Tag: Prophetic Urgency

From the Wilderness to the Land – A Decisive Step of Faith – By T. Austin-Sparks

From the Wilderness to the Land
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 – A Decisive Step of Faith

Reading: Acts 3:1-21.

This is the first recorded miracle in the history of the church, and parabolically it embodies a good deal of what we have been considering, and I am going to take it in that parabolic form as an illustration of some of these matters.

We begin at the end, that is, so far as this man is concerned, with what God is aiming at, what God is after, what the result of the work of God in a life is. The man leaps up, stands upon his feet, praises and glorifies God, and goes in and goes on with the people of God. That is very simple, but it represents a work that God would do and which needs to be done in the case of so many. What the Lord wants in the case of all of us is to have us on our feet, standing upright, praising and glorifying Him, and going in and going on with His people; a very different story and a very different situation from what was; no longer a liability but an asset, no longer one to be carried every day, but one who now is at least taking his or her own weight, and going on by the inward momentum of the Spirit and power of God. That is what the Lord wants with us all.

It immediately resolves itself into a challenge, an interrogation. We have each one now to ask ourselves quite honestly and frankly: In relation to the things of the Lord, am I a liability or an asset? Am I counting or am I having to be accounted for? Am I a positive factor or am I negative? Am I amongst those who have to be carried all the time, needing to be borne up, borne along and put where I am, or am I going on in the Lord on my own feet, on top of my infirmities? Am I a responsible one, or otherwise? Well, we must each one answer that question before the Lord now, and see what the Lord would have, what the Lord would bring about. He would have us all in the place or condition of this man as we see him at the end, leaping up, standing on his feet, praising and glorifying God, going on and going in; and more than that as we shall see presently: but that is a good beginning. Are we there?

The Hindrance to Entering in

Well, we must go back and take the man up at the point where we first find him. He is carried and laid at the Beautiful Gate every day. There are those who are going in; but he does not go in, and he cannot go in. “So we see that they could not enter in…” (Heb. 3:19). The man could not enter in. Let that gateway to the house of God beyond represent in our parable that life of rest in the Lord, that entering-in life, that life of attaining unto God’s purpose. “And we see that they could not enter in.” This man could not enter in, but why could he not? Was it the gate that kept him out? No. Even if the gate had been closed, that was not the inevitable hindrance, and it was a big gate. I understand that it took ten men to open the Beautiful Gate, so massive was it. But even so, if it had been closed, that was not the obstacle.

Let that gate in the story and in the parable as we are regarding it, represent the law, that bond of Judaism which says: Thou shalt not, or, Thou shalt, that forbidding of the law. But that is not the obstacle now. Christ was made under the law, to fulfil the law and put it out of the way. The law is no longer an obstacle.

“Free from the law, O happy condition!
Jesus has died, and THERE is remission.
Cursed by the law, and bruised by the fall,
Christ has redeemed us once for all.”

The law is no hindrance now.

But was it the man’s infirmities that kept him out? Let his infirmities, all wrapped into one, represent his sins. Was it his sins and his imperfections, his faults, that hindered that entering into rest? Again no. Our sins, our weaknesses, our imperfections, our temperamental and constitutional difficulties, all the infirmities of our fallen natures, these are not the hindrances. The Lord Jesus has dealt with all sin and all sins, and all our weaknesses and infirmities He has borne. All that is dealt with. They are not the hindrance. Oh, you may say, it is this sin and that sin that keeps me out, or it is that weakness, this imperfection; it is the way I am made, my temperament, my constitution, my make-up; I am so different from others; and all this is the thing that binds me in infirmity so that I cannot! If you are saying that, whether as one who has never known Christ or whether as a child of God still needing to know the entering-in life, it is a great mistake to put it down to sins or infirmities and say that it is these things in our nature that keep us out. No, no! That would be to deny the Cross of the Lord Jesus. That would, in its outworking and in its logic, make God very unjust, because it would work out like this, that people who had better temperaments would stand a better chance of getting in, and people who had a worse make-up would be at the end of the queue. God is not like that. We are not nearer or farther from Him because we are better or worse in our natures. Not at all!

Entering in by Faith

What was it that kept the man out? “We see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Faith destroys the mightiest gates of brass, faith removes the mountains of sin and human weakness and failure. The easily besetting sin which has to be laid aside is this sin of unbelief, and it was at that very citadel that the Holy Ghost, through these servants of God, directed His blow. Infirmity in itself was nothing, the gates were nothing, closed or open, but the man’s attitude and response of heart to a challenge from God was everything. He could have reacted antagonistically or cynically, or with utter carelessness, and stayed where he was. But there is some response, some reaction, which we must interpret as the quickening of faith in his heart: and you know and I know perfectly well that we shall stay where we are, go on in our infirm, helpless state of spiritual liability, until we come to this point where we exercise, deliberately and definitely, faith in the Lord Jesus. Everything waits for that. That is elementary.

We have to come to that response of faith, and then mighty gates, whatever those gates may be in our lives, keeping us out, no longer constitute a hindrance. Infirmities in ourselves, defects and weaknesses, faults and failings, sins and depravities and everything, from inheritance to what we have brought on ourselves, nothing is enough to obstruct our way when once we have come to this point of a deliberate and positive trust in the Lord Jesus. “We see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” But the positive is that you can enter in by faith.

Concentration upon a Definite Issue

But then something else was necessary with this man; not in addition to his faith but as a part of it, as heading up to it. Peter and John were going up to the temple and this man saw them coming. I do not know what his look was like, his gesture. We can only imagine, a sort of wonderfully pathetic glancing hither and thither. And Peter looked on him, and said: Look on us. There must have been some reason for that. And he fastened his eyes upon them, of course expecting to receive an alms. But the effect was that they got what they needed and wanted as a necessary factor in this man’s deliverance. “Look on us”, and he fastened his eyes upon them.

What, in parabolic meaning, does that stand for? It means this: you and I, if we are in any condition like this, needing to be put on our feet, needing to be made a factor that counts, needing to be delivered from this infirm state spiritually, from this state of being a liability; if we are in any need like that, we shall never get anywhere until we have concentrated upon a definite issue. He was expecting to receive an alms. What are you after? Do you want pity, sympathy, to be made a fuss of? Do you want that which is, after all, only going to leave you where you were? Are you looking to be nursed, coddled? Is that what you are after, an alms? Do you really want to get out of that position? Do you mean business? Is it nice to be one of those who are always being carried and nursed, and secretly, down in the deceptive heart, do you really like it, and want to be ministered to? Your infirm condition, you like being there because it draws attention to you, brings you into the sympathetic area. Oh, these hearts of ours, how they play with spiritual things for their own gratification!

He expected to receive an alms. But Peter and John are saying, Look here, we are going to face this issue right out: look on us! We are going to concentrate in this matter. The moment has come for this sort of thing either to end or to be indefinitely confirmed!

May I say to you, dear friends, if you are anywhere in this realm at all, you will never get anywhere until you have come with both eyes to look this thing straight in the face, and say, It is going on no longer; I am going to have this thing settled, I am going to bring this thing to a head; God helping me, it is going to be finished. I am going to play with this no longer, I am going to minister to this no longer, I am going to allow this to cripple me no longer, I am going to allow this to make me a liability no longer; tonight I look this thing in the face, God helping me, and it is going to be settled. So far as I am concerned, not another day shall pass until I have had this thing out to a conclusion with God!

Look on us! That is only saying the same thing as we are occupied with now, and which in Hebrews is put this way “Give diligence to enter in” (Heb. 4:11). We must deal with that want of downrightness with God which allows things to drag on and to rob God of that glory which ought to be there, and that testimony which is to follow. We are now getting to it. Look on us!

I need not say more. God help us if we are there, weakened, put out, not counting, God help us to focus upon this for a swift issue and to play no longer with a state like that for our own pleasure, to get sympathy or anything like that. Not an alms: no, it is not an alms we need; it is a deliverance we need, not a ministry to our infirmity, but a deliverance from it.

Look on us! And he fastened his eyes upon them, and Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none — and after all, that is not what you want — such as I have, give I thee.” There is something infinitely more than the treasure of this world. Supposing we had it all and still had our infirmity, what have we? “Such as I have, give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up.”

The Object of Faith

That is the object of faith. It is not that we have somehow to conjure up something called faith. It is the object of faith that is vital, and that is what we have been saying, and as the letter to the Hebrews so forcibly sets forth, even Jesus Christ, Who He is, what He is, the place He occupies, and His capacity. It is all in Him. The focal point of faith is Jesus Christ, and the value, the virtue, the power of faith is derived from its object, it is not in itself. It is not until you get the right object of faith that faith is a potent thing. You can have all sorts of imitation faiths and they do not affect the work of God in a spiritual way. You can have a psychological faith, but it does not affect your Christian life. You can have a Christian Science faith, and it may do something for your physical life, inasmuch as the mind and the physical are related, but it does not make you a spiritual factor in the house of God. To become a positive spiritual factor in the house of God means that there has to come a vital link between your spirit and Jesus Christ, a living union by faith with Jesus Christ, and it is that taking hold on Him in faith that provides the channel, the vehicle, through which the energy of God comes. The energy of God, the Holy Ghost, comes along the line of Jesus Christ as the object: not something that we call faith, which may, after all, be something that we have worked up to make ourselves believe. Oh no, what matters is the object of faith, the Lord Himself. God works on the ground of His Son, and you and I apprehend His Son, Jesus Christ, by faith. The Holy Ghost seals that, everything is related to that.

The Outcome of Entering in

“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk”; and he leapt. Simple in its terms, but very, very drastic and very utter in its action. Immediately the man in himself knew the glory of God. He, leaping up, praised and glorified God. He had got it in his own heart, in his own soul. He knew he was changed, he was in the good of God’s rest.

Yes, and then he went in and went on with the Lord’s people. The corporate element comes in. Hebrews will speak about Christ as a Son over God’s house, “whose house are we” (Heb. 3:6); and so on. The house has come into view and he is going with them into the house. He is going to be something in the house with the servants of God, he is going to be part of that corporate body and a factor in it.

A Mighty Uprising of the Devil

Now you will see how he is a factor, for two things arise. Follow through to the next chapter and you will see. First of all he is the occasion of a mighty uprising of the devil; and that is something! Oh, a great storm arises because of what has happened with this man. Things become tremendously disturbed in the spiritual realm; and that is how it will be, and that is how it ought to be. We do not speak glibly or lightly, but the fact is that you and I ought to be factors of disturbance in the kingdom of Satan, and if we are really in the good of a living spiritual experience, that is, if we are really on our feet as accountable and responsible people of God, not having to be borne and carried and nursed and ministered to in our infirmities, but now on our feet, going in and going on, then the enemy recognizes that here is something to be taken account of, and for such there is always a disturbance.

It was so over Lazarus. When he was raised from the dead, you know what a furore there was, how the rulers at once set to work to destroy the Lord Jesus because of Lazarus, because by reason of him many believed. So it is. I wonder whether you and I really do represent a disturbance in the underworld, or whether the enemy can go on without feeling a bit disturbed so far as we are concerned. Every time something like this happened in the New Testament, you very soon find a big reaction from the enemy. You see, when the Lord Jesus comes in in larger measure, it means less measure for the enemy, less scope, less territory for him. He is squeezed out. Are you squeezing the enemy out? Am I squeezing the enemy out? Am I narrowing his province? Do we count in this way? Well, that is one thing that arose.

A Living Testimony

The other thing was this, this man was a testimony which was the answer to every argument. Seeing the man there in the midst whole, they had to shut their mouths. There was no argument. It is all argument if it is doctrine, theory, teaching, interpretation of truth, but a living witness — you cannot argue against that. Your mouth is shut when you have a living person standing there right in the good of things. Are we closing the mouths of people? We shall not do it by the truth that we hold, teach, interpret, but we can do it by what we are, by being in possession of the goods. Are we that? Are you that? Are you going to be that? A real answer to every argument so that people say, Well, look here, it is not the teaching they have taken on, the associations they have made: no, no, look at them; you know what they were, you know how little they counted, you know what cripples they were spiritually, you know what liabilities they were, you know how much they were without rest: but look now; they have the goods, they are in the good of things, they are counting, they mean something, and they are in rest, they are in joy, they are in satisfaction, they themselves are changed! What can you say to that? You cannot say anything to that if you are going to be honest.

Oh, dear friends, we are not to go out to try and pass over some teaching, some truth, to people. That will never convince. You and I are to be here as those who in themselves convince others because we embody His rest, we embody His peace, we embody His strength, and we count for something. We are responsible people, we are positive factors, we are assets, the Lord is getting something by reason of us. That is how it must be. Is it like that? All this can be if we will go the way of this man, and say, Yes, this has gone on long enough and it has to end, and to end, so far as my giving diligence is concerned, at once, and I do most truly by the grace of God take a deliberate and definite faith attitude toward the Lord Jesus for my complete deliverance and the setting of me upon my feet for His glory, for His praise! I think there will be an issue, and I think it will be — he, leaping up, stood upon his feet, praising and glorifying God. May it be so with every one of us.

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An Exhortation for Readiness – W.E. Smith

Dear saints, the single great imperative of the New Testament is that those who have been so gloriously saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will be dutifully watching, praying and preparing for His imminent return. This was the Master’s expectation when He went up into the heavens 2,000 years ago and it is His expectation still today. As we diligently search the Scriptures in this end time, we discover that this exhortation for readiness is found practically everywhere we look – from the gospels, to the epistles, then finally in the Lord’s Revelation to John.

“Ready for what” – it is asked. Certainly not for death, or for heaven even (as it is largely understood among Christians), but for the promised and imminent return of the Son of Man into the clouds to receive (and then judge) His own. For that flash moment when those saints alive on the earth will be  caught up to be forever with the Lord –

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  (1 Thess. 4:16-17)

Yet the imperative for being in a state of perpetual watchfulness and readiness is reinforced by the fact that we will not know the precise time when the Master will return –

Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. “Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” (Mark 13:33-37)

Though the Lord Himself has provided many prophetic signs and indications that “summer is near”, and that His return is “right at the door” (see Mark 13:28-29, for example), the precise date and time of His arrival has not been disclosed to us in advance. We must therefore be committed to be ready always, and to take to heart the many words of exhortation on this account. The Lord has graciously provided everything we need to watch and prepare for His return, so there will be no excuses dear saints. The only question that remains is whether we will be found worthy of this great calling when He does come to be reconciled with all those the Father has given to Him.

To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 1:11-12)

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2 Pet. 1:10-11)

Those who are found unwatchful and unready will experience shame and loss at His appearance, and those who will be found watchful and ready, will receive praise and reward (entrance into His eternal kingdom). This is the clear and consistent message found in the Word of God pertaining to the destiny of all those called out in this Christian dispensation. Here are just a sampling of passages expressing this principle –

Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. “Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. “You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40)

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:26)

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom. (2 Tim.4:1)

Now, in this message we would like, the Lord willing, to focus in on how being ready is very much related to how we are found walking when He comes. Let us begin here in Ephesians 5 –

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light…

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. (Eph. 5:6-17)

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3)

How one walks as a Christian in the evil days of this world is a pervasive theme running throughout the New Testament. To walk in the will and wisdom of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, as children of light in a world of almost total spiritual (and moral) darkness – this is the exhortation to readiness that we find in the Word of God, if we would only have eyes to see it. This is chiefly the Holy Spirit’s message to us in this hour, that we be careful how we walk in this dark day, and that we know the Lord’s will for us in terms of being personally ready for His coming –

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:9-14)

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

Those who will be found ready when the Lord returns will be those found walking fruitfully in His will and in His light. They will be found making the very most of the time that remains (for it is short), in terms of their devotion to Himself and His plans and purposes. They will be found actively and enthusiastically attending to their inheritance in His Kingdom, such that the things of this present world are being increasingly eclipsed by more heavenly and eternal considerations. We get a glimpse of this in Paul’s instruction to the saints in Corinth, and we pray, brethren, that the Holy Spirit might enlighten your eyes to see the practical balance being conveyed here –

But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away. (1 Cor. 7:29-31)

[Note: it would seem from this counsel and its immediate context, that Paul himself believed that the generation to which he was writing in Corinth was indeed the generation that would witness the end of the age and the coming of the Lord (the ‘times being shortened’). As this was not the case historically, perhaps it may be that this time-sensitive counsel in 1 Corinthians 7 must pass directly on to us in this hour, when so many signs and evidences witness to the fact that we are indeed in the last hour. Please pray about this dear brethren, as this is most compelling.]

Here we see what walking in the will and wisdom of the Lord at the end of this age means in practical terms – not abandoning these very normal and necessary concerns in this world (see 1 Thess. 4:11, for example), but setting them aside in terms of position and priority; not becoming entangled or engrossed in worldly matters that lie outside the realm of the Kingdom of Heaven and its considerations; not involved in fighting for this world’s kingdoms and causes. Only the Holy Spirit, it would seem, can effectively work this wisdom and balance into our lives in a practical way. Only He can determine what it means to be ‘in this world, but not of it’, and what is appropriate for a representative of another realm (see Ephesians 6:20). Recall, dear saints, what the Master Himself said before Pilate about fighting the good fight in this world –

“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36)

This is further fleshed out in Paul’s Philippian message –

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)

Those who are being made ready are actively walking and working, but they are not working for the things of this world, with their hearts and minds set on earthly things. They are eagerly waiting for their Savior from heaven, who will complete in them what He started when He first imparted spiritual life to them at the new birth (Philippians 1:6). They recognize, as only the Spirit can reveal, that their citizenship is in heaven, and that here alone is where their hope and happiness reside. Oh brethren, to see this is most urgent and essential, for this is what has been in the Father’s heart all along regarding those whom He has called to His Beloved Son. We see this most poignantly in our Lord’s prayer on behalf of all of those who would be joined to Him. Please read this carefully and prayerfully dear ones, for if you truly see this with eyes wide open in the spirit, then I believe you will begin to see what it means to be ready to be reconciled to the Lord at His coming.

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. “Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled…

“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:6-25)

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” There it is, in a nutshell, dear Christian. And unless you really see this and appropriate it, then you can never even begin to prepare for Him, by living and walking in His light and wisdom in the midst of this dark world.

Now perhaps you have never considered this before, but each of us has been redeemed by the Father, at great cost to Himself, that we would ultimately be given to His righteous and beloved Son, and represented in the spiritual temple (a dwelling place for God in the Spirit) spoken of by Paul in the second chapter of Ephesians. To fully realize this purpose, to make this calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10), to permit the Holy Spirit to prepare us as a bride worthy of the King – this is what it means to be made ready for His soon coming.

Earlier in this same passage, Paul so effectively frames the whole matter of what our calling and conversion truly mean; why we were chosen by the Father in the first place –

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Eph. 2:1-10)

Being ready begins with knowing why were redeemed; why we were called; why and for whom we were saved. It begins by accepting in faith that we were created in Christ for good works, and although we are still physically in this earthly world of darkness, to the Eternal Father we are very much seated with His Son in the heavenly places. Now we can talk all day about being watchful and alert, being awake, being sober, and ultimately being ready for the coming of the Master. Yet, none of this matters until we fully come to terms with the ultimate purpose of our new lives in Christ Jesus, which has everything do with His heavenly dominion, and the Father’s desire to prepare a bride worthy of His Son. Here is the singular reason so many blood-washed believers are found today fighting the wrong fight in this world, trying to fix this broken world, trying by some means to reverse the course of sin and darkness, trying impassionately to reform this or that institution, trying to advance or defend what are essentially earthly ideals and principles (democracy or social justice, for example). Once you begin to let the Holy Spirit take your heart to where the Lord Himself is found, there in the heavenlies, then quite readily you will begin to let all of these entanglements and distractions fall where they will. Only then can you begin to be found dressed and ready for His appearing. Yet this  is something only the Holy Spirit can do, by giving life and weight to these precious truths in the Word of God; by revealing the Father’s Son to each of us in all of His matchless splendor and glory.

Dear saints, beloved of the Lord and the Father, readiness, by its very nature, requires steel-willed focus and circumspection, eagle-eyed vigilance, patient and steadfast commitment, heartfelt devotion and tenacity. It also requires tremendous courage for  following the Holy Spirit down the narrow path, wherever He leads, so often beyond that which is common or popular. It involves laying down anything that interferes with walking in the light and wisdom and will of the Master in this very poignant hour. Only His plans and purposes, as revealed to us in His Prophetic Word, are to inspire and involve us. Not the plans and purposes of this world, or the nations, or any of the various parties or causes vying for attention and influence in this hour. Oh how I pray we all would see this, as there are so few it seems who actually do.

Notice another example where the Apostle Paul reminds us that we do not need to be caught asleep or unaware by the fast-spreading darkness and delusion overtaking this world –

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thess. 5:1-11)

So many prophetic indications in the Scriptures reveal most clearly that spiritual drunkenness, dullness and distraction will characterize the end-time testimony of Jesus Christ. At the very moment when things will begin to happen, such slothful and complacent Christians will be utterly unaware and overtaken by the full onslaught of events foreshadowing the coming of the Lord into the clouds for His people. Just like in the garden the night our Lord was taken into custody, the disciples struggled in the flesh to stay awake. Had they known what was about to happen; had they been filled with the Spirit to overcome the weakness of the flesh, then perhaps the Lord might not have been left alone and abandoned when He needed them the most.

Oh dear ones, the New Testament, from start to finish, is about being ready for His return. It is about living and walking in a constant state of anticipation that He might come at any moment. This was the single great burden of the heart of the Apostle Paul if only we would see it. Whereas so much of current Christian teaching is focused disproportionately on celebrating the birth and the beginning of our new life in faith (however wonderful and praiseworthy this may be), the Word speaks primarily of standing up and walking, and eating meat, of running towards the prize, and growing stronger and wiser, of growing up in Christ and entering increasingly into the heavenly plans and purposes of the Father and His Son.

Where in this hour is the exhortation for readiness on the part of God’s blood-washed people? Where are the blood-mixed tears and weeping over the sorrowful state of the Christian testimony on this earth in this perilous hour? Why is the church on the corner dressed in silk and singing when they should rather be tearing their clothes and pouring ashes on their head? Drunk and blind! Hardness of heart and of hearing! Carnal and deluded! Poor and miserable! Oh Lord, help us! Have mercy Oh Lord, for we all have sinned most grievously against You and Your perfect plans!

Consider dear saints, the following words from Joseph A. Seiss (1823-1904) written over a century ago, regarding what distinguished the better half of the virgins in the Lord’s parable,  and what is involved in actively watching and preparing for the Lord’s coming –

But this watching implies more than constant expectation. It requires, also, efficient preparation. It is a condition of wakefulness, in order to be fortified against surprise, guarded against danger, and ready to seize upon our opportunity. We never watch except to be prepared for certain emergencies that are likely to come upon us at a time and in a way which we cannot exactly foresee. To be prepared for the coming of the Son of man, is to be in the condition of the five wise virgins. First of all, we must be virgins; that is, chaste, and pure from idolatry and sin, being cleansed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus and the renewing of the Holy Ghost: in other words, we must be genuine and thorough Christians. We must also have the true spirit of faith and hope, which is the renunciation of the world, and the looking forward to the coming of Christ and his kingdom as the great goal of the Christian.

Furthermore, we must be joined with the company of those who have made this renunciation, and take up the lamp of a sincere and open profession of our faith and purpose, and have that lamp in the best possible trim for the uses for which it is intended, filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit, lit with the light of truth, and burning with the glory of virtue and good works. And to all this must be added the prudence to lay in an ample stock of divine unction, consecrating us unto the Lord in a depth and thoroughness of practical devotion beyond all common saintship and profession. Without this we hope in vain for the high honors of the kingdom of God. (from, The Parable of the Ten Virgins – Sixth Discourse)

And the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, who enjoins us in this time of absence from the Lord, to walk by faith and not by sight –

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  (2 Cor. 5:6-10)

Oh dear ones, this is a faith that must run deep into everything we do in this hour, in this time of almost universal darkness and drunkenness on the part of the elect. To walk by sight is to be woefully discouraged; yet to walk by faith is to hold tightly to every word He has spoken, and to the certainty of His coming. All those walking by faith and pressing further into the life of the Lord will undoubtedly be suffering in grievous ways in this present time, being asked to release so much of this world’s treasures and things. For them, there is no ‘American dream’, which is merely another man-wrought tower of Babel, but only the Lord’s concerns related to His eternal kingdom. They will faithfully and patiently hold fast to His promises and grace, even in a time of increasing and widespread unbelief, for only then will they endure until the very moment when He returns and summons them into His glorious presence –

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 17-25)

Clearly the difficult times promised by Paul (2 Timothy 3:1) have come upon us dear saints, and yet those who are making themselves ready by the grace and provision of the Lord, will not fall back nor stumble. They are waiting anxiously and expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus, as it will be most fully realized at His coming. Their singular joy is to stand in the presence of His glory blameless and with confidence. This is the wonderful hope set before us throughout the Word of God. And again, only the Holy Spirit is capable of making us ready! The flesh is weak, and sleep so often consumes us. The flesh wants only to fill its cup in this world, and then to drink. The flesh wants the best of both worlds, when clearly the Lord promises us a narrow way; rejection and hardship, suffering and loss.

Paul’s day, in purely spiritual terms, was just as dark and difficult as our own, and notice the strong counsel he offers to young Timothy at that time –

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything…

It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Tim. 2:1-13)

To be ready for the Lord when He comes requires the dedication and determination of an athlete, and the hard work and endurance of a farmer. Both are fixed and focused on the task ahead of them, even though so many things are going on beyond them. Both are willing to forfeit any immediate reward that they might realize a far greater return in the near future. Though people and circumstances will try to entangle them in the affairs of everyday life, they have a far more important and urgent mission before them. Many, friends and family even, will consider them emphatic or extreme. Yet they persist and press onward in their calling, for their lives are no longer their own. They both live in the Lord Jesus Christ and they live for Him. He is their first love and only when they are reconciled to Him at His appearing, will their hearts be fulfilled.

Dear brethren, here is that certain quality to be found in that last generation Christian who is found ready when the Lord returns secretly for His own. Here are those who will attain the prize and hear the words – “Well done good and faithful servant”. Like Abraham, their father in faith, they will have learned to walk by faith and not by sight; by every “word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” This now is their food, to do the will of God and to fulfill His purpose for them by making their calling and election sure. And they are fixing their eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of their faith, that they might run and not grow weary –

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2)

As we have discovered, dear brethren, the Scriptures are literally filled with this exhortation to readiness, and with meaty instruction and encouragement for all those who wish to be found pleasing to the Lord when He comes into the middle heavens to retrieve us. We could most certainly go on, as there is so much more; yet we will close this message with the timely exhortation of Paul in his letter to the Philippians, which says it all in terms of what readiness actually looks like –

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:7-14)

May we all press on in this dark day, dear brethren, working out our complete salvation (spirit, soul and body) with fear and trembling, forgetting that which is behind us, and reaching forward to the prize of our upward call in Jesus Christ. In His Name, we pray. Amen.

A Profile of Readiness – W.E. Smith

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. (1 John 2:18-21)

Dear brethren, all those found abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ, we would do well in this hour, at the close of this sixth day, to consider the imperative for being watchful and ready at His return, and Coming Soon - The Prophetic Urgency!to understand fully in the Spirit just what this means. Indeed, as we look around us in this present world, in this last hour before the manifestation of the wicked one, we are grimly aware just how imminent is the coming of our Lord for His precious saints. It is by His anointing alone that we know the hour in which we live, and the urgency of the moment. Only the Lord Himself can empower us to watch with clear eyes, and to be suitably prepared for His promised return.

Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. (1 John 2:28-29)

Now the Apostle John, in this first epistle, speaks of basic principles and essential distinctions, that each of us would do well to recognize, as the countdown to the end of this age advances. He speaks plainly of  the world, and how it is all darkness, and that only in active spiritual fellowship with the Light of the Living Christ, will we be able to adequately prepare for His coming. And it is this abiding in the Light, that is also the only true basis for our fellowship with one another, as so much of what is called Christianity is being subsumed by the darkness and the world.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

To be found ready dear ones; to be found in a position where we can have confidence and not shame at His coming, is to be found represented in the Light in this day of almost total darkness. Indeed, we will be found either in the world, or in Him when He comes, and to be found in Him is to be found walking in the same manner as He walked, and keeping His commandments. It is to be found confessing our sins and cleansed of all unrighteousness. It is to be found actively submitting to the Light of the Lord in the Spirit, that He might penetrate us, and reveal all the darkness that is within our hearts and lives. No deception, no duplicity, no hypocrisy, no pretense; for these are all darkness and they are passing away with this present world. Only light can overcome the darkness, and only in the Lord Jesus, that Bright and Morning Star, can we ever hope to survive the end of this age and the dawn of the one to come.

So many it seems, have already fallen victim to the darkness and are stumbling about aimlessly because the darkness has blinded their eyes. Many more still have gone out from the fellowship of the Lord, to be revealed for what they truly are and for what they love. Yet for those who remain, for those who truly love the Lord and His Light, we have the assurance of His anointing, and the capacity to see through the darkness, that we will not fall prey to the evil one and his deadly snares. Regardless of what might be at stake, we will not deny our Lord, but we will confess Him, and shine in the light of His glorious testimony. Dear saints, please pay special attention to these words, for it is our response to the prevailing darkness of this present world that will largely determine our state of readiness at His appearance.

In these latter days, we will undoubtedly witness the prophetic fulfillment of the ultimate plan of God to separate the light from the darkness (Gen. 1:4). There is, dear saints, absolutely no light outside of the Son of God, for this is how the Father has determined all things from the beginning. Everything outside of Him, everything beyond Him, everything abiding in something or somewhere else, is all darkness, and it must pass away. Do you see this? I mean do you really see this, dear reader?

To be ready, dear saints, is to be found attending to essential things, and to be cooperating with the Creator’s plans and purposes for dividing the light from the darkness. We will, in the end, either be found abiding in the Life and Light (The Truth) of Jesus Christ, or in the death and darkness (The Lie) that is this world.

But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:13-21)

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Now we make no such apology for such black and white declarations, for they are very clearly and consistently represented in the Word of God, as His testimony for all those living at the end of this age, when the darkness has pervaded and obscured all things.

Those who are found suitably ready are by no means super-saints or anti-social mystics who have physically removed themselves in hermetic isolation. Rather they are those who are found faithfully cooperating with the Creator’s plan of redemption and restoration for all the earth. They rightly view the present world as a darkness that will be passing away very soon. The Author of Life Himself has declared that only the light is considered “good”, and His endorsement rests solely upon the Holy and Righteous One (Acts 3:14) and all those found abiding in Him.

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matt. 3:17)

To be found ready dear brethren, is to be found separate from this world, its present ruler, and all that it represents –

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…  (2 Cor. 6:14-16)

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)

Depart, depart, go out from there,
Touch nothing unclean;
Go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves,
You who carry the vessels of the LORD. (Isa. 52:11)

This present dark and corrupted world is duly characterized by the fallen nature of its god, Satan the adversary. And the animating principles of the world are most evident to those with spiritual eyes to see – the lust of the flesh, and of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Those found to be prepared and ready at the Lord’s appearing know such things, and they see it all around them every single day. They know that to beg, borrow and steal from the world, or to otherwise compromise with it, is to abandon the light altogether. And they know all too personally that, only by actively availing themselves of the provision of the Lord’s grace, can they remain separate and pure in the midst of such utter darkness and corruption. They know this, again, not because they are lettered theologians, but because they ‘have an anointing from the Holy One’, Who is leading them into all truth –

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13)

These are familiar themes certainly, dear brethren, yet they are most urgent in this hour, when so many will abandon the Light and choose the one who is coming; the one who will affirm the darkness and the world and deny the One whom the Father has deemed  to be good. Who then, is antichrist, but the one who denies Jesus as the one and only Christ, the only one pleasing to the Father of All Life! And anyone who tries to convince you that there are many paths to God, that the Eternal Father has many “beloved sons” in fact – THIS IS ANTICHRIST, and this foul delusion is infecting many churches in this dark hour.

This is why, dear saints, we must constantly be reminded in the spirit of the first things, the basic and fundamental truths that bring us all the way back to our new beginning in Christ Jesus –

As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:24)

It is the light alone that has been determined to be acceptable to the Creator, and everything is advancing in terms of His plan to divide the light from the darkness; the truth from the lie. Those who will be found ready at the end will have chosen their side, you see, and determined that abiding solely in the Light will be ‘good’ also.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

To be ready, dear saints, to be prepared for Him when He comes for us, is to be driven by a hope not only to see the Lord, but to be like Him; to be pure just as He Himself is pure; to be found spotless just as He is without spot or wrinkle

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Eph. 5: 25-27)

Those children of God who will be deemed ready at His appearing will by no means be found perfect, but they will be sincerely and actively devoted to righteousness, to purity, and to putting away sin out of their hearts and lives. The Light in which they abide will be actively revealing and dividing the darkness within themselves, and they will bring this to the only One who can cleanse them with His own blood; the One presently ministering as priest from the heavenlies, for the children of God (see Hebrews 9; 1 John 1:9).

Then quite unsurprisingly, for all of those who know the ways of the enemy, they will come to be hated by their brethren; or at least those worldly, compromised believers supposing to be their brethren.

Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:3:13-16)

Just as Cain slew his brother for offering the Lord a more acceptable sacrifice, and just as Israel slew the Holy One in their midst, the many who love the darkness (John 3:19) in modern Christendom will be no different. Just determine in your heart to pursue the Lord and His path without compromise, and to divest yourself of all else (the group, the tradition, the affiliation, the leader, etc.), and watch how quickly and readily the darkness will rise up against you to extinguish your flame. This testimony is terribly tragic but true brethren, and it plays itself out every single day in this world.

As we believe John’s first letter was written specifically for those of us at the end of this age, it is especially important that we heed the exhortation regarding our love for one another here in the midst of the darkness and deception. The one making himself ready understands that he is now part of the Father’s household, and his loyalty belongs to Him exclusively, and to His Firstborn Son Jesus Christ, to whom He has granted all things. This is what now defines the child of God in this age, the one who truly abides in Him, when so much has fallen away to compromise, falseness and utter rebellion.

This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1 John 3:23-24)

Dear end-time saints of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is so vitally important that we are being informed and directed by the Holy Spirit sent by the Master to prepare us for His coming. The final hours of  this age, as revealed in Scripture, will be characterized by widespread apostasy and deception, by lying spirits filling the air and turning men against the Lord and His truth. Like the time just prior to ancient Israel being taken in captivity, false prophets will surface and multiple, bringing forth a message aimed at affirming the darkness.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6)

Those who will be found ready, however, will not be fooled. The light and love that is in them will prove greater than the darkness found in these false ones. It will be His Spirit in them that protects and equips them in this dark and deceptive hour when the tares have overrun the field, the birds of the air have made a home in the mustard tree, and the leaven has permeated the entire loaf (see Matthew 13; parables portraying and predicting the total corruption of the visible church at the end of the age). And it will be His love in them that will compel them not to turn against those who passionately pursue the Lord and His plans, even when the many attempt to get them to do otherwise. They will hold fast their confession of the Lord, and His exclusive claim, even as the temptation to reduce or replace Him grows in scope and intensity.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.  (1 John 4:15-17)

Further, those who will be found ready at His appearance will be found effectively overcoming the world (not being subsumed into the darkness around them) –

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)

This present world system (‘kosmos’ in the Greek); this whole established order arrayed against the Lord God and His Christ; this present environment that is infused, animated and inspired at every point with the rebellious spirit of antichrist, all of it lies in the power of the evil one –

We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.  (1 John 5:18-20)

Oh that we might have eyes wide open in the Spirit to see, dear saints. Oh that we would recognize just how truly pervasive and universal this system of darkness is. The whole planet lies in darkness waiting for the Creator’s command – “Let there be Light”. And the Light came forth, and is going forth even in this day. Yet the darkness still very much prevails, and will continue to do so until all things are summed up in the Son, that bright and morning star (Rev. 22:16).

It is by faith that we know these basic facts about what is happening and why. It is by faith even still that we overcome this world by not submitting to its wisdom and spirit; by holding fast to the Light that is the Lord Jesus Christ and all those joined to Him in this dark hour. It is by faith that we hold fast to these essential truths that the liar will forever attempt to wrest from us –

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 John 5:11-12)

Eternal life, dear saints, the only life, is found in His Son. He who does not have the Son of God (by faith) does not have life. Here is the simple truth that has set us free. And it is this truth that will come under the most vicious and intense attack as we move deeper into these dark days before the Lord’s return. Anything added to or taken away from the Son of God, as representing the life of God, is an idol, pure and simple. And only those who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, stand any chance of overcoming this present world. If we have not therefore determined in our hearts, that our only hope of life is found in the Father’s Beloved Son, and if we are not standing in the confidence of the Father’s full provision in the Son, then it is very likely that we will not overcome the world.

It is, dear brethren, the Father’s will and heartfelt expectation that all those who have found life in His Son, will indeed conquer this present world. In fact, the Heavenly Father has even given us His assurance that He will provide everything we need to overcome and to be found ready at His Son’s return –

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 John 5:14-15)

And so, as we see, the Apostle John, in this first epistle, has much to say to us in this matter of readiness at the end of this age. By taking us back to the first things, and to essential principles, he has provided us with much wise counsel and exhortation in these increasingly dark and desperate times. Only the light can dispel the darkness, and only as we abide in the Light can we hope to spiritually prepare for the darkest of days that are upon us.

That there will be increasing temptation from within the ‘christian’ community to reduce the place of the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ, there is no doubt. That increasing numbers of false teachers and false prophets will surface, attempting to convince the saints that the narrow way is not so narrow after all, that there are many ways to satisfy God, also appears certain. That the many, those who love the darkness and eschew the light, will turn from the only One in Whom there is life, to idols, is also clear.

We would do well therefore, to remember these words of John and to do all that we can to make ourselves ready, by availing ourselves of the full provision of our Lord’s grace and victory. When the Word of God states clearly that the “whole world lies in the power of the evil one”, we would do well to believe it and turn to the only One who can save us and equip us in this dark and dreadful hour.

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)

It has been considered by many to be quite strange how John chooses to conclude this letter, with an abrupt injunction to guard ourselves from idols. Yet, it is not so strange at all, if we consider the times in which we find ourselves, and the fact that so much of what is considered the Christian testimony in the present hour is shot through with idols. The whole of John’s letter, as we have considered, is intended to keep us from the temptation to add or take away from the only One who can save us; the only One in Whom there is eternal life. Yet everywhere one looks today, there are idols in the place of the Father’s Beloved Son. There is Jesus Christ and something else, if in fact He is there at all.

Dear saints of the Lord, only the anointing of the Holy Spirit can guard us from such dangerous delusions and idolatry. We counsel everyone reading these words to review this section of Scripture and to petition the Lord for His grace to respond as necessary. The Lord Himself has assured us that there will be no widespread revival or return to faith and purity in His church; that the leaven will do its work among the loaf until it has been fully leavened. Yet He will also have his remnant who will overcome this world; those who will hear His voice and share His heart, and receive His counsel in the spirit as needed in this hour.

Beloved brethren, in these most desperate and serious times, this is our sincere hope and prayer for all of you, that you will be found actively abiding in the Son of God, and living in Him and walking in He alone Who is the way and the truth and the life. May the Holy Spirit anoint this message, and impress these words upon your spirit, and may everything necessary be done that you might be found ready at the Master’s return.

Heavenly Father, please let this be done, in Jesus Righteous and Glorious Name. Amen.

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled – W.E. Smith

Dear saints, precious to our Lord Jesus Christ and our Most High and Holy Father in Heaven, grace, peace and patience to all of you in these most troubling times. Oh how we need to pray for one another like never before, as the birth pangs of the end of this age appear to be increasing with each new day; as men’s heart begin to fail at the possibility that our modern, push button age of ease and enlightenment isn’t all that it promised to be. In preparation for this message, I encourage all of you to review John 14 in entirety.

Look around you dear brethren – increasing incidents of earthquakes and fierce storms, looming worldwide famine, fuel prices rising out of control and causing such fearful tumult in this modern, energy-drunken world, the threat of a complete greed-driven meltdown in the financial and banking markets. War and the rumor of war as the kings of this earth seek remaining riches and resources. Disease and pestilence beginning to surface, confounding man’s iron-grip trust in his medicines and technologies. Hundreds of thousands of human lives spent in just the past few months by all of the above. The nominal church seeking its way in the manner and wisdom of the world, reaching new and greater degrees of abandonment from the faith once delivered. Wolves and false prophets, deceivers all of them, spewing Christ-defying things from their mouths all in the name of our Father’s Beloved and Perfect Son. And oh so many in this hour being led away and devoured in their lust for self-gratifying religion and experience.

Oh but all this must be so, little ones, for man must come to the end of himself, and his trust in the great lie must be shattered into a thousand pieces. No, we are not like God. No, we cannot find our own way on this earth. No, our ideas, inventions, imaginations and solutions are not enough to save us from ourselves, the curse or the destroyer at the back of it all. No, greed is in fact not good. No, our modern oil-thirsty world will not last forever (much less than a few generations), and the curse on this earth remains, and will do so until the return of the King, who alone will restore all things. All things are happening just as foretold by our Lord and all His prophets, that we might see and believe; that our faith might grow stronger as the hour grows darker.

“Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.” (John 14:29)

Oh little ones, be not afraid, for He will return just as certainly as He came the first time. The Living Word of God is sure and certain, a rock of salvation beneath our feet, and a rock of destruction to all the enemies of our God and King.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
(John 14:1-3)

Now, more than ever, we need to believe in both the Father and the Son, and look to His appearing as our only hope and deliverance. He does not want us to be anxious or afraid in this time brethren, but to look to Him who supplies all that we need. Only let us pray more urgently in the name of Jesus Christ that He would keep us in this hour, and strengthen our weak hearts. Until that moment when our Master descends to the middle heaven to receive His precious and beautiful Bride, He remains in the Highest Heaven, at the right side of the Father, interceding on our behalf, fulfilling whatever we ask in His name and as His will. He alone is our Faithful and High Priest, who has immediate access to the God of All Life, He who is our Most High and Heavenly Father. Our Savior knows our frame, for He was just as we are in this world, and He understands our natural tendency, as we look around at all of the frightening events in this world, to become fearful and easily shaken.

Brethren, those who are watching soberly for His imminent coming for His own, all is progressing precisely according to His plan and purpose. It should give us great comfort, those who have read the prophecies and are waiting expectantly and patiently for Him, that everything is in the Father’s mighty hands, as He turns all things over to His Beloved Son. All enemies of the Lord must be subdued. All pride must be broken. All lies must be made manifest and all sin must be laid bare. All darkness must be exposed by that great and awesome Light that is the Morning Star soon to break forth on this world.

He who saves us will indeed save us to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). Do we truly and deeply believe this dear saints? Oh, but we must, for He is our only hope. His name is Jesus Christ and He alone is the Savior and Deliverer of His people! His words are certain; they cannot fail, for He is truth and all power has been granted to Him.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

He left us most certainly, but He did not leave us alone, left to our own courage and devices, as sheep without a shepherd. He left us His mighty and indwelling Spirit, and the assurance that as He is so we will be in this world. He also assured us that He will in fact return for His precious ones, to receive them to Himself, and to present them pure and spotless to  His Father. Dear saints, all those aspiring to enter into the great wedding supper of the Lamb – it may not seem so, or feel like it at times, but –

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Our victory is assured, and it is only our faith or lack of it that will determine whether we apprehend it or not. The imperative for us in this dark and difficult hour is most clear. We must wait patiently, enduring however long He takes to fulfill all that He has determined.

“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Rev. 3:10)

I know quite honestly, dear brethren, that in the natural part of me, I feel something like an orphan in a world where I don’t really belong; a world gone mad in its lust to live apart from its Maker. The man-led and man-honoring mega-church on the corner is not my home. The greedy, power-hungry kings of this world are not my King. The wisdom of this world, honoring and exalting man and his empty achievements, is not my wisdom. The hopes and dreams of most folks in my neighborhood are not mine. The religion of this world, honoring the god of this world, is certainly not my faith. The fickle and empty life that men live in the body is not my life (for He is my life now). The fleshly limitations to which men are subject do not describe me (for He will perform His works in me). So it is easy to feel something like an abandoned, unwanted orphan isn’t it?

Yet I also have his sure and unshakable word that He will not leave me as a fatherless orphan in this world; that He will return for me to bring me cleansed and sanctified to my own place with my Father in heaven. The question then is, do I really believe this? And do you? My friends, we must, and I encourage all of you now to read John 14 and other parts of His Word which convey such wonderful hope and promise in this hour. Then go to the Father and ask Him in Jesus’ name to help you receive every single word in faith and power; that it would settle in our spirit and establish us in the midst of such terrible times.

Brethren, be supremely comforted and encouraged by the fact that we are not alone, that both the Father and the Son abide within us if indeed we are His children; that we have His Spirit of comfort and help. Now I am aware that to most professing, church-going Christians, this means little in practical terms. Yet I hope better things for each of you reading these words. And indeed, if such assurances spoken by the Lord of Life ring hollow, as mere religious sentiment, then most certainly we know what we must pray for; and I pray all of this for you now in His wondrous name.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)

Everything offered by this present world is empty and lifeless, as its present ruler has nothing but lies and dust to offer his citizens. Yet our Lord leaves us with peace, heavenly peace, soul-calming peace, fear-quenching peace. Consider David, full of the power of the Spirit, standing before giants calmly stooping down to pick up a few small smooth stones. The prospect of death was all around him and bearing down upon him; yet he was filled with a spirit-granted and courageous peace that was soon to lead to absolute victory for the glory of the Lord. And even so our Lord in human form, consigned to a most brutal and bloody death, yet perfectly resting in the care and purpose of His Loving Father. Oh that this kind of peace would be our own dear saints. Oh, how we desperately need it at the end of this age, as man is brought violently to the very end of himself.

Because I live, you will live also. (John 14:19)

And indeed now more than in any other time, we must be sure we know what the Christian life really means; what it is exactly and what it is not. For most who name the name of Christ I fear that this has become obscured and tainted in a world where religion has more to do with human energy and activity than the divine conception leading to living each moment abiding in He who is the Life of the World.

Here is a spiritual truth for those able to receive it –

There is truly one one life that is pleasing to the Father, and that is His Beloved Son. All those outside of Him are dead already regardless of religious or moral expression designed to simulate real life. Pure and living Christianity is Christ Jesus; it can be nothing less! It is not Adam on his best behavior, all dressed up in his Sunday best. It is not what men imagine it to be.

Be not deceived brethren – To live is Christ (see Gal. 2:20 and Phil. 1:21). It is nothing less and there can be nothing more. The preacher on the street, or the priest in saintly robes, or the slick-haired salesman on the television can promise you something other, but this is a LIE! Indeed, it is the first and only lie! As we look around us in this hour, what we are seeing, in essence, are the fruits of death, nothing more. All that is already dead is starting to rot and reveal its true state – DEATH!

The soul who sins will die. (Ezek. 18:4)

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. (1 John 3:14)

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— (Rom. 5:12)

We who are called in the Lord Jesus Christ must choose life and know precisely what this means and what it costs. Do you have a claim or place in this world? Fine, then give it up, for it is nothing compared to the place He is preparing for you now. Are you a somebody in this world? Well my friend, better to become the world’s nobody that you might become a somebody to He who will soon rule all the universe with a rod of iron. Let it all go dear brothers and sisters, whatever it is, that you might gain the Lord Jesus Christ, and all of the super-abounding life and light that comes with Him.

Beloved brethren, end-time saints of the Lord Jesus Christ – the time has come to lay down all that we love and cherish and trust in, that we might take up the Lord of Life, and all that He received in this world – ignominy, shame, rejection, a bloody, splintered cross. You each know what this means, and every heart knows what sits in the place of the Lord. It would be so simple and easy if we could love Him in addition to everything else, but it seldom works this way in the human heart. Those born of the Spirit know all too well that to love Him requires the letting go of so many other things. The cost of living in Him and loving Him is nothing short of everything dear saints.

“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:25)

Dear brethren in the Lord, I pray that He would supply all of you with grace and peace in this hour and that you might be encouraged by His Words in John 14 and elsewhere. I also encourage you to join with each other in the Spirit to pray for one another, as indeed the times are growing deathly dark. I know as we look out with our eyes, and see the headlines foretelling grim tidings across this entire world, that it is easy to lose heart and to seek to grab onto something. Yet we must remember that our Lord is holding on to us, and will continue to do so until He comes to claim His reward, and judge this evil generation.

My encouragement to all of you in this hour is to pray and fast constantly, to study the Word, including (and especially) the many prophetic passages related to these latter days and our Lord’s imminent return, lest you be deceived by the false one who is also soon to appear. Remember your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, who are impacted by the deadly convergence of food shortages, fuel prices, storms and wars, and wickedness in high places. Pray for wisdom, understanding and patience, that He might find us watching soberly for His imminent arrival. Keep the faith! Walk in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will perform all that He has promised by His mighty power. Pray that all things will be done according to His eternal plan and purpose, for His glory alone. Seek His kingdom and not the future or betterment of whatever earthly nation happens to be printed on your birth certificate or passport. And most of all, let us love one another as He has first loved us, that the world might know that we belong to Him, and live only in Him.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

In Jesus’ Precious and Mighty Name. Amen.