By Terry S. Ross
Chapter 6 – “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled . . . “
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (John 14: 1- 4).
Here Jesus was saying, “For your sake I came into the world. I am working in your behalf. When I go away, I shall still work earnestly for you. I came into the world to reveal Myself to you, that you might believe. I go to the Father to co- operate with Him in your behalf.” The object of Christ’s departure was the opposite of what the disciples feared. It did not mean a final separation. He was going to prepare a place for them, that He might come again, and receive them unto Himself.
While He was building mansions for them, they were to build their character after His divine example. There are not many ways to heaven. Each one may not choose his own way. Christ says, “I am THE way… no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14: 6).
Many today demonstrate either by word, action, or both that they believe there is more than one way to heaven. The leaders are using their influence to try to convince others that it really doesn’t matter how we worship God. Remember, Cain had this same attitude. These same folks are also saying that we need not worry so much about our character because Jesus understands we are only human. Unfortunately, most people will continue to believe this lie. Jesus DOES understand our humanity! And the problem isn’t with Jesus, it’s with us. We need to understand His divinity! Those who do and who choose to trust Jesus all the way will find the ONLY way to heaven. We will discover eventually that all of these “poor me” arguments to excuse sin are in vain. What good will have been accomplished at the end of time? It will be forever too late when people see that God sets very high standards in regard to repenting and turning from sin. We cannot afford to allow this to be our experience. We have all that is necessary for ours to be a success story in the books of heaven. All we need is a sanctified choice— we need our will to be sanctified— and a right relationship with Jesus. If you will do your part, Jesus has given His life to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, He will do His part. What good will it have been to have attended church or anything else if it’s all been wasted because we did not take the time to find out what God says, not what men say, is the vital part to play in our own salvation? Won’t you determine just now that you will cast your lot with Christ no matter what any man says? Won’t you promise yourself, right this moment, that you will take God and not man at His word? Those who in the end are to be saved for eternity will be those who trusted God with all their minds, bodies, and souls. It is a law of the universe that if we choose to place our confidence in man instead of God and if we choose to doubt God’s ability to bring us all the way to a perfected character, then our doubts will be realized. It is all the way with Christ or none of the way with Him. Did Jesus say in Matthew 5: 48, “Be ye halfway perfect . . .”? No! Those who only make a halfway effort will lose heaven all the way.
Just before Jesus’ crucifixion He earnestly and perseveringly sought to prepare His disciples for the storm of temptation that was soon to beat upon them. He would have them hid with Him in God.
It was education time in the ancient conference church of Jesus’ day and this education Christ came to impart to His disciples. These independent minsters were to take this education to their church and laity alike, but they were not prepared for the approaching storm that was to commence within the church structure. The message Jesus gave to these men to share would cause them much trouble but, nonetheless, it was the message they were to give if they would remain faithful. These same messages of warning and education are being brought again at the Lord’s command, for the last time. Only those, as in Jesus’ day, who heed the messages will be protected in the end.
“I am the way . . . “ as Christ was speaking these words, all present felt a sacred awe as they listened with rapt attention to His words. Their hearts were more decidedly drawn to Him; and as they were drawn to Christ in greater love, they were drawn to one another.
Much emphasis is placed on unity these days within Christian circles. Certainly Jesus prayed for His people to have unity and all heaven is waiting for this to take place. Christ calls for unity. BUT HE DOES NOT CALL FOR US TO UNIFY IF WRONG PRACTICES ARE PART OF THE “DEAL.” The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating, ennobling truth, and false, misleading doctrines. He calls sin and impenitence by their right name. He does not gloss over wrongdoing with a coat of untempered mortar. I urge our brethren to UNIFY UPON A TRUE SPIRITUAL BASIS. All this talk of unity will have no value in the sight of God if it isn’t based on His high standards. Unity in itself is against God’s kingdom if it’s based on any other foundation than to hold up truth and the pure principles of the heavenly kingdom. God will some day soon have this unity among His true people. Will you and I be in this group? No man can make us do otherwise if this is where we choose to be.
The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came to the world to display the glory of God, that men might be uplifted by its restoring power. God was manifested in Him that He might be manifested in them. JESUS REVEALED NO QUALITIES, AND EXERCISED NO POWERS, THAT MEN MAY NOT HAVE THROUGH FAITH IN HIM. His PERFECT HUMANITY is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as Jesus was.
Love for the pure truth of God is the glue that alone will bring this binding together of which so many speak. This unity will ONLY come to those who honestly have the eternal interests of God’s government in mind. ONLY those who protect God’s throne while on this earth of sin will share in His glory in the world made new. This class is the ONLY one which will survive the great controversy between Christ and Satan.
All who will go to work, trusting not in what they themselves can do, but in what God can do for and through them, will certainly realize the fulfillment of His promise, “Greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father” (John 14: 12).
Oh, friend! Do you believe that Jesus has enough power to overcome all the sin in your life? Do you believe that Jesus is your only hope if you are to be an overcomer? Do you believe overcoming sin is as vitally important as it is? If you don’t, then consider these verses:
“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5: 5).
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2: 7).
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2: 11).
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Revelation 3: 21).
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21: 7)
It is obvious, from the testimony of God’s word, that overcoming is something all Christians must do in order to be saved! But how many times have you heard this preached from the pulpit?
Do you believe that Jesus will help you cease from liking whatever sin it is that you may be holding on to? Are you tired of playing church? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, brother or sister, there is hope! But you and I must be willing to put it all on the altar of the Lord. We must be willing to agonize, if need be, in order to overcome. As Christ overcame through this same agonizing in the garden, so we too must travel this road. Remember, God is not building for just a moment but for eternity. Remember what the definition of “the true church” is. It is those who have a living relationship with Jesus. In Revelation 14: 12 and Revelation 12: 17 we read about the identifying traits of the remnant church— those who are the last church who will go through to the end when Jesus comes. We need to understand this much more than we seem to.
The last church will “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12: 17). Revelation 19: 10 says “… for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” And we’ve already discussed prophecy and prophets in the first chapter.
But that is not all that this means. The last church also will have the faith OF Jesus Christ. What does it mean to “have the faith OF Jesus Christ”? It means that the people who comprise the last church— the only church that’s going through— WILL HAVE THE SAME FAITH THAT JESUS HAD. This faith is much more than a profession of belief. This faith believes with the total soul. It’s THE faith that the entire universe possesses. This is the only faith that entrusts itself completely and totally to the Heavenly Father. This faith has total trust, it has made an absolute commitment, and is in complete partnership with the Creator. This faith is the secret ingredient, and the only one, that will ensure total victory. This living faith will, for eternity, bar sin from ever returning to God’s expansive domain. Remember, the Bible says that God “will make an utter end, affliction shall not rise up the second time” (Nahum 1: 9). This means that sin will never again rise up in God’s universe and Jesus will never have to go to the cross again. Therefore, only those who obtain this faith will be trusted with the responsibilities of the faithful ones in heaven.
The wonderful news is that all of heaven is active in giving us all the help we need to make the faith of Jesus our own. We must want it more than anything else. We must want it enough to lay down our own lives— our own wants and desires— for the Father, for “he that loseth his life for My sake,” Jesus said, “shall find it” (Matthew 10: 39).
When Jesus told the disciples that He was going away to prepare a place for them, they were unacquainted with the Saviour’s UNLIMITED RESOURCES AND POWER. He said to them, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name” (John 16: 24). He explained that the secret of their success would be in asking for strength and grace in His name. He would be present before the Father to make requests for them. The prayer of the humble suppliant He presents as His own desire in that soul’s behalf. Every sincere prayer is heard by heaven. It may not be fluently expressed; but if the heart is in it, it will ascend to the sanctuary where Jesus ministers, and He will present it to the Father without one awkward, stammering word, beautiful and fragrant with the incense of His own perfection.
If we are honestly seeking to follow God’s will, although we may not know how to ask properly, Jesus takes our personal requests upon Himself and presents them in such a manner that the Father is pleased to grant us the blessing sought. Jesus said to ask “In My name.” In Christ’s name His followers are to stand before God. Through the value of the sacrifice made for them, they are of value in the Lord’s sight. Because of the imputed righteousness of Christ they are accounted precious. For Christ’s sake the Lord pardons those that fear Him. He does not see them as vile sinners. He recognizes in them the likeness of His Son, in whom they believe.
The Lord is disappointed when His people place a low estimate upon themselves. He desires His chosen heritage to value themselves according to the price He has placed upon them. God wanted them, else He would not have sent His Son on such an expensive errand to redeem them. He has a use for them, and He is well pleased when they make the very highest demands upon Him that they may glorify His name. They may expect great things if they have faith in His promises.
But to pray in Christ’s name means much. IT MEANS THAT WE ARE TO ACCEPT HIS CHARACTER, MANIFEST HIS SPIRIT, AND WORK HIS WORKS. The Saviour’s promise is given on condition. “If ye love Me,” He says, “keep my commandments” (John 14: 15 and John 15: 10,14). He saves men, NOT IN SIN, BUT FROM SIN; and those who love Him will show their love by obedience.
True obedience comes from the heart. It was heart- work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, He will so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, finds its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.
AS CHRIST LIVED GOD’S LAW IN HUMANITY, SO WE MAY DO if we will take hold of Him for strength. It is true that we are not to be proud and selfish. We are to esteem others better than ourselves, as well. But the fact that heaven paid such a high price for our redemption should help us to realize that we are valued highly in the eyes of the Father. Have you ever had a friend who you knew valued you? Perhaps you have been through a lot together and your friendship has stood the test. As a matter of fact, as you reflect on some of your hard times together, you come to realize that these times helped to cement your relationship even more. This is how God feels about you, my friend. It is hard to explain the love of God, but He has proven to us this love is real.
The Father is not looking for people who have learned to follow a set of do’s and don’ts. The majority of church members have been taught that God is lurking around somewhere, everywhere, just waiting to pounce on them when they sin or make mistakes. With this belief, is it any wonder that the requirements of God seem negative to most Christians? What the Father is really “lurking around” for is to find someone to appreciate Him, just as we would appreciate a true friend who has done much for us. God will have a people who finally realize their best Friend has paid the supreme sacrifice because He so much wants them to be with Him. With this belief intact, they will understand rightly that they are so much in His debt, they will literally do anything for Him. And this is exactly what they will be doing for eternity. Eternity with God will be living with your best Friend forever!
Those who are saved out of this last generation will understand this love relationship better than any other generation before it. True obedience never comes from a heart that HAS to do what the Lord says. True obedience comes from a heart that WANTS to do what the Lord says because that heart wants to please its best Friend.
When for the truth’s sake the believer stands at the bar of unrighteous tribunals, Christ stands by his side. All the reproaches that fall upon him, fall upon Christ. Christ is condemned over again in the person of His disciple. When incarcerated unjustly for Christ’s sake in prison walls, Christ lavishes the heart with love.
When the battle really heats up, as it surely will, the Lord promised to bring needed help. We are not to be concerned about this, because circumstances may separate us from every earthly friend, but no circumstance, no distance, can separate us from the heavenly Comforter. Wherever we are, wherever we may go, He is always at our right hand to support, sustain, uphold, and cheer.
Already many of us are seeing examples of how family members and many in the “church” follow the mandates of the leadership to shun or ignore true and faithful ones who stand for a plain “thus saith the Lord.” We are now seeing a glimpse of our own future, brothers and sisters. The treatment of those who would stand for Bible truth is a prelude of much worse abuses to come. But Jesus promised that though these things would happen and all would forsake us, as they forsook Him, He would NEVER leave us.
In teaching His disciples, Jesus had opened before them a vast tract of truth. BUT IT WAS MOST DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO KEEP HIS LESSONS DISTINCT FROM THE TRADITIONS AND MAXIMS OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES. THEY HAD BEEN EDUCATED TO ACCEPT THE TEACHING OF THE RABBIS AS THE VOICE OF GOD, AND IT STILL HELD A POWER OVER THEIR MINDS AND MOLDED THEIR SENTIMENTS. Earthly ideas and temporal concerns still had a large place in their thoughts. They did not understand the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom, though He had so often explained it to them. Their minds had become confused. They did not comprehend the value of the Scriptures Christ presented. Many of His lessons seemed almost lost upon them.
Nothing, absolutely nothing has changed since two thousand years ago. The trouble in Christ’s day and the trouble in our own is the same. The following key words are very interesting. The word “maxim” in this previous paragraph means rules of conduct written in precise form. I thought about this in terms of the “church manual” and church creeds that are used by many organized churches today. The word “scribe” means official writers, copyists, editors. I immediately thought of the many Christian publishing houses we have today. The word “Pharisees” is the term for the church leaders in Christ’s day who insisted on the validity of the tradition of the Elders. I immediately thought about church committees who enforce “commandments of men” by opinion or popular vote, putting man’s opinion above God’s requirements. The word “sentiment” means a mental attitude or response to a person, subject, or idea based entirely on feeling instead of reason. Using this understanding of these key words, let’s restate what was said in the above paragraph about Jesus teaching His disciples:
Jesus had opened before His independent ministers a vast amount of truth. But it was most difficult for them to keep His lessons distinct from church traditions as well as the church manual and creed. It was also hard to keep His lessons distinct from what the Christian publishing houses had published and from what the denominational headquarters said. They had been educated by these same people to accept the teaching of their church as the voice of God, and this voice still held a power over their minds and molded their feelings. Of course, here we are speaking of things which go against God’s word, not those which support it.
After the upper room experience, the disciples had a better grasp on things, but the above demonstrates all too well just the situation in which most church- goers find themselves. Most are placing their confidence in the wrong place— what man has written ABOUT Scripture rather than what the Scriptures actually say. Most churchgoers are confused and are having a difficult time taking God at His word. Christians have been educated by their church leaders to accept whatever they say as the voice of God. Two thousand years ago the disciples and the general populace of the “church” had some real problems with
Jesus because they had been educated by their church leaders to believe that theirs was the voice of God. When Jesus tried to show them the truth, they were confused and upset that Jesus had such an apparent disregard for that which was sacred to them. Nonetheless, Jesus forged ahead with the work of re- educating those who would listen. The church headquarters was on one side, and Jesus on the other. The church was telling the people that Christ was a liar and an imposter. They were telling the people that they were the only ones who could correctly interpret God’s word for them. Of course, the people automatically equated “the church” with the church leaders because of the way they had been taught by these men. Their sentiments — their feelings — had been molded in such a fashion as to effectively block the work of Christ.
Today, the exact same thing is happening throughout the ranks of Christianity. The sentiments of the people are the same as in former days. The confusion is also the same, as well as the effectiveness of the various church leaders. But in former times, not all the people stayed confused. There were some who finally took Jesus at His word. These are the ones who went through, not the church leadership. These are the ones who made up the REAL church. It was this group who was saved and biblical history dictates these facts. The leadership is NOT the church! God’s church is made up of people who follow HIM; not traditions and maxims of “scribes” and “pharisees” who claim to teach Bible truth, but who are merely parroting what they have been taught and who are teaching for God’s commands the traditions and ideas of men. Men who protect and defend church manuals above
God’s express word. It was not Christ’s purpose to be at odds with the very system He had raised up. Christ came to save the lost and make salvation sure for all those who would accept His truth. But here’s where the rub comes in. Christ ended up at odds with the ancient conference church because it stood directly in the way of His real purpose, which was saving people. The conference of His day was leading the people contrary to His Father’s will and therefore not to heaven, but to hell. This left Christ with no choice but to oppose this corrupt church.
Most of us who find ourselves in the exact position of those in Christ’s day have not purposed in life to be at odds with the system that Christ has raised up. We want to do the same work that Christ did and has called us to do which is bringing the truth of salvation to the people. But the church is standing directly in the way of truth. The modern church, like the ancient one, is often guilty of leading people contrary to the Father’s will and hence not to heaven, but to hell. This leaves us with no choice but to oppose this corrupt “church”. They may be proclaiming “the church is going through,” but as in the days of old, they mean that the conference is going through. Frankly, we know better because the principles of God have not changed since two thousand years ago. We understand that the same history WILL, without a doubt, bring the same result. I realize the process of which I speak is sometimes painful and upsetting. It’s hard for us to change and come to some of these realizations. As the disciples said, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6: 60). But Jesus understands this all too well and will help us if we seek His help. If we don’t, we will never understand that we have many lessons to learn, and many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency in opposition to a thus saith the Lord, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed.
Whether we like it, whether we admit it, whether we choose to deal with it or not, we are living in the mirror image of Christ’s day. The situation is the same, and our choices, as in the days of old for those in the church in Christ’s day, will determine not so much IF the church is going through to the end, but IF we are in THE church that does! Dear friends, I would never ask you to take my word for this. That’s what led most of the people in Christ’s day into trouble and what is causing the trouble now— people taking a man’s word. The Bible says that the way to prove things is “to the law and to the testimony” (Isaiah 8: 20). The Bible also says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4: 1). “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7: 17). We must be diligent searchers of Scripture so that we are not deceived.
Please don’t take anyone’s word, but rather “study to show yourself approved” (2 Timothy 2: 15). This is our only safety. We can have confidence that Jesus is still leading and through the Holy Spirit, will guide us into all truth if this is our desire.
The Comforter is called “the Spirit of truth” (John 15: 26). His work is to define and maintain the truth. He first dwells in the heart as the Spirit of truth, and thus He becomes the Comforter. There is comfort and peace in truth but no real peace or comfort can be found in falsehood. IT IS THROUGH FALSE THEORIES AND TRADITIONS THAT SATAN GAINS HIS POWER OVER THE MIND. BY DIRECTING MEN TO FALSE STANDARDS, HE MIS- SHAPES THE CHARACTER. Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind and impresses truth upon the heart. Thus He exposes error, and expels it from the soul. It is through the Spirit of truth, working through the word of God, that Christ gathers His chosen people to Himself.
Can you comprehend these words, brothers and sisters? Through His holy word, Jesus shows us how deception comes. He is showing us not only how and why the church of His day rejected Him but how and why we are living in the parallel time.
Through false teachings Satan gains his power over the mind. This is exactly what happened in the church structure in Jesus’ day and why it didn’t survive. What I’m concerned most about is that most people do not realize two things that are of prime importance: God’s promises to any person, or any organization, or any nation are always based on obedience. The person who expects a particular promise of God to come true for him is expected to fulfil his end of the contract. Also, you have to realize what God’s church is. How will we know what His church is?
Well this study is a good place to find out. The inspired words telling the history of our forefathers show what the identifying characteristics of God’s church are.
Why do you suppose Jesus was so particular in having these things written? Why do you think the Bible plainly says these things were written down for those “upon whom the ends of the world are come”? (see 1 Corinthians 10: 11). These are not cunningly devised fables or just bedtime stories to tell our children. Our very existence depends on our acceptance of God’s word as it is written. It is not God who is trying to deceive us, but men. What we find hard to accept is that we have far more to fear from within the church than without. It is INSIDE the church system we find the enemy at work. And if we look at the past with candor, honestly seeking for truth, we will learn the lessons Christ desires us to know.
The power of evil has been strengthening for centuries, and the submission of men to this Satanic captivity is amazing. Sin can be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought by the world’s Redeemer. It is by the Spirit the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. CHRIST HAS GIVEN HIS SPIRIT AS A DIVINE POWER TO OVERCOME ALL HEREDITARY AND CULTIVATED TENDENCIES TO EVIL AND TO IMPRESS HIS OWN CHARACTER UPON HIS CHURCH.
It has now been sixty centuries and the days in which we live are worse then when Jesus was here. Did the church of two thousand years ago that claimed to be THE church take on Christ’s character? Did the church headquarters? Was THAT church, which made the exact same profession that the modern- day churches are making, really THE church? Is the same question directed at the churches today any less valid simply because it lays at our own door? Who and what is God’s church— the church that refuses the high standards of heaven or those who accept t h e c h a r a c t e r o f C h r i s t a n d b e c o m e overcomers— worshiping God as He has directed (like Abel)? Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His church, and the promise belongs to us as much as to the first disciples. But like EVERY OTHER PROMISE, IT IS GIVEN ON CONDITION. There are many who believe and profess to claim the Lord’s promises; they talk about Christ and about the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not surrender the soul to be guided and controlled by the divine. We cannot “use” the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is to use us. Through the Spirit God works in His people “to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2: 13). BUT MANY WILL NOT SUBMIT TO THIS. THEY WANT TO MANAGE THEM- SELVES, this is why they do not receive the heavenly gift— the genuine Holy Spirit. I’m afraid that often there is a counterfeit “holy spirit” people claim to receive and their life testifies that this spirit is not of God. Do not be deceived by those who make a great show of their religion. Understand that for every true manifestation of God there is a counterfeit put out there by Satan. Only to those who wait humbly upon God, who watch for His guidance and grace, is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their call and reception.
HIS PROMISED BLESSING, CLAIMED BY FAITH, BRINGS ALL OTHER BLESSINGS IN ITS TRAIN. It is given according to the riches of the grace of Christ, and He is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive.
Those who claim to be “Christians” but who continue to allow self to rule on the throne of their life instead of God will come to an unfortunate end. Their kingdom will perish. It is only by having the faith of Jesus (perfect trust in God) that God’s true and faithful can and will receive the blessings of the Early and Latter Rain (see Joel 2: 23 and James 5: 7 regarding the Early and Latter rain).
When the Early Rain falls, all other blessings follow it. God’s people will realize the gift of character perfection (which is merely Christian maturity in its fullness) and become a reflection of the character of Jesus. They will share in the experience of the overcomer and will at last be free indeed! The fruits of the Spirit will be seen in the character, not one characteristic listed in Galatians 5: 22 will be missing. Heaven’s work for this people will be accomplished; God has promised, this WILL happen! There’s no question about it. The question is, will you and I choose to be a part of this experience?
In the blessing of the Latter Rain the Holy Spirit will combine His power with the messages the three angels of Revelation 14 proclaim, giving them convincing persuasion on the heart of the recipient. Those who have been totally engaged in the work of the Early Rain will be privileged at the time of the Latter Rain to bring others to the feet of Jesus. During Pentecost thousands were converted in a day! These scenes are to be repeated, and with greater power. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of
Pentecost was the former rain, but the Latter Rain will be more abundant. The Spirit awaits our call and reception. Christ is again to be revealed in His fullness by the Holy Spirit’s power. Men will discern the value of the precious pearl (Matthew 13: 46), and with the apostle Paul they will say, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3: 7- 8).
Israel had been represented as a vine which God had planted in the promised land (Isaiah 5: 1- 7). The Jewish people based their hope of salvation on THE FACT OF THEIR CONNECTION WITH ISRAEL. But Jesus says, “I am the real Vine. Think not through a connection with Israel you may become partakers of the life of God, and inheritors of His promise.” Through Jesus alone is spiritual life received. Remember these verses:
“Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you [the Jews], and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof [true Christians]” (Matthew 21: 43).
“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom [the Jews who reject their Messiah] shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8: 11- 12).
“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3: 7).
“And if some of the branches be broken off [the Jews who reject their Messiah], and thou [Christians], being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; For if God spared not the natural branches [the Jews], take heed lest he also spare not thee” (Romans 11: 17, 21). This verse is a very strong warning to us today. God is telling us that if the Jews were cast away because of their disobedience, then we can also be cast away.
“And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3: 9).
“Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Luke 3: 8).
And He did— the Gospel went out to the Gentiles and true Christians are now “modern or spiritual Israel.”
Today there are teachers out there teaching that the Jews are still God’s chosen people and always will be. The Bible doesn’t agree with them, as evidenced by the above verses. But don’t take my word for it, look it up for yourself.
The Jews based their hope of salvation on the fact that their church had been handpicked by God. It is true that God had handpicked their church. It was also true this same God was now standing directly in front of them— He was Jesus— telling them plainly that they were lost unless they followed Him. Today, Christians (modern Israel, spiritually speaking) are claiming that their salvation is sure because their church was handpicked by God. It is also true that this same God is now for the last time, through His word, standing directly in front of US, telling US plainly that we are lost unless we follow Him and obey His teachings— His commandments. It is only by following Jesus that we are saved, not by following any other person or any other group. Our connection with “Israel” will not get us into heaven, only our connection with Jesus.
Many were attracted by the beauty of this Vine (Jesus), and declared its heavenly origin. But to the leaders in Israel it appeared as a root out of dry ground. They took the plant, and bruised it, and trampled it under their unholy feet. Their thought was to destroy it forever. But the heavenly Husbandman never lost sight of His plant. After men thought they had killed it He took it, and replanted it on the other side of the wall. The vine- stock was to be no longer visible. It was hidden from the rude assaults of men. But the branches of the Vine hung over the wall. They were to represent the Vine. Through them grafts might still be united to the Vine. From them fruit has been obtained. There has been a harvest which the passers- by have plucked.
After the church of His day bruised, beat, and killed the Vine Stock (Jesus), the Father took Him back unto Himself and Jesus commissioned His independent ministers to bring His message of life to all who would listen. First to the Jews and then to the Gentiles was this message given. All who studied these things and believed the independent ministers who stood for truth, came into the light of truth. Those who were faithful were saved, although the “church” — the recognized corporate structure was lost. Though He was about to be removed from them, their spiritual union with Him was to be unchanged. “The connection of the branch with the vine,” He said, “represents the relationship you are to sustain to Me.”
The Christian is engrafted into the living vine, and fiber by fiber, vein by vein, he grows into the vine stock. The life of the vine becomes the life of the branch. So the soul dead in trespasses and sins receives life through connection with Christ. By faith in Him as a personal Saviour the union is formed. The sinner unites his weakness with Christ’s strength, his emptiness to Christ’s fullness, his frailty to Christ’s enduring might. Then he has the mind of Christ. The humanity of Christ has touched our humanity, and our humanity has touched divinity. Thus through the agency of the Holy Spirit man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is accepted in the Beloved.
We are accepted by the Father only if we, by our own choice, are grafted into His Vine, Jesus Christ. When this happens, the life of the Stock becomes the life of the branch. The fruit comes from the Stock and is exemplified in the branch. Christ’s victory becomes our own. This union with Christ, once formed, must be maintained.
Christ said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me” (John 15: 4). This is no touch- and- go, no off- and- on connection. The branch becomes a part of the living vine. The communication of life, strength, and fruitfulness from the root to the branches is unobstructed and constant. Separated from the vine, the branch cannot live. “You cannot live apart from Me,” said Jesus. “The life you have received from Me can be preserved only by continual communion. Without Me you cannot overcome sin, or resist one temptation.”
When anyone preaches a message that is anything short of what upholds TOTAL VICTORY through the power of Jesus Christ, utilizing justification and sanctification, you may know that he is a false shepherd. The generation that is now in power in the churches, to a great extent, is of that generation that has always rebelled against authority. It is destroying the moral fiber of Christianity. It believes, “if it feels good, do it!” The power has shifted from one that paid attention to the high standards of God’s moral government to few or no standards— that of the world. This is why the leaders are acting from man- made policy instead of God’s holy principles. But I can assure you on the authority of the word of God that entrance into God’s kingdom will never be based on church committee vote! Whether or not we take God’s standards seriously, He does! This and this alone will determine our entrance into His kingdom, or our banishment from His kingdom. God HATES sin, and He is NOT going to allow anyone off this planet alive who will continue to pollute His work. He sets before us life and death. It may not be popular with the “now” generation, but soon enough it will be realized that the “now” generation will be the extinct generation. I do not wish to be a part of the “now” generation, how about you? Wouldn’t you rather be popular with God than with man?
So long as the soul is united to Christ, there is no danger that it will wither or decay. When we live by faith in the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our life; not one will be missing.
The precious news of true Christianity is, it matters not what background we have. It makes no difference who our parents are or what they stood for or didn’t stand for. It is not important if they have German, Irish, Italian, Hispanic, or African blood running through their veins. If we give ourselves over to Christ, the victory that He has gained for us will be ours. Excuses for our lack of faith will cease to find expression. What will be witnessed instead is a consistent and practical godliness as we exercise our faith. This will be seen by those who are searching and see Jesus in us.
“Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away” (John 15: 2). While the graft is merely outwardly united with the vine, there will be no vital connection. Then there will be no growth or fruitfulness. So there may be an apparent connection with Christ, without a real union with Him by faith. A profession of religion places people in the church, but the character and conduct show whether they are in connection with Christ. If they bear no fruit, they are false branches. Their separation from Christ involves a ruin as complete as that represented by the dead branch.
Many, many Christians have been taught that the fruits spoken of in John 15: 2 are indicated by the number of people we have influenced into being baptized into the “church.” This is incorrect. The fruits spoken of are primarily the fruits of the Spirit found in Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5: 22- 26, and the fruits of obedience. Personal character development with all the fruits of the Spirit, active and vibrant, is the evidence that we are co- laborers with Christ. This love is the evidence of our discipleship. “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples,” said Jesus, “if ye have love one to another.” When men are bound together not by force or self- interest, but by love, they show the working of an influence that is above every human influence. Where this oneness exists, it is evidence that the image of God is restored in humanity, that a new principle of life has been implanted. It shows that there is power in the divine nature to withstand the supernatural agencies of evil, and that the Spirit of God subdues the selfishness inherent in the natural heart.
The love for the truth and love for the salvation of souls creates the unity among His people that Christ prayed for. This Satan hates, and his agents— those who refuse this love and the converting power of the Gospel— will intensify persecution until Jesus returns. Some of the most flagrant demonstrations of hatred can and will come from those within the “church.”
Love, manifested in the church, will surely stir the wrath of Satan. Christ did not mark out for His disciples an easy path. “If the world hate you,” He said, “ye know it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me” (John 15: 18- 21). THE GOSPEL IS TO BE CARRIED FORWARD BY AGGRESSIVE WARFARE, IN THE MIDST OF OPPOSITION, PERIL, LOSS, AND SUFFER- ING. BUT THOSE WHO DO THIS WORK ARE ONLY FOLLOWING IN THE MASTER’S STEPS. Now are you sure you want to be “just like Jesus”? Many do not as yet comprehend or quite believe that there was war in heaven (Revelation 12: 7). They do not realize that the way to eternal bliss is blocked by the devil and that we will have to overthrow him as Christ did to seize the promised land. There is no other way for this last generation but through this terrible struggle. We especially who have been spoiled by “civilization” are at a great disadvantage. If we are to gain the eternal prize at all it will only be by aggressive warfare in the midst of opposition, peril, loss, and suffering. Of course, the weapons used by Christians will be “the sword of the spirit” — God’s word. But praise the Lord! He has traveled this road before us and He knows the way to safety. If you want Him to guide you through this wilderness on to the promised land, you must be willing to follow Him wherever He leads. Are you willing? It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the Source of all power, shall be ours. We are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable us to overcome as Christ overcame.
Christ designs that heaven’s order, heaven’s plan of government, heaven’s divine harmony, shall be represented in His church on earth. Thus in His people He is glorified. Through them the Sun of Righteousness will shine in undimmed luster to the world. Christ has given to His church ample facilities, that He may receive a large return of glory from His redeemed, purchased possession. He has bestowed upon His people capabilities and blessings that they may represent His own sufficiency. His true church, endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is to be the storehouse in which the riches of His mercy, His grace and His love, are to appear in full and final display. Christ looks upon His people in their purity and perfection, as the reward of His humiliation, and the supplement of His glory. Christ is the great Center, from whom radiates all glory.
If you are convinced that what you are reading is something God would have you understand as truth, then this has to be read as more than just a statement of purpose. It is also a promise of the church Christ will present before the universe and to the Father. We must decide if we will be a part of this church or not. This is our opportunity to do something in return for Him who gave us His all. Those who submit fully to Jesus will be to Him the long awaited reward— the bride He has waited for. Then all His suffering and sacrifice will have been worth it. His heart will be satisfied.
As a consecrated High Priest He intercedes for His people. As a faithful Shepherd He gathers His flock under the shadow of the Almighty, in the strong and sure refuge. For Him there waits the last battle with Satan, and He goes forth to meet it.
In the faithful of the Lord— the one and only true church of God— lies the last great battle between Christ and Satan.
Those who develop a pure love for Christ will not desert Him when it costs them something. To the contrary! They firmly and resolutely engage in the warfare with one purpose— to vindicate the character of God.
Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross