Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO on 5/19/02
"And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (II Peter 1:19, RSV).
This is one of those scriptures which nestles into your heart and feeds you as you ponder it. It's a favorite verse for me, reminding me that God is light and truth and love and glory, truly a lamp shining in a very dark place indeed, human flesh! In our lesson last week, "Seeing the Unseen," (End Note "A") we observed that flesh is the veil which often prevents us from seeing God. When the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, we beheld the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Jesus said of John the Baptist, "He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light" (John 5:35, RSV). Wherever He finds darkness, God says, "Let there be light," and there is light because that is who He is: "God is light and in him is no darkness at all" (I John 1:5). The first chapter of Genesis tells us that "The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters" (Gen. 1:2). I think this is a perfect description of the human spirit, dead in trespasses and sins, before the Anointed One of God cleansed us of all unrighteousness and brought us into eternal life. When Christ arose from the dead, the light of God burst through the gloom of Sheol; the gates of hell were destroyed (Heb. 2:14), and those who had been living in the land of the shadow of death were set free! Paul asserts that when Christ arose from the depths of the underworld and ascended on high, He led a host of captives and gave gifts to men (Eph. 4:8).
Can you imagine the pain and sorrow, the depth of fear and depression that the disciples felt when they beheld the mortal body of their Lord laid in that tomb? What a dreadful day for them. Who could blame them for doubting, for thinking that it was all for nothing, that they had been deceived and who knows, maybe they even doubted the very existence of God? Human nature doesn't change very much, and many people have come to these same conclusions when trouble strikes their lives. If some people, who have neither seen nor touched the Lord of life, are crushed by circumstances, how much more these men who lived with Him for three years? They had beheld His glory, had partaken of His grace, had feasted on the Bread of Heaven, and now, they beheld Him as He lay lifeless in a tomb on a slab of stone, with another slab of stone rolled in front of the door. What dejection! What rejection! What a bitter day that was for them to endure.
And yet, God allows us all to endure dark days, bitter disappointments, crushing defeat, pain and deprivation in our flesh and in our lives. He subjected the creation to futility, Paul says, not willingly, but in hope. In hope of what? In the glorious hope of the redemption of the body and the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 8:20-23). Before Christ came, the world lay in darkness, "following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind" (Eph. 2:2-3, RSV). We were as bereft of hope and consolation as the frightened disciples who stood at the tomb wondering how something so glorious could go so wrong. In the midst of the pain and suffering, God moved again on the face of their deep and said, "Let there be light." Glory of glories, wonder of wonders, our Lord arose from the grave. The stone was rolled away, and an angel said to them, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" (Lk. 24:5). The angel still asks us this question today. There is only one place where can we find life and that is in Christ Himself. After the resurrection, He ministered to them for 40 days, appeared in their midst when they were behind closed doors, ate with them to prove that He was not merely a spirit, and arose on High in their presence. The angel said He would come in like manner as He left, and so He did. Ten days later, He returned as He left, in power and in glory! Today is the Day of Pentecost, an appropriate time to remember what happened that day:
"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language" (Acts 2:1-6, NIV). Notice that the evidence of the infilling was light, tongues of fire on their heads.
The church world seems to have put off living in power and glory until "the second coming" as they refer to the physical appearing of Christ. Saints, don't miss this, because missing it will rob you of so much power and glory in your lives. There is no such expression, "the second coming" to be found in the entire New Testament! It is a religious idea, born of men's imagination. It comes from the natural mind, rather than from the mind of Christ. I know this flies in the face of what you have been taught, but consider this. The first Century Jews had been taught that Messiah would come and deliver them from their enemies (II Kings 17:39; Ps. 3:7; 143:3). Using their natural minds, they concluded that this meant deliverance from the enemies they could see. They were God's chosen people after all, and in spite of the fact that the Lord had called them a "stiff-necked" people (Ex. 32:9; 33:5), they were sons of Abraham, which they thought made them special (Matt. 3:9; Luke 3:8). When they saw the miracles and power of Jesus, they imagined He was there to deliver them from the hated Roman occupation. They thought He would whip up on their enemies, and sit on David's throne, ruling and reigning from the Temple in Jerusalem. If this has a familiar ring to it, it is exactly what many Christians expect to happen soon, except they are not concerned with Roman soldiers, but more likely with Islam, or New Age, or whatever else they think threatens Christianity. Even the disciples missed Jesus by a country mile when He walked among them, which is why Peter protested so vehemently when Jesus washed his feet. The Lord of the Universe washing his feet? Unheard of, unthinkable, unimaginable, unreasonable, preposterous. And yet, He did, and He does. He said, "He who is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matt. 23:11).
This, of course, is precisely why the "Unseen" cannot be seen with our natural eyes. We have been brainwashed as to who God is and how He operates. And while I'm on that subject, let me say that people continue to look for God in all the wrong places, like a church or a bible. I am NOT saying don't go to church or read the bible. I AM saying that both places will tell you ABOUT God, but they cannot reveal God in His fulness (Job 42:5). Only the Holy Spirit can do that, which is why Jesus told His disciples He had to go away. "Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you ....I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now" (John 16:7,12). I pondered that last statement until the Spirit showed me that these men were still operating out of flesh, out of their natural minds. They had not yet been filled with the Spirit because Jesus had not yet arisen from the dead, nor ascended into heaven. When He came back on the Day of Pentecost, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Christ who had walked and talked with them for three years, and who had brought to their remembrance the rest of what Jesus said on the day He told them He must go away: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-16, RSV). The Holy Spirit will deliver to us all the Father gave Jesus! Glory!
There may be some who say, "But Jesus did not come on the Day of Pentecost. The Spirit did." Listen with your heart to the Apostle Paul's words: "Now the Lord IS the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM. And we all, with UNVEILED face, beholding the glory of the Lord, ARE BEING CHANGED into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who IS the Spirit" (II Cor. 3:17,18, RSV). Before Christ came to earth, the human spirit was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of our deep. Genesis, chapter one, records that we were created in His image and likeness in spirit, but with Adam's transgression, all men were plunged into death and separation from God. Paul gives the best description I've ever read of this sorry state of mankind: "you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph. 2: 12, RSV). When the Spirit moved upon us and said, "Let there be light," we were born again in the image and likeness of God! Then to the sin sick and death weary sons of Adam, God sent the Light of the World to draw us unto Himself: "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13). The glorious end of that encounter with Light is PEACE with God: "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two (Jew and Gentile), thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility" (Eph. 2:14-16, NIV). Because He abolished in his flesh the law with its commandments, which NO ONE could keep, we are now reconciled by His blood to our Father, our creator and our God. Paul concludes this chapter gloriously: "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" (Eph. 2:19-22, NIV).
If you read this verse carefully, you will see why it is folly to look for Jesus to come back to earth and reign from an earthly temple. The body of Christ with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone, is a holy temple in which the Lord dwells. The Apostle Peter says we are "lively stones" (I Pet. 2:5), being built into a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Remember the magnificent, gold slathered temple which Solomon built? When it was finished, he said, "The LORD has set the sun in the heavens, but has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have built thee an exalted house, a place for thee to dwell in for ever" (I Kings 8:12-13, RSV). Notice that he said that God would dwell in thick darkness. This is another way to say that God is the Unseen in our lives. Solomon also observed, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!" (I Kings 8:27, RSV). The wisest man on earth realized and acknowledged the wonder and seeming impossibility of God dwelling between the cherubim in the Temple he had just built for Him (Ex. 25:22; Num. 7:89). Open your hearts and see the greater wonder and seeming impossibility of the God, who is too big for heaven and earth to contain, dwelling in us, the Body of Christ. He lives in our hearts.
The Day of Pentecost forever changed the relationship between God and man! The Unseen now dwells in the former darkness of flesh. With Christ in our hearts, we have become a lamp shining in a dark place. On two occasions, Paul asked, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (I Cor. 3:16, RSV). And again, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own" (I Cor. 6:19, RSV). When the Lord opens your eyes to this great truth, you will be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit to see that you dwell in Light. You ARE a light bearer to the dim and gloomy world.
Religion teaches people ABOUT God, with countless rules and regs about how to get the GIFT He brings, how to be holy and righteous. By contrast, the spiritual life of the indwelling Christ leads us to know the GIVER personally, by the power of the Holy Spirit. "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Rom. 8:14). Sons are led into relationship with their Father. Last week, I had a dream about this, which God overshadowed. All I can remember of the dream now, is that brilliant light filled my senses. God flooded my spirit with light. Trying to explain it, I remembered a cartoon I had watched with my daughter when she was small. In it, some little characters were searching for dinosaurs. They walked along, looking here and there, taking this path and that one, trying in vain to find a dinosaur. They climbed up a rocky path to the top of a large hill, thinking they would have a better view from up there. When they got to the top, the dinosaur on which they were standing stirred from its rest, got up and lumbered off. They were standing on the creature, but couldn't see it because it was so big. God is like that. We cannot see Him because we are standing on Him; we are in Him, and He is in us. There is no place where God is not! Only by the power of the Spirit, is the veil removed from our eyes and we behold Him as He is. Then, like Isaiah, we praise Him because, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined" (Isaiah 9:2, RSV). We are the city which "has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb" (Rev. 21:23, RSV). Saints, trim your lamps because our Father has decreed, "Let there be light!"
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
End Note "A": Seeing the Unseen"
"Gift and Giver"
"Baptized in the Spirit"
"Bearing fruit in the Kingdom"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 5/18/02
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister
and last edited on 10/29/08.