KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
studies in end-time revelation
THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
QUALIFICATIONS FOR PRIESTHOOD
There were three primary qualifications for priesthood in the Old Testament order of Aaron: (1) birth (2) freedom from blemish (3) maturity. The very first requirement was that one must be a son of the High Priest; a man might be the brightest and most capable Levite, but if he was not the offspring of Aaron he was prohibited from serving in the office of the priesthood. The first qualification for priesthood is birth. You must be the son of the High Priest, the offspring of HIS priestly nature. Membership in the Royal Priesthood begins with the new birth. But being born again no more makes one a priest than being born into Aaron's house made one a priest. Right birth was the first requirement but merely the first step down a long path of preparation and qualification. One could be the son of the High Priest and still not be qualified for the priesthood if there were come blemish in him any kind of disease, deformity, or physical impairment.
'"Whosoever...hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God" (Lev. 21:17). Spiritually, a blemish is a flaw in character. Webster defines blemish as: Any deformity, physical or moral; flaw; disfigurement; to mar or disfigure. It speaks to us of a weakness of character. Ah you can be a Christian (Levite) and have some flaws of character. You can speak in tongues and have such flaws. You can heal the sick and do great signs and wonders and have such flaws. You can be an elder, an evangelist, or even an apostle and have such flaws. But I do not hesitate to tell you that you will never be a priest after the order of Melchizedek with such flaws!
The third qualification for priesthood was maturity. One might be the son of the High Priest without any disease or blemish in him at all, still he could not serve as a priest until he became a mature man, reaching the significant age of thirty. While the Scripture nowhere states the exact age when a priest entered his ministry, it is revealed that the priest's brethren, the Levites, began their service at thirty years of age (Num. 4:3). John the Baptist was of the priestly tribe. His father was a priest (Lk. 1:5). The first born son was to be a priest. John was the first born. John the Baptist was a priest and was six months older than Jesus. He began his public ministry six months before Jesus after reaching the age of thirty. Thirty is everywhere the Biblical age of MATURITY and BEGINNING OF MINISTRY. Christ was thirty years old at the commencement of His ministry. Joseph, His type, was the same age. David, also when he began to reign over Israel. Ah, one may be born again by the Spirit of God, and sanctified holy sinless and blameless before the Lord but he still cannot qualify for God's Royal Priesthood until he has SPIRITUALLY MATURED, arriving at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ!
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (I Pet. 2:2). Are not newborn babies delightful? They are so cute. You just like to put your finger under their chins and go "coochie, coochie, coo." You like to see how strongly they can hold on to your finger. A baby just brings smiles to everybody's face. People gather around a crib and they all smile. But if a year later the baby is still lying there on his back, making bubbles, people do not smile, but think, "He's rather small, isn't he?" If five years later he is still lying in his crib gurgling, you will notice that there is not a smile in the house. If we could see the growth of our spirits the way we can see the growth of bodies, I am sure that in the gathering together of the saints, there might not be much joy because we would see many people who have never grown at all, pitiful little retarded, deformed, shriveled up spirits unable to take care of themselves. It is always sad to see someone like that. It is just as sad to see someone who grows up physically to be a full-grown adult and yet has never become mature. We say of such a person, "Oh, he is still immature," and this results in all sorts of problems. He has problems everywhere with everyone because of his immaturity! In the spiritual realm, the same thing is true. There is a spiritual immaturity which causes many problems in the spiritual world. And this is what disqualifies most Christians for the Royal Priesthood.
You have the birth; you have the life, but you must have a certain amount of growth and experience; you must be thirty years of age. A priest must be someone with a matured life. Babies cannot serve at Gods altar. Babies cannot offer the bread of God. babies cannot impart God's life. Babies cannot be handed a sword and marched out to war to deliver creation from the tyranny of sin, Satan, and death. The world is filled with millions of Christians, but it seems they are just like children playing with spiritual things; playing church, playing with the gifts of God, going out to convert the world and sweep nations into the Kingdom of God, but it is all just pretend, make believe, a great game, while the world becomes more and more wicked and evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, and mankind rushes madly onward toward destruction. They are so young, so immature, these would be deliverers of mankind! They can give you their spiritual pedigree but they have not grown. They have not much wisdom. They do not know the mind of the Lord. They have no power. They are immature. To make matters worse, though they are infants, yet in their estimation they are the greatest! They have great programs and grandiose schemes, and raise millions of dollars to turn the whole world to God, and know no' that all their mighty works are but sand castles on the beach of creation's need.
Let some carnal, tradition ridden denominational preacher receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, and immediately he will be paraded around the country to give his testimony and many thousands of well
meaning Christians will sit in rapt attention, clinging fervently to every word that proceeds out of his mouth, esteeming the man as a veritable fountain head of spiritual wisdom and knowledge. The understanding needs but little enlightening to see that such a man, though having received the free gift of God's Holy Spirit, abides still in the harlot's house and his tradition is as thick as smoke to blind and darken the eyes, ever hiding from our understanding the glorious fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such an one, skillfully trained in the wisdom of THIS WORLD, though born again and Spirit filled, is STILL BUT A BABE IN CHRIST, a mere beginner, a toddler in the Kingdom of God with little to offer those elect saints who seek to walk with God and learn of Him and, being thus led, to grow into full sonship to Him. You will never become a son of God, precious friend of mine, by listening to testimonies and imbibing of the doctrines and traditions of the religious systems. You will become stunted in your spiritual growth, and weak and powerless in your spiritual life.
"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a PERFECT MAN, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be NO MORE CHILDREN, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, MAY GROW UP INTO HIM in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:13-15). Allow me to say that this is not merely a teaching. You must pray and search diligently about this matter. Pray and remember that you must grow to a certain standard. The standard is the full measure of the maturity of the Christ. The standard can never be lowered. We must grow up to it. I say GROW UP, not GROW OLD. If you become old, you will be discharged as were the sons of Levi; you will be retired from spiritual service. You must only advance; you must never deteriorate.
You must stand in the priesthood from the age of thirty to the age of fifty (Num. 4:3). You must be full of experience and wisdom and grace and power, but void of deterioration. Some, indeed, have not yet grown up, but they are already old. They have worn themselves out playing religious games. They have burned out in the zeal of the flesh. They are the old young ones. We must grow to a certain stage of spiritual life to be formed into the priesthood of God. There are no short cuts. THIS IS THE THIRD QUALIFICATION.
If the message of the new birth is all we preach, we will NEVER be the priesthood of God. If the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts are all we preach, we will NEVER deliver the groaning creation. If purity and holiness are all we preach, we will NOT move this generation. I do not hesitate to tell you that it will require a deep inworking of "present truth" (II Pet. 1:12) to shake off the shackles of the powers of darkness in this hour! Acts 2:38 is not enough. We must move beyond the foundational principles and begin to mature (Heb. 6:13). In Martin Luther's day, justification by faith was dynamite. But this is not 1525. At the turn of the century, Acts 2:4 was a bombshell. But this is not 1900. In 1948 prophecy, praise, the laying on of hands and impartation shook the Church world. But this is not 1948. Thank God for every wave of God's tide of restoration that has brought a people to the edge of His fullness. BUT WE WILL LEARN TO BE KINGS AND PRIESTS UNTO GOD in this day or we shall be swallowed up and overcome by the birth pangs of a new age. And we will overcome as did the Pattern Son (Rev. 3:21), by fully submitting to the will of the One who is within, until we become like Him. Glory!
The wonderful purpose of God is that of an ongoing, progressive development from birth until spiritual maturity, the end product of which is a generation of holy, priestly sons. Every minute, hour, and day should see new dimensions of His life with a new power. Regeneration and maturity are two different things. There is between them the difference between a baby, a child, and a full-grown man with a large experience, capacity and intelligence which makes him a strong power to do God's service.
MARKS OF MATURITY
A lot can be said for little children especially if it's said by grandparents who have the advantage of being able to take them when they're lovable and leave them when they're not. Little children are self centered, but they don't know any better. They are active, wide eyed explorers of ever expanding horizons. They are entertainers: imitators, actors, and comedians. They are vulnerable, impressionable, playful, and candid. They express simple, uncluttered feelings, thoughts, and opinions. Little children are not afraid to ask questions, to ask for help or to offer it. They know how to laugh. They know how to cry when a good cry helps to make things better. It is just as true, however, that some dimensions of childishness lose their appeal if they don't pass with time. The preoccupation with imaginary friends, the toys, the testing of authority, the attention getting tactics, and the self centeredness get a little old if they characterize someone who is not acting his age.
In the book of I Corinthians the burden of Paul's message was to show how tremendously important it is for us to grow up in Christ. "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (I Cor. 13:10 11). Therefore, after briefly stating the "in part" nature of the "gift realm" he speaks of the coming of that which is "perfect." The word "perfect" means "complete." The idea of incompleteness is related to childishness. Just before he emphasized that he had put childish ways behind him, Paul wrote, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away." He meant "perfection" in the sense of "completeness" or "maturity." He meant that his childish capacities for speech, understanding, and reasoning had given way to more complete capacities. Can we not see by this that the whole "gift realm" which is "in part" and so frivolously reveled in this hour is naught but SPIRITUAL CHILDISHNESS? Ah it is time for the sons of God to GROW UP!
In that light, then, let us look at the first way of understanding childishness. CHILDREN DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON. They live in the "in part" realm of gifts and play and excitement, but have very limited understanding or responsibility. A brother has shared the following experience which clearly illustrates the point. He says, "We were at the airport getting ready to take a plane to go back East. We had quite a bit of time to spend there because we always get there early. So I spent some time walking around. There was a plane getting ready to leave for the Hawaiian Islands, and I am always interested in going to the Hawaiian Islands, so I just looked at the folk who were going. Most of them were going out there for a holiday. But I saw a couple sitting there, a soldier boy in uniform, a fine looking young fellow, and beside him the prettiest little wife you've ever seen, holding a fine looking little boy. And they were both sad. Everybody else going to the Hawaiian Islands was anticipating the fun they were going to have, but he was on his way to Hawaii to join his outfit going to Vietnam. There sat that fellow and there sat the girl. They weren't saying anything. They were just staring out into space. The little boy didn't know what it was all about; so he was having a big time. When the call came to board the plane, they stood up. I saw him put those great big arms around both of them, his wife and that little boy. And he kissed both of them. Tears were coming down his cheeks and tears were rolling down her cheeks. The little boy, he was still having a big time. And then the fellow picked up his little old bag he had there, started out to the plane, and disappeared. The girl stood there, then she went over to the window and waited till the plane pulled out to get on the run way. I watched her as she went soberly away carrying the little boy and carrying her bag and the toys. She was weighted down. And I never felt as sorry for anyone as I did for that girl. I wondered what the future held. Was there a father or a mother she would go to or would she have to live alone and take care of that child by herself? I don't know, but it was sad to see as she disappeared into the crowd. The little boy knew nothing of these weighty considerations. He was still just having a great time!" end quote.
It is a sad fact that the vast majority of busy, Church going Christians today have positively NO UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE FATHER IS DOING. While they sing and clap their hands, dance and play with their gifts, and earnestly talk about the rapture and the far away heaven with golden streets and mansions, where they will strum harps and shout throughout endless ages, they know nothing of God's will, nor of His word, nor of His ways, nor of His wonderful plan of the ages. While they delight in propagating the grievous deception that the Lord wants nothing but prosperity for His saints, that they should seek and have the best of everything THIS WORLD has to offer the best homes, the best cars, the best furniture, the best food, the best jobs, the biggest bank accounts, together with perfect health and complete absence of sickness, problems, trouble, or tribulation of any kind, bringing God's people into bondage to the world and its transient and empty glory, thus hindering the development of many a saint they know nothing of humility, of brokenness, of suffering, of stripping, of chastisement, of purging, of cleansing, of refining, of processing, and the resultant transformation and conformation into the image of the Son of God. They know nothing of sonship! They know nothing of the groaning creation. They know nothing of the Father's great and wonderful plan in bringing sons to glory and look askance at those mystics who see God's merciful purpose for the government of the world by saints who KNOW HIS WAYS and are acquainted with those purposes which were ordained in Christ our Lord before the world began and before the Spirit of life was breathed into the clay we call Adam. Like the little boy at the airport, they are having a hallelujah big time with their spiritual toys, completely oblivious to the great and important issues that really matter in this dark and momentous hour at the end of the age. One of the sure marks of maturity is the ability to UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON!
There are certain evidences of whether or not we are growing up into the maturity of the Christ. Maturity speaks of one who is fully developed, robust, strong, experienced, mentally adept, emotionally stable, self sufficient and independent. Children are immature weak, underdeveloped, and dependent. As one has written: "'...and ye shall be the children of the Highest.' First we note this word 'children' from the Greek 'huios' meaning SONS, a mature one, strong to bear the responsibility and position to which he is appointed. There are different words used in the Greek text which speak of the whole range of growth and development from a babe yet unborn, or new born, on through the stages of a young lad being brought through his teens into young manhood, until one arrives at maturity all covered simply by the word 'children' in our King James version of the Scriptures. But there is a GROWING UP into Christ, who is the Head, so that 'when I became a man, I put away childish things' (I Cor. 13:11). God is indeed bringing forth sons, mature ones, developed and disciplined, conformed to His image, which shall also give a true expression of HIS NATURE" end quote.
How many weak and dependent saints are running around constantly from meeting to meeting, from seminar to seminar, from preacher to preacher, from prayer group to prayer group, SEEKING LIFE. These dear souls always need to receive some kind of "blessing." But "blessing" seekers are still babes. Certainly there is nothing wrong with being a babe if you have been a babe but for a short time. Babies should grow up fast! You can always spot a babe in Christ, because his whole world is on the outside. Babies are so weak and helpless. The baby is often in a mess, has the cholic, needs a diaper change, has a pain somewhere, or is hungry or thirsty, is too hot or too cold, and in all of these situations the one universally recognized fact about babies is that THEY CANNOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT THEIR PROBLEMS THEMSELVES! The baby's whole world is on the outside of himself. He is totally dependent upon what others can and must do for him. Someone else must always be ministering to his needs. If he gets changed, someone must change him. If he gets fed, someone must prepare the food and put it in his mouth. If he gets bathed, someone must do it for him. He cannot take charge of the situation, he cannot solve any of his problems for himself; they must each be ministered to from without. Thus we see that there are three basis characteristics that accompany babyhood: (1) The baby has more problems than most older folk (2) He is totally dependent upon others, unable to do anything for himself (3) When he has a need he lets it be known until someone comes and meets it. And this dependency continues in varying degrees through all the years until maturity is reached. Children are dependent upon their parents for almost everything. The adolescent is dependent for home, guidance, money, clothes etc. Often the high school graduate is dependent for money to go to college, plus many of the other amenities of life. WHAT A PICTURE THIS IS OF THE BABES IN CHRIST!
Baby Christians are Christians who are continually laden with problems. They are always sick, or discouraged, or depressed, or offended, or confused, or upset, or worried, or fearful, or hungry, or thirsty, or in need of something. These are the ones who take up 90% of the elder's time, strength, and patience in most groups. You must constantly be praying for them, encouraging them, delivering them, and lifting them up. These you will see answering every altar call, standing in every prayer line, always sitting in the chair in the center of the prayer circle, and following after every meeting or ministry where they may receive yet another "blessing" or "experience." These have the victory when everything is going smooth, or when they are struck with some ecstatic experience such as "falling out under the power" or receiving a personal word of prophecy. But as soon as the "blessing" wanes they are so strengthless that they can't make it without another spiritual "fix."
What's wrong with these folk? I will tell you! Their source of life is ON THE OUTSIDE! Being babies, they are not yet aware that all sufficient, self existent life dwells WITHIN THEM. They are unable to appropriate the power and triumph of the Christ life for themselves. Their senses have not been exercised to discern that He that is in them IS GREATER than he that is in the world. They have not developed to that state of maturity where they know Christ to be the substance of their life, their all. All sufficient to conquer every enemy and transcend every problem within and without. And what a tragedy it is that so many preachers end churches keep their people perpetually on this childish level of existence by restricting their diet to "milk" and training their babies to continually look to the "pulpit" to be fed, healed, delivered, taught and blessed, like little birds in the nest with their beaks open or infants sucking on mother's breast. There was a day in which Jesus and His disciples had made it to Jacob's well in Sychar and decided to stop for lunch. Jesus sat in the shade of the well's shelter while His disciples went into the nearby town for food. Through the shimmering heat haze, a woman with a water pot on her shoulder approached the well. She came to where Jesus was sitting, and He asked her for a drink. Her response was brittle with the hatred between the two peoples: "How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (Jn. 4:9). Jesus was unruffled, offering her the gift He had come to give to all men: "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (Jn. 4:10).
You see, Jesus is saying, "You're the one that needs the water, don't you know that?' She responded by saying in so many words," You don't have a water pot. How are you going to get water? Why, this well is deep, and how are you going to draw from this well? Have you got some water that doesn't come from this well? Are you greater than our father Jacob?" She's a little provoked with this Jew that is speaking to her.
Then Jesus tells her a principle that she understands all too well in the natural. He said, "You've been drinking this water all your life, and YOU HAVE TO KEEP COMING BACK EVERY DAY. You know what a wearisome thing it is to walk back and forth through the heat and the dust with that water pot on your head. I do have some water, and if you drink of the water that I give you, you'll never thirst again. Take a drink of this water and it will BECOME IN YOU AS A WELL!
Jesus spoke to this woman of a truth more wonderful and glorious than the vast majority of Christians have ever grasped. How many of the Lord's people STILL COME TO THE WELL! How many of us still have our well, our water, our supply, our source of life, ON THE OUTSIDE! We are still trying to pray something down from heaven, or work something up in a meeting, or always looking for some ministry, or some prophet, or some healer, or some experience from which we can DRAW LIFE! And after all our running to and fro, from well to well, from water pot to water pot, we're still thirsty! We're still singing, "Fill my cup, Lord!" We're still conscious of our need! So we keep looking for a well from which to draw to quench our thirst and meet our need. Some even think it is NORMAL to always be thirsty, to ever be coming to the well, drinking again and again.
Oh, how "need" orientated are God's children! Some years ago I was in a meeting where a brother expressed the mentality of the great majority of Christians today. He asked the congregation, "How many have a need tonight?" Every hand in the building shot up. The brother continued, "If you don't have a need, then you ought to!" How many of us have our center in our "needs"? The truth is that if you removed the saint's "needs" from the average church meeting or prayer group, they wouldn't know how to conduct the meeting! Most of our meetings are conducted with a basic consciousness that we need God. Hardly any of our meetings are conducted with the consciousness that WE ARE FILLED WITH GOD! I don't want anyone to misunderstand me...I am NOT opposed to meetings. It is precious when the saints come together under the leadership of the Holy Spirit in singing, praise, worship, exhortation. teaching, and ministry. But most saints need a change in the direction, in the center of the meetings. Instead of coming as empty buckets we must come together as FLOWING RIVERS! We must know that we are SONS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD. If we come together as little children we will say: "We're here tonight because we need God, we need a refilling, we need a blessing." But if we come as mature ones in Christ, in the blessed spirit of sonship, we will say: "We're here to express God!" Oh! What a difference!
Jesus shared with the Samaritan woman one of the most profound and blessed truths of the ages. He said that He has water to give you, and if you once drink this water, you can throw away your water pots, because this water becomes a mighty artesian well WITHIN YOU. As long as the well is on the outside, as long as our source of life is without, then we have to go to the well and get water to satisfy our thirst. And any time you have to go to the well to drink you are going to be thirsty again! And if you stay away from the well very long you will become famished! Is this not a spiritual thermometer by which one can determine just how mature he is? So Jesus asked the woman, "How would you like to have the well on the inside? No more water pots, no more drawing, no more walking back and forth, no more thirst, no more effort and sweat." Let me ask you, dear reader, What would you think if you had the well on the INSIDE? This is what this thing of sonship is all about! It is the well on the inside: "Christ IN YOU the hope of glory." Sonship, maturity, overcoming, perfection, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. All this is found in that blessed realm where we know that we do indeed HAVE LIFE IN OURSELVES even as the Father has life in Himself. This is the well on the inside! And it is high time that those who are apprehended of God to be His sons STOP GOING TO THE WELL. It is time we drink until we get the well on the inside!
Let us meditate deeply upon these challenging words penned by another: "Of Jesus Christ we read, 'though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, HE BECAME THE AUTHOR (source, wellspring) of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek' (Heb. 5:8 10). Sonship by virtue of birth was not enough, a boy as a babe is son of his father, but that does not make him a 'huios,' a mature son. This requires all the discipline, training, development, until BEING MADE PERFECT. The process of 'becoming' climaxed in the state of perfection and maturity. 'The last Adam was made (became) a quickening (life-giving) spirit' (I Cor. 15:45). Being made perfect leads into 'BECAME THE AUTHOR,' or, into becoming LIFE-GIVING. When 'rivers shall from within him flow, of living water' (Jn. 7:38, Rotherham). Quickening streams of divine life flowing out of those who have BECOME. This is the lifting of the realm of sonship into fatherhood, to BECOME AN AUTHOR, source of supply, to bring forth after one's kind. Maturity of sonship is preparation for fatherhood. Sons of the Highest are not limited to simply coming to maturity, and then maintaining status quo, no increase. 'Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end' (Isa. 9:7). Glories expanding, new vistas unlimited" end quote.
It should be clear to every thinking heart that once you have the well on the inside, not only do you not need to draw from a well without, but you BECOME A SOURCE of life for all about. "How can I attain to such a high and holy calling?" I hear someone asking. Ah little by little and day by day these precious realities are inworked into our lives as we follow on to know the Lord, saying "Yes" to His work and faithfully obeying His will as He reveals it. All the "following after" and "pressing toward" precede the "apprehending" making it our own. Keep walking forward, my brother, and you will GROW into His likeness just as naturally as an eating boy in due time becomes a strong man.
THE PROCESS FOR MATURITY
This is a day of instant things. In this fast-paced, fast- food society, we are used to having things as we want them, when we want them. Everything is instant. We can walk into a room and get instant light, heat, or air conditioning by flipping a switch. We get up in the morning and drink instant coffee, and eat instant hot cereal, instant soup, instant mashed potatoes, and instant other things too numerous to name. If it isn't instant, then we turn on the microwave. All too often we also expect instant results in our spiritual life instant perfection, instant power, instant maturity, instant sonship! But, dear one in Christ, God doesn't believe in short cuts! Haste in the high and holy things of the Kingdom of God is freighted with grave danger. When the almighty Creator plants a redwood tree in the womb of mother earth, He is looking forward in infinite wisdom and patience perhaps five thousand years to a day when it is a towering monarch of the forest. Think it not strange, then, that He would spend the entire span of a man's brief lifetime in bringing to perfection a saint who is to rule the world as a son of God, bringing life and order out of the dreadful death and chaos that everywhere reigns upon earth. The wonder is that it does not take much longer. Let us, therefore, not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
I am deeply impressed with the words of George Hawtin in his paper THE PAGE wherein he writes: "God increases our faith through patience. At first what faith you had was void of patience. It wanted to see creation leap in response to its impatient demands. I The sick must be healed RIGHT NOW. The world must be converted RIGHT NOW. You must get rid of carnality and become perfect NOW, of course; but as years went by and things continued much as they were before you tried to set the world on fire, you began very slowly to see that God is not enthused about impatient faith; you came to see that faith and patience are inseparable and methinks someday you will see that patience IS faith. We have heard a great deal about faith, much of it springing from the desire of the carnal mind. Little indeed have we heard of patience without which there can be no real and lasting faith.
"Harvests do not come without patience and waiting. Vainly we have tried to squeeze God into our mold of haste and hurry. We have cried, wept, and teased like spoiled children in an endeavor to get our way and hurry God in His program. We have demanded of God and tried to command Him. We have quoted Scriptures to try to bolster our position but all in vain. To learn faith in patience is much more important than for us to have our own way about things. In Heb. 10:35-37 the apostle wrote, 'Cast not away therefore your confidence which bath great recompense of reward. For YE HAVE NEED OF PATIENCE that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise"' end quote.
Ah, beloved, does it seem that you shall never overcome the flesh, the world, and the devil, never live the abundant life, never arrive at perfection or attain unto maturity of sonship? Be encouraged, dear ones, for our gracious heavenly Father dropped a word into my heart in such a time of foreboding when progress seemed so slow in my spiritual life that it appeared I was going backward instead of forward. His voice fell in quickening illumination upon my attentive ear with this beautiful word of wisdom: 'My son, look back upon your walk, five years, ten years...how were you then? Have you changed any? Have you grown? Have you gained victories? Are you not wiser, stronger, more enlightened, experienced, and triumphant, and do you not know Me in a deeper way than you did then? Have you made some progress? Can you SEE how much different is your life today than it was then? Ah, My son, if all this has been wrought by My hand in your life through the past few years, can you not now TRUST ME to finish and perfect that good work which I have begun in you? Do you not know that I am silently but faithfully working in you even this day to conform you to the image of My Son?" Sons of God! Do not worry as to whether or not you seem to be making progress. There is nothing in the world that grows so fast that you can SEE it grow. My fourteen year old daughter is growing every day of her life, but I cannot SEE her grow. Let God be the judge of how much or how little you have grown. Your duty and mine is to press relentlessly onward heedless of circumstances or conditions, but pressing patiently toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
A dear friend of ours in the city of Detroit shared this meaningful experience with us some years ago following a message I brought along this line. "I will never forget my first day in school in a rural community in the South. I arrived alone, but refused to go inside. I didn't think that I would enjoy school, and was quite certain that I didn't need an education. In my childish mind I made a firm decision not to go to school at all. Quickly I passed by and went straight to my grandmother's home. Grandmother, surprised at seeing me, asked, 'Why, Veta, what are you doing here? Didn't school start today?' I actually felt I was in command and could carry out my plans, so I replied with finality, 'I have decided not to go to school!' Grandmother was a wise old woman, and appeared to respect my decision. She didn't scold, but sadly said, 'I'm so sorry to hear that, Veta. I'm really disappointed that you aren't going to school. You see, grandmother needs someone to write letters for her, and I had hoped that you would go to school and learn to write. I thought you would be the one to write the letters for me.' I loved my grandmother very much, and her words impacted my childish mind. I changed my mind, deciding to go to school just long enough to learn how to write. I left grandmother's, made my way back down the road to school, arriving late, of course, and walked in with my hat and coat on for I was certain that I would be there for only a short time. The teacher was very understanding and quite gentle with me. Later, I found myself at the blackboard, chalk in hand, the teacher's hand upon mine, showing m how to make the number 2 along with the letters of the alphabet. After some minutes I asked the teacher when would we get on with the writing. Suddenly the whole prospect loomed menacingly before my mind and irritatedly I inwardly shouted, 'If we don't go faster than this, I'm going to be here ALL DAY! And I was, of course! I went back to school the next day, and the next, and the next for many years to come! I became a star student, and a joy to my grandmother."
So God, omniscient and omnipotent, has established here upon earth a School for the training of those destined to be the future rulers of the universe. This School is known as "the body of Christ." None shall ever rule in the Royal Priesthood who have not gradual from this School! And what a great Teacher we have! One begins in God's School of Kingship and Priesthood in the first grade. You start with the ABC's. God opens the class and says, "Now children, we are going to learn how to rule. To rule means ! to govern, to control, to be master over that which is ruled. You can never rule anything until first you overcome it WITHIN YOURSELF. To 'overcome' means TO COME UP OVER THAT WHICH IS OVER YOU. When, within yourself, you rise above the circumstance, the problem, so that it no longer controls you, you are then ready to control it, to no longer be the victim of circumstances, but the master of them." And so, in the nitty gritty of everyday life God teaches us how to overcome, how to reign, how to bless, how to love, how to have compassion, how to be a King and a Priest in His Kingdom.
The promises of God are vast and varied. Some of them are free and can be attained very easily. That is why so many people receive them. But if you would be a member of the Royal Priesthood and receive the power to bless and deliver creation, if you would learn the life and authority and government of God in preparation to take the Kingdom and reign with Christ, then that is a different thing altogether. You must become a follower of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. It takes patience to attain any worthy goal. It takes endurance too. No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. We do not attain sonship by a single bound. Neither do we qualify for the Royal Priesthood in a moment of time. It is not something you receive one night at the altar. We have need of patience. We must through faith and patience grow up to the spiritual age of thirty. We must become mature ones through experience. Only such can serve as the priests of the Most High!
A MATURE PRIESTHOOD
The farmer cannot make the seed grow, he cannot generate light
this is done only by God. So, when the seed of the Kingdom is planted in the human heart, if other conditions are right, God will make the seed grow until that son reaches spiritual maturity. The greatest need in the world today is spiritually mature sons of God who are qualified to minister as Kings and Priests in the Kingdom of God.
I would like you to think a moment about maturity. Jesus Christ, of course, was the first Son who ever lived who achieved absolute maturity. He walked as a man should walk. He talked as a man should talk. His attitude and His approach to life were mature in every sense of the word. He looked with holy eyes upon the sins of a sinful world, but was not discouraged nor depressed by it. He wrote over the face of a despairing world, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (Jn. 10: 10). To a world enshrouded in darkness He brought a heart full of heavenly sunbeams, and by the light that was within Himself rolled back the heavy clouds of despair that hung low over a world that had lost its way.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is seen coming in the book of Revelation, riding upon a white horse and the armies which are in heaven following Him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, which is the righteousness of saints, and having on His vesture and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Many centuries ago the prophet Malachi asked the burning question, "Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth?" (Mal. 3:2). The aged apostle John admonished, "And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, I and not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (I Jn. 2:28). May the Spirit of the living God lay His finger of inspiration upon us that we may understand that God is preparing a people today FOR HIMSELF. "This people have I formed FOR MYSELF; they SHALL show forth My praise" (Isa. 43:21). In Exodus God says, "Ye have seen...how l bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you UNTO MYSELF. Now, therefore, ye shall be a peculiar treasure UNTO ME above all people...and ye shall be UNTO ME a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Ex. 19:46). God's purposes are fulfilled IN HIMSELF. "Ye shall be witnesses UNTO ME," Jesus said (Acts 1:8). The saints of God are a peculiar people, an holy nation, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, that we should show forth the praises, the excellencies, and the virtues of HIM.
To show you how God's purposes are wrapped up IN HIMSELF and they not only have their beginning in Himself, but they have their ultimate fulfillment in Himself the Scripture says, "Wherefore He has highly exalted Jesus." He has exalted Him to His right hand and caused Him to sit at His right hand, saying, "Sit at My right hand till I make Thy foes Thy footstool." God has highly exalted Him and given Him THE name, that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER. The Father said, "Sit at My right hand till I make Thy foes Thy footstool," and the Scripture said, "For He must reign, till He bath put all enemies under His feet. And when all things shall be subdued UNTO HIM, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto HIM that put all things under Him, THAT GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL" (I Cor. 15:25,28).
The purpose of God will only find fulfillment IN HIMSELF. "And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things UNTO HIMSELF...whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" (Col. 1:20). Jesus said, "I came from the Father and I am come into the world: again I leave the world, and I am going back"
not to heaven as we would think; He did go to heaven, but heaven is only incidental He said, "I leave the world, and GO TO THE FATHER" (Jn. 16:28). Ah, my brother, my sister, where are we going? For generations we have set heaven as our goal "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!" But the Psalmist David declared, "If I make my bed in hell, THOU ART THERE" (Ps. 139:8). The place is not the matter, it is the position, IN RELATIONSHIP TO HIMSELF. Jesus called twelve men whom He ordained as apostles "to be with Him." And then, incidentally, to send them. And to prove that the sending was only incidental, He sent the twelve and He sent the seventy, who were not apostles at all, and they did just as much as the twelve. But He chose the twelve to be WITH HIM. The cry in the heart of God is for a people FOR HIMSELF. Why does God want a people for Himself? So that He may form Himself, that Christ may be fully formed in their lives, in order that His nature and His image and His person should be so wrought in them, that He would be able to APPEAR IN THE MIDST OF THEM, at any time He wants, and in any form He desires to appear.
What was the secret of the ministry, and the wisdom, and the power, and the glory of Jesus Christ? The secret was that God could manifest HIMSELF and say anything, and do anything, and be anything through Jesus Christ that He desired to say, do, or be. He could not do that through the prophets. No matter how glorious the prophets were, even John the Baptist John the Baptist had the Spirit before he was born into the world, while Jesus had to wait until He was thirty to be anointed with the Spirit; John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb but the Father could not reveal Himself in and through John the Baptist in the fullest measure and in the most complete way that He would desire to do. John was the greatest of all the prophets born of women, but Jesus said, "The least in this Kingdom is greater than John." Why? I will tell you. Because John was not a SON! John was not even a potential son.
John was only a prophet. I could name you one of the sons in the Old Testament: Moses. However, the Bible says, "Moses was a SERVANT in the house" (Heb. 3:5). Think of that! Moses was not a son, only a servant in Father's house. Well, I could name you another man: Abraham. But Abraham was only a FRIEND of God (James 2:23). A friend! Not a son.. Do you realize what has happened in the New Creation? Has your heart grasped the glorious and eternal significance of the words spoken by our Lord on that dark night before His death, when He raised the cup and said, "This is My blood of the New Covenant"? At that wonderful moment something new came in and the old forever passed way. The old was wonderful in its day, but in this New Covenant: "Their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more, and I will write the law of Mine own Being, the law of My own nature, the law of My own disposition IN THEIR MINDS AND IN THEIR HEARTS, and they will not teach one another saying: Know the Lord, for they will all know Me, from the very least unto the greatest of them" (Heb. 8:10-11). Why? Because we have been born, not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but there has been a birth of God. His seed has come into us, we have been born of the Spirit of God, God is having a people in whom is the Spirit of His Son, so that there is a relationship with the Father and a forming and a revelation of the Father's character and mind and will. For what reason? So that GOD CAN APPEAR IN THE MIDST OF HIS SONS, AND GOD CAN APPEAR THROUGH HIS SONS AT ANY TIME AND IN ANY MANNER HE DESIRES. "When He shall come to be glorified IN HIS SAINTS, and to be admired IN ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE in that day" (I Thes. 1:10).
The revelation of Jesus Christ is the appearing of Jesus Christ, and the appearing of Jesus Christ is the coming of Jesus Christ. "Who shall abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth?" Ah, Jesus Christ has come as Saviour and has appeared in saving power in the midst of all the saved ones. He has come as Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and has appeared in the glory of the anointing in the midst of all the Spirit filled ones. He has come as Healer and has appeared in miracle working wonder in the midst of all the healed ones. But now He must come as LORD, as KING, as PRIEST, as the SON OF GOD.
The world will never know Him as King of kings until there are kings among whom He can stand and reveal Himself as King of the kings. The world will never know Him as Lord, until there are lords among whom He can stand and reveal Himself as Lord of lords. The world will never know Him as High Priest until there are priests among whom He can stand and reveal Himself as the great High Priest of their profession. Why is God bringing many sons to glory? That in the midst of all Jesus Christ might appear as the preeminent One, THE SON among the sons. As long as we remain children, He cannot appear as the Son in the midst of children. How are you going to have a Son that is preeminent among a group of babies? That is no preeminence at all, that gives Him no eminence whatsoever, it gives Him no honor. You cannot say, "He is the firstbegotten, the firstborn among many babies!" But as God brings us into maturity, and brings many sons to glory, He appears as the preeminent One, as the first born among MANY BRETHREN. Why does God want us to grow up into the fullness of sonship? So that the Son of God can be revealed in all His glory, wisdom, virtue, and power in and through the sons. Why does God want us to be priests, maturing in the priestly nature and ministry? So that He can appear in the midst as the Great High Priest of the heavens to bless and redeem and restore all of creation into God.
As long as we remain down on some spiritual plane below this high calling, even though He is greater than we, He has to condescend and limit His manifestation in and through us to the level we are on. He appears in the midst of WHAT WE ARE IN HIM. He comes as El Shaddai, the breasted one, bearing the milk of the Word in the midst of all the babes in Christ. But as the Church of the First born rises into the heavenlies to occupy the place God has ordained for it, in the place of glory, then Christ can be revealed in greater glory, in greater majesty, and in greater might.
Do we love HIS APPEARING? Do we want God to make us a people FOR HIMSELF, so that in whatever form He desires to appear, He can appear in the midst? Whenever He appears, we must be like Him on the level in which He appears. The Scripture says, "We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him" (I Jn. 3:2). It says, "We shall be," but it also means: "We must be." If we are not like Him, He cannot appear in that form. He can only appear in the form in which He has been formed in us, because we are HIS BODY and whenever He manifests Himself, He is to manifest Himself in the form of the body, in whatever form the body is.
Oh! Beloved saints of God, let us yield ourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may grow us up into mature priests. We can never be priests of the Most High until we reach maturity. The world will never behold the priesthood, nor be touched by the healing hand of our Great High Priest, until there stands a royal race of mature priests in the midst of the earth. All creation stands on tiptoe to see the glorious sight of God's Royal Priesthood arising with mercy and power. Let us not sell creation short!
To Be Continued...
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