Gen. 1:26). In this shadowy type we behold a vivid portrait of Godís purpose for man, that when man comes fully into GODíS IMAGE he shall be, first, the ruler of things beneath, the lowest realms of the bottomless, typified by the fish swarming in the depths of the seas, and the creeping things; next, the things upon the earth, typified by the cattle, and all the earth; and last, the things of the heavens also, typified by the fowl of the air. One may find it difficult to embrace so great a truth from so small and insignificant a type, but it was upon this very Edenic type, as reiterated by the prophet David in the eighth Psalm, that the writer of the book of Hebrews enlarged when by the Spirit he wrote, "For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visiteth him? Thou madest him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou crownest him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands; Thou has put ALL THINGS in subjection under his feet. For in that He put ALL in subjection under him, He left NOTHING that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus..." (Heb. 2:5-9).
By such rulership committed to Adam we get some idea of what kind of beings we are. One might be so impressed with the majesty of the silent, speechless mountain that lifts its white peak high above the clouds as to worship in silence at its altar; so suggestive is it of the infinite. But what is a mountain, or a star for that matter, or billions of galaxies of stars and suns and planets and moons as compared with a man? They think not, speak not, neither do they feel or hope or love or plan or build or have a duty or a destiny. Man is Godís image and likeness! It is interesting to note that the almighty Creator fashioned and formed everything of nature throughout the unbounded heavens and unto the depths of the earth and then, after completing and ordaining all, He gave us the true estimate of manís greatness and purpose when He said, "Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness; and let them have dominion." Man therefore is not only the most important creature on the earth, but the most important creature anywhere in the universe. Even mighty angels are not made in His image, nor are they given dominion over all the works of His hands. Can we not see by this that Adam stood in the midst of the vast creation as the revelation of God to it all. In man in Godís image the invisible God became visible to the material creation. Godís purpose was to reveal Himself to His creation and bring everything everywhere into intimacy of fellowship and vital union with Himself.
Adam was Godís special gift to the entire creation. He came not from the brute ancestry, nor from the muck of some primordial sea, nor from the mire of the jungle, but from the hand and spirit and breath of the Divine Creator. Time will not allow us to dwell on the glories of man in Godís image, but Adam was perfect, pure, powerful. He was without spot or stain, taint or tarnish. Pure in character, perfect in holiness, powerful in personality. He was the embodiment of all wisdom and knowledge. He was able to do on the morn of creation what no sage, scientist, or naturalist could do today. He found himself surrounded from the beginning with vast kingdoms of living things ó fish, birds, animals ó many more than exist today. These were brought to him and at the command of God he gave them names. In the typology of scripture a name denotes a nature. Make no mistake about it, my friend, Adam did something greater far than merely classifying all the creatures which God had created in the world. When he "named" these creatures the wonderful truth is that he "natured" them ó that is, he spoke creatively into them the nature that his mind of wisdom and knowledge conceived. Sovereignty and authority rested like a crown of glory upon the head of Adam. He was made the Lord over all the creation of God to rule and reign as the visible expression of the invisible Creator. In him God was to be seen and known and touched by everything everywhere.
We are never told how long Adam lived in that wonderful Garden where the glory of God was revealed through him in dominion and blessing to creation, but that glorious reign of wonder and peace under the direction of a son in the image of God was but a dim figure of the day when a whole company of sons in Godís image would reign in splendor over all things in all realms throughout all worlds and all things in heaven and in earth would be gathered together into union with God in His life and purpose. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the first and Head of this glorious company, and as typified and shadowed by the first man Adam He is the connecting link between God and creation ó the revelation of the invisible Father to the physical worlds. A God who is unseen and unknown, or who is only the product of inferences from creation, or providence, or the mysteries of history, or the wonders of my own inner life, the creature of logic or reflection, is very powerless to sway and influence men or to affect creation. The limitations of our physical faculties and the boundlessness of our hearts both cry out for a God that is nearer to us than that, whom we can see and love and know. The whole world wants the making visible of Divinity as its deepest desire.
Christ meets this need. How can you make wisdom visible? How can a creature see love or purity? How do I see your spirit? By the expression and deeds of your body! And the only way by which God can ever come near enough to the natural creation to be a constant power of eternal life and light and love is by creation seeing Him at work in a man who is His image and revelation. Christís whole life is the making visible of the invisible God. He is the manifestation to the world of the unseen Father. Jesus Christ in all His words and in all His works is the perfect instrument of the heavenly Father, so that His words are Godís words, and His works are Godís works; so that, when He speaks, His gentle wisdom, His loving sympathy, His melting tenderness, His authoritative commands, His prophetic threatenings, are the speech of God, and that when He acts, whether it be by miracle, by wonder, by transforming grace, by creative energy, what we see is God working before our eyes as we never see Him in any other creature or thing anywhere in the whole vast universe.
The grand fact is that this Jesus of Nazareth, by the sheer force of His personality, has so impressed Himself upon mankind, and upon human history, and upon principalities and powers in the heavens, and upon spirits in the darkest underworld, and continues to impress Himself, that the only adequate description we can give of Him is EMMANUEL ó God with us; that in the Man Jesus dwelt and dwells all the fullness of the Godhead, under bodily conditions. In Him all we can ever know of the invisible Creator becomes concrete, and therefore becomes powerful to save. And if all this has been effected by one son of God revealing the Father to creation, what, I ask, shall be the result when A VAST COMPANY OF SONS SHALL BE BROUGHT TO RULE AND REIGN in His glorious image and likeness over all the earth and throughout the vastnesses of infinity forevermore. Ah! What an Eden of Godís glory it will be when judgment is given TO THE SAINTS of the Most High, when all the OVERCOMERS out of all the ages SIT WITH THE CHRIST OF GOD IN HIS THRONE even as He overcame and is set down with His Father in His throne; when SAVIOURS shall come up on MOUNT ZION to judge the house of Esau (flesh) and the Kingdom shall be the Lordís (Obadiah 21). Then shall the earth be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Then shall all things in heaven and in earth be reconciled and gathered together into one in Christ. Then shall God be All-in-all.
The firstborn Son said, "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee. I have glorified Thee on the earth: and now, O Father, glorify Thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (Jn. 17:1-5). To "glorify" God means that manís total expression of life would emit the very presence and effulgence of God. An illustration of what it means to glorify God can be seen in the simple incandescent light bulb. Screw it into the socket and the invisible electrons flowing through it are transformed into the light and heat energy that causes the halo of light. The bulb is glorifying the invisible electricity making it visible and beneficent to mankind. The sons of God are thus ordained to glorify the Father, emitting His presence, revealing His character, manifesting in a visible way His invisible glory.
John Wesley, it is recorded, was one day preaching in a rough neighborhood of London, where raucous and vulgar sensualities were in command, when two ruffians appeared at the edge of the crowd. "Who is this preacher?" they asked, roughly. "What right has he to come here spoiling our fun? Weíll show him!" A moment or two later, each with a stone in hand, they began elbowing their belligerent way through the throng. But just when they were ready to "let fly" at Wesleyís face, he began talking about the power of Christ to change the lives of sinful men. In that instant something dramatic happened. Even as he was speaking a serene beauty, a celestial glow spread over his face. The two men, obviously quite overcome by this unusual radiance of glory, stood there momentarily, their arms poised in mid-air. Then one turned to the other, and said, "He ainít a man Bill; he ainít a man." Their arms came down. The stones dropped from their hands. As Wesley continued to preach, the altered expressions on their countenances spoke of the softness that had stolen into their hearts. The sermon over, Mr. Wesley began making his way through the crowd. The path that the people respectfully opened for him brought him within arms length of where these tough boys were standing. One of them, almost tenderly, reached out and touched the evangelistís coat. At that, Mr. Wesley paused, placed his hands on the heads of the lads, and said, "God bless you, my boys!" As he passed on, one of the ruffians turned to the other, and said, "He is a man, Bill; he is a man. Heís a man like God!" We hallow Godís name by living and walking and shining as Godís sons in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
We are all aware, I believe, that in each of us there are areas where Godís name is not hallowed, where Godís name is still taken in vain, where He has not written His name. No matter how we try to arrange every step of our lives to express Him, there is a fatal weakness, a flaw that somehow makes us miss the mark. When we say, "Father, there is no area in my life that Iím not willing to let you deal with me about, that I am unwilling to submit to your judgments" ó that is saying, "Hallowed be Thy name!" When we pray that way, and mean it, we discover that God will walk into the dark closets of our life where the odor is sometimes too much for us even us to stand and clean them out and straighten them up and make them fit for His dwelling.
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me," Jesus said. All death is not the same death. Many think that when the scriptures speak of death they always refer to the death of the body. The truth is, in the New Testament death only occasionally speaks of the death of the physical body. When Jesus says that we must take up our cross and follow Him He does not mean that we all must be martyrs, laying down our bodies to fly away to heaven. Jesus died physically on the cross, the symbol and the pattern of the death of old Adam. But Adam in us is not crucified by hanging on an outward, wooden cross. Paul says, "Mortify (put to death) therefore your members which are upon the earth..." (Col. 3:5). Paul said, "I die daily." He said, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." In none of these passages is he talking about leaving this body and going to some far-off heaven somewhere; heís talking about dying to that outward, that external, that realm of appearances, that natural, that physical, that human, that carnal realm of old Adamís life. Thatís why heís saying, "To die is gain." There is no gain in going to the cemetery, but to die to the carnal mind is to gain the mind of Christ. To die to the natural is to gain the spiritual. To die to the Adam nature is to gain the divine nature. God gives us the opportunity every day to die. Are we taking up our cross and following Him to mount Calvary? "He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
The death of the cross was the death that was reserved for criminals and for the vilest of men. What would you think of a person who had a gold chain about their neck with a pendant of an electric chair on it? Or a hangmanís gallows? Or a guillotine? Or a gas chamber? Or a hypodermic needle? "How gross, how repugnant, how macabre, how gruesome, how insensitive," you say. "How terrible to think that anyoneís mind is that death oriented!" Let me tell you something, my beloved ó in the day of Christ the cross was an instrument of execution, no different than the gas chamber or the electric chair today. It was the place where criminals were put to death. And Jesus said we are to deny ourselves and take up our cross ó our gas chamber, our electric chair, or hangmanís noose ó and follow Him. Itís a place of execution. Itís the place where you are brought to your extremity, where old Adam reaches his final catastrophe.
The church world knows very little of these great truths of which I now write. The church world understands very little of the depths of Jesus Christ. They are too busy seeking to be blessed, to be protected, kept, provided for, watched over, pampered, healed, delivered and to go to heaven when they die, or meeting Jesus in the air. Those are their great and consuming concerns. They want to get others saved, too, so they can be blessed and go to heaven when they die. But when it comes to laying your life down, being broken and melted before God, taking up your cross and being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, the church world for the most part has never even spoken of it. They have no idea of what this really means.
My surname was inherited from my father; I didnít choose it. Much of my natural constitution, also, is not of my own making. It is inherited ó including my small stature, bald head, and pre-mature graying. To a great extent, in the natural, I am what my parents made me. I am known by their name and have sometimes been recognized, even in far-away places with strange-sounding names, as an Eby because of my physical features. I bear a facial, and sometimes a behavioral, resemblance. This bearing of the family name involves a certain responsibility on my part. I must seek to honor my parentís name. I must not hold it unworthily. Either my behavior must be consistent with what my name stands for, or I must be responsible enough to change my name. This is exactly what we mean when we pray the great prayer, "Our Father...hallowed be Thy name!" If He is your Father, you are His son or daughter and you bear His name. Creation looks to you as Godís son, and men hope to observe in you the family characteristics of God. At one time or another, weíve all heard it said of someone, "Heís just like his father." That is the witness that must be given of every son of God. In the words of the popular country-western song:
Iím seeiní my father in me,
I guess thatís how itís meant to be;
And I find Iím more and more like him each day.
I notice I walk the way he walks,
I notice I talk the way he talks,
Iím startiní to see my father in me.
Godís name has been conferred on us, not by virtue of our imitating God, or keeping certain rules or regulations, but by virtue of our birth into the God-family. The story goes that a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village saw an old man sitting by a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one of the visitors asked, "Were any great men born into this village?" Without looking up the old man replied, "No, only babies." The greatest men were once babies. The greatest saints were once toddlers in the things of the Spirit. Saints are born to become sons of God, but become such only after the divine process has been completed.
We hear of the new birth and think we understand it. Faintly we hear the truths of sonship and imagine we are already sons of God. We have seen through a glass darkly, but face to face we behold all things as they really are. The mists that have hung like shrouds upon the distant majestic peaks are fleeing away before the rising sun of righteousness that we may know as we are known. In the true and eloquent words of another: "Believers of all ages have sold themselves woefully short on all the great promises of God. We have been content to say that every believer was born again and needed but to wait until some distant day when he would fly away to heaven either by death or by rapture. I remember seeing this sign vividly portrayed by the public highway: Except a man be born again, he CANNOT GO TO HEAVEN. That statement, I fear, has been the sum and substance of Christian belief, but we have missed the true meaning of the truth given to Nicodemus so long ago. To be born from above is to be BORN FROM A HIGHER REALM. Spirit is higher than flesh even though both should grow together in one body. To be born of the flesh is one thing, for there you are born into a natural realm capable only of partaking of natural things. But to be born of the Spirit is to be born into a new and higher realm where the eternal things are clearly seen before us even as natural things are seen by the natural man. Without the birth from above it is impossible to see the Kingdom of God, for natural men have not been given the power to see spiritual things.
"The realm of the new birth is the REALM OF SONSHIP. It is the realm where Jesus Christ, the Son of God, LIVED AND MOVED AND HAD HIS BEING. Not that He was born again, for he had never sinned nor died and needed not the regeneration of ordinary men. But He lived and moved in the realm of sonship full and complete. He walked out the full potential of birth into the family of God. He lived and moved in the realm of the Kingdom which He came to proclaim and which for three years or more He demonstrated in the earth. As Moses led Israel to Kadesh Barnea where they could actually see the promised land but through unbelief turned back to the wilderness, so Jesus led the whole world to a sort of spiritual Kadesh Barnea where the glory of the Kingdom came into full view only to be lost sight of in a spiritual wilderness in which we have wandered for almost two thousand years. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived in a realm above and beyond the realm of ordinary men, for while we have lived as sons of men, He lived as the Son of God. While we have been from beneath, He was from above. While our kingdoms have been of the earth, He was not from hence. While this is undeniably true to any honest man, yet, praise be to the eternal purpose of God, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became the Son of man that we who were born sons of men might become sons of God" ó end quote.
How wonderful are these things! They are far beyond our expression or the ability of the most eloquent to describe! It is a marvelous fact that the very life of God is communicated to the believing heart via the new birth. But what is the life of God? It is the content of God and God Himself. All that is in God and all that God Himself is are the life of God. All the fullness of the Godhead is hidden in the life of God. The nature of God is contained in the life of God ó His wisdom, knowledge, will, power and glory. Every facet of what God is and can do, is included in the life of God. With any kind of living thing, all that it is rests within its life. All its capabilities and functions issue out of its life, and all of its outward activities and expressions originate from its life. It is that kind of living thing because it has that kind of life. Its being rests in its life. God is the supreme living Being, and all that He is, of course, is in His life. All that He is ó whether truth, holiness, light or love ó is derived from His life. All His expressions ó whether goodness, righteousness, mercy or judgment ó are derived from His life. His life causes Him to have such divine capabilities and functions inwardly, and such divine actions and expressions outwardly. The reason that He is such a glorious and powerful God is that He has such a glorious and powerful life. Hence His being God rests in His life.
Oh, to be able to grasp the greatness of our calling! We have been born again of the very life of God! When we have matured and God has brought us experientially to the full potential of His life in us, there will be nothing impossible to us. We will even have creative powers. We will be creators! Can your faith go this far? If we are born of God we are born of the life of the Creator. This is the life that Jesus lived and demonstrated. Twice out of a few rolls of bread and a couple fish, He created enough food to feed five thousands of people, and He said we would do the same. "The works that I do shall ye do also, and greater works than these shall ye do..." I want to know the life of this God! I want to know experientially the power He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. I want to know and experience all His holiness, righteousness, love, power and goodness. To this end I seek to completely surrender myself to Him and I am asking Him for grace to be able to do this.
Gracious Son of God, reveal the Father to us in a way we have not known before! Make us overcomers, that you may be able to write the name of your God, the Fatherís name, the name of the city of your God, and your new name, on our foreheads. God is in the process of preparing a people FOR HIS NAME ó a company that will bear His name, that will be called by His name, those who know His name and will hallow His name in all the earth. To these the Son reveals the name of His Father, He reveals the Father unto them. They will bear the name of Yahweh for they will be filled with His fullness and they will do His works, for the fullness of His power and understanding and nature will be in them. He will be in them in the measure that He was in Jesus, and will speak His words and do His works through them. They will be like His first-begotten Son, they will be conformed to His image, the express image of His person.
Jesus, the Son, knew the Father and He was the only one in His day who did. The Lord said to the religious, as He undoubtedly says to the religious today, "...ye say that He is your God; yet ye have not known Him; but I KNOW HIM and keep His saying" (Jn. 8:54-55). "As the Father knoweth me, even so KNOW I THE FATHER" (Jn. 10:15). The first-begotten Son knew the Father and it is this knowledge He imparts to the rest of His brethren, that they also may know the Father, and knowing Him, shall reveal Him unto creation. All creation waits for this manifestation of the sons of God. For two thousand years creation has continued to wait for this manifestation, but the time of their waiting is fast drawing to a close. The hour is at hand. The Spirit has spoken this from one end of the earth to the other through the mouths of His holy prophets in this our generation. It is a sure word. It has been attended by mighty dealings and processings of God in the lives of those who have received the call to sonship. In the fullness of time, "...the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits" (Dan. 11:32). We will be this people "...if we follow on to know the Lord" (Hos. 6:3). Father, grant it to be so. Amen.
There is a Jewish story in which rabbi Nahman once asked rabbi Isaac to bless him as they were saying good-bye. Rabbi Isaac replied: "Let me give you a parable. A man traveled a long way in the desert. He felt hungry, weary and thirsty, when suddenly he came upon a tree filled with sweet fruits, covered with branches that provided delightful shade, and watered by a brook that flowed nearby. The man rested in the treeís shade, ate of its fruits, and drank its water. When he was about to leave, he turned to the tree and said, ĎO tree, beautiful tree, with what shall I bless you? Shall I wish that your shade be pleasant? It is already pleasant. Shall I say that your fruits should be sweet? They are sweet. Shall I ask that a brook flow by you? A brook does flow by you. Therefore I will bless you this way: May it be Godís will that all the shoots taken from you be just like you.í" Ah, that is it! We bless God, we glorify God, we hallow the name of God by being like Him, the radiance of His nature, power, and glory in the earth. This is how God Himself is blessed. And this is most truly what we mean when we pray as the firstborn Son has taught us to pray: "Our Father...hallowed be Thy name!"
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