Am I My Brother's Keeper??!! Part 3
Consider the brief picture that the Apostle John has given us, as a “road map” of sorts, for our Growth into taking responsibility for serving God in others’ lives. A Holy PRIESTHOOD. AMBASSADORS of Christ, “as if God were making His Appeal through us.” Ponder the thought, and odd sequence, which John mentions twice for emphasis:
“I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:12-13a).
Notice the sequence there. He writes to 1) children, 2) fathers, 3) young men, in that order. Now he starts over again to make sure we didn’t miss the sequence:
“I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:13b-14).
God doesn’t make mistakes. To the human progression, that’s out of order. He ought to have children, young men, and then fathers. In a human progression it’s out of sequence, but in God’s progression it’s exactly right. First Children, then Fathers, then Young Men.
Remember that the first step is to be a child—born not once, but twice—and now your sins are forgiven. “I write to you children.” How did we reach this first category of Maturity in the Lamb? Because our sins are forgiven! Spiritual “children” have become aware of sin and their need for God’s forgiveness. They have been supernaturally touched by the bountiful goodness of God’s Mercy. All newborns, all “children” have seen and felt God’s nurture and nature in their spirits (Mat. 16:17; Eph. 1:13-14; Rom. 8:9-11).
But children, by nature, are consumers without much regard for others. They’re cute as all get out sometimes, and we rejoice in the smallest gurgles and coos, and then the first attempts to talk and walk. It’s not even a problem when the meatloaf is worn on their heads like a hat! They’re CUTE! But...they don’t pay the bills, and don’t thank you for doing so. They often cry at the worst times, and dirty their diapers and make demands passionately, without ever asking how we feel or what they can do for us. ;) They are primarily, in this state of maturity, consumers. The same is true of us Spiritually, if we do not mature. We take, and seldom give. We consume and contribute little. And while this may be fine in the early stages after our second Birth, it is highly unnatural and improper if still the case years after conversion. “Children” is only meant to be the earliest stage of natural, or Supernatural life!
Being a child includes learning all the foundational stuff that all children must learn. They are learning how to read and write and talk and walk, identify colors and shapes. They get a little older and then maybe they can identify street signs and learn how to drive. There are even advanced “childhood” things, all of which are still “fundamental” things. And there is nothing more fundamental than the fact that “He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb.10: 14). Everyone that has entered into covenant with God through Jesus has been made perfect. No matter what you think about yourself, if you are in Christ, you are absolutely perfect. However, the second part—“being made holy”—is an ongoing, continuous action. We are being made holy. We are made perfect, and we are being made holy.
As children, we are made perfect. Our sins are forgiven on account of His name. But being made holy? What does the word “holy” mean? It means “set apart,” “useful for God’s purposes” or “set apart for use by God.” We are “being made holy,” which means we are being made useful to God. We are being cleansed from all the flesh, from all the things that hinder our walk, that encumber us, that trip us up, as Peter said. We are being freed from those things and we are being made holy. As Paul said, “with ever-increasing glory we are being transformed into the image of Jesus”—ever-increasing holiness and usefulness to God.
Now, if as children we stop and camp out on the fact that our sins are forgiven on account of His name, then we will never be made useful to God, will we? It is God’s desire for children to GROW and be made useful to God. We all know that if a child is not growing in very tangible ways, then something is WRONG and he needs help. Babies kick and scream and cry when they need something (or think they need something). But, if a 15-yr-old does that, you have a serious problem. Ah, we must continue to Grow! We must, whether man or woman, go on to be Fathers, Spiritually. As the Hebrews’ writer would say, “You all should be, by now!”
“I write to you fathers because you have known Him who is from the beginning.”
Am I my brother’s keeper? Not if we’re still but “children” years after conversion. But, THAT’S not God’s Plan for us! Of course, He desires that we are His Ambassadors “that He might make His Appeal through us!” Only a child would NOT seek to pour themselves out for others, day and night, without consideration for their own “private” affairs.
If we’ll ask Him, God can open our eyes to see His Fatherhood. “Abba, Daddy” is something only God can show us. If you want to be a father in His House, pray that you would first see His Fatherhood because the love of God shed abroad in your heart is not a theory. You can’t study it and make it happen. The love of God flooding over your soul puts a spring in your step and a light in your eye, and has a power that is unquenchable.
And once you KNOW your Father, you will begin to become a father yourself. A father has dealt with those fundamental things in his own life and now is dealing with them in other people’s lives, not just his own. He protects, nourishes, provides for, mentors, instructs, corrects and produces children. Fathers and mothers are people who have learned the fundamentals and those things have become second nature to them now. They know how to drive; and they don’t even have to think about it anymore. They know how to read and write and do math. That stuff is second nature to them. It’s not that there’s not more to learn as a father or mother, but it’s on a whole different level. It’s not the fundamentals. The Hebrews’ writer said to go on past the rudimentary or the fundamental things into more advanced things. Spiritual fathers and mothers are going on to more advanced things while they are helping others come through the basics, through the fundamentals. They love children and help children because they have been there themselves. They help turn children from their sins and toward their loving Father.
Now, back to our Sector 12 scene from earlier (part 1 of 3)...If we don’t care for our Family (and not just ourselves and how things affect us) aren’t we “worse than infidels”? If you belong to Christ it is your job to “wrestle to present EVERYONE complete, perfect in Christ” and to “See to it brothers that NONE of you have a sinful, unbelieving heart.” If your heart and focus and mind aren’t moving towards God’s Fatherheart, then you are not walking in agreement with God (Rom. 3:3). If you want to be in the mainstream of the river of God’s purposes on planet earth, you have to graduate from being a child—one who is always dependent, always drinking milk, always getting, never giving—then you must give your life away!
How many of your children give very much? They try, but it’s pretty meager. But there comes a time when you are a father and your schedule is not your own anymore. You don’t own your life anymore once you become a parent. That is exactly the same way it is spiritually. When you are fathering and mothering people in Christ, your life is not your own anymore. Your sleep patterns are not your own, your money is not your own, your emotions aren’t your own—you don’t own anything anymore when you are fathering and mothering in the Kingdom of God. When you are fathering or mothering, how much time you are away from your “family” is not your choice anymore.
I overheard a little girl today saying, “I wish I was grown up so that I wouldn’t want to play anymore. If I didn’t like to play, then I wouldn’t have trouble doing the things that are really important. So I just wish I was older so that I wouldn’t enjoy playing so much.” Her much older and wiser brother said, “Oh, that’s just not true. Daddy still likes to play. He would play all the time if he could. He just knows that he can’t do that anymore because he has to work to take care of us. He loves to play too but he knows he has other responsibilities.”
If I asked you if you wanted to be in God’s purposes, I hope you would say “yes.” I hope that you are not settled to stop with the forgiveness of sins as a child, but you instead want to go on and be a father to others. You can’t walk with God and stay in fellowship with Him if you are not walking in agreement with Him—if your mind isn’t set on His purposes. And His Purposes will include having that Fatherheart that He has—the heart that CARES and takes it upon yourself to love and to give and to lay your life on the line for the children in the House.
Romans 12:1-2 talks about offering your body as a living sacrifice—laying it all on the line. A living sacrifice doesn’t have any future plans, any wealth, any pride. A living sacrifice, lying on the altar to be burned, doesn’t have a lot of things that it is grabbing onto. No reason to. I’ve been crucified with Christ. I don’t live any longer.
It is so important that you have a vision of what God is doing in you and through you, and that you yield to that vision. “Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law. A servant cannot be corrected by mere words; though he understands, he will not respond” (Prov. 29:18-19). I can give you mere words. I can show you things in the Bible that you don’t want to do. But I can’t correct you with mere words. Even if you understand exactly what I am saying to you, if you don’t have a vision of what God is trying to do in your life, you are going to just make excuses—“Oh, I don’t have to because after all that’s not my responsibility... That’s someone else’s responsibility (someone else’s ‘sector’).”
But if you will see the vision, if you can catch a glimpse of what God wants to do in your life and what you were destined for, oh, how different life would be! We were predestined for the Glory that Jesus had on this earth. Jesus—the man who walked on water, the man who said, “Peace, be still” to the storm. Joshua—who made the sun stand still. Elijah—who made the axe head float. Paul—who raised someone from the dead. Those things are not reserved for Jesus alone. If you go through all the miracles, Old Testament and New Testament, you will see that Jesus never did anything that a mortal human being didn’t do at some time or another as recorded in the Holy Scriptures. In fact, a couple of men did something Jesus didn’t do. Jesus died. Elijah didn’t. He was caught up in a chariot of fire. So what I am saying is that Jesus came to show us what is possible. He didn’t come just to forgive our sins. He came to show us what intimacy with the Father, with the glorious life of God, is all about.
Many Sons to Glory
The nature of the Fatherheart of God is to bring many sons to Glory (Hebrews 2:10). As we graduate into fathers, our nature is going to be to bring many sons to glory. In Matthew 23, Jesus looked over Jerusalem and wept. He said, “I wish so much that I could have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not, so therefore I am going to leave your house desolate.” He passed judgment on them, but His heart was one that was crying to bring many sons to glory, to gather the people. If you are walking in agreement with God, that is going to be your heart. You are going to live and breathe as Jesus did, to seek and save that which is lost. You will leave the ninety and nine to go after the one—leave this group and go after the one, if necessary. You will pay any price. That is the heart of Jesus, the Everlasting Father, as He is called in Isaiah 9. That’s the heart of the Father, our Father who art in heaven. It is His heart to bring many sons to glory.
Read Luke 4:18-19, John 10:11-18 and Matthew 18:12 (the Good Shepherd), John 17:6-18; Revelation 5:6-9. You are worthy, O Lord! You are the Lamb that was slain. You purchased men for God with Your blood. That’s why You are worthy. You were willing to seek and save the lost, You were willing to lay down Your life as a ransom for many.
The nature of the life that is walking in agreement with God is that the heart is the same heart that He has—a Father Heart. It is a heart that will nurture and reach out to other people and bring many sons to glory. It is a heart that will do the work of God on a daily basis.
Into Intimacy and Into Glory
Neither zeal nor obedience can be a foundation for spiritual fatherhood. There are three characteristics of fathers. First of all, maturity (hopefully, you can judge for yourself how you do in your own family, but there should be a maturity in our lives to be fathers.) Second, there should be a birthing people into the Kingdom of the beloved Son. There is no such thing as a father that never had a child. I don’t know any other way to put it. While the birthing may take on different forms, the miracle of spawning supernatural Life is a non-negotiable aspect of any True father. “You had 10,000 tutors and ‘talkers’ in your lives...but not many FATHERS.” And then, thirdly, there is the characteristic of nurturing people in their lives. Every father must also nurture. “Bring them up, Fathers, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” That command is not to mothers, it is to fathers. Nurturing and admonishing in the Lord is the Fatherheart of God. As we are progressing from being children with our sins forgiven into the next step of life in Christ, there has to be a fathering. We can’t stay in God’s purposes without walking in agreement with Him, and fathering is His nature.
“I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.” “When a student is fully trained, he becomes like his teacher.” In order to be a father in kingdom things, you have to have intimacy with Him who is from the beginning. This is the key step: to have intimacy with that Father who is from the beginning—that Zoe Life that always was.
Genesis 2:7—The wind of the Spirit was blown into man and he received the glory of God into his being.
2 Corinthians 3:18—We are transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory.
1 Peter 1:8—We are filled with joy inexpressible, full of glory.
Romans 8:29, 12:2—We are “glory-fied” by the renewing of our minds. Renewed to what? We are renewed to the glory of God and to the image of Jesus Christ—the mind that was with the Father, the Ancient of Days. The word becoming flesh in us in that “glory-fied” Life.
2 Corinthians 4:7—There is a treasure in earthen vessels. Where is that treasure? The verse before that says that the glory of God was made to shine in the face of Jesus Christ, and we are now vessels that hold that treasure. “...the glory of God in the face of Christ.” In the full measure of the stature of God, of Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:27—“...Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Glory, through the transfiguration that we are destined for.
Hebrews. 2:10—It is God’s intention to bring many sons to glory, not to salvation only.
Joel prophesied about the Holy Spirit that would Come. In John 20:22 it says that Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” You can see that it’s happening. He breathed on them. Just like it happened in Genesis—God breathed on them and they came to life. And now we can be born again of water and the Spirit. Jesus breathed on them the breath of heaven.
John 7:38 says that rivers of living water are gushing out of our bellies. The river that flows in front of the throne of God flows through us and out of our bellies. We receive it from God, it comes from the throne of God, and we father others with that life. That river that flows in front of the throne of God flows through us and brings that glory to other peoples’ lives. The rivers of living water that gush out of our bellies are said to be given to those who believe in Him. It’s not some weird, super-spiritual thing at all. It’s to those who believe in Him who would come after He was “glory-fied.” That’s the norm. It’s our destiny. It’s what we were created to be.
2 Kings 4:34 talks about Elisha being hand-to-hand and eye-to-eye and mouth-to-mouth with a man he raised from the dead. And that is exactly what happens when we are fathering other people into the glory of God. We are getting hand-to-hand and mouth-to-mouth and eye-to-eye with them and we are breathing the glory of God, the new life, into them. We cry their tears, bear their burdens, help them avoid the avoidable and deal with that which is not. We spend the night in prayer for them, spend our money and time on them when they would never know we have, watch their back sides when they are not, and allow them the pain of mistakes when that is appropriate, quickly loving them back into His Peace. That’s the fathering. You’ll never do THAT from a “lectern” or “pulpit” or “meeting-based life.” That’s the REAL thing. And that’s walking in agreement with the Fatherheart of God—to be able to go hand-to-hand and mouth-to-mouth. Elijah did that, also, in 1 Kings 17, and Paul did the same thing in Acts 20:10. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, Paul said, “I dared to share not only the gospel with you but my very life. I was a father to you. I nurtured you. I was a mother and I fed you.” God is going to have to bring us through in learning to walk in agreement with His Fatherheart and with His nature.
1 John 2: “I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one...I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
This is the most exciting one to me. It should excite you as you see God’s progression here. He has not overcome evil deeds, but the evil one. Anyone can overcome bad habits. It takes a little time, but with the right drugs, the right help, the right encouragement and the right Zig Ziglar techniques, you can do it. We are not talking about that. We are talking about overcoming the evil one.
Jesus says the Son of God was manifest that He might destroy the works of the devil. To not just survive life, but to take it right to satan and wipe him out. “I will build my church and the gates of hell can’t prevail against it.” The gates of hell are overcome by a Body of people who are Young Men—who are Overcomers in the fullest sense.
Young Men—the Ancient Life welling up inside of us, and the Word of God living in us. We are living in it. We breathe it. In Him we live and move and have our being. We are living in the Word of God and we are young men—overcomers. We have overcome depression. It still attacks us, but we have learned to Look to Him and draw on His Life, and make our bodies and emotions “our slaves” as Paul described. We have overcome relationship struggles; we don’t let them wipe us out anymore. We have overcome hormonal things; we don’t let that knock us out of the ballgame. Oh, YES, they do hurt, but we carry on, with our eyes on Him and our love of the lambs driving us forward. We’ve overcome the frustrations of life. Oh, we will feel them intensely, and perhaps MORE than most as we would be FAR more of a “target” for the enemy, than someone who does little to impede his progress or threaten his dark kingdom. Yes, there will still be pain and temptation, but “dead to the world and the world to us” we would, if Young Men, take our Place seated with Christ in Heavenly Realms, and say and do and feel only “as the Father speaks.” We may weep and perspire blood in the process and under the targeted attack of the enemy, and “the daily concern for the churches”—but Young Men have learned to be “inwardly renewed day by day” rather than to fold under the pressure. Young Men have left behind need for position, need for respect, need for possession, need for power, or need for miraculous things to happen in order for them to feel loved or useful or Spiritual. They don’t listen to “cast yourself down and let the angels catch you” for the Sign of Jonah IS sufficient. Whatever else Father chooses and we respond to is His Business, not for our ego or consolation. They don’t have to have that anymore, because they know Him who was from the beginning. And now you live in the Word, you live in Jesus—the Word. You live and move and have your being in Him. And now you can overcome not just the evil things—but the evil one.
“When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet; the chief men refrained from speaking and covered their mouths with their hands; the voices of the nobles were hushed, and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him. The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban.
I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger.
I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.
I thought, ‘I will die in my own house, my days as numerous as the grains of sand. My roots will reach to the water, and the dew will lie all night on my branches. My glory will remain fresh in me, the bow ever new in my hand.’
Men listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel. After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears. They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain. When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them. I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners.”
“The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.”
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God.”
We destroy the works of the devil. We are not only defensive in surviving the works of the devil, but we are offensive and we destroy the works of the devil. We go over the top of those things and kick down the gates of hell. It’s God’s purpose that we graduate from being fathers into kicking down the gates of hell, seeing the representation of the evil one on this earth and then kicking it down. Offensive warriors. Overcomers. No longer defensive survivors.
The “full measure of the stature of Christ!” is what you were destined for before the world was. If God destined that it would be the end result of your life, if you crucified the flesh and renewed your mind with those thoughts, do you doubt whether or not you can live that way? I don’t. It has to be able to happen because God said so. He, in His mind, said, “This is My goal: If they will get out of My way, I will have My purposes wrought out in them, and the evil one will have no hold on them. I will build my church, and guess what! In reality, not in theory, it will kick down the gates of hell. It will be an Overcoming Force, with ‘greater Works’ than even My Son saw in His days of Life on earth! The Spirit AND the Bride say ‘COME!’”
“...Overcome the evil one.” That sounds really good to me. And I suspect there probably haven’t been a handful of “young men” in the last few centuries. There aren’t many Fathers, said Paul by the Holy Spirit. You have ten thousand tutors—big deal—but not many fathers. Lots of “preachers,” lots of “pastors,” lots of teachers, but not many fathers. And if there are not many Fathers, I wonder how many Young Men there are—how many Overcomers, who have taken it to the streets, and villages, and religious empires—taken it to the evil one.
It’s safe behind a “pulpit”—that unBiblical coffin-on-end. It’s “safe” creating a “web site” or writing a “newsletter” or “book” or “starting a house church,” or a franchise of a denomination. It’s really safe. I’m not talking about that. It’s also nice and safe in our big ranch house 50 miles from civilization, or in home-school-mecca. “Us 8 and no more” is pretty safe living. So, that’s not what I’m talking about either. I’m talking about taking it to the evil one and ripping out hell by the roots. And that MUST be done “amongst the people.” There is nothing “theoretical” about it. Hell can’t prevail against those of us who will join our purposes to God’s purposes. He is going to do it. He said, “I will build my church. I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. I will raise them up to be a mighty force, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a mighty nation. They’ll be strangers and aliens in this world. They won’t fit in. They won’t be conformed. But rather, they will be a conquering force empowered from the heavenly kingdom.” God said that He is going to have that people. He will have that people.
“‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’
“‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
“‘But what about you,’ he asked. ‘Who do you say that I am?’
“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ (In the Greek it says, literally, ‘the Son of the God, the Living.’)
“Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, [you are stone] and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [not to the kingdom, but of the kingdom of heaven.]; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven’” (Matthew 16:13-19).
You can see that Ancient Life living in them, that same Life that enabled Jesus to say, “I don’t do anything I don’t see the Father doing. I don’t say anything I don’t hear the Father saying.” You see that life welling up to bind what has been bound in heaven, to loose what has been loosed in heaven. You see the power of having the authority of the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
Notice the rock that He is going to build all of this on and that He is going to use to bowl down the gates of hell. The rock that He is going to build His church on that the gates of hell cannot stand up against is a revelation of the Son of God, the Living. It is a confession of a revelation that the Father has given. Flesh and blood didn’t give that revelation, but my Father in heaven. That revelation is of God, the Living, and the Son of the Mighty God, the King of Kings. It is being able to see heaven open and the angels ascending and descending from the Son of Man, being able to see the Son of God, the Son of Man, standing at the right hand of the glory of God. It is having a revelation in our being of the Son of God, the Living.
The Reality and the declaration of that is what the gates of hell cannot stand up against. It is something that man cannot reveal to you, only God can. That confession of that revelation to your being is what is going to kick down the gates of hell. It is going to make you an overcomer. It is going to allow you to have a bone-fire that will not be subject to embarrassment. It will not be subject to cowardice. It will not be subject to materialism or pride or any of those things. That revelation will so open you up that it will be blatant disobedience to do anything less than take it to the streets, to be bold as bold can be, whether you are on the job or wherever you happen to be. Because that revelation will burn in you, and it comes not from man but from God, from our Father in Heaven—the confession of that revelation of the Son of the God of the Living; the Living, Risen Jesus. He is alive! He rose from the dead! He’s alive!
And the revelation of the fullness of that is what will make you an overcomer. 2 Corinthians 5 says that we don’t see any man after the flesh anymore, though we once saw Jesus that way. We once knew Jesus after the flesh. Once there was a time when we knew Him only by what we read about Him, or what other people told us about Him, or we studied about Him. There was a time when we knew Jesus only by human sight and hearing and touch. There was a time when we knew Him only after the flesh, but then there was a revelation that flesh and blood could not reveal.
There is a revelation that God is working in your heart, as you crucify your flesh and open yourself up to it. It’s a revelation that enables you to no longer know Him after the flesh by the five senses, but to know Him in a way that you can’t explain to anyone else. You know Him in a way that no one could ever duplicate by studying what you studied. You can’t tell them. You can’t explain it to them. You cannot bring that revelation to them. Otherwise they would know it after the flesh. It would be flesh and blood revealing it to them. But there is a revelation for those who are willing to pay the price to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness and to be purged from all the material things, as Jesus was. Those people will be led out of the wilderness in the Spirit of power, as He was.
It’s a Journey...Children, then Fathers, then Young Men.
2 Corinthians 10:4 says that we have divine weapons to destroy satan’s strongholds. Either that is theory or reality. I say that for those who will pay that price, it’s reality.
“We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our service will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses...” (2 Corinthians 6:3-10).
Are you ready for that? Are you ready to be an overcomer—a young man?
“...in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights...”
Are you even ready for sleepless nights for His name’s sake?
How about hunger?
“...in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich...”
“...having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
The weapons of righteousness in the left hand and in the right. Having the power of God, the Glory of God, dwelling in our souls and in our beings, that overcoming life that you and I were meant for before the world was.
God knew you by name. That was His destiny for you, and all other things work for that good according to Romans 8:28-30—for that good, and that good alone. Not so that you will enjoy yourself more, but so that you will be changed more and more unto the full measure of the stature of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:13; Rom. 8:29; Phil. 2:14-16).
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing” (Philippians 2:14-16).
Shine like the stars in the universe. Hold out the word of life. That’s the Christian message. That’s the Christian life—not having our sins forgiven only, but shining like stars in the universe and holding out the Word of Life in Power and Glory and Authority, eating from the hidden manna, being nourished by the bread of life, the bread from heaven. Don’t settle for less.
1 Corinthians 10:1-16 speaks of a people who settled for less. They were given the land. They were given every opportunity and they bailed out. They didn’t need to bail out, and we don’t need to, either. Philippians 3:12 says that Paul lived for that which Christ apprehended him for. His purpose for living was to look at the reason God apprehended him and to lay hold of that. It is so important to have vision—without vision, the people perish. Without revelation of the glory of God and what He is trying to do in our lives, the people cast off restraint. We are to live for that which Christ apprehended us for.
Ephesians 5:27—Christ’s purpose is to present to Himself a radiant church without stain or wrinkle—no age marks or any blemish, but holy and blameless. That’s His purpose. That’s the Bride prepared for the return of Christ. Guess what? The Bride makes Herself ready, the book of Revelation says. We have to enter into that. We have to pursue that. God isn’t going to do it totally apart from our wills.
“[God’s] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory” (Ephesians 3:10).
God’s purpose was that through the church His manifold wisdom would be made known to the principalities and powers. Who are the principalities and powers? Angels—all the beings in the unseen world, all the hierarchy of power—the archangel, the cherubim, the seraphim, the devil and all his helpers. God’s purpose was that His manifold wisdom, His awesome wisdom, would be made known to the unseen kingdom, to the angels, through the church.
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who spoke of the grace that was come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11).
That, as an aside, is a definition of “how to study your Bible” God’s Way. It’s not the westernized, unBiblical “cerebral” approach—but it is God’s Way. “There’s a way that seems right to a MAN, but in the end it leads to death.” It is SO different to, “search intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them is pointing.” As Rabboni, the Master Teacher Himself has said, it is disaster to “diligently study the Scriptures” and yet still neglect to, or “refuse to come to Me” as the Author and Perfecter, and God alone. And to those who knew Yahweh well, Peter said it was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told to you by those who have preached the gospel by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even the angels long to look into these things. I want you to realize that these things are not milk. This isn’t stuff like “Now I lay me down to sleep, deliver my soul at the hour of my death. Amen.” This has to do with God’s Eternal Purpose, looking at it through His eyes and what He is accomplishing.
Here is the really neat thing. According to these Scriptures, He apparently never told the angels what He was going to do! He didn’t tell them! It’s God’s purpose to make His awesome wisdom and power known to the angels, to impress the angels with His awesome wisdom and power by what He is doing in the church, and even the angels long to look into these things. You may not realize this, but there may be one hundred or one thousand angels around you right now taking notes. God’s wisdom and His power is going to be displayed through the people that will somehow lay their lives into the hands of God and serve His purposes at any cost—at absolutely any cost. God is going to astound the angels with His power and wisdom through the visible Church (not the imaginary, invisible “church” that people who are experiencing little of God’s Plan have to speak of to salvage their consciences and credibility). Mortal human beings just like us “will demonstrate to the principalities and powers the manifold Wisdom of God!” And the angels say, “Could it be possible?” Without vision, without revelation, people cast off restraint. You won’t follow through on all of this unless you see these things, unless it’s revelation to your spirit and soul. Let it in! Focus! Drop to your knees before Him! “I will settle for nothing less than God’s purpose. God says so. His Divine Will will be fulfilled. I will be in on it no matter what happens. I will be in on it. I’m going to be in on it, whatever my part is, by His Sovereign choosing. I’m going to pay the price.”
There will be a people, God said, who will kick down and destroy the gates of hell. The overcomers will “hasten the return of the Lord.” It can be any of us or all of us. And the angels are saying, “Go for it!” You be those people. Children? Fathers! Young Men!!