IT IS FINISHED! "Why Seek Ye the Living Among the Dead?"
by Jan Austin Antonsson
Jan's Journal The Glory Road, A Kingdom Highway
MARCH 17, 1997
Sometime last Fall, on one of those rare moments when I heard Him clearly, the Lord spoke a word to my heart. He said, "It's over. You passed." I immediately thought of Jesus' words before He died, "It is finished." However, much as I'd hoped for financial relief, nothing about our immediate circumstances changed, for at the time we were in a seemingly impossible bind. We had an escrow which we couldn't get closed and as a result, hadn't been able to make our house payment for several months.
Foreclosure loomed large and being a real estate broker, I well knew what that meant. I also knew that God speaks out of eternity and we live in time, so when it happens, I never try to fit what He says into my time frame. Yet, I have puzzled over it as our situation has disintegrated from bad to just plain terrible, if you only judge by outward appearances. We are now 7 days away from a foreclosure sale, and the marines not only have NOT landed, but their landing craft is beached on the rocks in plain view out there in the harbor. That verse in Isaiah 31:1-3 which I included in my last journal has taken on monumental significance for Lenny and me. It reads:
"Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!....Now the Egyptians are men, and not God: and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen (helped) shall fall down, and THEY ALL SHALL FAIL TOGETHER." We both understood the first time we heard the passage that God will NOT allow us to save ourselves, nor allow us to depend on anyone else to rescue us. The Holy One of Israel will do it, but man, is He slow. No disrespect intended, Lord, but really, do you have to wait until the last second and beyond every time? There are several tantalizing scenarios that could play out here to rescue us from the auction block, but they are all stalled at the moment, and that's not even counting that angel out there with the bag of money who must be stuck in LA traffic.
So, we wait, and though in our spirits, we know this is undoubtedly the most exciting time we've ever lived through with God as our tour guide, nonetheless, our bodies are protesting. Today, my guts are roiling and burbling around, and I am nervous in the extreme! Yet in the midst of it all, we've gotten a few precious words of encouragement from friends. Marvin Cope told us yesterday morning about someone he knows back in Pennsylvania who was about to lose his home, when someone came in out of the blue, just in the nick of time, and paid off the mortgage. Yes! Send him out here, Lord. Hurry! The issue here for us is not whether the house is saved or not saved, but to know that whichever way it shakes out, God is doing it. Every time a friend or relative has some plan to rescue us, Lenny and I look at each other and say, "Watch out or the helper and the holpen (it means helped, and it means US) will both fail." (Isaiah 31:3). To me, that verse is the best response to co-dependent knee jerk reactions I've ever seen.
Clearly, we have to go through this as it is divinely tailor made for our perfection, but until we see which way God is leading, we have not packed one box of stuff, nor will we. Do I still want to stay here? Of course! Do I think God can save the house for us? You bet! He can do anything. The question is, what is His perfect will for us? That's what we want. I've laid this house on the altar so many times, in so many ways.
We were talking about the crucifixion this morning on our walk through the canyon, and I told Lenny that no one will ever make me believe, even if he tries for a hundred years, that Jesus had warm gushy feelings for the men driving the nails through his hands and feet. Nor, can anyone convince me that Abraham was not scared spitless when he was told to take Isaac up on that mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. Talk about sick guts. He probably barfed behind every boulder along the way. My contention here is simply this: when God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, the one he'd waited some 25 years to hold in his arms, I do not think the Almighty knew first hand how a flesh and blood man would feel about plunging a knife into his beloved son's heart. Horrible, just horrible! But how would God personally relate to this, since He is Spirit?
I understand that God knows everything, but really, think about it. How could He ever understand the terror, the horror, and the gut grinding loss of death? I mean, when you are Spirit, as God is, (John 4:24) then you never lose anyone or anything because you are in and through everything. So, how could you know what it feels like to kill your only son like He commanded Abraham to do? Of course, He knew that He would not compel Abraham to go through with it, but Abraham didn't know that. When we lose someone to death, we can't fellowship with them anymore in this life. They have passed through that veil which leads to the other side, and though we have faith that we'll all be together one day, for the present moment, we lose them in death. We are separated. We feel abandoned. We feel pain and horrible loss. A part of us dies along with them.
It seems to me that it is at least possible that God did not personally understand that feeling of utter despair and loss when He ordered Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. To me, this is one reason why Spirit became clothed in flesh and dwelt among us. The incarnation was God's way to see what we see, feel what we feel, touch what we touch, and know as we know in our limited human capacity, clothed in flesh as we are. God, the everlasting Father, the eternal Spirit, the Lord of hosts, left the holy city, Mount Zion, and came to walk amongst His creation. Jesus told Philip, "He that has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9). Jesus left the portals of glory to become flesh and blood like us: (Phil. 2:6-8) to hurt, to feel, to hunger and thirst, to face the worst that the world, the church (the religious leaders), and the devil could dish out. And as a man, a servant of God, Jesus came to bring light (John 8:12) to a lost and dying world, and to give us eternal life. (Jn. 3:16). Jesus hungered, and thirsted, felt tired and weary, just as we all do, and yet, He offered himself for the sins of the world.
John 17 is a remarkable chapter, giving insight as it does into the last hours Jesus spent before his betrayal. There are so many things that we learn about Jesus' relationship with the Father in these verses, things that others far more qualified than I have spoken and written about, but I want to comment on something I saw today, probably for the first time. After Jesus said that He had finished the work He was sent to do (17:4), He said that He had manifested God's name to the disciples the Father had given Him. (Jn. 17:6-10). Before today, I hadn't thought about HOW Jesus manifested God's name unto the disciples. What name was that I wondered, and how did He manifest it? The reference was to Psalm 22:22: "I will declare the name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee." From there, I went to Hebrews 2:12, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." (Heb. 2:12). According to the Hebrew writer, what Jesus accomplished when He tasted death for every man, and declared the name of God in the midst of his brethren, was that He took upon himself the seed of Abraham. The writer says, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he TOOK ON HIM THE SEED OF ABRAHAM." (Heb. 2:14-16). And the result of that was so that he would "...be made like unto his brethren that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest, in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. FOR IN THAT HE HIMSELF HAS SUFFERED BEING TEMPTED, HE IS ABLE TO SUCCOR THEM THAT ARE TEMPTED." (Hebrews 2:17-18).
In saying that He manifested the name of God in the midst of the congregation, Jesus made it clear that he was not talking about the world here, (John 17:9) but rather about those whom God had given him, the ones chosen before the foundations of the world: the elect. Why? Because the elect have a big job to do when God's time is fully come: even as Jesus revealed the Father to those whom the Father had given to Him, (the elect), so we (the elect), will share His glory which will outray from us when we in turn, manifest God's name first to the church and then to the rest of the world. (John 17:18-22). And what name is that? Isaiah said in chapter 9:6, that his name is Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (9:6). In chapter 47:4, the prophet declared, "As for our redeemer, the Lord of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel."
In thinking about the significance of God knowing our name and our knowing his, I remembered a scene depicted in Exodus, when God said to Moses that He knew his name. It happened at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses had come down from the mount and witnessed the children of Israel worshipping the golden calf. God was provoked; Moses was furious; and Aaron was frantically trying to pass the buck. After God plagued the people because they had made the calf, (Ex. 32:35), He told Moses to depart from that spot and he would send an angel before them to take them "unto a land flowing with milk and honey." He would send an angel, He said, rather than going in their midst, lest He consume them along the way for their stupidity and disobedience. (Ex. 33:1-5). The people stripped off their ornaments as God had commanded (33:6), and Moses removed the Tabernacle of the congregation from within the camp and pitched it afar off, so that everyone who sought the Lord had to go outside the camp, (and possibly so it would not be consumed if God should send fire down from heaven to blot the people from off the face of the earth).
The account reads that they stood every man in his tent door, and watched Moses, until he had gone into the Tabernacle. As soon as Moses entered the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door, "and the Lord talked with Moses." (Vs. 9). When the people saw that the cloud had descended over the tabernacle, they worshipped from afar. Exodus 33:11-17 contains the conversation between God and Moses, but the agreement reached between the two when the Lord spoke with Moses face to face, was this: "And the Lord said unto Moses, 'I will do this thing also that thou has spoken: for thou has found grace in my sight, AND I KNOW THEE BY NAME." (Vs. 11-17). "AND I KNOW THEE BY NAME," seems to me to be the short definition of who the elect are. The Bible is not a story about anonymous multitudes, but rather about individual men and women whom God knows by name. It is about those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. This has been vastly comforting to me as we go through this terrible time of uncertainty. When I begin to despair of God's help, and think I'll sink beneath the waves like so many others in our situation, I remember the moment of my baptism in the Holy Spirit. It did not happen at church, nor in the presence of anyone other than God. He covered me with His presence and I knew at that moment that Jesus had died on the cross for Jan. Of course, I had always known that "God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son," but before I had that precious experience with Jesus, the baptizer in the Spirit, I only knew vaguely that I fit into the category of "the world." That experience forever changed my walk with God. He knew my name. He loved me. He gave Himself for me. I praised Him and wept and rejoiced and wept some more. The electricity of the Spirit was pulsating all over my body and I knew that I knew that I was saved. What a moment! What glory! (John 17:22).
Ah, the glory of God. It is that which Moses said would separate the children of Israel "from all the people that are upon the face of the earth." (Ex. 33:16). It still does separate the elect, the chosen of the Holy One of Israel from the rest of the world, but not for long. Jesus prayed, "Father, I will that they also whom thou has given me, be with me where I am; that they may BEHOLD MY GLORY, which thou has given me...And I HAVE DECLARED UNTO THEM THY NAME, AND WILL DECLARE IT; that the love wherewith thou has loved me may be in them, and I in them." (Jn. 17:24-26). When the name of God is demonstrated before the congregation, there is glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, and there is light, which God commanded to shine out of darkness into our hearts, so that we will have "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (II Cor. 4:6). The children of Israel were led by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13:21) so that all the surrounding nations could see that here was a people baptized in the cloud and the sea, (I Corinthians 10:2) immersed in the glory of God with whom the Lord is seen "face to face." (Num. 14:14). God once again covered His people with His glory.
Glory applied on the outside like a coat of paint failed to produce meaningful changes on the inside of their lives, however. So He advanced to the next step of the blueprint written before the foundations of the world. (Eph. 1:4-10) He came to dwell within us. (Jn. 1:14). Adam had lost sight of the glory when he disobeyed, and as our friend Marvin Cope put it, began to suffer from "double vision." That is, he saw good and evil, a two power universe, God and Satan. After the fall of man, we were driven from the presence of God in the garden and the world's Babylonian system of works was born. In the garden, man did not have to work. All his needs were supplied and he was master of all he surveyed. When he was driven out, he had to work by the sweat of his brow to eke out a living from the thorns and thistles that plagued him in the realm of dust which he had, in fact become. So, Adam traded in his crown of glory for a crown of thorns. Competition in order to survive became a reality. There was no longer enough of anything to go around. Instead of peace and harmony, an "us and them" mentality arose. Man had no ability to look past surface appearances, and so judgment of everything and everybody became a real, walking, talking plague on planet earth. Envy, hatred, murder, greed and need became the norm for the post Adamic race. Mankind fell into a sorry state of dust and decay the day God drove him out of the garden.
I believe God set up the situation to show us that we are not gods. We can know good from evil, but so what? The good that we want to do, we do not: but the evil which we would not do, is exactly what we do, (Romans 7:17) to paraphrase the Apostle Paul. To drive that lesson home, God sent the law through Moses, which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were hopeless in trying to work our way back into fellowship with God. Paul said, in effect, that sin killed him because he couldn't keep the law. (Romans 7:15-19). Why all this grief and failure? Because Paul explained, it's not me, but sin dwelling in me that causes the problem. (Rom 7:17). Jokes by comedians about "the devil made me do it," notwithstanding, this is not funny! But it is an old, old story, as old as the day Satan slithered up to Eve and said, "Say now, don't you want to be like God? Go on, eat the fruit. You won't die. No, you will know good from evil, just like God. Your troubles will be over." Alas, they were just beginning, and Adam may have been the first to lament, "No body knows the trouble I've seen," and he was so right, because they've been getting worse ever since.
Thankfully, Paul came along to tell us a part of what Jesus meant when He said, "It is finished," as He hung there on that Roman cross for the sins of the whole world. Paul says that because of what Christ did, "There is THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Rom. 8:1). The older I get, and the more beat up I feel by the world, the flesh, and the devil, the more wonderful that passage becomes. When we are born from above, (John 3:3) we become a new creature, and Paul asserts that "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (II Cor. 5:17). Thus, the new creation, in whom there IS NO CONDEMNATION, has its spiritual eyesight restored and can clearly see that there is only one power: God! There is no longer good and evil, for the two power system was a result of Adam's fuzzy vision. God knew we would miss Him in the fog, and He allowed us to stew in our own juice for a long, long time before He began to heal our sight.
On our walk this morning, Lenny and I were talking about the crucifixion again. I cannot stand to hear about or read about pain inflicted upon anyone. When I was a child, there was a dear old gospel preacher, Rue Porter, who came to our church about once a year to hold a week long gospel meeting. Inevitably, he'd have one sermon during the week on Isaiah 53, and I would sit there in that pew and die inside, trying to think about anything else other than this dreadful scene he was describing in Technicolor and stereophonic sound. I wrote a silly little poem about rabbits and eggs again this year, not that I'm trying to sanitize the horror, but just to take my mind off it for a bit. The cross was gross, barbaric, and unjust, or as my two year old granddaughter Leah says, "Not fair. Not fair!" Why should He die on my behalf? But as long as we're on the subject, what did I ever do to deserve that kind of cruel, sadistic torture?
Clearly, Jesus did nothing to deserve death, but really, what did any of us do? Adam, let me get my hands around your scrawny neck. Eve, you stupid, stupid creature! How could you be so ignorant, so silly? Now, look what you've done! This is really your fault, not mine. But, no. Isaiah says, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Is. 53:6). "Oh no," I cry. "Oh please, no, don't let it be so, God. Isn't there another way?"
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth...Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand........he has poured out his soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:7, 10, 12). I couldn't bear to hear about the crucifixion then. And I can bear it now only because in my old age, it is coming to me just what God did for us. "The man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," was God's right hand reaching down to His fallen children, lifting us up, not just so we could be good, but so He could share the glory of the only begotten of the Father with us. To me, God revealed His heart when He hung on the cross that day. Mark records that "at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' which is, being interpreted, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me'?" (Mark 15:34). At that moment, I think God knew in a way He never did before what Abraham felt when he believed he would have to plunge a knife through Isaac's heart and offer this child born of a holy promise as a sacrifice. Yes, God at last, understood Abraham's feelings from a perspective He could never have gleaned had He stayed in the portals of glory.
God chose to get His hands dirty and come down to the dust realm and interact in the arena of His fallen creation. As Lenny pointed out to me this morning, God is omniscient. He knows everything - the end from the beginning, but the point of the incarnation to me, is that through Jesus, God experienced humanity first hand, up close and VERY personal. We all know that it is one thing to know about something intellectually, but quite another to feel it in your guts! He always knew feelings like love and anger, but I wonder if He ever knew helplessness and impotency before. I was thinking of one of the times that He was so angry with the hapless children of Israel that He was going to wipe them all out and make a nation from Moses' seed instead. (Ex. 32:9-10). On that occasion, Moses approached the bench and asked for a side-bar with the judge, in which he pointed out that if God took that radical solution, and terminated Abe's kids, His rep would be ruined. What would the neighbors think? There's a remarkable statement which follows which states that God "repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people," (Ex. 32:14) and lo and behold! Lawyers were invented! (For a summation of Moses' argument for the defense, see Exodus 32:11-13; and Deut. 9:14-19).
Of course, God knew in advance that the children of Israel would violate their agreement with Him even while the tablets of stone were still smoking, and yet, when it happened, He was furious! He was ready, if we are to believe Moses' side of the story, to kill them all off and start over. I say it that way, because to Moses, it must have looked like the boss was a bit unstable. "Oh, great," he probably thought, "now I not only have several million Jews running amok around here, but I've got the 'Big Guy' about ready to blow up and wipe us all out." Yet, obviously, God knew what He was doing, even though He didn't reveal it all to Moses at that time. It was in the context of that confrontation at the foot of Mount Sinai, that God said, "Relax, Moses. I know your name. My presence, my glory, I, my very self will go with you and I will give you rest." (My paraphrase of Ex. 33:12-14).
It occurs to me here that even though the omniscient God always new what His creation would do in advance, but perhaps He didn't know all the reasons why. In other words, until He leveled the playing field and got down here in the dust and corruption of flesh with us, maybe He didn't really understand why we are so fickle, so shallow, so weak, and so congenitally incapable of keeping the promises we make to obey Him. We tried and tried, but we really just couldn't do it, and perhaps, when He hung on that cross, and felt the anguish, the rejection, and the betrayal, He knew at last that this is why He had to become flesh. He had to feel these feelings. And He forgave us all. He wiped our slate clean. He totaled up our account, and He paid the debt we've been trying to settle up with Him since Eden. It's paid in full. Think of that! We don't owe Him anything except love.
On one occasion when Jesus went to dinner at the house of a Pharisee named Simon, (Luke 7:36-50) they sat down to dine, and a shocking thing happened. A local woman, whom the text quaintly calls "a sinner," heard that Jesus was there, and she came into the house and began to wash his feet with tears, and wipe them with the hairs of her head. She kissed his feet and then anointed them with the expensive ointment she had brought in an alabaster box. The uptight, stiff-necked Pharisee was aghast, of course, because as I said, this woman was a sinner. Well, who isn't, we might wonder, but I guess in those days, women weren't liberated enough to commit robbery, murder, and mayhem like they do in these days of equal opportunity, and so the only thing they did was, well you know, the dirty deed.
Simon was "Tsk tsking" about it under his breath, when Jesus told him this story. "There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?" (Luke 7:41-42). Simon was judgmental, but not stupid. He gave the right answer. Jesus commended him and continued, "See thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gave me no water for my feet: but she has washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gave me no kiss; but this woman since the time I came in has not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou did not anoint; but this woman has anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I saw unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: BUT TO WHOM LITTLE IS FORGIVEN THE SAME LOVETH LITTLE." (7:44-47). There are so many wonderful lessons to be learned from this story, but the prime one for me today, this Easter season, is that the debt has been paid in full! All we owe Him is love, which is easy to give when we feel forgiven. Love flourishes in an atmosphere of grace and forgiveness.
From the foundation of the world, (Rev. 13:8) God knew we couldn't keep His commandments. From the cross, He understood at a deep, gut wrenching level why we couldn't. He knew it. He felt it. He tasted it. He forgave it. We who are waiting for God to manifest Himself in His creation, know it and feel it as well. Paul says that before Christ, we all had a veil over our faces. We were blind, suffering as it were from that double vision that Adam bequeathed us. He said that people who try to read and live by the law still have a veil over their faces. (II Cor. 3:15) "Nevertheless when it (we) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from GLORY TO GLORY, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (II Cor. 3:16-18). To me, this scripture in Corinthians is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy: "Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." (60:1). When the veil is taken away, we see his glory, which He shares with us because we are one with Him. (John 17:22).
I've been meditating for several days about what He meant in the first part of that chapter when He said "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gave me out of the world." (Jn. 17:6). What does that mean? How do you manifest the name of God? I think the only way possible to manifest God is as Isaiah said, "and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." When His glory shines forth from us, the waiting world will rejoice, for it is our job to share Him and His glory with them. Jesus prayed, "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them (that's us) into the world... Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." (John 17: 18, 20). Clearly, then, the elect (the chosen), have a big job ahead of us. Paul said we are to be "ambassadors for Christ," (II Cor. 5:20), and the job is nothing less than demonstrating to the world that they are reconciled to God because of the price Jesus paid on Calgary. As Harry Fox points out, most evangelists have it backwards. God never needed to be reconciled to us. He always has been reconciled to us, devoted to us, loving and forgiving us. (II Cor. 3:15). It is we, the wayward sons and daughters of Adam who need to come home, to return to the garden and fellowship with God. I said to Lenny this morning that I feel a great urgency about this "mission possible" in my spirit.
We had a friend call us out of the blue and come out to see us the other night. She is on what I call an "alternative spiritual path." Raised Catholic, she seems to be somewhat into "new age" and other spiritual persuasions. Lenny, my resident mystic, sees God, the essence of all creation, in all men, and he sees all roads leading to God. That's how mystics have always been, and probably always will be. I'm certainly not saying this young woman is bound for hell, but she's clearly far short of the glory. If we are to be ambassadors of Christ, then the time is coming, and quickly, I suspect, when we will be telling people in a brand new way that Christ is THE WAY TO GOD, THE ONLY WAY. I think of it like this: any spiritual practice or religious activity from New Age to Old Time Religion to Eastern mysticism, which does not include Christ's efforts as the only ones necessary for salvation, is sort of like trying to cross the Andes in a dog cart. You might get there eventually, but why would you take that slow, bumpy old dog cart to get to God when Christ is a 747?
Now, don't worry, I'm not about to run off and preach to the lost and dying world, because for one thing, I just can't go without the anointing, which is the rest of my inheritance. Paul said that the gift of the Spirit is only the "earnest" (or down payment) of our inheritance. (II Cor. 1:22. See also II Cor. 5:5). As powerful as the Spirit was, flowing through the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost, that manifestation was a mere trickle compared to what's coming. Look out! God is going to blow our socks off! The world does NOT need another preacher, evangelist, prophet, priest or king. There are enough of those running about doing their feeble best to get the world to repent and/or to send checks. The world does NOT need one more person to tell them they are miserable rotten sinners and if they don't repent, they will burn and turn in hell forever. I mean, has that worked, really worked over the past 2,000 years? Oh yes, some have repented, but have the majority of people on the planet turned from their own way to God? I think not. Why? Perhaps it wasn't time yet. Or, perhaps the early evangelists misunderstood their mission. Perhaps what they didn't know was that their job was to call the elect, the remnant to repentance, to change their minds about who they are, so that they, in turn, will have the major privilege of confronting the entire world's systems with the glory of God.
When the anointing falls upon us, we will preach good tidings unto the meek; bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. We will proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; and comfort all that mourn. (Isaiah 61:1-2). In the course of our real estate business, Lenny and I met a young couple who were coming out here to be missionaries to Southern California. "Excuse me," I said? "There's not enough here already? Why, there's a church on every corner." But he was steadfast and resolute. That was his mission, he said, and he wanted to know if we would join him on the street corners of LA. What I told him shocked him deeply, but I meant it then and I mean it now. Telling people to repent just hasn't done the job, then or now. What people want to know is not what they have to do to be saved, but what they are starving to hear, I believe, is WHAT GOD HAS ALREADY DONE IN THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST TO SAVE THEM! The world longs to know that THE PRICE HAS BEEN PAID. GOD IS NOT ANGRY. HE LOVES US. HE HAS FORGIVEN US. HE WANTS TO FELLOWSHIP WITH US. HE WANTS NO LESS THAN TO SHARE HIS GLORY WITH US. That young man went away sorrowing because we wouldn't join him and because obviously, we were walking in such colossal error. Nevertheless, the point remains that the world does not need another preacher. It needs another kind of preaching!
I feel powerfully in my spirit, that when the world sees the name of God manifested in their midst, they will respond to the glory. Who wouldn't? So, until God sees fit to endue me with power from on high, I am not going anywhere to tell anyone anything. What would be the point? Sometimes I wonder why I'm compelled to do all this writing, but I figure at best, it may be encouragement to the elect, and at worst, it keeps me "off the street and out of bars," as I always say. (This is my 90'S version of the old saw that idle hands are the devil's workshop). The world probably can't relate what I'm saying. The organized church doesn't want to hear it because if I'm on the right tract, they are about to go out of business as things stand now. So who else should read this except the elect?
On the day of Pentecost, Peter being filled with the Holy Spirit began to preach as the Spirit gave him utterance. What He told them was the good news: "Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that GOD HAS MADE THAT SAME JESUS, WHOM YE HAVE CRUCIFIED, BOTH LORD AND CHRIST." (Acts 2:36). The scripture says that when they heard this, "they were pricked in their heart," (vs. 37), and asked them what they should do. We all know that Peter told them to repent and be baptized, (Vs. 38), but in the very next verse, (39), he makes a fascinating statement: "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and TO ALL THAT ARE AFAR OFF, EVEN AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD SHALL CALL." The evangelists who wring their hands about the lack of response to their altar calls should check that verse out. God called those 3,000 souls who came forward that day when the invitation hymn was sung, which was exactly what Jesus said: "No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day." (Jn. 6:44).
When God pulls the veil totally off our eyes so that we see Him, we shall be like Him, (I John 3:2) and that, my friends, is the better mousetrap the world has been waiting for, and when it is revealed, when He is revealed in us, the world will beat a path to our door. Jesus said, "It is finished." God grant that we can see that His work in our lives truly is finished, complete, and total. On the first day of the week after He was buried, the women went to anoint the body and found only an empty tomb. I believe that the angel's words to them are for us today. "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen." (Luke 24:5-6). When we realize that it is the risen Christ who dwells in our hearts, we will stop looking for him in cemeteries, literal and symbolic. He lives! The new God/man in the trinity knows our name. Because He was touched with "the feeling of our infirmities," we can "boldly come unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:15-16). We can find rest in His presence. Praise His holy name!
PS. Today's date is May 25, 2005. Someone e-mailed me saying I didn't tell the end of the story, but got to preaching instead. Sorry about that. To read the end, go to this journal: Only Fools or Sons of the Most High camp out in Missouri in the dead of winter.
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
The Glory Road
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This writing was uploaded to the web sometime in 1997,
by Jan Antonsson, webmeister,
and last updated 11/07/08.