"You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You!"
Jan Austin Antonsson
The Glory Road, A Kingdom Highway
(Dedicated to Karla Fay Tucker)
"Look at the nations and watch - and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told." (Habbakkuk 1:5; see also Acts. 13:41).
February 3, 1998
"Pick ax murderer turned 'born again' Christian is dead, executed by lethal injection in Texas," was just announced on the evening news. Karla Faye Tucker died today, executed by the law which she broke some 14 years ago. For the first time in my life to do such a thing, I wrote a letter to a politician, to Governor George Bush, in this case, asking him for mercy on her behalf. I figured by the things he said in various news conferences, that he was a Pharisee, (Used here as synonymous with legalist. Read Mat. 23, to get the full flavor of what's involved in being a Pharisee.) and sure enough, he sent me a letter, or at least someone on his staff did, that said,"Thank you for your letter regarding inmate Karla Fay Tucker's capital punishment sentence. Governor Bush supports the use of capital punishment for violent criminals who commit heinous crimes. He believes capital punishment is a deterrent and is one part of an effective criminal justice policy. ( To this, I protest: "Get a grip, George. Capitol punishment doesn't prevent crime anymore than preaching hell fire prevents sin.")
"Capital punishment is the law in Texas, and Governor Bush is sworn to uphold the law. Blah, blah, blah..."
A lot of people I know prayed that God would kick the good governor off his horse and shine the blinding light of mercy and love upon him, but apparently, God wanted Karla Faye with him. She's free at last. That for which Christ died became a reality for her today and I'm so happy for her. But if I'm so happy for her, why am I crying? The tears are rolling down my face and I can't stop sobbing.
I feel so powerless in this waiting mode we're all in, anticipating the kingdom of heaven, but knowing it won't be manifested until God's time has fully come. When I read what Paul said to the brothers in Antioch, I knew that here was the substance of a journal. He said to them,"Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
'Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
that you would never believe,
even if someone told you'." (Acts. 13:38-41).
I was on the Internet earlier and read some of the incredibly horrible things people said about this gentle little woman, including, "Kill the bitch." "Born again? Who cares?" "She deserves to die." It filled me with grief and then anger. I had to log off because I couldn't stand to see the salvation of Almighty God maligned by unbelievers. How can people say things like that? Easy! God has suffered horribly from the reputation of His kids, or at least those who say they are His. It was no different in Paul's day. He was hounded from town to town, stoned, beaten, imprisoned, and finally executed for the one whose name he proudly bore. Who were his accusers? Those who clung to the law of Moses. Those who would, by the strength of their own right arm, wrest goodness and righteousness from whence it was never intended to originate: the law. He wrote the Galatians,"For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So, the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law." (Gal. 3:21-25).
Apparently, Governor Bush never read this passage.
When Paul said farewell to the Ephesian elders, he told these dear friends:"You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house, I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." (Acts. 20:20-24).
AH yes, God's grace, a commodity in short supply in Texas it seems. Why are people so hostile and doubtful about the change that comes from the new birth? It's probably because a genuine conversion experience is SO rarely seen on planet earth today. Cynicism prevails. If you don't believe this, log on to the Internet and check out the comments of the "common people." It's amazing, appalling, and sad.
February 4, 1998
I had quite a counseling session with the Lord last night, in which I cried out my grief that Karla Faye was gone; that she died; that her conversion meant nothing to her captors, to the Texas Board of Parole, to the Supreme Court, nor to the Governor. I was terribly distraught and emotionally wrung out. The Lord said to me, "Remember Ruth?" I realized at once, that this was the same desperate feeling of anguish and hopelessness I had when my friend Ruth died of cancer, decades ago. She was my first lesson in the sovereignty of God. Ruth had become a Christian after a long, pernicious life. Somewhere along in there, she got cancer. It was incurable, terminal, and the best medical science could hope for was merely keeping her comfortable until she passed. Newly baptized in the Spirit, my friends and I just knew that God would heal her if we quoted enough scriptures, mustered enough faith, prayed without ceasing in tongues and out of tongues, and did the usual charismatic approved healing drill. She was so in love with Jesus that she told everyone who came into her hospital room, "Jesus is going to heal me." Surely such faith required action on God's part, we thought. In spite of the prayers, the pleadings, the confessions of faith, and the sheer energy put into the project, Ruth died a long, lingering, painful death. Her death hit me like a ton of bricks and I was riding my bicycle around the neighborhood at dusk the next day, crying and railing on God. He simply said to me, "Ruth is not your business. She's mine."
It took a long, long time for me to begin to comprehend God's sovereignty, and that He is the one who "works all things after the counsel of HIS own will," (Eph. 1:11-12, NIV) not Jan's will. When God first introduced me to Karla Faye Tucker, with my heart in my hand, I carefully said to myself and to God, "I'm not asking you for her life. I can't think of anything worse than for one I love to be in prison for the rest of her life. I'm asking that you surround her with your peace, and be with her every second of every day so that she will never be alone or frightened." Judging from the remarks she made right before she died, my prayer was answered. She said something like, "Please don't think my prayers weren't answered if they take my life. Jesus is waiting for me with outstretched arms to take me home." She knew where she was going. I knew where she was going, but some time along in here, God led me to this passage in Psalms.
"The Lord looked down from his
sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.
So the name of the Lord will be
declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the Lord."
(Psalms 102: 19-22, NIV).
"All right!" my soul screamed in triumph. I dared to hope, "God is going to save her! He is going to melt Governor Bush's heart of stone and let him see the glory of God. Mercy and grace will at last triumph over law and justice. She will be saved to serve. the whole world will know that the Holy One of Israel sets the prisoners free! (Is. 61:1-2, NIV; See also Luke 4:18). Hallelujah!"
On Feb. 2, 1998, at 8 minutes past 7:00 PM, Texas time, they executed Karla Faye by lethal injection. God spoke, but it wasn't what I wanted to hear.
In my lengthy session with "the great Counselor" last night, He showed me that the passage in Psalms 102:19-22, was for me. He is setting me free, he is releasing me from the fear of death that has held me in bondage my whole life! (Heb. 2:14-15 RSV). The Hebrew writer tells us that it is not angels God is concerned with in the passage quoted in the footnote below, but the descendants of Abraham. In Christ, all the families in the earth are blessed, (Heb. 2:14-15 RSV) which tells me that all flesh, which suffers from the fear of death to a greater or lesser extent, has been, is being, and will be released from bondage to the of fear of death.
Even as I was weeping at the news of Karla Fay's passing, I knew she was in glory with the Lord. She is safe. Having suffered with him, she is being glorified with him. (Rom. 8:17; II Tim. 2:12; I Pet. 4:13). God himself will wipe every tear from her eyes. "and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Rev. 21:4). Where she is, she needs no candle nor light of the sun; "for the Lord God gives them light and they shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev. 22:5). So given the glory of her new abode, why was I distraught? Simply because in this instance, it seemed to me that law and justice triumphed over mercy and grace. I don't think there is exactly a scripture that says, "If you live by law, you'll die by law," (Mat. 26:52; RSV. See also Gen. 9:6) but it's written in the hearts of the redeemed.
Because God shined the light of his glorious gospel in our hearts, (II Cor. 4:6, NIV). we know full well that "by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Rom. 3:20). We rejoice that though, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, we have been justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 3:23-24). Paul explains to us that, "If a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law." (Gal. 3:21, NIV). Karla Faye is proof positive that the law brings only death.
I grieve for the fact that the world does not yet know Christ and the power of His shed blood to restore lives destroyed by sin. I lament that when one affirms that she has been "born again," the world says, "So what?" I despair that law still holds grace in chains. These were my thoughts when I went into the arms of the great Counselor last night. I said, "Lord, Gary Amirault is right. (See End Note A). Men have maligned your name; spit on your power; made light of your glory; despised your salvation, and run from your love. Doesn't that bother you?" The Lord comforted me and assured me that His glorious plan, (Eph. 3:8-10). hidden from before the foundations of the world, revealed when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy, (Job. 38:7) would yet be fulfilled in spite of man's misunderstanding (I Cor. 1:25) and/or rebellion. God's eternal purpose, "which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Eph. 3:11) will be accomplished! Unlike those of us who sweat our reputations, and twist ourselves in various pretzel shapes to be pleasing to others, God does not care what man may think! Isaiah affirms, "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasing'." (Is. 46:10, KJ). God knows what the inevitable outcome will be, and He does not sweat the small stuff.
Those of us who have begun to see that God's will actually is sovereign on this earth, do not doubt, for instance, that since Paul says it is His will that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, (I Tim. 2:4), then ALL MEN WILL BE SAVED AND COME TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH! To say otherwise is to question God's power. To say that in spite of it being God's will that all shall be saved, yet some will end up in hell forever and ever, is to say that God's power is not absolute. To say that man can thwart God with his so-called "free will," is to say that man is in the driver's seat, not God. When put that way, one would be hard pressed to argue.
Therefore, by the Spirit, I finally saw last night, that Karla Faye's execution was ordained by God. (Heb. 9:27). For what reason? He didn't tell me that, any more than He told me why Ruth wasn't healed of cancer. A fleeting, no doubt soulish, thought flitted across my mind that perhaps He would raise her from the dead and then the world would see His mighty power at work, at last. At that thought, He reminded me of a similar scene, when my Uncle Neil died this Fall. We were in Neosho, MO, at the time, and according to their custom, we were at the funeral parlor during "visitation" hours. People would sit around and talk, weep, and remember his life, with the body of the beloved on full display, replete with make up and the best suit, etc. I hate those occasions, always have. Someone said, "Oh, he looks beautiful." "Beautiful, my foot!" I thought, "He's dead!" During one of those visits, Lenny said to me, "Maybe God will raise him from the dead." My reply was instantaneous, "Are you kidding? He's in glory with the Lord right now. Why would he ever want to come back to this vale of tears, sorrow, suffering and pain?" I know the same thing is true of Karla Faye. She would probably be really steamed at whoever brought her back.
As an aside, my sister, an MD, had a similar experience when she first began practicing medicine. She was doing her rotation in the ER, and they brought in an old lady who was very near death. My sister ordered a "Code Blue" (all hands on deck - battle stations, etc.), and brought her back from "flat line" to life, snatching her back from the realm of the dead. The old woman opened her eyes and said, "Who in the *&^%$ brought me back? I was in a great place. I don't want to be here. I want to be there!" I never forgot that, for it was many years ago, long before I had ever heard the testimonies of people who have had "near death" experiences.
Last night as I lay in bed, I was writing Governor Bush another letter in my mind, telling him how disappointed I was that, in fact, he turned out to be the Pharisee I suspected him to be, and advising him that with what judgment he meted to Karla Faye, the same would be given to him in like measure. (Mat. 7:1). I planned to tell him that I suspected when it was his turn to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, (Acts 17:31; 24:25; Rev. 20:12-15) he would not be "demanding justice, but begging for mercy." I also toyed with the idea of telling him not to count on my vote when he makes his predicted presidential bid. He's a blind man, at least spiritually, and if we follow a blind man, (Mat. 23:16,24) we'll all fall in the ditch. (Mat. 15:14; Luke 6:39). Has a nice ring to it, eh what? I figured God wouldn't let me do it, but it seemed like a grand plan at the time.
This morning, in my Bible study time, I finished the book of Acts, and in that marvelous last chapter, Paul was declaring, "the kingdom of God to the leaders of the Jews, trying to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe." (Acts. 28:23, NIV). About these unbelievers, Paul quoted from Isaiah. (This was in the passage after the angel had touched his lips with a hot coal from the altar, and God was sending the prophet to his people). On that occasion, God said to the prophet,
"Go, and tell this people:
'Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.
Make the heart of this people callused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed'." (Is. 6:9-10)*
(*See also: Ezek. 12:2; Jer. 5:21; Mat. 13:14; Mk. 4:9; Lk. 8:10; Jn. 12:40; Rom. 11:8.)
Reading all the above gave me the sense of God's perfect plan; His perfect timing; His absolute and sure knowledge that He will bring those whom He has called into the kingdom in this age, (Mat. 22:14) and if He has not set them aside, or called them, (Acts 2:39) then they won't come in at this time, no matter how much pleading and praying and shouting we do on their behalf.
Anyway, back to Governor Bush, whom I seem to be picking on in this writing, but sure enough, there he is in the lime light of this issue. So let him take the heat that God intended for him to take. He's off the hook to this extent, however. God reminded me again this morning of what Paul says in Romans 9:18: "So then He has mercy upon whomever He wills, and He hardens the heart of whomever He wills." (RSV). I understand that God used Governor Bush in this case to accomplish his own purpose, even as He hardened Pharoah's heart to fulfill His plans. (Ex. 9:13-16; 14:4,15-18). He had a grand purpose for Pharoah's young life, which I explored in one of my recent journals, "The Name Declared In All The Earth." Continuing the thought about the sovereignty of God, Paul writes,
"So it depends not upon man's will or exertion, but upon God's mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, 'I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.' So then He has mercy upon whomever He wills, and He hardens the heart of whomever He wills." (Romans 9:16-18, RSV). (Paul makes short work of "free will" in this passage.)
Most certainly, the Karla Faye Tucker matter has reached far and wide, and it's not over because she was executed, not by a long shot! In fact, she may loom larger in death than she did in life. Because of her, the "salvation, and strength of our God and the power of His Christ," (Rev. 12:10, KJ), is being proclaimed in one way or another over all the earth. Two weeks ago, when I logged onto the Internet and typed in her name, there were something like 86,000 articles, which showed up in the search engine. The world took notice, and even though my soul said, "But Lord, wouldn't you have gotten greater glory had she lived?" I know that as far above man as the heavens, (Job. 11:7-8) are God's ways from my ways. (Is. 55:8-9). He does not need me to direct His steps, (Is. 40:13) and so with Paul, I bow my knees before the creator of heaven and earth, and give thanks that God saw fit to "consign all men to disobedience, (Why?) SO THAT HE MIGHT HAVE MERCY UPON ALL." (Romans 11:32). At ease, George, this means you, as well!
Due to the rejection and abandonment I've received at their hands in my life, I've been very hard on the church for years, and this whole experience with Karla Faye brought it to the forefront again. It would be really easy to point a finger and say to the churches, "Look, you slackers, you dullards, you miserable failures. You've done such a terrible job at representing God to the world, that no one believes a conversion when they see it right before their very eyes." It would be easy to do that, but if, as we proclaim, God is in charge of all things, and in control of all things, then must we not assume that He has had the "church failure deal" under His wing as well? According to Gary Amirault, there are some 28,000 denominations of Christianity, probably many of them claiming to be right, to be the true church.
It really is no wonder the world yawns when confronted with the church they can see on Main Street, USA and on TV. If they knew about it, they probably would apply Jesus' statement to the Pharisees to them : "Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." (Mat. 21:31, KJ). That so many claim so much with so little to back it up is sad, but as Lenny saw the other day, if there were only one right church, or only one right translation of the Bible, God would have to smack it the way He did the tower of Babel, (Gen. 11:1-9) for it would be another one of man's grand plans to get to heaven on his own efforts. Man has ALWAYS wanted to take credit and share the glory that only God can have. One right church or one correct Bible translation would become another Babel, in my opinion. If man had somewhere other than the Spirit of God to turn to for truth, (Jn. 14:26; I Jn. 2:27) believe me, he would do it. The history of God's people is proof positive of this, from Mother Eve until now.
Of course, it is true that the extant, (the visible) church on the face of planet earth has earned its share of blasts, blame, shame, and scathing rebuke. This watered down, fractured church has appeared dead to the world, powerless, greedy, selfish, legalistic, and luke warm. They say they have the right stuff for heaven, but no one believes them much any more. Even those faithful who sit in the pews often wonder if what they did to get into the church is enough to get them through the pearly gates. Sound familiar? Listen to what the Spirit said to this church:"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
So, because you are lukewarm &emdash;neither hot nor cold &emdash;I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent." (Rev. 3:14-19, NIV).
Now, before you pick up the stones and aim them in my direction, just relax. I'm not going to start bashing the church in the same way I did Governor Bush. If he gets off the hook, so does the church. Why? Because to the extent they don't see the problem, it is because God has blinded their eyes! (Rom. 11:7-8). It is because God has spoken to them in parables, (Mat. 13:11-13) to confuse them on purpose. And of course, this blinding, this confusion is just for a time. God in His mercy, will not leave them in their wretched state, anymore than He will leave the heathen there, but will bring them all into His glory. (Rom. 11:15, 29-32.) In one of his meditations last week, Lenny got an amazing picture from the Lord. The picture was this. God has used the visible church as a brake, actually, to hold back the nations from coming into the kingdom until His time is fully come. When God's time is fully come, He will bring in the nations to share in the glory of this dawning kingdom age. (Is. 66:23; Ezek. 39:7, 21; Joel 3:1; Zech 9:10; Gal. 3:8; Rev. 15:3; 21:24; 22:2). The Church I'm speaking of here, is not the one whose steeples pierce the sky, nor the one whose neon signs brightly proclaim, "Jesus Saves," nor the one on TBN. The Church I'm speaking of here is the body of Christ, (I Cor. 12:27) the mystery hidden from the ages past. (Col. 1:26-27, NIV)
The Church that Paul wrote about is the ecclesia, " the called out" ones. These are those believers that Peter said on the day of Pentecost were the ones "whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:39). These are the people whom he declared that, "The Lord added to the Church." (Acts 2:47). Please notice that they did not join the Church. The Lord added them to its number. There is a people on the earth today to whom God is revealing Himself directly. These are the saints to whom He has revealed the mysteries which Paul says were hidden for ages and generations, (Col. 1:16) and to whom Jesus said,
"Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." (Mat. 13:16-17, NIV).
God has always operated through a remnant. (Joel 2:32, KJ. See Ezra 9:8). Paul explained, "So, too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." (Romans 11:5-6). This is NOT elitism. It is a promise of God's plan of the ages, and it is for the benefit of the whole world. Isaiah foretold:"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." (Is. 11:9-12, KJ).
Like a lot of other people, I long for the kingdom of God to be manifested with power (I Thes. 1:5, NIV) on the earth today. (Mat. 6:10; 3:2). I long for The Church, universal and triumphant to be revealed glorious, without spot or blemish, but thank You, Lord, that it is not our job to whip it into that pristine shape. We can rant and rave, bash and blame, chide and shame, from now until Saudi Arabia freezes over, and we can't accomplish what is God's job to do. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul made it clear whose job it is to purify and cleanse the church:"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." (Eph. 5:25-27, NIV).
I'd like to suggest here that the reason the world is so disappointed with the church, and cannot believe that anything good could come of a "born again" experience, is that they have NOT seen nor experienced this Church which Jesus said the gates of hell would never prevail against; (Mat. 16:18) the Church which Christ bought with His own blood, (Acts. 20:28) the Church through which, Paul says God will show His manifold wisdom "to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 3:10)
I tell you truly, that this Church about which Paul penned these words,"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!" (The Emphatic Diaglott, an interlinear word for word translation from the Greek. translates this as "age of the ages"). (Eph. 3:20-21).
...... this Church, my dear friends, does NOT have a geographical locale nor a mailing address on planet earth today. (Acts 7:48-49, NIV). It has no street address, no PO Box, no E-mail address, and no Web site. (Mat. 11:1-6). You can't go there to worship. You can't join it or leave it, decorate it, demolish it, or amend it in any way. To anyone offended by this observation, I invite you to conduct this simple experiment. The next time you attend "your church," open your eyes and your heart. Do you see "your church" victorious over the gates of hell? Do you see men, women, and children being delivered from Satan's power, released from the bondage of sin and death? Do you now see, or have you ever seen the blind receiving their sight; the lame walking; the lepers cleansed, the deaf hearing, the dead raised, and the poor receiving the gospel, God's "GOOD NEWS." No? Then perhaps what you are seeing is not THE CHURCH, but a mere shadow of it. When you say you are going to church, aren't you, in fact, going to the physical structure which keeps "the church" warm and dry?
Jesus told His disciples, and thus all of us who believe on Him, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also: AND GREATER WORKS THAN THESE SHALL HE DO; because I go unto my Father; and whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the son. If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it." (Jn. 14:12-14, KJ).
"Oh, but that's all passed away; it's not for our day," you say. If that's what you learned or were told when you attended "your church," then I rest my case. You didn't go to church at all. You merely went to a building. If all these things have passed away, never to be seen again on planet Earth, then I submit to you that the gates of hell have prevailed; Christ lied to Peter, (Matt. 16:18) and we might as well pack it in and go home for all the good we're doing with our religious games! The Church, like the kingdom of heaven, is not visible to the eyes of the world, (Mat. 16:18) for it is within us. (Lk. 17:20-21). (Note, The Emphatic Diaglott translates this passage, "God's Royal Majesty is among you.") The Church, is the fellowship of believers functioning together as the body of Christ, acting under His headship, control, and authority.
The world sees 28,000 denominations. The Lord, through Paul says, "There is ONE body and ONE Spirit, ONE God, ONE faith, ONE baptism; ONE God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph. 4:4-6, KJ). This is the Church that the Apostle Peter said on the day of Pentecost, GOD WOULD ADD TO SUCH AS SHOULD BE SAVED! (Acts 2:47). This is the new Jerusalem from above (spiritual), that Paul says is our mother:
"For it is written; 'Be glad, O barren woman,
who bears no children;
break forth and cry aloud,
you who have no labor pains;
because more are the children of the
than of her who has a husband."
(Gal. 4:26-27, NIV. See also Isaiah 54:1-7).
This is the Church of the first born:"But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." (Heb. 12:22-24, NIV).
According to the Apostle Peter, the building blocks of this Church are like living stones, which we are - "being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (I Pet. 2:5). He goes on to say that Jesus is the cornerstone, (Ps. 118:22-24) whom the builders rejected, and this living stone (I Pet. 2:4) - rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him, was also "a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." (I Pet. 2:8). This was surely the stone, not made with human hands, which Daniel prophesied would "become a huge mountain and fill the whole earth." (Dan 2:35, 44-45). It is also the same stone of which Jesus foretold: "Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." (Luke 20:18. See also Mat. 21:44). True to that prophecy, the existing, visible church on planet earth today has probably caused as many men to stumble as it has caused to repent. Mostly, I despair when I think of this church, any church located on Main St., USA. And yet, the prophet Habbakkuk said,
"Look at the nations and watch -
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told."
(Habakkuk 1:5, NIV).
Paul picked up that prophecy and repeated it in his sermon to the brothers at Antioch. He knew that Christ would cause Jew and Greek alike to stumble. He spent his life declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world and establishing churches which he hoped would be eternal in nature. It was not to be. By the end of the first century, they had all faded away like yesterday's news. So what was it all about? The same thing it's about today. Jesus told the woman at the well,"Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. ...But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (Jn. 4:21,23-24, KJ).
Today, as then, whenever two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of them. (Mat. 18: 19-20). The Church is the body of Christ, in fellowship with each other and led by its head. This Church is alive and well on planet earth today, and though you can't always see it with your eyes, you can discern its presence by the Spirit. This was all part of God's plan. When the Jews rejected the anointed one, and killed the Lord of Glory as foretold by the prophets, (Lk. 24:27; Jn. 1:45; Acts 26:22-23;26:22). God sent Paul to the Gentiles. (Is. 42:6; 49:6; Luke 2:30; Acts 13:47; 26:23; 28:28). God had blinded the eyes and hardened the hearts of the Jews so that the Gentiles could come in. Paul explained in Romans 11, that God did this on purpose. (Rom. 11:11). He says in that same chapter (Romans 11), that "All Israel shall be saved." (11:26). It's in the book. Do you believe it or do you have the need to explain it away? It was all foretold. When Jesus appeared to the Disciples after His resurrection, He ate with them and said,"This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." (Lk. 24:40-45, NIV).
What God has been showing me in the Scriptures for a very long time now, is that UNLESS AND UNTIL He opens the minds of the church and the world alike, they will never understand the Scriptures. So why do I keep on keeping on? Why do I still write? At times, I do wonder about that, but I have peace knowing that it helps me to sort it out for myself. It's kind of like my thinking that Ps. 102:19-21, was for Karla Faye. Turns out, God meant it for me. I'm the only one I can influence, really, and that only by the power of the Spirit. It's pretty ego-centric to think I could make a difference in some else's thinking, or even that I should try, because really, that could only happen if God opens their eyes, or sent me to do it in the first place. Giving up trying to affect the outcome of anything, handing all control totally over to God is the hardest lesson I've ever had to endure. I'm still in the class room, pouring over the books, trying to get it right, as the experience with Karla Faye showed me yet again.
Only God can clean up the confusion caused by the 28,000 denominations. But rest assured, that no matter how dreadful it looks, everything works together to accomplish His eternal purpose. Admittedly, He has quite a job ahead of Him to transform the visible church on the earth today from it's present sad state into the glorious form through which He will display and make known His manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, (Eph. 3:10-11) but God will do it. He's the only one who can! About his ability to deliver the goods, Isaiah assures us,"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Is. 55:11, KJ).
So, buckle your seat belt. The ride will get bumpy, (Acts 14:22; Mat 10:38; 16:24) but it will be glorious! (Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12; 3:12). To all the scoffers, the doubters, the gainsayers, the deniers of God's total power, the critics who proclaim that God's glorious Church without spot or wrinkle, is in fact, a joke, a figment of the imagination; to the unbelievers, the heathen, those who cannot see the kingdom of heaven right now, I'll leave you with this.
"The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
For the Lord will rebuild Zion
and appear in His glory...
Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
'The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.'
(This includes all of us, in and out of the pews).
So the name of the Lord will be
declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem,
when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the Lord."
(Psalms 102: 15-16;18-22, NIV.)
And to you, Governor Bush, I say today, "Relax, George. Don't worry about your bid for president. Don't worry about your popularity in the poles. Don't worry about all those sincere Bible believing, born again Christians whose sensibilities you offended with this execution deal. God has it all under control. It's part of His plan. He does not need your help. You can sit back and enjoy the ride. He loves you. So, have a nice day!"
Jan & Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59
Neosho, MO 6 4850 (Snail Mail)
End Note A: To Visit Gary Amirault's Website
(Tentmaker), Click Here!
The Glory Road
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Last edited on 11/7/08.