KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the this concerning the kingdom of God... "
TO BE THE LORD'S PRAYER
TEACH US TO PRAY
In this article we continue our thoughts on prayer in connection with the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Greek word for "heaven", in the New Testament, is most often in the plural. When you read Jesus' great parables of the Kingdom of Heaven it is really the Kingdom of the Heavens. Also, in the Lord's prayer, where Jesus teaches sons to pray, He says, according to the King James Bible, "Our Father, which art in heaven." But in Greek it is plural-"Our Father, which art in the heavens. So, contrary to popular thought, there is more than one heaven. Furthermore, heaven is not a place, not a geographical or astral location-it is a sphere or realm of reality. It is a dimension of life. It is a level of God-consciousness. It is the invisible realm of Spirit that transcends this gross material realm. It is the dimension of being where God dwells. Heaven is as omnipresent as God, for God is omnipresent and God is in heaven. If our Father is in you, then heaven is within you, for our Father is the Father in heaven. If you are in the Father, then you are in heaven. Heaven is the realm in which God is revealed by the Spirit. Heaven is the realm in which God is known by the Spirit. Heaven is the realm in which God can be touched by the Spirit. Heaven is the realm in which God can be experienced in the Spirit. God is the God of the heavens, and if ever you will see Him, if ever you will know Him, if ever you will touch Him, if ever you will experience Him-it will be in the heavens where He dwells.
In the lower heavens you know God in a more elementary way. How wonderful it is to know God in His heavens! Each heaven bespeaks of a plane of relationship with God by the Spirit. When the Lord unveils Himself to you on a higher plane, in deeper measures, in richer and fuller dimensions of His life, wisdom and glory, and you experience Him in it, you ascend in Him to a higher heaven. In the lower heavens you see and touch and experience God spiritually in limitation. As you pass through the heavens you come to know God in greater and grander measures. You experience Him in a deeper way. You come to know God more fully. In our progression through the heavens we encounter the laws, or order, or ways of God in each heaven. What is true in the physical realm is likewise true in the spiritual realm. The world of the spirit is governed by spiritual laws just as powerful and precise as the laws of the physical world. They cannot be discovered by the natural mind, nor by man's search or investigation through natural or scientific channels. They can neither be discerned nor touched by the natural senses. They belong to the order of divine revelation and are revealed to man only by the Word of God and by the Spirit of God.
God has dealt with me over many years in the area of His laws. I continue to share with you in this writing three laws of the Kingdom. They are not new. You have heard of them on some level or in some context many times. But I want to set forth these laws that we might understand precisely the method God is using to bring us from where we are unto the place to which He has appointed us in Himself. All three laws are found in Matthew 7:7 in connection with Christ's great teaching on prayer. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." According to these laws, what happens when you ask? You receive! What happens when you seek? You find! And, what is the result of knocking? Why, it is opened unto you! Those are exact and immutable laws. They are not promises; there is a world of difference between a promise and a law. Jesus says, "Ask, and it shall be given you: for everyone that asketh receiveth"-there's the law! Not a promise - a law. How awesome, expansive, and all-inclusive! How glorious, positive and absolute! EVERYONE THAT ASKETH, RECEIVETH.
Now listen. I want to share with you an elementary truth of supreme significance. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give GOOD THINGS to them that ask Him" (Mat. 7:11). Good things! T-H-I-N-G-S! Those who ask are given things. I draw your reverent attention to the two significant words: ask and things. If you ask, what do you get? THINGS! What kind of things? Good things! But they are, nonetheless, things. This realm of asking for and receiving things is the first heaven. If you are going to touch God, experience God, and know God in the realm of the Spirit, the very first dimension in which you will come to know Him is in the realm of "things". This is the external realm. And the vast majority of Christians are content to remain in that first heaven of spiritual experience. They are satisfied with the forgiveness realm, the blessing realm, the gift realm where all is received by free grace through faith. Everything in those elementary realms is free! It is yours for the asking. There are no conditions, no qualifications, no price-neither is there any great attainment in God. It is the realm of children, of babes in Christ. But the realm of children receiving gifts from their parents is a blessed world indeed!
A minister once asked one of the young boys in his congregation if he had prayed the night before. The quick response was, "No, I couldn't think of anything I needed last night." A little black girl came to her preacher one day and joyously exclaimed, "I prays every night before I gits into bed." That's wonderful," was the preacher's commendation, "but do you also pray in the morning?" Her immediate reply was, "Oh no, I ain't sheered in the morning." We know that many children, and some who have passed childhood years, pray for a good day for the picnic, to pass examinations, to win the ball game, for a new doll, or a new coat. Their prayers are centered in themselves and their wants. Many times they ask God to do for them something they are not willing to take the time or the trouble to do for themselves. Perhaps all term one drifts along, doing little studying, often missing classes, and then he asks God to pass the examination for him. Such praying is understandable in the lives of youngsters, and we know that our loving Father hears and answers prayers born of distress. Like earthly parents, out of His love He sometimes "bails us out.'? But there is a blessed realm beyond the childish prayers prayed, not just by little children, but by the vast majority of believers who are only little children in the Spirit.
In this glorious transition from realm to realm we hear a Voice saying, "Come up hither," and are translated from the first heaven to the second. Now, let me present to you the law of the second heaven: "Seek, and ye shall find" (Mat. 7:7). The difference between asking and seeking, and between receiving and finding, is that in the first heaven one asks for things, whereas in the second heaven one seeks for God and His Kingdom and finds the Lord Himself The line is drawn between these two realms in the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-33. "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for the body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek. Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye need all these things. But seek ye the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
The second level in knowing and experiencing God is denoted by this word "seek". You cannot think of what it means to seek without understanding that an element of time is involved. You can ask in a moment-but seeking is not a single act. It is a process, a series of acts. Every mother knows that husbands and children think of seeking as a single act. They will stand in the middle of a room, or pull open a drawer, and cast one sweeping glance around it, looking for a lost object, and then call for help. "Mom, where is my red sweater?" And mother opens the drawer or the closet door and lifts the clothes and there it suddenly appears right in the place where Susan just looked for it. Searching involves a process.
It is instructive to note that throughout the scriptures the term seek is always related to the Lord. One of the very few places where things are associated with seeking is in Matthew 6:22 where Jesus states that the Gentiles seek things. But unto His own He speaks of seeking the Lord. "This is the generation of them that SEEK HIM, that seek THY FACE..." (Ps. 24:6). This speaks of the generation-a people generated or brought forth- to seek the Lord. There is a generation, a people generated out of Himself, that can only find their fulfillment and destiny in Him, so they seek Him. As the salmon seeks out the place of its spawning, so these return unto their God. "Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction and sayest, Return, ye children of men" (Ps. 90:1-3). There is something within us, when our spirit has been quickened by His Spirit, whereby we recognize that there is a realm, there is a God, there is a Father out of whom our life has come, and we have known and experienced that realm in our origins. The Psalmist proclaims that God has been our dwelling place before the mountains were brought forth, or ever God formed the earth and the world. Suddenly, when God reveals Himself in our life, we remember; we were somewhere before, there is a reality to which we are drawn to return.
Some years ago I made a trip to Italy because my forefathers came from the valleys of the Alps in northern Italy, very close to the French border, in what is called the Piedmont. Long centuries ago they were French speaking, Celtic Italians, who by religion were Waldensian. The Waldensians were non-Catholic evangelical Christians that inhabited these valleys of the Alps for centuries before the Protestant Reformation. There had always been something in my heart that wanted to return to where my forefathers came from, just a natural desire to see the land, to investigate the present state of the Waldensians, and find out whether any of our family is still there. It was my desire because of my biological and spiritual roots in a godly people in a far-away land. I was aware that my family has a long and rich spiritual heritage, traceable back to the days of the early apostles. We have a history of our family, and I know exactly which Papal Inquisition forced my forefathers to flee Italy in the year 1540. They crossed the Alps into Switzerland, where eventually they became Mennonites. All of this, of course, is in the natural. There is another spiritual heritage and origin higher and greater far than this.
There is a passage in the book of Hebrews that speaks of those great heroes of faith under the Old Covenant, and it says, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for He hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:13-16). These men of God were seeking a country-Abraham knew that the ground he walked on in the land of Canaan was not the true land of God, for "he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." He was searching for the City of God and knew that he was only a pilgrim and stranger in the land of Canaan, though God had led him thither. "If they had been mindful"-that is, if they had remembered that country from whence they came, that celestial realm, that heavenly kingdom, that spiritual reality from whence they were lowered into this earth-realm; if somehow the veil could have been removed from off their minds, from the limitations of their earthiness so that they could have remembered that country from when they came-they might have had opportunity to have returned. But instead, they died in faith-still looking for the City of God, the Kingdom of God-spiritual reality.
Blessed be His name! God has provided some better thing for us and now we can return-the way has been opened into the presence of God, into the life of God, into the Kingdom of God, into the City of God, into the Holiest of all. That's what this journey into God is all about-a return to the Lord. It is our return to the heavenly; our return to the spiritual; our return to the image of God; our return to Eden; our return to the Kingdom; our return to the incorruptible. There's a call within us, and deep calleth unto deep. I tell you, my beloved, there is something within me, an inner compulsion, and I know that I have passed the point of no return. There is no turning back from this Quest for God. I can't go back to the world-the world has nothing to offer me; it is all vanity and vexation of spirit. I can't go back to religion-religion holds nothing for me anymore; it is an abomination. I can't even go back to Pentecost, back to the Holy Place-for the veil has been rent, and I have tasted the powers of the world to come. There is no turning back because my heart has returned to the Lord. As the apostle says, "When it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away...and we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Cor. 3:16-18). For some in this hour the veil has been rent and we have entered in to behold the transcendent glories of that land from whence we came. By the blood of Jesus we have been granted the opportunity to return.
Do you know what it takes to discover and appropriate all the glorious and eternal reality of this land- what is required? It takes some seeking. You don't just simile into the Feast of Tabernacles. You don't slide into God's glory. You don't coast into the fullness of God. You don't accidentally enter into life and immortality. You don't just wake up one fine morning to discover yourself a manifested son of God. There are laws that govern our ascent. There is a prescribed order for entering into the Kingdom of God. There is a pre-ordained path of progression. "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple" (Ps. 27:4). David said, "I'll seek this." Let me assure you, precious friend of mine, you don't get this glory by asking. You get things by asking. But the fullness of God is not acquired by asking.
Childishness in prayer is chiefly evidenced in an over desire to beg things from God rather than desiring above all else the LORD HIMSELF. The same growth must take place in the life of every son and daughter of God that occurs in a normal relationship between a child and his parents. At first the child wants the parents' gifts, and thinks of the parents primarily in terms of the things that they do and provide for his pleasure and comfort. He is not able yet to appreciate the value of the parents' personalities. A sure sign of a wholesome maturity is found in the child's deepening understanding of the parents themselves-his increasing delight in their fellowship, thankfulness for their care, acceptance of their ideals, reliance on their counsel, and joy in their approval. The child grows through desiring things from his parents into love of his parents for their own sakes. He is then able to enter into a partnership with them in their business with all the respect and responsibility called for.
Sons desire the Lord for Himself, for His intrinsic excellencies. The Savour of the ointment of Christ's graces draws the virgins' desires after Him (S. of S. 1:3). "With my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early" (Isa. 26:9). We desire the Lord not only more than the world, but more than heaven. "Whom have I in heaven but Thee?" (Ps. 73:25). If God should say to the soul, "I will put thee in heaven, but I will hide my presence from thee, I will draw a curtain between, that thou shalt not behold my glory," we would not be satisfied. "Where Jesus is, 'tis heaven there," are the inspired words of the old hymn. Truly, "as the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after Thee, O God" (Ps. 42:1). As a drop of water is not enough for a thirsty traveler, so the "first-fruits of the Spirit" are not enough for the sons of God. A glimpse of Christ through the lattice of the gifts and blessings of the Church age is sweet, but sons of God will never stop hungering and thirsting until they see HIM face to face. We would be swallowed up in God, and be ever bathing ourselves in those perfumed waters which flow from the throne of God.
George Hawtin wrote: "As a boy I was raised on a farm, an experience that has been a lifelong blessing to me. As little boys we made games of the work we saw the men do. When the giant threshing machines came around in the fall, we played threshing machines. We concocted our engines and separators. We imitated the shouting of the men, the hissing of the steam, the fire in the boilers, the turning of belts and the whir of pulleys, and the clanging of the giant monsters as they waddled about. We even changed our names to names that seemed more suitable for threshermen, such as Bill and Jack, Ray or Chet. But for all our threshing and all our noise not one kernel of grain ever trickled from our toy machines. The people of God have become like this. They are interested in sound effects and fanfare more than in reality. They are more concerned about the noise that follows the train than about the train itself. They are far more concerned about the signs following the believer than about the true state of the believer that the signs follow. They are more interested in the conglomeration they call doctrine than they are in the fullness of Jesus Christ who is the truth. They are more interested in redemption that in the Redeemer, more enthused about the work they are doing for Christ, than they are about Christ Himself, more worried about the tradition of assembling together than whether or not He is in the midst of them, coveting earnestly the best gifts but giving neither thought nor heed to the more excellent way."
"Seek ye the LORD," saith God. That is, seek His Lordship, seek His Kingship, seek the Dominion of God. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God. "O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is" (Ps. 63:1). Many years ago Alexander Whyte wrote: "'Oh that I knew where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat' (Job 23:3). Is it 'even to His seat,' that you would fain come? Well, know you not where His seat really and truly is? What! Know you not that His seat is within you-even in your heart? 'When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child.' It was when Israel was a child that God came down, and sat upon a mercy-seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, with the cherubim stretching forth their wings on high. But, finding fault with those childish days, God has now said, 'Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, and which ye have of God?' And again-'Say not in thine
heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart.'
"At the same time, it is the last thing we are willing and able to do-to cease to be children, and to grow up to be men, in the things of God. To learn and know that God is a spirit, and that He dwells not in temples made with hands; but that His true and only temple is the temple of the penitent, contrite, holy and loving heart- that takes much time for most of us to learn. My brethren, be no longer children in understanding; but in understanding be men. Think, my brethren, think! Think your greatest and your best, your most magnificent, your most deep, and inward, and spiritual, about God, and about man, made in the image of God. Think with all your heart, and soul, and strength, and mind about the Divine Nature. Blessed be the glory of the Lord out of His place. Glory be to God for His Godhead, His mysteriousness, His height, His depth, His sovereignty, His almightiness, His eternity, His omnipresence, and His grace! But it is in the heart of man that God establishes His temple. His high throne is prepared and set up in the heart of man. His holy altars are builded and kindled in the heart of man. The sacrifices that alone please God are offered continually in the heart of man. There, the Holy Ghost ministers in prayer and praise without ceasing, making intercession within us with groanings that cannot be uttered. There also is the golden mercy-seat with the two cherubim above it. And there the Great High Priest speaketh peace, and pronounceth His great Benediction, because He continueth there forever.
"Seek thy God, then, in thyself! Oh, ye sons and daughters of the Most High, seek Him whom ye have lost, and seek Him in your own hearts, for ye have lost Him only because ye know not where He is. Come, O prodigal son, come to thyself. Enter into thyself. Enter deep enough into thyself, and thou shalt come unto His seat. For He still sits there, waiting to be gracious there to thee. Oh, what a glory! Oh, what grace! Oh, what a God! Oh, what a heart! To have thy God in shine own heart, and to have Him wholly there for thee. His whole almightiness, His whole grace and truth, His whole wisdom, life and power, His whole redemption, His whole salvation! Arise, then, and enter into God's holy temple, Order your cause before Him there, and fill your mouth with your best arguments there. Till you fall down before Him.in your own heart, and say, 'I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee!' Are you, then, one of those who are this day saying, 'Oh that I knew where I might find Him: that I might come even to His seat!' Then seek Him where Job sought Him and at last found Him. Seek Him in a humble, broken, believing heart. Go on seeking Him in a still more, and a still more, humble, broken, believing heart. Seek Him deep enough, and long enough; seek Him with your whole heart; and sooner, or later, you too will find Him. Seek Him like David, seven times a day. Like David also, prevent the night watches and the dawning of the day seeking Him.
"My beloved brethren! What are you living for? What is your life yielding you? If you are not finding God in all parts of your life-what a fatal mistake you are making! And what a magnificent reward you are forever missing! But, when all is said, it is not to be wondered at that so few of us seek, and seek out, God. For His greatness passes all comprehension, and imagination, and searching out of men and angels. It is only one here, and another there, who ever get the length of crying out with Job, 'Oh, that I knew where I might find Him.' And with Isaiah, 'Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself.' And with Paul, 'Dwelling in light which no man can approach unto: Whom no man hath seen, or can see.' 'Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!"'-end quote.
Oh, I want to seek the Lord! I will never truly know who I am, or what are the riches of this treasure which I have in an earthen vessel, until I have fully sought out the Lord God, sanctified in my heart. What does "seek" mean? It means "to pursue, to chase, to follow after relentlessly and unceasingly." It means to be unwilling to take "No" for an answer! It means to be the way I was with the young lady who became my wife. I only knew her a few days before I was convinced in my deepest heart that she was the one for me. So I went after her. The Bible says, "They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, and they that are after the spirit do mind the things of the spirit." Do you know what it means to be "after" the spirit? It means to be about the spirit the way I was about my wife. I went after her! And I chased her until she caught me! That's what it means to seek the Lord. This is the hour for all who have received the call to sonship to seek the Lord, seek the Kingdom, seek the righteousness of His dominion and authority. Let it work in us in every situation of our lives -let HIM be Lord. Make Him Lord in our thoughts. Make Him Lord in our words. In all our attitudes, crown Him Lord. In our actions, let Him be Lord. Seek the LORD. Seek the Lordship of the spirit of His life within. Let Him speak and rule out of the temple within the heart. Crown Him King that He may reign in all that we are.
The absence of His Lordship is why we had so many preachers that went bad back during the great healing and miracle revivals of the 1950's. There were men of great fame who received the power of God without the corresponding righteousness of God. They had the power of the Kingdom apart from the righteousness of the Kingdom. Hence the command of the Pattern Son: "Seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness..." Seek- until you find and put on the righteousness of the Kingdom. Pursue it relentlessly. Settle for nothing less. That is the pathway to sonship! In the "gift" realm you can receive a measure of power without righteousness. That dispensation of power is free, by pure grace. But the sonship that God is raising up in the earth in this hour, to set creation free, will not and cannot receive the omnipotence of God apart from the righteousness of God. Should the sons of God receive unlimited power without corresponding righteousness, the Kingdom of God would be forever shipwrecked upon the shoals of carnality and Self. The Pattern Son who came in the fullness of the power of Divine Life was also pure and undefiled, holy and harmless, sinless and separate from sinners. His is the nature and ability given to the sons. Seek and ye shall find-the Lord! That is the second heaven. There is the second spiritual dimension wherein the Lord may be found, touched, experienced and known.
There is a beautiful footnote to the second heaven. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU." Let me present to you today an experience that will fully take care of that 95% of your prayer life that is spent asking for things. It will greatly help you-releasing your prayer life to accomplish something more constructive and profitable. Are we not always asking for the next pay check, for a way to get the car fixed, pay the bills, healing for the body, blessings for the family. How much time and effort are spent asking for things! But the Lord Jesus says that when you move into the second heaven, the law of that heaven is just this: As you seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness you will find them-and then, ALL THESE T-H-I-N-G-S SHALL BE A-D-D-E-D UNTO YOU!
The law of the Kingdom is that he who makes the Kingdom of God and the righteousness of God his first and chief concern will have all earthly blessings supplied automatically-in the overflow. Care for God's essentials, and God Himself will care for your incidentals. First seek the bread of heaven, the water of life, the robe of righteousness, and the Lord of the Kingdom will see to it that you shall not lack earthly bread, water, or raiment. We appreciate so little, sometimes, the value of the heavenly things until the poor little physical things seem great to us. We must be weaned from the "blessings" of God to desire only the "Blesser". As children of God, it is true that we cannot live without the blessings-God blesses this, God blesses that, God blesses us, God blesses our loved ones, God blesses our business, our projects, our church, our work for Him. If God does not bless, then we are concerned and cry out! When He blesses we say, "Isn't God good!" Would He be good if He didn't bless? Ah-a son comes to that place in maturity where God can withdraw His good supply of things and the son will yet trust His wisdom and love and lean heavily upon Him and look into His face and be content- simply and solely because HE IS THERE. Sons love Him for who He is, not for what He can give. The mark of sonship was upon Job when he cried out, "Though God slay me, yet will I trust Him!"
Ray Prinzing has aptly written: "Some years ago we used to sing the simple little chorus: 'He's all I need, He's all I need, all that I need, He's all I need, He's all I need, all that I need.'
Then one day a preacher made the remark that the chorus was not true, that we also need groceries, clothes, place to live, etc. and with a smirk on his face indicated that he would balance out this 'super-spirituality' that claimed 'He's all I need,' by making us face up to natural needs. What an insidious attack of carnality! If our expectation is in what SELF can provide, obviously we are not centered only in the Lord. But when HE is FIRST in all of our thoughts-we see every provision that comes as from HIM. How sovereignly HE can make a way where there is no way. 'I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert' (Isa. 43:19). It is GOD who provides the job, it is God who gives strength for the day, and we have come to see that 'without Me ye can do nothing"'-end quote.
It's like a girl who marries a rich man-she gains a husband, but she gets the money, too. Before she is married she may benefit in some measure by her fiancee's wealth, but married to him all that he has is part of the package. If it is true love, it is HIM she desires-not the money. The money is a fringe benefit included with the man. In like manner, seek the Lord and all the "things" of God come along with Himself. I do not hesitate to tell you-and I say it as a testimony to having tried and proven this great law of the Kingdom-I have come to the place in my personal experience where I seldom ask for anything. When I discovered this law working powerfully in my life I almost got "under conviction" about it! My mind said, "You haven't spent time before the Lord asking Him to meet your needs in months." As I meditated upon it I realized God had been meeting all my needs! True, sometimes He supplies at the very last minute; and seldom does He supply a great abundance beyond what is needed. But He does supply-almost entirely apart from my asking. And why? Because He has led us in paths of seeking the Kingdom, seeking the Lord, and finding righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. This is the law-just as precise, exact and constant as the law of gravity. It works. I tell you-it WORKS! Now, I do ask. I ask for others. I ask of God blessings upon thousands of people, small and great. I pray over every prayer request that comes across my desk. I ask for His Kingdom to come, for His will to be done in earth as it is in heaven. But I ask very little for myself. There is a blessed realm where you will never again need to pray about your needs. But you will pray for others. Would that not release you from a world of anxiety and spent time? Would it not enlarge your capacity to intercede for other people, to bless humanity, to participate in a prayerful way in the redemptive and reconstructive activity of the Spirit on behalf of creation? This truth is beautifully expressed in the little chorus we sing:
"True worshippers of the King, His worthy praises we now sing; In earthen vessels here to dwell, and we ask nothing for ourselves."
As we move from ''things'' to seek the reality of the Christ within we discover that our goal in life is not to make money or accumulate things. If that is our goal, then we need to set our priorities straight. You see, he the world within, that world which you are, there is no money and there are no things. There is no need for money and there is no need for things. The only need for money and things is in the world on the outside. But if we go out and try to seek that which is on the outside, then we have left the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is within you. The world of the Kingdom is that inner world of the spirit. There are two dimensions of "you"-the outer you and the inner you. Paul refers to these as the "outward man" and the "inward man". "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (II Cor. 4:16). The outward man is the visible, tangible and fleshly. The inward man is the invisible-man of spirit. The former is of earth, the latter is of heaven. The former is the first Adam, the latter is the last Adam-Christ.
To choose or seek anything in the outer world, whether it be a job, money, relationships, or possessions, must be for the divine purpose of expressing the inward through the outward. Anything that does not fulfill that purpose has nothing eternal or of God-substance or life in it. It is void. It is vanity. It is temporal. It is death. So choosing a vocation is not for the purpose of making money, but to fulfill the will of God, to express His life and bless the world. The carnal mind says, "If I live for God and bless the world, then I get nothing for myself." But that isn't true-because the real world is not the one out there, it's the one within. The world within is one of love, life, light, joy, peace, grace, righteousness and blessing. Therefore the inner world delights to bless all men on whatever level they are, asking nothing in return. But the outer world is one of selfishness, ego, pride, avarice, greed, stinginess and meanness. The resources of the inner world are unlimited; the resources of the outer world finite. People who live only in the outer world feel they have a right to cheat one another, take advantage of one another, use one another. You can't trust anybody in the business world today, everybody is out for themselves. They are not for the people they serve, they are in it for what they can get out of it, and they will lie, misrepresent, cheat or steal to come out on top. Men will do that to you because they believe that when they do that to you they are not doing it to themselves, because that's the way it is out in this world. They are living by the spirit of the world. They know nothing of the reality, power and glory of the inner world, so their perceptions of the outer world are distorted.
All our choices in the outer world should serve to extend the reality of what we are in the inner world. When we choose a job or any activity, we don't choose on the basis of its value in the outer world, we choose that which will serve as an expression of the inner man. That's where peace is. That's where joy is. That's where fulfillment is. And that's where success is! Because that is where the Kingdom is, that's where life is, that's where reality is, that's where heaven is. So many people work on their job just to make money, to pay the bills and put food on the table. They don't really like the job, and are miserable. That is what the outer world calls "making a living." But making a living is more than making money, for "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Lk. 12:15). To make a living means, first and foremost, to LIVE! It's making what you are live! It denotes quality of life, and the only life of quality is the inward man-Christ. "She that liveth in pleasure, is dead while she liveth." You will know true joy when your inward man lives through your outward man, your inner world is expressed through your outer world. Matters not what you do outwardly, where you live, what your job is, what your responsibilities are-when your inward life is dominant all outer things are affected, transformed, swallowed up. As sons of God we not victims of either money, things, or circumstances. These are not able to take away our peace. They are unable to rob us of our joy. They cannot take our life. The Christ within is our peace, our stability, our substance. And that is what we are seeking. We are seeking-THE LORD!
THE THIRD HEAVEN- KNOCK AND IT SHALL BE OPENED
Notice the order and meaning of these words: ask, seek knock. "Ask" is first. A child asks its father for a toy or a suit of clothing. It is an admission of helplessness. The child cannot earn it or provide it for himself. And before God there are many times we can do nothing for ourselves, there is no way out, and we can only come asking. We are His children, and that gives us the right to ask without shame.
"Seek" is the next word. Many things in life do not come merely by asking. The old prospectors were looking for gold-and there was no use in asking. One must diligently search for a place where he has reason to believe there is gold and stake a claim. The ore must be dug out of the earth. The gold is there, but awaiting man's effort. That is as it should be. We don't want to go through life as mere beggars.
This brings us to the final, the third heaven. In the first heaven you ask your Father for things and you receive from His hand all things. In the second heaven you seek the Lord and find the Lord Himself; and all things come with Him without asking. The second heaven includes the first heaven in such a way that it is unnecessary to function any longer in the first heaven. The two become one, The provision of the first heaven in met in the overflow of the second heaven. But there is another heaven, a higher heaven in which we can meet God, touch God, experience God and know God-and the law of that heaven is knocking. "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you." There is a distinct difference between seeking and knocking, just as there is a difference between asking and seeking. What happens for the man who knocks? "It shall be opened unto him." I may find a box of chocolates. But that is not the same as opening the box and eating some. In these three words the Lord uses, ask seek and knock, there is an obvious difference of meaning. These words are often treated as though they were synonyms, alternative words for the one prayer. We have supposed the Lord is saying the same thing three ways. He's not! He's saying three different things. They refer to a progression-each more intense and demanding than the last. They represent an ascending scale, stages of increasing intensity moving toward a climax. ASK refers to the things we pray for. But I may ask and receive the gift without the Giver. SEEK is the word scripture uses of the Lord Himself-"And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). But it is not enough to find God, even the God within.
KNOCK speaks of admission into His realm, to dwell with Him and in Him. Asking and receiving the gift leads to seeking and finding the Giver. Finding the Giver leads to the knocking and opening of the door into that high and holy realm where HE DWELLS. So the Lord says, "Knock." Knocking is more intense than seeking. Here, both time and intensity are involved. Knocking is not a single rap; it is a series of raps. It is a request for admittance, repeated if necessary. Those who hunger and thirst deeply enough for entrance into the power and glory of the Kingdom of God will give themselves to knocking. Asking is a polite request. Seeking is a diligent search, involving greater effort. But knocking is yet more demanding and insistent. And the reward is higher and greater as you move from one to the other. When you knock you don't find anything-but a door of entrance is opened unto you. Nothing comes into you, but you enter into something. A realm is opened before you and you are bidden to enter, to experience, to participate, to become. Do you know what that realm is? It is entrance into HIM, into the Kingdom, into life and fullness forevermore.
Let me put it this way. When you seek you find the Lord, and you find Him within that temple which you are. The experience is internal. But knocking admits you into a realm beyond yourself where it's no longer Christ in you, but it's YOU IN CHRIST. When Christ is in me, people see more of me than they do of Him. Because the treasure is in the earthen vessel men see the vessel before they perceive the treasure. When you have jewels in a jewel box, is it not true that the box is seen more than the jewels? When the Lord is in me, do you not still see more of me than you do of Him? The incorruptible seed of His life is planted within the earth of the outer man and there germinates, bursting forth into visible manifestation. It is a wonder, a great and glorious mystery; but it is still "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
There is a place where we must enter into Firm, swallowed up into Him, until all that is seen is HIM, not us. It is here that we "put on" the Lord Jesus Christ. It is here that we "put on" the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. It is here that we "put on" our house from heaven. It is here that this mortal must "put on" immortality, and this corruptible must "put on" incorruption. You see, the purpose, the goal, the consummation of God's work is that we become what we contain. Multitudes of Christians are content to be merely containers of God. This mystery of God is entirely beyond our being containers of God. We have had the notion that we are containers of God, in the way a bucket is a container for water, and that God is a great container for us. But when we see God in us as that which fills a container there is still a separation from God. When you fill a bucket with water there is no mixture, no commingling, no union, no oneness between the bucket and the water. The two touch one another, there is a relationship and association, but no change or blending of substance. The water is still water and the bucket remains the same. Each is separate and distinct from the other. When we see ourselves as a container for God and God as a container for us we remain one element while God remains another element. And, therefore, THERE IS NO NEW CREATION.
The law of the New Creation demands a change, a transformation-everything that God puts within us WE MUST BECOME, until we are what we contain. The transition is from mere possession to a state of being. We have quoted the scripture, "Christ is made unto us righteousness," and we have confessed, "Christ is my righteousness!" We have talked about imputed righteousness, imparted righteousness, and how Christ within us is the righteous One. That is a great and blessed truth. But the scripture also says, "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that WE MIGHT BE MADE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN HIM" (II Cor. 5:21). You will know a great truth when you understand the difference between Christ made righteousness unto us, and we made the righteousness of God in Him. In the second heaven I seek the Lord and find Him as my righteousness. But in the third heaven I knock and a realm is opened to me-I press my way into the fullness of God and discover that all He is, which has been credited to my account by grace, I MAY NOW EXPERIENTIALLY BECOME! Entrance into Him brings transformation into the image of God. It is union with God in His personality, and participation with God in His ability.
Let me illustrate. In the process of a chicken being formed the egg must first be fertilized. In the moment the egg is fertilized the new little chick comes into existence in the egg. A tiny speck of blood appears in the yoke of the egg. That speck is the embryonic life of the chick formed in the egg. You still have the egg- the white, the yoke, the shell-and within the egg is that little germ of life living and growing. But the egg is still the egg and the chick is the chick. Each is separate and distinct from the other. The marvel of it is that as the chick develops the Creator has wonderfully provided for the chick to live off the egg. Both the yoke and the white of the egg are drawn upon by that life, consumed by that life, absorbed into that life, completely swallowed up by that life. One of the laws of nature is that what you eat becomes you. It has been said that you become what you eat, but that is not correct. What you eat becomes you. Over the years I have gained and lost weight from time to time-sometimes in significant amounts! When I weighed fifty pounds more than I do now, every one of those pounds was me. They were one and all J. Preston Eby. They came from eating steak and potatoes, and, of course, many other things. The steak and potatoes became Preston Eby. The beef that once grazed contentedly in the pasture was now raised up into the human family. Out from the vegetable kingdom, the lowly potato had now by transformation been raised up into the kingdom of man. That beef and potato had truly BECOME A HUMAN BEING. They were-me! When I waddled down the street no one exclaimed, "Look at that 180 pounds of steak and potatoes!" It wasn't steak and potatoes walking-it was me. You could examine that paunch around my middle under a microscope or with the most sophisticated medical tests and you would not find one milligram of steak, nor one molecule of potato. What I eat becomes me. What I drink becomes me. What I contain becomes me-and I become it. I take it in and contain it to this great end-that it become me. In the same way, the life of the chick in the egg consumes the egg, and when that little chicken finally pecks his way out of the egg-where is the egg? It's walking on two feet! There it goes! Isn't it cute! Why, the egg now has feathers! The egg is the chicken, whereas before the chicken was in the egg. The egg has been changed -metamorphosed-and has become the chicken. What a beautiful figure of what is spiritually transpiring in our lives in this day of the Lord! God puts Himself into us, the hidden man of the heart. We seek Him and discover the riches of the glory of the divine deposit within. But we are not content to just contain this life-we are drawn by the Spirit to truly enter into Life. So we knock, and a door is opened unto us, the way of Life is revealed, and we find an entrance into God. As we follow on the heavenly swallows up the earthly and we become what we contain, Christ is raised up in us-AS US. We become what we contain; yea, rather, what we contain BECOMES US! Hallelujah!
If you ask, what do you get? Things!
When you seek, what happens? You find-the Lord!
And then you begin to knock. And what is the result? God opens Himself to volt and LOU gain an entrance into the personal appropriation of all that He is and has!
There is a beautiful footnote to the reality of the third heaven. When you come up into this highest ream of the knowledge of the Lord, you don't seek anymore. Neither do you find anything, because now you ARE. I've known brethren who moved in prophetic ministry and a powerful word of the Lord flowed through them. I've watched these brethren prophesy and never miss-they hit the nail on the head every time. I've sat in astonishment as the secrets of men's hearts have been revealed, when these prophets had not met a soul in the congregation and knew absolutely nothing about anyone. But in a couple of instances I've had the experience of having these same brethren come to me in confidence-and I discerned that their own lives were utterly confused. They were uncertain about the will of God, they didn't know where God wanted to plant them, what city they should live in, what fellowship they should be joined to-and they asked me to pray or asked me for a word from the Lord. I've seen these brethren a year, or two, or more later, still just as confused, perplexed, unsettled and concerned about their own situation, still asking for prayer, still seeking a word from the Lord. I thought, "My God, what's going on here? Here's a man that has a word for everybody, but he has no word for himself." Do you know what the problem is? He sought the Lord and found the Lord, and the Lord flowed through him. He became a container, a channel for the outflow of blessing from the Christ within. But he failed to knock until the Lord was opened, that he might gain an entrance into the heart and mind of the Father, to become what he contained. The message and the messenger must be made one. It is one thing to minister peace, another to be peace. It is one thing to minister knowledge, another to be knowledge. It is one thing to have the will of God to flow through you in a word, and another thing to be His will in the earth. It is one thing to contain something of God, to possess a gift or manifestation of God, to be a channel for God to flow through-and another thing altogether for all that we contain to BECOME OUR STATE OF BEING.
"For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. But finding fault with them, He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people" (Heb. 8:7-l0).
God says that He made a covenant with Israel. A covenant is made between two parties, as a mutual agreement. I promise to do this, you promise to do that-that's a covenant. If either party breaks the covenant the covenant becomes null and void, no longer binding upon either party. So God says, "I made a covenant with Israel, but they broke it. They didn't keep up their end of the bargain." God didn't break the covenant-Israel broke it. Israel broke it simply because they were in no condition to keep it. Israel began well, accepted the covenant, and promised obedience. But there was no power to continue, to fulfill it; no power to conquer temptation, or overcome the evil heart; to remain faithful. At Mount Sinai they agreed to the covenant, saying, "ALL that the Lord has spoken, we will do." But they promised something beyond their ability to perform. When a carnal mind commits to acting spiritually, you've got problems. So Israel broke the covenant. The Lord said, "Alright, I'm going to fix it. I will make a new covenant. This is how I am going to do it. "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people."
The contrast is between the law written and engraver in stones and the law inscribed in men's hearts. The law of God is the revelation of the nature of God. For instance, when God says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," He is not merely trying to prevent us from "enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season." He is telling us something about Himself-how He is. It means that GOD HIMSELF is committed, reliable, true, dependable, faithful and trustworthy. He keeps His commitments. He keeps His covenant. He honors His word. He is faithful to all His responsibilities. He will not cheat on you, lie to you, deceive you, forsake you or fail you. He loves you and will take care of you, cherish you, nurture you, protect you, and cleave to you. THAT IS HOW HE IS! He is love, He is good, He is faithful, and His nature is fixed and unchanging. He is not adulterous, with a roving eye and a lying, cheating heart. When you understand the nature of One who is not adulterous in thought, desire, or action, you understand something about the character of God. And that is how He wants us, His sons, to be! His law reveals His nature. And when His law is written in our heart, His nature-how He is- is inscribed upon the tablets (genetic code) of our inner life.
From the redeemed and transformed heart the law (nature) of God flows forth as a river of life. This is not the nature of God within you as a seed, it is not merely the heart feeling the impulses and the power of His Life within, but it is the heart being fashioned and molded into the divine image. There is a complete transformation, a complete change, a divine metamorphosis, out of the natural into the spiritual, out of the soulish and into the divine. This is BECOMING WHAT WE CONTAIN! This is knocking until entrance is granted into the very fullness of the life, character, mind, nature, wisdom, knowledge, power and glory of God-to be all that He is. There it is HE that is seen, for it is no longer "Christ in me, the hope of glory," but "I in Christ"-the glory!
To be continued...
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