“ON EAGLES” WINGS MINISTRIES”
“See how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself.” Exodus 19:4
Royce Kennedy ◊ 909 Whistling Duck Drive ◊ Largo, MD 20774
“The Desired End of Our Salvation” August 2011 Part 3
We ended last month’s study by reading from Solomon in the Book of Proverbs: Now let us ask his father David to make his contribution to the discourse. “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. (Not heaven) For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever. Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.” Psalm 37:8-11,29,34.
Listen to the Master’s own account of his coming rendered with no fancy trimmings that are being added by people of immense intellectual capacity. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27. Just like he said in Revelation that his reward is with him, here he is ready to pay every man according to his works, and please note that this is not up in heaven around the throne in what is called, “The judgment of rewards.” Listen to Jesus again!
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations.” Matthew 25:31,32. We dealt with this in a previous writing so I will not expound anymore at this juncture, except to say that Jesus never once indicated even in the least minute way that he would come in midair first, to catch away the church, then after some years in heaven he will descend to earth at which time every eye shall behold him.
In a previous study, we referred to Jesus speaking of his marriage supper, explained that at midnight the cry was made, “Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.” We explained that Paul likely drew from this picture; only that in the apostle’s case, we are caught up to meet the Lord and to escort him back to earth where the marriage is to take place. When Paul said that we will forever be with the Lord, he did not say this would be in heaven, because John already told us that the New Jerusalem came down from God out of heaven and that God himself will dwell among us.
Peter, who was a contemporary of Paul, who shared the same platform and audience, had this to say about Paul’s teaching: “Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also other scriptures, unto their won destruction.” 2nd Peter3:15b,16. I have never met a bible teacher, a pastor, or any person who handles the word of God who once admitted that some of Paul’s writings are hard to understand. Peter who knew him and labored with him admitted that some of his epistles are hard to understand. So we read that Jesus shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the sounding of the trumpet that is so loud, it wakes up the dead, and all Christians are going to be caught up in the clouds not to meet him as the scripture said, but to go away with him, only to render legitimacy to the Rapture theory that did not emerge from beyond the clouds of religious mystique until 1830, and made popular mostly by the footnotes of the Scofield Study Bible. It is amazing how we ministers open our bibles to the epistles of Paul, read a chapter or two, and proceed to teach or preach from what is written, never hitting a glitch! Never coming upon a verse, a statement, or a truth for which we have to pause, go back home and study a little more in prayer for the spirit of revelation and truth to enlighten the eyes of our understanding. If the scripture even vaguely alludes to our theory we apply it as a stamp of approval.
When we abide by what the scripture teaches, we seem to have an even playing field and a highway with no treacherous turns and lurking ravines. But quite often, and perhaps without malice or evil intent, we end up getting the scriptures to say what we want them to say. Let us see a little more of how Jesus treated his coming again. Speaking of himself in light of his resurrection and ascension back to the Father, Jesus offered this parable.
“A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered unto them ten pounds (of course Jesus would not have said pounds because that is a term used by King James and his subjects) and said unto them, Occupy until I come. But his citizens hated him (referring to the unbelieving Jews) and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom,(or the keys to the kingdom) then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. (That is right here on the earth) The second servant gained only five pounds and was given authority over five cities. Luke 19:12-19.
We can argue over the dynamics of this scenario unto the cows come home. Some will say this is all spiritual for God’s kingdom will never be a visible—physical reality. Whatever shape or form we care to apply to this parable, the truth remains that upon the return of the nobleman, he put the faithful servants into positions of authority over cities. It makes no difference how we interpret this parable. We know that the nobleman is Christ himself. We know he got the keys to the kingdom and was the only one worthy to open the book that was in the hand of him that sat upon the throne.
Here is the Lord’s final assertive comment on the subject of his return! “But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nation. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.” Revelation 2:25-27. Again, we can interpret this in any way that suits our fancy; but the essence of the subject is “ruling over nations.” Be it literal or spiritual matters nothing. Suppose we settle for the fact that the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven refers to power in the Holy Spirit, joy, peace, righteousness, and such the like but never alluding to a visible, literal kingdom, where do we place the following truth as observed and prophesied by Daniel the prophet some five hundred and fifty three years before Christ was born? He looked down the corridor of time and prophetically saw the unfurling of God’s kingdom among the sons of men, and penned what he saw in vivid details. “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Daniel 7:27.
Perhaps I am missing something here that maybe you have gotten a better angle and understanding on this matter than I have managed to acquire. I find it very hard, if not impossible to read this marvelous passage of scripture, and conclude that it simply refers to the Holy Spirit inside the children of God. I have difficulty accepting the notion that it refers only to a spiritual kingdom, because if the kingdom mentioned here is spiritual, with what do we equate “the dominion under the whole heaven?” I find that this term is easy to equate with Paul’s statement that the whole creation is waiting and groaning in travail. All must return to God, so that he will be all in all. Indeed he shall fill all things and all spaces as the waters cover the sea.
In paving our way into becoming worthy sons in a family in which Jesus is the pattern Son, to whose image we must conform, we read the following: “For he hath made him to sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2nd Corinthians 5:21. This is like meeting at an ancient trading post before money or currency was invented. People traded by swapping merchandise based upon assessed value one against the other. At Calvary, the trading post, Jesus took our sins in his body, and imparted to us the righteousness of God which we have become.
As the head of a family of brothers, Jesus is not ashamed to call us brethren, and let us look on a number of ways he is woven into the very fabric of our salvation and continued life with God. Peter puts it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us AGAIN unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1st Peter 1:3. So the resurrection of Christ from the dead accomplished more than triumphing over death for himself. In fact nothing Jesus did was for himself. I like how Paul put it together in a sort of summary!
“For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” 2nd Corinthians 5:14,15. Seemingly, all across the entire spectrum of Christian faith and Christian doctrine, it has been a matter of trading places and shifting blame. Paul said that those whom he called, them he also justified, which means that God not only erased all guilt; he also removed all charges. In the court of law, when a charge has been dropped, it is expunged or eradicated from the person’s record and will not show up in one’s personal profile. So it is that God foreknew us, predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his Son, he called us, and justified us. So being justified by faith we have peace with God. The Father moves forward to glorify us. Paul concluded that since that is the case, “What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:29-31. As we stated before, conforming to the image of Christ begins with the renewing of our mind and accepting what God said. “Ye are complete in him which is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:10. It means that we need not pray to die, or pray to be justified, or pray to be made complete. It is finished! We ARE God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works before the world began. As we alluded to before, the whole creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, and absolutely not the lake of fire to be consumed forever. As we mentioned before, the desired end of our salvation is not predicated upon our selfish and self centered desires to ride upon the clouds, to listen to David playing his harp, or as one person suggested some years ago, the first thing she is going to do when she gets to heaven, is to tickle Moses’ beard. No! We are talking about God’s desired end for us, which is based upon the eternal sacrifice he made when he purchased us by his own blood. Here is what James had to say on the subject:
“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:18. Notice the word “firstfruits” and let us make more connections to it. Paul offered this: “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:23. Let us switch to a different word that means the same thing as “firstfruits.” “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the “earnest” of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13,14.
Let us be ever mindful of the fact that “firstfruits” are not the total harvest. I remember back home as a youngster when mango season is about to arrive, I would sometime look up between the branches and see a single fruit as bright yellow as can be. It would not take me long to have that fruit in my hand and while eating its lush and tasty flesh, I would scan between the branches to see if there were more ripened fruits hiding in clusters of leaves. There is always a special sense of appreciation for these “firstfruits” because they did herald the news that full season is just around the corner.
Producing the firstfruits is producing a sample from among the redeemed of the earth, and being given the “earnest of the Spirit” is our guarantee of full redemption, or the redemption of the purchased possession. But God’s desired end for us is not predicated upon the bliss of heaven for a third of mankind while two-thirds burn forever in the lake of fire. Jesus had specific reasons when he prayed; “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” John 17:15. Hinting at why God has called us and saved us, Jesus mentioned: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16.
Jesus took the concept of our mandate and Godly responsibilities to even a higher level by bringing it equal to what his own has been. “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” John 20:21,23. Notice that Jesus lifted our calling from that of lost sinners trying to find the way home, to having equal share in the ministry of reconciling all men back unto God. He assesses our ministry as being equal to his, and as a continuation of his own.
Paul was very clear in his teaching and understanding of one of the great mysteries of God’s dealings with sin, sinners, and the salvation of all men. First of all, the apostle wrote to his son in the gospel, Timothy, explaining this truth: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (not the Pope, not Mary, not the vicar, not the pastor) Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” 1st Timothy 2:3-6. Paul insisted that if one died for all, then were all dead. 2nd Corinthians 5:14. And he went on to unwrap the contents of a worldwide reconciliation package that begun with God himself and passed on to us: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2nd Corinthians 5:19-21.
One of the many Christian virtues that we do not hear mentioned or preached about very much these days, is the sense of “BEING.” That means simply being what you are, and never have to wear it on your sleeve. Jesus walked into a man’s house and declared, “This day is salvation come to this house!” He did not hold a prayer meeting or had bible reading. He did not need to ask the Father to come in the midst and do something to prove his love and how real he really is. Jesus walks in and so did salvation, because he is the embodiment and personification of full and complete salvation.
Jesus simply walked by and even devils cried out to be left alone; but he was not bothering anybody; he was just “being” what he really is. This is why the idea of being “complete in him” and being seated with him in the heavenlies is so important. Paul left Titus at Crete to set in order the things that are wanting. Titus 1:5. When we properly and rationally evaluate our status as God’s handiwork; as being complete in him, we begin to see how “being what we are” really affect our environment or neighbors and even our government. Let us take Joseph as an example for a moment. He ends up in Egypt and gets hired by an officer of the captain of the guard, and this was a wise man who discerned very quickly that the Lord was with this young Hebrew.
“And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. (listen to this little caveat) And it came to pass from the time that he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.” Genesis 39:1-5. My friend, this is a powerful statement of reality and it is recorded for us to utilize to its maximum potential. But there is more, and this segment goes beyond a captain of the guard and all the way to Pharaoh himself. “And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee (Joseph) shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41: 44,46b. A number of years before this, possibly thirty two years, Joseph’s father had similar effects upon his uncle Laban. “And Laban said unto him, (Jacob) I pray thee, if I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake.” Genesis 30:27. We must understand that men and women that impacted people, communities, and governments, even forcing new laws to be written did not pass out tracts and quote from religious books at every opportunity. No! They simply exhibited what they were by “BEING.”
Consider this truth and perhaps we can learn a thing or two from it. Jesus emptied himself of Deity and took upon himself the seed of Abraham and became like us. Being found in fashion as a man he humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross. But not once did he cave in and gave way to all that the human flesh generates or could drain from the life giving source of the Spirit. His body of flesh was only a convenience, and was never allowed to become a liability; because he never forgot who he is and as David said, “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope.” Acts 2:25.
At his baptism in the Jordan River, the heavens were opened above Jesus Christ, and they were never closed again throughout his earthly ministry. Just like we should learn to live, his body was on earth in human form, but he was always in the bosom of the Father. He said so himself. “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” John 3:13. Throughout his entire earthly ministry, Jesus never once thought or felt separated from the Father, but for us a Christians, we have been brainwashed into believing that God is far off surrounded by lightning and thunder and such awesome brilliance that we can only hang our heads down as we say; “Lord, thy unworthy servant has come before thee another time, praying for you to have mercy upon my sinful soul.” O Come on! What sort of mentality is that?
Christ is IN US and since the fullness of the Godhead was in Christ bodily (Col.2:9) when he lives in us, we become the embodiment and personification of the Godhead, and don’t forget that he will never leave us or forsake us. The inferiority complex that the church has helped us develop (even if it is unwillingly) serves to drain our sap of just about every ounce of divine life and we feel alienated from the divine. Most Christians live with the feeling of having to grasp and conquer, and having to make up for lost ground. Sure, growth means always acquiring more maturity, but this should be done with the idea of being already complete and standing shoulder to shoulder with Jesus, being adorned in his family likeness.
It has been said of Jesus Christ: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, (that means us) in the midst of the church will I sing praises unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.” Hebrews 2:12,13. This family headed by Jesus Christ, “the pattern Son” is unique in that we cannot become its members by the process of adoption. Jesus insisted to a Jewish leader that he “MUST” be born again if he is to SEE or ENTER into the kingdom of God. Why did he emphasize a birth? Simply because one’s nature, such as family traits, flesh and blood type, characteristics and such the like cannot be imparted or inherited by mere adoption.
At seventy six years old, I still do not possess even a minute portion of what my adopted parents possessed. I learned their ways and ideals. I adopted their lifestyle and perhaps shaped my own life after the pattern they exhibited before me. But biologically we had nothing in common. To identify as being a bona fide member of Christ’s family, one must be made partaker of the divine nature, and this process is based upon birth and not adoption. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be made partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2nd Peter 1:4. So far, we have seen beyond any shadow of doubt that God’s desired end for our salvation is a long way beyond us living a good and righteous life, dying and going to heaven. Based upon the shortsightedness of our peers many years ago, we thought that becoming good and faithful church members, giving to the poor, and evangelizing the world, then going to heaven to reap our reward was what our salvation was all about. As we said before, Jesus as the grain of wheat knew he would abide alone if he did not fall into the earth and die. But he also knew that if he died, he would produce myriad of himself, and as Adam was told to replenish the earth, or fill it up again, out of his death he would produce so many offspring, so that as Isaiah wrote: “He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied.” Isaiah 53:11.
An ancient prophet saw not only a single savior coming on the scene, but as the first Savior increased and multiplied himself in the earth, the prophet saw many saviors and wrote: “And many saviors shall come upon mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.” Obadiah 21. Based upon our early religious training it is customary for us to look to Jesus for all our answers. We need healing; we look to Jesus. We need comfort; we look to Jesus. We need salvation; we look to Jesus. But as some of us preachers say from time to time, “You could be the only Jesus the world will ever see.” After all, Jesus did say that henceforth the world seeth me no more. But what is that little statement suggests? Since we are already living epistles known and read by all men, it should not be surprising for us to serve as the “door” to the sheepfold. After all, Jesus said we are the salt of the earth, and salt is a preservative used to preserve fish, meat, and vegetables.
Indeed, saviors shall come upon mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau and this bespeaks of the carnal realm. Paul was correct when he said that the saints shall judge the world, and shall judge angels also. It seems to me that Jesus Christ has a long list of tasks that his grown up brothers must accomplish in his stead. To get the job done he promised to be with us always even to the end of the world, or the consummation of the ages. Being a savior brings us back to consider the fact that whosoever sin we retain, it shall be retained; and whosoever sin we remit, it shall be remitted. Jesus said to a sick man, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” and eyebrows were raised and the critics jumped on it saying only God can forgive sins. Jesus inferred that it was easier to say “take up thy bed and walk” but he wanted us to know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sin.
Please notice that Jesus did not say the Son of God has power on earth to forgive sin. That would no doubt have excluded us; but he purposely said “the Son of man” and that included all of us who are willing to get a hold of this truth. Let us not forget that Paul indicated in his second letter to the Corinthians that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and in the process has entrusted us with the word and ministry of reconciliation, so that we in Christ’s stead persuade men to be reconciled unto God.
Our feet should be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15.
We go forward preaching peace, rather than a God who is on the warpath consuming sin and sinners. We release men from their sins telling them that Jesus already settled the sin question, and that now his righteousness is flowing like a mighty river. His love and grace covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. It is time for the trees to clap their hands and even the mountain streams to echo his presence. It is time for the turtle dove to sing and the desert to blossom as a rose; for the lion and the lamb to feed together.
Royce O. Kennedy