Category: Being Ready

Bibliolatry

“And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! (John 5:38-39)

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matt. 4:4)

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness,examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

There are many well-intended scribes among us in these latter days, devoted to external study, to mere words, many great teachers skilled at rightly dividing the written word. Mountains of books written, yet apostasy and falseness and superficiality everywhere and growing among so-called Christianity. They have taken the Word of Life and rendered it to mere fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; the wisdom of Solomon on scrolls of paper, but not written on the heart. “Live by biblical principles they say, and then reap the blessing of heaven.” They point to the Bible as some kind of path, some way out of death, when it was never given to be that. The Scriptures testify of Jesus Christ, and they witness to Him as the Word of God, sent down among us to express the very life and purpose of God in a way that we can comprehend. The “Word” of God is not just what Jesus (or His servants) said, but it represents all that He is – HE IS THE WORD OF GOD!

But (hear this please, for this is very important) life is not found in the Scriptures, and to take the New Testament and make its words and precepts so much like the law and prophets given to the Hebrews, is not what the Lord came to impart. “You do not have His word abiding in you,” said the Lord; and dedicating your entire life to mining, probing, dissecting, and parsing the written word may not get you one step further into the heart of God. You will become a scribe and scholar not a disciple trained on the bloody and narrow path that leads out of Adam into Christ. “Here take and you will be as God” said the dragon in the garden.

Jesus did not say it was better that He leave the twelve because He was going to give them the New Testament (and some super-apostle named Paul) to guide them in all matters of entering into the fullness of the Father – He said it was better because then He would indwell them personally and guide them from within through His Spirit. Then we will become branches of the true vine, bringing forth fruit of Him. Members of His body enlivened and directed by the Head, the Mind, the Brain that is Jesus. This does not negate the Scriptures at all but verifies them and substantiates them. Apart from the spirit, we cannot rightly divide them, or apply them, or even realize the rich spiritual meaning of them. But to take them beyond where they go, this is not helpful either. One can “know” the Bible and never truly know the Lord.

We all believe in the perfect, inerrant and Holy Bible, and it is an incalculable blessing to be sure. Yet it does not negate the need of each of us personally to be hearing the Shepherd as He leads us from within. We are to live by every word that God speaks; by His will in other words. Our lives in the Lord are living epistles and no less poignant or purposeful than the written letters we have brought down to us. As the Lord speaks to us He most often affirms this in the testimonies of those recorded in the Bible – this is my experience anyway, for what is worth.

When Ezra set up the schools to restore and circulate the written testimony of Israel, what evolved over centuries up until the time of the Lord was an oral tradition, a tradition of commentary and supplemental material (biblical principles and interpretations) from men known as as the Talmud. This was accompanied by sects, scribes, schools, each having their own slant on the testimony of God – sound familiar? This pattern has been repeated over the last 2000 years, until now many believers will not so much as stand up or sit down without affirmation from their favorite teacher or ministry. Well the Lord told them so much of what they had added to His Word was of the flesh, of men, and He then went on to teach what was really being expressed and intended. “You have heard… but I say….” They had taken the Scriptures as the end, the means to life, when it was really intended to point to and prepare the people for the coming of the Son of Man.

There is, to be sure, no less a Talmud it seems for Christians today than there was for the Hebrews. And this is at the least unhelpful and at the worst – dangerous. Rather than help the disciple to hear the Lord personally, these outward things can begin to replace His moment-by-moment leading. We are to obey the Lord, not some outward list of dos and donts. Converts are taught to live by “biblical principles” rather than following the Lord. Grace is stifled. Men (teachers) are exalted. Churches become schools rather than a body building up the members or a vine bearing fruit. Sermons become seminars with a step-by-step guide to living this life. There is great division over interpretation and ideas. The heart of the Lord is grieved. All because He is not first. All because men search the scriptures looking for something they can never give. Those who supposedly “know” lord it over His flock, yet they are not shepherds, and they are not the One True Shepherd!

We are to be led and instructed and illuminated in the ways of life from within, by the abiding spirit that will illuminate and breathe life into the written word. Yet the word on its own is just as useless for engendering life and salvation as the law. This is what Paul the pharisee taught, and this is why the Lord when selecting the twelve did not go the scribes or schools; He went to the seaside and the tax booth.

This “teaching” or that is not all that we need in this dark hour saints – but cross-bearing testimony, god-breathed witness and testimony, real spirit-touching-bone expression of life. And it begins and flows from within us, affirming His blessed Scriptures. “The Scriptures point to me” – yes but then we set Him aside and spend lifetimes returning to the Scriptures. They are a means to an end, not the end in itself!

…and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:19)

And so what indeed is “sound teaching”? It is everything and anything that leads to the increase of the love of Christ, that directs the thirty soul to drink deep at His well. It is never knowledge for its own sake. it is never – “if only I could learn enough, spend enough time at the feet of Gamaliel, etc.” That is spirit-sucking religion; it is outward, it looks and smells and feels so good but it can never engender the life and fullness of God.

Statements mean nothing! Statements of Faith even less! What is the the Lord saying to each of us now is what matters.

What matters is that the Living Word that came down has penetrated us and become flesh in us so that we live and move and have our new being in Him alone – the scriptures will then take care of themselves, and something wonderful will begin to happen – we will indeed begin to understand His divine purposes in the revelation of His written Word. We will see Jesus Christ in them, and once they have directed us to Him, deeper to Him, we can set them in their safe and rightful place.

This is a delicate matter saints, one requiring maturity and balance, yet what is needed in this dark hour is not more scribes, not more rabbis, not more textualists – but witnesses, prophets, cross-bearing, striped lambs who are willing to lay it all down for the Lord, to stand by Him and His little ones who are bearing the scorn and reproach of this world –

You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; (Luke 22:28)

Do that brothers, be that – and then you will see. The windows will open, and the scriptures will affirm all that you see. You cannot study life, you must live it, you must enter into it, knee-deep and then neck-deep until it is all and only the Lord, all His way in you – spirit, soul and body!

Bro Sparks writes on this subject of knowing, truly knowing, epignosis (Greek: knowing as a living, breathing, costly truth that is wrought at the very center of your spirit), knowing beyond mind, ideas, concepts, etc. And what makes this knowing real? Well it is the cross isn’t it, the very thing we have shunned in this generation, the very awful thing that we have set aside. The cross as it works its deep and terrible force in a man’s heart and life, unleashes a power that turns merely knowing into revelation – something laid bare and revealed. This is why the wilderness, why the cave, while the barrenness and loss, why the scorn and reproach, why the gates of hell come against us.

I absolutely adore how Bro. Sparks (below) so exquisitely conveys something that I have struggled to express for many years now. Oh for saints such as these, who have gone down, gone in, gone deep, and come out again with eyes wide open.

Oh pray that we would be willing to lose all that we might gain such an abiding knowing of our Lord and His ways.

The prophet must live the message he is to convey to the Lord’s wayward people. We need prophets today like never before, those willing to pay the price of seeing and hearing the Lord. Pray He will raise ones such as these among us in this hour.

Lord, we know what You have said, we know what is written, and we thank you Lord. Yet we need to know what You are saying to us now, in this time. Grant us Your word, your heart, that we might be everything we need to be for one another as the days grow darker, and the evil advances inside the gate. Let there be nothing we look back to once we have left this Sodom, let it all be released from our hearts forever, that You might have Your place on the very throne of our lives. In Jesus, we live and move and pray these things. amen


The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32)

After the Cross, all the fullness of the Divine power was released upon the world through those who had been brought into absolute oneness with the Lord by that Cross. That is the peculiar kind of knowledge which means the release of such forces and such powers upon the world situation as are unknown by the great world systems. First, let us remember that this knowledge of God is by revelation. We can never get this knowledge of God merely by reading, by listening, by attending meetings…. You may understand it all by mental apprehension, know the terms and the verses, and use them – but what about the dynamic of this thing? What does our personal presence in a situation mean? Does it mean that there is the going out of a power which cannot be accounted for on any human basis whatever, but which is a greater force than the forces that are represented by world organizations, world methods, world resources? It is a most important question. Is this thing alive, or have we merely got a little more mental apprehension of it through conferences? Do we know God in this thing by reason of a personal inward revelation on the subject?

Secondly, it comes by the way of pain. You get a thing revealed to you as truth, perhaps something about the Cross of Christ, or victory over Satan, and you think you know it, and you say, “This is beautiful!” And you begin to talk about it, and it is not very long before something happens – your circumstances are touched. Now you go down with this truth, down into the vortex of awful agony, right down to the gates of hell, your being is upheaved right from the very bottom, and all the time there is the question – “Will that truth hold good?” Is it going to work? And when you have got down as far as you can go, the flesh elements and the self elements have been dealt with, and you grimly hold on to the Lord in this matter of victory – then it comes out, you have tested it right to the very bottom of your being – that thing has become you, and then you can go to others in their grim conflict and their darkness, and say, “I know – I know this thing, and I know God is faithful, I know the victory.” You have got a mighty emphasis on your knowledge, it is a thing about which you have no doubt, because you have gone down into the depths with it, and proved it down there, and by the very pain the thing has been proved.

May this word speak to some of you groaning under the burden of never knowing enough.

Let us esteem each other more worthy than ourselves in this our, of our love, of our blessings, of our prayers and our treasure.

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What if…?

What if… all the churches and denominations in America liquidated all of their buildings, all their schools, all their real estate, all their TV and media assets, all their publishing houses, and all of their investment holdings, then went out into the street with all that money and fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, comforted the needy, clothed the naked, propped up all the hurting families who just need a leg up?

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What if… every American missionary sent abroad was brought home, and we simply prayed for the Lord to bring His Life and His Love to the poor and needy in this world?

What if all of the parasites and leaches who make a living off of the name of our Lord were exposed, dragged out into the courtyard, and told to “leave and never come back, just leave and never come back”?

What if …. every named “Christian”  group was surreptitiously dissolved, and all badges and labels that divide us were no longer? What if every sign was toppled and stamped into the dust?

What if… we stopped judging sinners and simply started loving and serving them?

What if… the sheep would rise up and turn the tables over, then take back all that was stolen from them in the name of God for over 2,000 years?

What if… if there were no more preachers and priests, no special chairs, no private rooms, no privileged status among God’s little ones? 

What if …men and thieves were to stop making merchandise of the things of our Lord, and simply worshiped Him in Spirit and in Truth?

What if… there were no more high places, no Jerusalem and Rome, only a hillside, and a place where we go to meet the Lord wherever He may be?

What if… the world saw something it has never truly seen before, and experienced a truth borne out of love, and enlightenment borne out of real grace?

What if… we finally realized that the One Narrow Way is a Person – not a religion, not a group, not a system, not a book nor a building?

What if… we rendered to Caesar the things that are his, and we rendered to the Lord everything else? What if every Christian and every group employing Jesus’ Name severed all reciprocal political and business ties? What if the singular ideology and imperative remaining was to simply serve the Lord?

What if Christians stopped pretending, stopped lying to themselves, stopped serving two gods, stopped raising themselves above the rest of humanity, stopped taking up arms to shed the blood of God’s children, stopped playing the harlot with the world?

What if…?

“Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,… (Matt 23)

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!

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.

The Fire

Oh dear saints, dear, dear saints and brothers. Have our hearts so fully and uncompromisingly been given to the interests of the Lord in this hour, in this time of such utter abandonment and declension? He has tolerated so much these many centuries since He left us in the body, hasn’t He? So many ideas, concepts, expressions, ambitions – so much that is of men, and not from Him at all. So patient has He been, so long-suffering, as everything associated with His name has become so recklessly degraded, earthly, limited.

Consider the gap between the Old and New Testaments, from the time of Ezra to John the Baptist, and how this reminds us of what we have seen since the beloved apostle John left this earth.
Synagogues and sects and divisions; merchants as veritable fixtures in the temple. A religion borne of human scholarship, so very well documented yet barely breathed in the lives of men. Division, declension, fleshly and false religion.
So that when He arrived in the very flesh, they knew Him not. Simeon and Anna did, yes, for they were not part of the many and their religion. They were given wholly to the Lord’s interests. They did not follow men and creeds and groups and isms or  ‘ologies. They were not this or that; they were merely all in for the Lord.
Oh how patient is our Lord and Judge. But there comes a time when the fire comes, and when it does, all that is of men, and all that is of the soul will be purged away. This is what the letters to the churches speak to us. “I know your works….” He declares. He sees with piercing eyes, and all that is not truly of Him and from Him and for Him will not stand.
Please be pierced by this word from Bro Sparks –

(From Brother Sparks)

The fire will test the quality of each person’s work. (1 Corinthians 3:13 NIV)

I have no doubt that you love the Lord. I am not raising any question about that. But, I do say again, we are involved in a great system which is a very complicated thing, and a great deal of it is not of the Lord. It is something that man has brought in. Man has put his hand upon the things of the Lord, and man has made things according to his own mind, and therefore a great deal has come in which is of man and not of the Lord. And when we say that, we are not only thinking of Christianity in general, we are thinking of ourselves. This is true of ourselves. We have all come into something called Christianity, and we have all taken on something of Christianity, and there may be a great deal that we have to get rid of, and come back to the simple fundamental reality. And the fundamental reality of all realities is the presence of the Lord. We have got to know that the Lord is with us, and that the Lord is with us in all that we do, that this did not originate in our mind. It did not originate in our will, it did not originate in our emotion. It did not come from our soul, this thing has come from the Lord in every detail, like the tabernacle. Just like Jesus Christ, in every detail it has to come to us from God.

That ought to send us back to our knees – to go through all our work. It may be necessary for us, from time to time, to stand back and ask the Lord about all that we are doing. ‘Is this out from God, or is it something out from ourselves? Is this way of doing things the mind of God, or is it our mind? Is the Lord in this, or have we come into it?’ You see, that is a great deciding matter. Make no mistake about it! Everything that is only of man is going to perish. Sooner or later it will be shaken. Every man’s work shall be tried in the fire, says the Word of God.

Psalm 88 – W.E. Smith

O Lord, God of my salvation;

I cry out day and night before you.

Let my prayer come before you;

incline your ear to my cry!

For my soul is full of troubles,

and my life draws near to Sheol.

I am counted among those who go down to the pit;

I am a man who has no strength,

like one set loose among the dead,

like the slain that lie in the grave,

like those whom you remember no more,

for they are cut off from your hand.

You have put me in the depths of the pit,

in the regions dark and deep.

Your wrath lies heavy upon me,

and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

You have caused my companions to shun me;

you have made me a horror[b] to them.

I am shut in so that I cannot escape;

my eye grows dim through sorrow.

Every day I call upon you, O Lord;

I spread out my hands to you.

Do you work wonders for the dead?

Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah

Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,

or your faithfulness in Abaddon?

Are your wonders known in the darkness,

or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

But I, O Lord, cry to you;

in the morning my prayer comes before you.

O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?

Why do you hide your face from me?

Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,

I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.

Your wrath has swept over me;

your dreadful assaults destroy me.

They surround me like a flood all day long;

they close in on me together.

You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;

my companions have become darkness.[d]

Dear saints, the following is a psalm of instruction, a maskil, designed to teach us something important of the ways of God, something very deep. It is not for those newly born, or with untried and untested legs in the faith.

And so what does it teach exactly? What is it trying to convey? What happy evangelical truth is it presenting?

Oh beloved – how we have been misled by the very source and purveyor of all mixture and corruption.

Where is this man in the psalm? Where is his heart, where is his relationship with God? Is he walking happily along? Is he sitting comfortably at the feet of Jesus with a wide grin on his face and a melody in his heart?

Or is the stench of death all over him? Is he grappling with all his strength with the very One who He loves and knows and seeks?

Where is His God in fact? Out in full view? Or hidden? Silent? Does he feel forsaken by the very One he knows can save him?

Is he surrounded by good Christian brothers to cheer him up? A men’s group perhaps? Or maybe he has just returned invigorated from a recent conference or retreat?

Is he full of answers or dark questions?

Is he a backslidden saint – has he turned his back and his heart away from His God?

So what is this trying to teach us? What cheerful truth is it trying to convey? What saintly conclusions does it draw?

I will leave it to you to answer such questions, but be careful, be honest in the spirit.

You see every trial, every test has at its core a fundamental reality, and it is this – the cross as it is applied us personally will cut to the very heart and core of our relationship with the only One who can deliver us from the grave of death. In fact, it is not so much the outward afflictions at all that represent the deepest pain through it all, but the sense that He has indeed hidden Himself, that He is silent, that He has put His right arm back into His cloak. “Father, Father – why have you forsaken me?”. All my friends asleep, the dark cloud of death closing in, and yet the only One who can act on my behalf is hidden away. He is not responding. Note the section which reads – “What good can come when I am dead?” he is saying. What can You teach me when I am in Abaddon? “Oh Lord if only You had come sooner”, said Lazarus’s sister. “If only you had not delayed”

So why do I trouble you so with this psalm? Why do I presume so much to take it upon myself to interrupt your comfortable christian life with such discomforting things? Should I not rather be encouraging you with “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you” or resounding a chorus of Onward Christian Soldiers?

Because dear ones, darkness is coming, nay it is already here. And everything we believe, everything we have been taught will be tested in these fires. Everything will be shaken, and men will be forsaken by the very ones they least believed would do so. And everyone of us will be left alone on that dread hill of Gethsemane, alone and crying out to our God through the storm and the silence. Deep and dark questions will flood our soul and spirit, and the very foundations of what we believe will be shaken and tested.

Are you therefore bold enough for this? Are you tough enough? Are you deep enough with the Lord to endure this?

When He not only rocks your little world but also your little faith – will you stand? When Leviathan is unleashed, will you trip and stumble and let Him go?

Dear friends – as I beheld that meteoroid flash across the sky and explode yesterday, then shake the very foundations and windows all around, I thought of only one thing, and it was this –

Satan is coming!

Are you ready? Am I?

Oh Lord, make it so.

“When You Were Young…” – W.E. Smith

Dear ones, few saints of recent generations have seen what T. A. Sparks was allowed to see. The place, the principle, the way of the cross of Christ, in bringing forth divine life into a flesh and blood and soul-driven man. Please read the following very slowly in the Spirit, if you will –

When you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted. (John 21:18 ESV)

The “eyes which are as a flame of fire” are looking for reality. They pierce through many things. In the first place, they pierce through traditional and formal religion or “Christianity.” Their interrogation is – Is your religion a matter of attachment or adherence to a system, a historical tradition, a family inheritance; and so on? Or is it born – is it a birth in you; is it something that has happened to you; is it your very life, your very being? Secondly – and I concentrate more especially upon this for the moment – they pierce through temperament and disposition. They demand to know whether the reason why you are where you are, are concerned for what you are concerned for, are connected with what you are connected with, and are disposed as you are, is because your particular temperament leans that way. You are artistic and mystical in your tastes and constitution: therefore you choose or ma ke your religion after your own image. Your temperament is melancholic, and so the more abstract, profound, serious, intense, introspective, and speculative, appeals to you and finds a natural response in you. You make God, Christianity, Christ, the Bible, after your image.

Or again, you are of the practical temperament. To you everything is only of value as it is “practical.” You have no patience with these contemplative people. You are irritated by the “Marys,” for “many dishes” are your concern. To you, how the end is reached is of much less importance than the end itself. You are not bothered much with imagination, and you would put all the value on things done – how much there is actually to show for your day. Your God and your Christianity are entirely, or almost entirely, of the practical kind, after your own image. And so we could go on with all the other temperaments. But this will not do, for Christ is not any one of these; He is different. He may combine the good in all, but that does not wholly mean Divine nature. He is different. All this is the human soul, but the essential nature of Christ and true Christianity is of the Divine Spirit – it is heavenly! If new birth means anything, it means this, that another nature and disposition is born into the believer, so that he or she is “carried whither they (naturally) would not.”

Oh saints of God, Oh the divine constraint that is so foreign, so alien to us modern believers. “When you were young…”

Yoke

But now your very life has been secured in My yoke, and you will only go where I go, when I go, at the speed I go. Here is, must we say, the bound and tethered existence of a bond slave, with no rights, no claims, no interest in himself. He is a bought man. There is no longer any self – no longer “I will go, I will do this, or that, I will….”

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor 6:19-20)

Personality, disposition, predilection, proclivity – these are all the virtues and prerogatives of a free man. But we are no longer free in that sense. No longer our own. No longer living out of ourselves, for ourselves, to gratify ourselvesJames, also reminded us –

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:13 -)

Is this exceptional? A fair question. Is this the life of a John the Baptist, a prophet, a Paul only?

No, no, beloved, this is in fact the normative, intended path for all – for He is the Way for all of us, not just for a few.

And here is the exquisite mystery that makes even the angels to shutter – in this ever-increasing constraint, in this heaven-imposed straightness, in this narrowness, there – if only we have eyes to see, and a faith and love to endure through it all – is freedom, there are wings, there is air to be breathed, and deep paths to follow, and heavenly heights to be attained. Oh yes, at first we groan, we feel hemmed in, so useless, so impaired – but then we begin to settle in, we let go, we acquiesce, we surrender, we submit.

Then here, here in this blood-streaked, tear-drenched shadow of the cross, here in that hellish twilight of confusion in the very presence of all the demons (the very ones who tried to destroy us forever) – we are reborn, we begin to breathe and grow, and walk, and to ultimately delight in Him as our all in all. Here, at the colossal end of ourselves, we begin to live, to breathe, to walk, then run, then leap over a hedge (as David). Here is where we finally realize what Paul meant when he said –

“TO LIVE IS CHRIST”

And –

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Here, there is peace and rest and a settling in to what He has ordained for us. Here, and only here (for no mere religious experience will accomplish this) is where we become sons in His household, disciples in His school, and friends in His heart. The burden becomes light for it is His to bear, and the fetters, whatever they are, become our greatest blessing – for they make way for Him to find glory in a man, glory out of dust, glory out of flesh and blood and bone.

Oh Lord, You will make all things beautiful in its time. You will make it good Lord, you will speak life out of death, and this life will be the very Light of the World! Make it so oh Lord, In Your Precious Name, we pray. amen

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