What Do You Mean, Jesus Wasn’t a Christian? – by Michael Donahoe

Jesus wasn’t a Christian? How can you say such a thing?

Especially here in the USA, when we think of Jesus we think of Christianity. Actually Christianity is just another religion. Jesus didn’t come to start a religion. Men started calling those who followed Christ as Christians, but in our modern era, Christianity is thought of as a religion more than it is a lifestyle of following Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t belong to any particular religion. He loves and accepts people no matter what they believe. He came to show the love of the Father to the human race, not start a new religion for people to fall in line and follow.

If we mean Christian as being a follower of Christ, then there is nothing wrong with using this word to describe our fellowship with Him. If we use Christian as a sense of belonging to a particular church, following a particular doctrine and set of rules, then I would rather not have anything to do with that term.

Jesus is the Son of God, and He loves all people. He doesn’t see Muslims, Jews, Christians or any religion. He loves people. He sees people who need the love and acceptance of God. The only way people are going to come to true fellowship with God is through Christ…not Christianity.

It’s time we stop looking to the organized world of religion as our way of becoming acceptable and pleasing to God. We need to look to Christ and allow Him to live through us and let Him love all those we meet each day. Stop demanding that people come to follow your doctrine, your rules, your beliefs and accept people as they are. Show the love of Christ to them and let God work in them the way He sees fit.

We are never going to completely agree with each other on doctrine and religion. Only through Christ and the love He gives will we be able to love and accept others. Let us be known by the true sense of the meaning of Christian, being someone who is doing the works of Jesus, and letting Him reign as Lord of lords and King of kings.

The Wine of Her Fornication – W.E. Smith

Dear ones -

A drunken man has no discernment. All is haze and confusion. And this is a serious business. Notice the following passages -

“Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, ‘Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between the holy and the unholy, and between the clean and the unclean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.’” (Lev. 10:8-11)

“Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and the unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.” (Ez. 22:26)

“No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court…and they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” (Ez. 44:21-23)

Now notice this relating to our very day -

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Rev. 17:1-3)

Babylon, at its heart, represents confusion and mixture, where the holy is not distinguished from the unholy. All is worked in together. Tares and wheat, leaven and meal. Babylon is a quasi-religious system where all is mixed together, the natural and the spiritual. And those who are drunken cannot discern the difference; their eyes simply do not see it. They have no spiritual clarity. It has gone long beyond understanding. The “Lie” has worked itself into them deeply, into their heart, their desire; their lives. You cannot convince them otherwise for they are wedded to Babylon and all she represents. Her uncleanness runs far too deep. Like the harlot who cannot merely change her clothes to become other than she is. Her fornication refers to her unholy communion (becoming one spiritual body) with the powers of the world, the political, the economic, anywhere and everywhere the enemy has principalities and strognholds.

The product of the harlot’s illicit union with the world is “the wine of her fornication.” This wine is the intoxicating influence of the mixture of this religious system. The mixed system does not try to sort out the things of God from those not of God. It mixes them all together into one confusing mass. This mixture influences all people on the earth in the realm of religion. All people, including genuine Christians, are put into a stupor, being unable to discern the pure truth concerning knowing, serving and following God. They are influenced by the teachings, and the natural and worldly philosophies, ways and practices of this religious system, Babylon. As a result, people cannot distinguish between the holy and the unholy. (Tom Finley)

The harlot is. perhaps, the very woman who has hidden the leaven in the meal.

Next notice how Austin-Sparks suggests this will only lead to trouble for those attempting to stand outside of this confusion, this mixture -

I have told you all this so that you may find your peace in Me. You will find trouble in the world – but, never lose heart, I have conquered the world! (John 16:33 Phillips)

When the spiritual stands to confront the merely formal, traditional, nominal and “natural,” then there is going to be trouble. This is not now merely the reaction from the world: it is the reaction from religion. I would go further, and say it may be the reaction from Christianity. There is a very great difference between formal, traditional, nominal, “natural” Christianity, on the one side, and spiritual Christianity, on the other; a great deal of difference. So much so, that this also becomes a battlefield – the battlefield of a lot of trouble.

Leave formalism alone, and everything will go on quite quietly. Leave traditionalism alone – that is, the set order of things as it has always been; that framework of things as it has been constituted and set up and established by man; that Christianity which is the fixed, accepted system of things – and you will escape a great deal of trouble. But seek to bring in a truly spiritual order of things, and trouble arises at once. And YOU are the trouble maker! The truth is that the trouble lies in the existing condition, the situation, the state; but it is only brought out by your action. And so spiritual men and women, and spiritual ministry, are called “trouble makers,” because the two things cannot go on together. That is where Israel was. They had the traditions, they had the oracles, they had the ordinances, they had the testimonies; they had the forms, they had the system – they had it all; but, in the days of the prophets, there was ever this vast gap between the “externals” and “internals” of life in relation with God. The heart is far removed from the lips. The spiritual reality is not found in the formal. You may have it all – but then bring in the truly spiritual meaning of things, and trouble begins in that very realm. It is the trouble which arises when what is external and traditional comes into conflict with something which is truly spiritual.

They tolerate us now, but the animus will be loosed soon, the restrainer will be removed, the locusts will swarm out of the pit. And then where does that leave us dear ones, all those who seek the true, the holy, the clean, the pure?

Where are you in your heart? Whose side are you on really? Is there mixture in your life? Are you intoxicated like the priests who brought unholy fire into the temple of the Lord? What do you tolerate, or reason away? What is the Lord Jesus to you anyway, deep down where spirit touches bone and life is revealed for what it truly is?

The time is at an end, and Babylon is rising dear saints. A new epoch is upon us. Babylon is not so much a place but a condition, a delusion appreciated only by those who are drunk with the wine of the harlot’s fornication. It stands for everything opposed to the Kingdom of our God, and her King! Once the seduction begins, it will grow increasingly difficult to resist, as every man knows all too well.

Do we have eyes clear and sound to see such things? Are we drinking the pure water of the Word, and leaning in to hear the Masters voice? Is the Spirit groaning within us in unspeakable ways, in a language only God knows?

Where then are those who will stand apart? Where are those who will resist the seductive wiles of this harlot and the beast she rides? Where are those who love their Lord beyond everything and anything this world has or represents?

Dear saints, it is all under water – America, the nations, the world system – the Lord of All Judgment has declared it, and although He will never flood this earth again, He will bring His fire, oh yes, He will bring down His holy, cleansing flame, to extinguish the chaff.

And so I ask again – where are you? Where are you right now at this very moment?

Dear ones, I appeal to the life of Jesus Christ within you – Choose life, choose Him, Choose the Holy One! Flee Babylon, for her gates are never high enough for the Lord of All Light!

No Place for Any Other First – W.E. Smith

Dear saints – It is with some fascination that I contemplate what men try so creatively, so ingeniously to do for the Lord. It is as though we don’t trust Him, or somehow feel we can do things better in terms of bringing about the fullest expression of spiritual body life. I absolutely relish this description by Sparks here of what really transpired shortly after He ascended -

“While there was some initial testimony, the Apostles did not formulate in conference an enterprise, a mission, with all the related arrangements and organization. The new Life forced off the old leaves and dressed the new organism with a new vesture from within. The might, energy and urge of the Holy Spirit within produced a Way and an order, un-thought-of, unintended by them, and always to their own surprise. What was happening was really that Christ was taking form within them, individually and corporately, by new birth and growth. The believers and the companies were becoming an expression of Christ.”

Now if I may speak quite frankly, such a thing positively scares the life out of many believers, especially those who feel that everything of Christ must be branded, named, organized, systematized, collectivized, boxed, replicated, scheduled, itemized, etc.

Where I wonder in what Sparks has described is there a place for one such as Diotrephes, who loves to be first, over others, standing apart, in some place of self-importance?

I dare say that such Nicolaitans create these unnatural religious mechanisms so that they can control them, lord over them and derive no small degree of stature and importance from them – all in the name of Christ, all for Him ostensibly.

“THESE THINGS I HATE!”

…said the Master.

Rather than step back and glory in what the Lord through His Spirit was doing back then, we rather pull a verse out of the Book of Acts and create a system, a methodology from it – oh what a wonderful idea.

“They met in homes” – Oh so the pattern for church is to meet only and always in homes.

“The church in this city.” – Oh so we must organize city churches with spiritual headship over each jurisdiction.

“They all sold what they had…” oh so we are to give all of our resources to a centralized church body and have them manage and distribute it as they deem suitable.

Dear saints, what is so delicious, so marvelously impressive about the Book of Acts, is not only these things specifically, but that the wind was blowing, and that these saints allowed themselves to be swept up and away in its moving. Nothing of men, All from the Lord. Attempting, even with the very best of intentions, to replicate, simulate or return to the various particulars of what happened HAVE AND WILL FAIL EVERY TIME!

This book is a book not of patterns and templates, but of free-flowing life. It is the most un-religious book ever written.

May we open all of our doors, tears down all of our walls, open all of our windows – and simply let the mighty wind of the Spirit bring forth life into our fellowship and union with one another in the Lord. May we lay down all pride and lust for power and control. May we learn from John in his first letter which speaks of real heaven-blown fellowship and oneness in the LIGHT, LIFE and LOVE of God.

May He breathe on these words as they pass through your day today… amen

**************************

From TAS -

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you. (Ephesians 1:18 NIV)

It is a seeing of the immense significance of Jesus in the eternal and universal order. With the Apostles that seeing was subsequent to the days of physical association. During the forty days after His resurrection it was like the dawning of a new day. First, those intimations, as when the uncertain light just passes over the heavens. Then more steady and certain rays, leading to the Day of Pentecost, when the sun appeared in full glory over the horizon dispelling the last shadow of uncertainty. On that day they saw Him as by an opened heaven. The mystery of the past was dispelled. The Bible lay open like a new book. They saw Him in the light of eternity. They began to see that, while He was the glorified, personal, Son of God, He was Himself the embodiment of a great, a vast heavenly and spiritual order and system. This seeing was absolutely revolutionary. It was a crisis out of which a new world and a new creation was born. True to this fundamental principle, all that vast revelation, which has come down the centuries from and through the Apostle Paul took its rise from that crisis described by him as “It pleased God… to reveal His Son in me” (Gal. 1:16). “I received it… by revelation of Jesus Christ” (vs. 12). All the implicates were in the crisis; the full content was a progressive and ever-growing revelation.

While there was some initial testimony, the Apostles did not formulate in conference an enterprise, a mission, with all the related arrangements and organization. The new Life forced off the old leaves and dressed the new organism with a new vesture from within. The might, energy and urge of the Holy Spirit within produced a Way and an order, un-thought-of, unintended by them, and always to their own surprise. What was happening was really that Christ was taking form within them, individually and corporately, by new birth and growth. The believers and the companies were becoming an expression of Christ.

A Declaration of Dependence

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt 11:29)

Freedom. Independence. Self-actualization. Self-fulfillment. These seem so very American don’t they. A proudful boast that has been packaged in shiny boxes for all the world even. To be a “free spirit” is considered by many to be the ultimate fulfillment of life, of gratification. Modern marketing is literally saturated with such themes and messages. The modern gospel has followed suit to the ruin of so many blood-bought souls. The scope of this ruinous lie is so extensive it is hard not to be seduced by such a sweet, seductive, syrupy message. It drips from everything today, even from many church signs unfortunately.

But what does the Spirit say about such things. How is fullness and fulfillment actually achieved? I am sure you all know the answer all too well – Nothing less or other than the utter, total, unconditional surrender and abandonment to the yoke of the Lord Jesus Christ. Unlimited, unqualified dependence upon Him. In everything. For everything. Forsaking all that comes from within ourselves and serves ourselves, that we might live and move and derive our very life in Him alone.

Dear ones, it is no wonder the modern church has practically no idea who Timothy Austin-Sparks is or what poured forth from the spirit of this man for almost a century. For his was an emphasis of all from Christ, all for Christ.

I truly love this phrase – “But a life of dependence upon God can be a life of continual romance. It is there that we make discoveries which are a constant wonder.”

Dear saints – do you really, ultimately wish to know the Lord, to learn from Him, and in doing so to find rest for your weary soul (this is a rest not just from sin but from religious toil it should be said) – then do this one simple, beautiful thing – bow your head and your heart, empty your soul, and then step peacefully, meekly into His yoke. Just do it! And then taste and see that how good the Lord truly is. This is all He asks. This is His gracious invitation given with such meekness and lowliness of heart for all those so wearied in this world. Lord, may we each just do this now, by You. For You. Only for You.

From TAS -

In Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:9,10 NLT)

Oh, those subtle suggestions that are ever being whispered in our ears, that if we give up this and that we are going to lose, and life is going to be poorer, and we are going to be narrowed down until we have nothing left. It is a lie! That is the thing that is countering God’s great thought for us. God’s thought for us is that One, no less than His Son Jesus Christ, in Whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form, should be our fullness. All the fullness of God in Christ for us! You never attain to that by rejecting Him. Life must be much less than it need be if you are not going all the way with the Lord; and what obtains in the matter of our consecration to the Lord, our entire and complete abandonment to Him in our life and our complete cut with all that is not of the Lord, obtains in the realm of service. This flesh loves to sport itself in Christian work, and tells us that if we are going to be dependent upon the Lord we are going to have an anxious time. But a life of dependence upon God can be a life of continual romance. It is there that we make discoveries which are a constant wonder.

You may be nearly dead one minute and in the next the Lord gives you something to do and you are very much alive, dependent upon Him for every breath you breathe. But thus you come to know the Lord. Then after that experience you are just as helpless and dead again for a while, but you remember that the Lord did something. Then He does it again; and so life becomes a romance; yet no one would ever guess you were depending on the Lord for your very breath. It is a very blessed thing to know the Lord is doing it, when you could not do it at all; it is, humanly, naturally, impossible, but the Lord is doing it!

By T. Austin-Sparks from: Christ – All, and In All

Is He All?

Dear saints – as the days and hours of this age draw to a tumultuous close, as the wheels of this broken cart called the world wobble and begin to fall away, as the apostasy among named christianity becomes ever more entrenched and “birds” have made a permanent home in its branches (Matt 13:32), as sides are being drawn, and hearts are being tested through tremendous fires and afflictions among His own – can we say with pure and sincere hearts that “He is all”? That He is now our very life? That we live and move and exist, no longer in ourselves, but in Him? That we see through His eyes alone, and that His purpose, and His glory, and His kingdom is what animates us in all we do? Has there been a registration and occupation of His life within us? Do we even comprehend in the spirit what this means?

No He did not come to make you or me a better person; to clean us up and dress us up and set us on our feet again to face the world.

From T.A. Sparks -

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)

Christ is not a second personality or power, to come along to reinforce us, to vivify us, to strengthen us, for us to use in life and in service, and that He should make us something. That is not the thought, and that is not the angle of Scripture at all. And yet, how almost universally, perhaps largely unconsciously, that is what is happening. Christians are wanting to be made something, even as Christians; and Christian workers and the Lord’s servants are, though perhaps unwittingly, wanting to be made something as workers; and they want Christ to reinforce them, come behind them, and make them something as His servants and in His service.

That whole system of things is diametrically opposed to the truth. The truth is that Christ shall be All, and that we decrease that He may increase; that He should be the primary Personality, and that the impact and registration of any life and any service should not be: “What a good man he was!” or “What a good woman she is!” or “What a fine worker!” but: “What a presence of Christ! What a testimony to Christ! What an expression of Christ! What a sense of Christ! What a reality of Christ!”Are our hearts set upon God having that which is wholly of Himself? That means “I” crucified! No longer I, but Christ! And that means that Christ in us is the basis of our conformity to His image, until we partake with Him of His own nature – pure gold. It is something to face seriously before Him. It brings to us a challenge, but surely it also brings to us a glorious possibility! What Christ is can be made good in us!

Where did Saul go; what happened to that man way back then? What became of that pharisee of pharisees? Gone. All gone! Crucified, then subsumed into the one called the Christ. Not new and improved, not a shiny new man, not a rehabilitated “Saul” (he could never use this name again for it was forever gone, like Abram and Jacob) – No and never for this is NOT what the Word teaches at all. It is in fact what 99% of all christian theology teaches perhaps, but it is not what is being offered to man in the Scriptures.

So let us stop looking to ourselves, even the hope or promise of what we can be if Christ is “added” to us or some such thing. We are nothing and can never be. He must be All. He must be Everything! He must be the First and the Last and all in between. He is the first letter, the alpha, and the last letter, the omega. He is the author and finisher, the starting line and the finish line, He is the heart, the lungs, the head, and we are drawn up into His life never the other way around. Oh how we so often want Him, and pray that He would become part of our lives, that He might supplement us, strengthen us, enable us, etc. Yet the Word says we are to become part of His Life! That indeed the Father sees us as part of Him! That He is now our very life!

There is a vast difference between -

“Strengthen me Oh Lord” and “Be Thou my Strength Oh Lord”,

…between -

“Make me righteous and holy” and “Be Thou my Righteousness and my Holiness”.

Oh that we would grant us a new kind of mirror where our reflection is now and only the Living Christ.

Dear ones, we really do not need to fully comprehend how all of this works for it to be made so. To experience Him as our life will reveal itself in living reality, not theology or doctrine or concepts. “Taste and see” says the Lord. “Come to Me that you may have life”. He must become our Living Reality. Grace and Truth (Living, Self-Revealing Reality) came through Jesus Christ and is offered to each one of us, if we come as little children to receive it by faith and trust. The essence of the abiding life is “shared existence”; it is a union, an integration, a spiritual symbiosis of sorts but it is far deeper than any words can define. “Abide in Me and I in you”. As the dust is dissolved in the Living Water, we too must dissolve in Him. Let us just say simply “amen” (so be it Lord, I truly don’t understand it but I trust you, so be it) and then receive with meekness and rich gratitude the engrafted Word.

Let There Be Life – W.E. Smith

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. (John 15:1)

One day a farmer went out into his orchard, eager that his apple trees would bring forth many apples. He had his notebook, and a lesson plan, and walked among the trees.

“Today, my dear trees we are going to learn about fruit, what it is, what it looks like and how to bring forth a bountiful supply of fruit. Please turn to page 12 in your text books….”

Then one of the younger trees interrupted the farmer….

“But master, we are trees and you as a good husbandman have cared much for us, planting us in good soil, keeping the birds and insects away, pruning our branches… we need no instruction on how to bear fruit, for this is what we are, and the life that flows through us up from our roots to each branch will most certainly bring forth fruit. Please be patient and in time you will see our many branches filled with life-giving fruit.”

“But…” interrupted the farmer, “we must labor, we must be diligent to ensure that we most perfectly understand how all of this works, we must study and learn all there is to know about fruit. I thought if we met every Wednesday and… “

“We do enjoy your company master and of course you are always welcome to walk among us and to care for us, but in the matter of fruit all that has been done is all that needs to be done. Life will take care of the rest; do you not see this?”

So the farmer went back into the house confused, His father had always taught him that there was more required, that a good farmer had to do this and do that, and to actively participate in the life of the orchard.”

Dear ones, the propagation, the maintenance, the perpetuation, the stimulation of life – these are grand subjects indeed. Yet in the end, life just is, and all bounty is bound up in the seed. And inside the seed is a germ, the smallest essence of life in which all that comes forth is marvelously coded and defined.

IN THE NEW CREATION, THIS GERM IS NONE OTHER THAN JESUS CHRIST!

The soil is the desert of this world.

This precious seed has been planted in the desert of this world, and all life in the new creation springs up from this one seed.

He alone is the genesis of the new creation, the originating and animating principle of all life therein.

This seed fell from the Father’s hand (He had only one seed in His bag for this is all that was required) and in the very midst of the dragon it fell to the hard, cold, ground of this fallen, cursed world.

This Tree, this Vine has been growing ever since, and it will continue to grow until its roots, and vines and branches and fruit fill all the earth, indeed perhaps more.

As you begin your day today, consider what you are, what you are attached to, what you are part of – then rest superfluously in the revelation that His fruit will come, His life will flow through you, His love will supplant everything in time. Resist any teaching or any teacher who tries to make fruit-bearing some kind of religious exertion or effort.

Let life happen. Just get out of its way. Pray His Spirit will be Your life today.

Yes you and I are housed in broken bodies and broken minds and hearts, and these will manifest from time to time. But what is really important is the life within, this new life within each of us.

Be careful of assuming that the more knowledge you have, the more life you will have, the more fruit. (Remember the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil”)

Be equally careful of thinking that toil, labor, self-discipline (call it what you will) have an active part to play in the new creation of God. It doesn’t. Pray the Spirit will impart a fuller revelation of rest (the sabbath) and fruitfulness. These to the fleshly mind seem incompatible to each other, but we must remember that the Father and the Lord are always working. This does not require that we are always working as well.

Walk out among the trees and the plants and consider how peaceful they look. It is a sabbath all around certainly but much life is springing forth. This, dear ones, is how the Father works. He speaks forth life by His generative word. Then He allows it to come forth.

The very first and last scene in the Bible is a garden (not a school, not a temple, not a church).

And there are trees (vines) all through the Scriptures.

Our Lord often used the living things of nature to convey profound truths having to do with spiritual life and death, and how the Father is working and how He is working.

There is not seven steps to more life, or twelve principles of the abundant life – THERE IS ONLY LIFE! THE TREE OF LIFE! THE TRUE VINE!

So first be very certain that He alone is now your life.

Then once you are sure, enjoy it, choose it, praise Him for it, thank Him for it, move freely in it, wait for it, contemplate it certainly, experience it, allow its fullness, allow the Father to prune and protect this life to bring it to even greater fullness.

Lord, please let this be so as it is Your will and pleasure. Amen

Loving His Appearing – W.E. Smith

Dear brethren, beloved of our Precious Lord, I pray for all of you always, that He might find you waiting and watching in this hour; for His appearing for His little ones. Be strong and of great courage, for our King is coming! That which is held in mystery in the present will soon be manifest; and let all who name the name of Christ Jesus be found standing fast in the faith when He comes to fulfill all of His promises.

Now there is a night and day difference between loving our Lord’s “appearing” and loving this present world. I draw your attention to 2 Timothy, where the Apostle Paul makes this vital distinction -

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. (2 Tim. 4:6-10)

Here we see that crowns (reward in His soon coming Kingdom) are destined for all those who love His appearing, and yet those who love this present world forsake the will of God. Early in this epistle, Paul prophetically declares the state of the Christian testimony “in the last days” -

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (2 Tim. 3:1-7)

Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”; yet still wanting to appear very much righteous and christian-like, they hold to a “form of godliness”, yet deny the true spiritual power of this new life in Christ Jesus. I humbly ask you brethren – does this not most accurately describe the current state of the testimony of Christ in this hour? Indeed, maybe you may feel tempted to attribute this state of things to the unsaved world at large, yet this cannot be so. For the children of the devil have always fit this description. What the Lord is revealing through Paul here is the abominable state of the popular and professing church just prior to His appearing. And just like Demas, many Christians will abandon the true testimony of their King for the things of the world – pleasure, money, the glory of men, and a powerless religion that will never produce true godliness or peace in this world.

What about you my brother or sister? What is it right at this moment that you love first and most. Are you like the believers in Ephesus that seemed to have all things together but let slip their first love?

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. (Rev. 2:4-5)

Are you so caught up in your buying and selling, and arranging your little space in this world that you will be found unworthy and unapproved when the thief comes at night to take away His precious things? Is our Lord your first and deepest love? And does His coming for His saints pervade your hope and attention in this last hour?

And yet what does this mean to “love His appearing”? It would seem, my brethren that this is precisely what the message to Timothy is primarily about (and indeed many others as well). Here you will find a continuing exhortation to endurance, patience, and holding fast to the faith and to the Lord when seemingly everyone else abandons Him for the world, its things and its god. Hardship and discouragement may be the result, and deep confusion, as all things Christian seem to be turned inside out and upside down. The command by our Lord in the letters to the churches, written for precisely this time, is –

TO WATCH!

TO OVERCOME!

TO STRENGTHEN THE THINGS THAT REMAIN!

TO HOLD FAST WHAT YOU HAVE UNTIL HE COMES!

TO PERSEVERE!

TO RETURN AND REPENT IF NECESSARY!

TO KEEP THE WORD OF HIS PATIENCE!

Now if this sounds something like a siege, then may we suggest that this is precisely what it is, and we have but a little strength (Rev. 3:8) until our Liberator comes. In the meantime, we are not to give in or give up;  we are not to lose hope. Yet our faith and resolve must be tested by He who must know He can trust us; that we are faithful and true to the One Who is the rightful heir and king.

Consider the definition of the word “persevere” –

To persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly. (Dictionary.com)

Indeed, the counter influences of the flesh and the world, and even the false testimony of Christ that is all around us besiege the child of God daily. Its opposition flows from the enemy himself; the god of this present age who knows he has but a short time. Only in Christ Jesus, only in the Spirit that keeps us, can we truly hope to maintain our purpose and not abandon our present course. He will never abandon us certainly (for He is coming quickly as a thief in the night), but the question remains – will we, as Demas, abandon Him for this present age and its empty promises?

Dear saints, if you have not done so recently, I would encourage you to prayerfully review all of these letters to the churches in Revelation, as well as Titus, James, 1st and 2nd Peter, 2nd Timothy and 2nd Thessalonians. For this admonition is directed to us today, and whether we are a Demas (a lover of the present world) or a Paul (a lover of His appearing) depends on whether our hearts receive it or not.

In his letter to Titus, Paul once again draws this distinction between the Lord’s appearing and this present age.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15)

Rather than love (and be caught up and conformed by) this present age as Demas, we are to stand against it as a living testimony by living “sensibly, righteously and godly”, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”. For we are a new creation in Christ and a heavenly people. We are not of this world but of His Holy Kingdom that will soon subsume all kingdoms of this present age. All that remains is for the Father to put all of His enemies beneath the feet of His Beloved Son – Jesus Christ. He has been anointed and He is currently marshaling all of His “mighty men” (consider David wandering in the wilderness prior to actually assuming the throne over a united Israel) to serve with Him in His kingdom.

The injunction for us is to STAND FAST, as this false and lifeless  testimony of Jesus pervades the church and the world like a cancer, and as our Lord allows all iniquity, in Israel, the church and the gentile world, to flourish unto judgment. And what was yet future when Paul and John wrote these epistles, is now the present for us. Those with eyes wide open in the spirit know this to be true. It is not merely one man’s opinion or perspective, but the conviction of the Holy Spirit of truth and the eyes of our Lord as He surveys His flock just prior to His appearing.

HE IS COMING!

And the prophetic witness borne of the Spirit indicates that the hour is imminent!

“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Rev. 22:7)

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thess. 3:3-5)

Go to Him now, my friends, and ask that this might be so. And we must also ask Him to reveal our hearts to us most fully, that the love of this present world might be replaced by the love of His appearing; and that we might have patience until He comes.

Then pray for one another dear children; that our hearts might not be –

… weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

This is our sincere prayer for all of you; and may our Lord encourage and establish you in this hour, in all watchfulness and readiness, in all faithfulness and hope; that He might preserve you for His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:8), and that He might not come as a thief unexpectedly and find us distracted by worldly things.

We are further admonished in Ephesians to be “making the most of the time because the days are evil” –

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:15-18)

One way we do this is by allowing the Holy Spirit full reign within our hearts to fully sanctify us – spirit, soul and body – before the coming of the Lord. This is nothing less than the complete reproduction of the nature (or image) of Jesus Christ in our human spirit (in fulfillment of Genesis 1:26).

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thess. 5:23-24)

While we are here in 1 Thessalonians, let us back up a bit and include the verses that proceed those above, for they speak of this very subject, and the dark and difficult times in which we live –

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thess. 5:1-11)

Again, do not presume that those caught asleep and unaware are children of darkness, for it is readily apparent that these words are written for Christians (whatever their condition) and not the children of the evil one. That these (like Demas) are sleeping saints is obvious once you comprehend this and other such admonitions given to the servants of the Lord throughout the New Testament. To allow oneself, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, to become intoxicated by the pleasures of this present age, is to invite shame, loss and devastation at His appearing. A strong message indeed my brethren, but these are the times in which we live, and again, all of this was foreseen by the Spirit at the inspiration of these apostolic epistles. Jesus Himself asked –

However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

That there are indeed such back-sliding and ill-equipped Christians (then and now) is further confirmed in Paul’s letter to the Philippians –

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:17-21)

So do we set our minds on earthly things to the neglect of our heavenly inheritance in His kingdom? Have we determined that these few fleeting and hollow moments of sensual gratification and earthly glory are worth more than sharing in our Lord’s glorious inheritance of the Kingdom? Have we so quickly forgotten His command to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” and effectively forsaken our first love? Have we allowed our belly to become our god, and to lead us away from our Lord’s table? Are we little more than the Israelite scoffers in the wilderness, pining for a return to the delicacies of Egypt?

Dear children, this cannot be, for the time is at hand, and our Lord will come with eyes of fire to judge His people, and who can stand in that day?

Again, James encourages us to –

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (Jam. 5:7-8)

Then Peter reminds us of the glory of the heavenly inheritance that is as sure and certain as our Lord Himself –

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.  (1 Pet. 1:3-9)

Oh that we would pray for one another always that we would be kept in this awful hour by His mighty power, and that the proof of our faith might be fully proven and realized. I pray this for all of you dear readers, if indeed you have this hope within you, and you are one who loves His appearing for His saints.

Peter continues, echoing the end-time exhortation of the Apostle Paul –

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours  in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1 Pet. 1:13-16)

Are you ready therefore brethren, for the time will come and indeed is here already, when many (even those professing Christ) will scoff at His appearing, as though it were some kind of impossible dream.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their  mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the  heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, (2 Pet. 3:3-14)

We see then, brethren, that the admonition for those truly seeking the Lord and loving His appearing in this final hour before the Thief’s coming is consistent among all of the apostles, as the Holy Spirit inspired them all. He alone can keep us, and help us to stand fast in the hope of our salvation, and the coming of His righteous and eternal kingdom, of which we are to share in His inheritance. Only He can establish our hearts against all of the impending unbelief and earthly wisdom pervading the testimony of Christ on the earth at the end of this present age.

Now I realize fully that this is a hard message to bear, but the time for ear-tickling, soul-gratifying and flesh-affirming words is long past. Dark and difficult times are upon us, and we may well be that final generation on the earth before the commencement of the final days of tribulation yet to come.

There is much here, brethren, to inform our prayers, and I beseech all of you to go to Him now, in supplication and fasting to plead for His grace and help in this time of need. I also solicit your prayers on our behalf, for we are all one in Him dear ones.

In Jesus’ Precious and Mighty Name. Amen.

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