KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
THE LAMB'S BOOK OF LIFE
The Book of Life Written In the Heart
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in THE BOOK OF LIFE OF THE LAMB slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear" (Rev. 13:1, 8-9).
We have entertained such carnal notions when we come to the book of Revelation. The Holy Spirit must teach us the very first principle of this book – the book of Revelation is a book of symbols – and no symbol is ever to be taken in its literal form. It is significantly wonderful that the Lion of the tribe of Judah is not a four-legged lion, nor is the Lamb in the midst of the throne a four-legged lamb! The Lamb has seven horns – not literal horns, of course – for the horns are mere figures representing the seven-fold spirit of power and life which emanates from the mind and nature of the Lamb. I am sure my readers understand the simple truth that the various beasts in the Revelation are not literal beasts, the sea out of which they rise is not an actual ocean, the cities are not literal cities, nor is the great harlot a single female prostitute. One and all are but symbols and figures of deep spiritual realities, positive or negative, as the case may be. May I reverently inject another thought? The "dead" who "stand" before God and are "judged" out of the "books" are not the physically dead in the outward cemeteries, nor are the books such as you have in your library. If they were the physically dead standing up to be judged out of literal books the basic principle of the Revelation's symbology would be violated. If the "Lamb" who opens the "book" in chapter five is not a four-legged lamb, it should not be difficult for anyone to understand that the book is not a two-covered book! And if that "book" is one of Revelation's wonderful symbols, does it not follow that the "books" in chapter twenty are likewise word-pictures in the form of symbols?
According to the Emphatic Diaglott the correct rendering of the words "the book of life of the Lamb" is "the book of the life of the Lamb." If I were to give you a book entitled THE BOOK OF THE LIFE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, you would understand at once that it is a biography or an autobiography of the life of the first president of the United States, George Washington. That book should contain everything you always wanted to know about George Washington! Every detail of his life would be there: when he was born, who his parents were, where he was raised, the schools he attended, the girls he dated, who he married, how he became general of the army, and finally president of our great nation. In the same way, THE BOOK OF THE LIFE OF THE LAMB is the autobiography of God's Lamb, the record of who He is, what He is like, and what He does. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Son of God is contained in this wonderful book of the life of the Lamb! It is not a literal book, of course, for the sons and daughters of the Most High are the LIVING RECORD AND REVELATION of the life of the indwelling Lamb. It was to the apostle Paul that the revelation was given that the book of life, the book of the Lamb, the book of the Son of God is A PEOPLE. "Forasmuch as Y-O-U are manifestly declared to be THE EPISTLE OF CHRIST ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. Who also has made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life" (II Cor. 3:3,6).
Paul asked the Corinthians, "Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?" (II Cor. 3:1). He refers to ministers who had arrived in Corinth bearing letters of recommendation to them from the churches in Judea. The false teachers at Corinth had been originally introduced there by commendatory letters from abroad. These were letters of introduction, and were common among the Greeks, the Romans, and the Jews, as they are now. They were usually given to persons who were about to travel. So these teachers came to Corinth with letters of recommendation from other churches; and when leaving that city obtained similar letters from the Corinthians to other churches. The 13th canon of the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) ordained that "clergymen coming to a city where they were unknown, should not be allowed to officiate without letters commendatory from their own bishop." The history (Acts 18:27) confirms the existence of the custom here alluded to in the Epistle: "When Apollos was disposed to pass into Achaia (Corinth) the brethren (of Ephesus) wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him." This was about two years before Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians, and is probably one of the instances to which Paul refers, as many at Corinth boasted of their being followers of Apollos (I Cor. 1:12).
But Paul says that he needs no such external recommendation to anyone for "YOU are our epistle (letter), written in our hearts, known and read of all men" (II Cor. 3:2). His testimonial was the saints themselves. This he says was written on his heart. It was not a cold letter of recommendation, but the living proof of his ministry and the authority, power and life of the Christ who sent him. "Forasmuch as Y-O-U are manifestly declared to be the EPISTLE OF CHRIST ministered (written) by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." There is not so powerful a letter or sermon in the world, as a transformed life. The proof of Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God is not the Bible – it is the lives of those in whom He lives and walks and talks. The lives of God's redeemed people are the only spiritual books the world reads. The nature and character of God revealed in us is the form of language God uses to speak to creation. When God writes on the fleshy tables of our heart the very essence of His love, His mercy, His goodness, His wisdom, His power – His letter to mankind is written so legibly that it can be "read by all men." It is not written with ink, by traces drawn on lifeless substance, and in lines that easily fade, or that can be read by only one or a few persons at a time. Every trace of the Spirit's influence on the heart indelibly inscribes within our character the Word of the living God – God's message, God's revelation, God's live – truly it is THE BOOK OF THE LIFE OF THE LAMB! Ah, no hand but that of God can reach the heart, and inscribe His truth there. It is not a dead letter, it will not molder or decay, for it is the incorruptible Word of God that lives and abides forever. Though worms should destroy this body, it will abide to other ages, to other worlds, and will stand in the day of judgment as God's Book of Life opened for all to read. It is the influence that shall be seen and felt throughout vast ages yet unborn until God becomes All-in-all, everything to everyone, everywhere.
THE BOOK OF LIFE WRITTEN IN THE HEART
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people...in that He says, A new covenant, He has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:10,13).
Herein is an arrangement that will work – the old covenant was written and engraven in stone and the people were unable to keep it. Israel began well, accepted the covenant, and promised obedience. But there was no power to continue, to fulfill it; no power to conquer temptation, or overcome the evil heart; to remain faithful. Just as the old covenant was the law written and engraven in stone, and one could hold high the stone tablets and say, "Here is the covenant of our God," so the new covenant is the law of God inscribed in the minds and hearts of a people – not merely a law, but that law inscribed in a people – so that you can point to that people and say, "There is the covenant of God!" The people with the law in their heart IS THE COVENANT, THE BOOK OF GOD'S LAW OF LIFE.
The contrast is between the law written and engraven in stones and the law written in men's hearts. What do we mean by God's LAW? Do we mean the Ten Commandments? Do we mean the 613 laws given by God to Moses for His people Israel? Are these laws God's idea of developing such strict and unbelievable standards, that He knows we can't possibly fulfill? Are they God's attempt to inflict a world-wide guilt trip? Is God a stern, implacable, self-righteous old man sitting in the sky who doesn't want us to have any fun? Is this what God's law is all about? If you go outside on a clear night and look up, you can hardly help being impressed – even overwhelmed – by the magnificence and order of the universe. The words of the Psalmist spring unbidden to your lips and ring in your heart: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork." For whether you look into the sky with a telescope or into the minutest particle of matter with a microscope, you see basic laws of nature at work. Perhaps that is why the Psalmist went on quickly to talk about the laws of God. Here's what he said: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether" (Ps. 19:7-9). Now there you have such words as law, commandment, testimony, statutes and judgments." They all mean basically the same thing; the repetition gives emphasis and shades of meaning. Law is basic. Actually the word law means that which is "laid," or "fixed." So here the Psalmist recognized that there are basic principles, written into the very structure of the universe.
The emphasis is upon the enlightening, correcting, cleansing, liberating effect of coming into proper relationship with those principles which are "laid" or "fixed." The laws of God are not passed by a congress or parliament. They are simply there; they are laid or fixed. A simple story I read once will illustrate: A little boy and his father were sitting under an apple tree when an apple fell and hit the boy on the head. Having an inquiring mind, he asked his father, "What made that apple fall?" His father answered, "The law of gravity, Son." And the little fellow, still rubbing his head, inquired, "What did apples do before that law was passed?" Some laws are not "passed" by human beings. They are established within the very order of things. They are immutable. The laws of nature do not change. The law of gravity cannot be broken. It can be superceded, but not broken. A boulder balanced at the edge of a cliff will fall if given a push. We know it won't go floating off into space, because the physical law of gravity always operates the same way when an object is allowed to fall. The principle and power within the law is laid and fixed. That's what makes it a law.
The law of God is given to reveal to us the nature of God Himself. I will use one illustration from the Ten Commandments to make the point. When God says, "You shall not commit adultery," He is not trying to prevent us from having a good time. He is telling us something about Himself – how He is. The only eternal, unchangeable, immutable, invariable, unalterable, firm, fixed, sound, solid, balanced, dependable, reliable, steady, steadfast, and trustworthy thing in the whole universe is – GOD! "You shall not commit adultery" – it means that GOD HIMSELF is committed, reliable, true, dependable, faithful and trustworthy. He keeps His commitments. He keeps His covenant. He honors His word. He is faithful in all His involvements. He will not cheat on you, lie to you, deceive you, forsake you or fail you. He loves you and will take care of you, cherish you, nurture you, protect you, and cleave to you. THAT IS HOW HE IS! He is love, He is good, He is faithful, and His nature is laid, fixed, unchanging. He is not adulterous, with a roving eye and a lying, cheating heart. When you understand the nature of one who is not adulterous in thought, desire or action, you understand something about the character of God. And that is how He want us, His sons, to be! His law reveals His nature. And when His law is written in our heart, His nature – how He is – is inscribed upon the tablets (genetic code) of our inner life.
There would never be a broken home, a heartbroken wife or husband, or deserted and destitute children if the nature of God was written in all men's hearts. There would be no bigotry, no hatred, no crime, no war, no evil or trouble anywhere on earth if the nature of God was written on all men's hearts giving them a heart in the likeness of His own and a mind as the mind of Christ. From the redeemed and transformed heart the law (nature) of God flows forth as a river of life. We still have those among us who thunder the letter of the law from Sinai's mount – but all such will change their tune if ever they stand with the Lamb of God at Calvary's hill, for there they find God removing His law from the external tables of stone to write them upon the fleshy tables of the hearts of new born men, who no longer keep the law because they cringe in fear, but because the spirit of that law has become their nature, the law of life within them. Can you imagine the United States Government passing one massive law that says, "WE FORBID ANYMORE CRIME OF ANY KIND" – and it worked! Impossible. Laws are on the outside; you read them; you think about them; and if you have any morality at all, you even try to obey them, at least when anyone is looking who might report, expose, or punish you if you do not. Edicts of man are issued, but they cannot be imparted. You talk them, but few walk them. So laws cannot change the inner man; nor can the best of men follow the totality of any laws laid down in his behalf. That is why there is such torment and slavery under the law, for we have become aware now of what God defines as sin, yet we struggle with it nonetheless. But when the law is written in the heart no longer do men try to love God contrary to nature, but now, because they possess the nature of God, love flows like a river from the heart.
Herein lies the important significance of the great truth Jesus proclaimed when He said, "The kingdom of God comes not with observation (outward show): neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Lk. 17:20-21). There are still those among us who imagine that Jesus Christ is coming back to earth with literal armies to ENFORCE LAW AND ORDER. But should the Lord come to establish His Kingdom by force it could only result in a world full of immense prisons and unprecedented numbers of executions. It would demand a tyranny surpassing that of either Hitler or Stalin. It is my deep conviction that social issues, economic issues, and political issues can be dealt with adequately only at the level of individual conversion. When the firstborn Son of God came into the world to reveal the salvation of God and the kingdom of God, He did not engage directly in social welfare work, or attack directly the social structure of the existing society. Instead He gave Himself to the task of converting, remaking, transforming, and training of twelve apparently unimportant men. These men, filled with the Holy Spirit of wisdom, holiness, and power went forth converting, remaking and transforming the lives of countless multitudes of men and women in every nation under heaven. As the sons of God destined to bring deliverance to the whole creation, dare we follow in the footsteps of HIS holy wisdom? The heart of any social, economic or political problem lies in the heart of individual men and women. New social structures and systems, new laws, new judicial systems, new political systems, new economic systems, can never solve the problem so long as the heart of man remains selfish. Only when men pass over by conversion from self-centeredness to God-centeredness can the Kingdom of God become a living reality on earth. All of our external problems – race, nationalism, war, crime, poverty, oppression, sickness, death – all of these are but the external symptoms of an internal, deep-seated disease – the sin of self-centeredness. The only strategy that will be victorious in the warfare against social and other problems is an offensive directed not against a nation, or a system, but against the human heart! The point of attack is the state of being of man himself. The objective of attack is the conversion and transformation of man with the law of God written in his heart. What incredible wisdom Jesus revealed that day when He declared principle of the Kingdom – "Behold, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS W-I-T-H-I-N YOU!"
On far-away Patmos John the Revelator penned the record of his vision: "And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals" (Rev. 5:1). John saw the book that is written within. He saw that new covenant that God would make with the house of Israel. That's what he saw. He perceived in spirit that which is being written within. He beheld the realm of the spirit. He saw where you find the performance of the new covenant – not in your own strength, not in your fleshly ability, not in your natural way, but by the Life within. He discovered that we would become living epistles, not of the letter, the outward, but of the spirit, the inward, because there is Life. The reason the "word" of God has bound and killed more people spiritually than it has helped is because it has been legislated outwardly. Men make godliness a law rather than a life. "God said!" they thunder from their pulpits high upon the craggy pinnacle of Mount Sinai, and then lay an outward rule and observance upon the people. To people who have been through the trauma of a divorce they advise: "You can never be remarried; God says, I hate adultery, and you can only please God by remaining single the rest of your life." They kill people with the letter of the Word, not seeing the spirit, the compassion of God, the love of God, the heart of God. People have been forced to go to the world to find some judgment because they couldn't find it in the church. They have been compelled to go to the counselors of the world to find some understanding because the preachers had no grace, no mercy and no wisdom from the Lord. Christian ministers of the grace of God LEGISLATING THE LAW! What an enigma! What a travesty! "But the Bible says!" you contend. You hypocrites! You don't even know what the Bible says! You know the letter that kills! You have never perused the pages of the blessed Book of the Life of the Lamb – the spirit that gives life! The New Testament is not that black, leather-bound book we call the Bible. The New Testament, the true Bible, the Living Epistle of Christ is the law of His life written upon the fleshy tables of the heart.
Ray Prinzing shared the following story which clearly illustrates the truth I now write. "A certain woman who had been raised under the bondage of the law of 'you shall and you shall not' of a certain group, rebelled against it all and went her own way, and eventually became a slave to drink. In due time her past 'church acquaintances' came to her with more of their 'you shall not' to see if they could turn her away from her alcoholism. She already knew the futility of trying to quit in herself, and said to them, 'When God writes on my heart, you shall not drink, then I will not drink.' Not long thereafter, GRACE sovereignly came to her, HE WROTE IT UPON HER HEART, and she was immediately delivered from alcohol. Christendom would impose their standard from without, HE WRITES IT WITHIN, AND IMPARTS THE ABILITY TO LIVE IT OUT! That is GRACE!"
There is a precise divine process for accomplishing the law of God within. It is not unlike the way by which habits and character are formed in the natural life. Think about it. Much of what we do in our everyday lives is a matter of habit. Without habits we could not function – or perhaps even survive. Habits enable us to perform an incredible number of actions without significant conscious thought or effort – like tying our shoes, buttoning a shirt, riding a bike, walking, running, drinking, etc. A habit is an acquired pattern of acting, thinking, or feeling – a way of behaving that has become routine. Habits are learned, but they become a "second nature." Don't confuse these learned patterns with the inborn, inherent and involuntary responses such as breathing, sweating, digesting or shivering. A habit starts to form when we respond to something – physically, mentally, or emotionally – several times. As we respond a record is made of each action we take in response to certain stimuli, neural circuits and pathways in the marvelous human brain and nervous system are found and a pattern starts to occur. At last the memory is able to trigger an automatic response, thought or feeling to a specific stimuli. What we call human personality is to a large extent a composition of thousands of individual and specific habit traits.
I might illustrate our experience in this matter in this way. All parents know the difficulty they have in teaching their children. You usually find that you have to instruct them many times before they begin to act according to your instruction. For instance, when they come home from school there is a trail of articles between the door and the kitchen cabinet where they go to get something to eat. It is their books, lunch box, mittens and coat. Mother has to instruct them to put their things away and not leave them laying around. She may have to tell them many times and hopefully eventually her law is put into their minds. That is the first step. It must be put into the mind. The second step is manifest when that which is put into the mind is able to trigger an automatic response in action – so that the thing is done without any significant thought, effort, or undue attention. What was put into the mind now becomes a nature – it is written in the heart! Is not this a clear picture of how the new covenant is established within – how the Lamb's Book of Life is written? "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts."
In the same way God has to act toward us in order to "put" His law into our mind and "write" them upon our heart. This sequence is vitally important. God first "puts" His law into our mind – then He "writes" His law in our heart. Permit me to illustrate this truth with one further account. When I was a small boy Mama said to me, "Preston, brush your teeth." But Preston didn't want to brush his teeth. He didn't like having to expend the time and effort necessary to have clean teeth and fresh breath. After a few minutes Mama would ask, "Preston, have you brushed your teeth?" "No, Mama." "Go brush your teeth!" So Preston brushed his teeth. But the next morning the scene was repeated. "Preston, brush your teeth." "Preston, have you brushed your teeth?" "No, Mama." "Go brush your teeth!" This procedure continued for some weeks – then a strange thing happened. One fine morning Preston crawled out of bed and for the first time in his life remembered that he should brush his teeth. He understood that if he procrastinated, eventually Mama would see to it that it was done anyhow; So, Preston reasoned, why not just go ahead and do it? For the first time I actually brushed my teeth without being told. At this point Mama had succeeded in getting the idea of brushing my teeth PUT INTO MY MIND. I still didn't especially want to do it, but I knew it must be done. It was necessary to make a special effort to do it, but it was firmly established in my mind. And little by little what had been put into my mind became a habit – a nature. Today I don't even think about brushing my teeth. I don't have to write a note in order to remember. I am almost fanatic about it. I brush my teeth when I get up in the morning, after every meal, and before retiring at night. I am uncomfortable if for some reason I don't get to brush my teeth. You see, it is now a nature with me! It is "written" in my heart. And that is exactly how the law of God is inscribed in the heart. God sends His Word to us. The Word may come by teaching, preaching, prophecy, reading, studying the scriptures, or by direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. It is beyond the mind being merely activated to enjoy an intellectual concept of truth, and to appreciate doctrine. It is understanding from a higher plane. The Word of God comes by the illumination of the Spirit. It comes as the command of God in our spiritual mind. We may hear it as a still small Voice within, or as thunder out of the heavens – but eventually it evokes in us obedience. As we hasten to obey, and continue walking in the Spirit, that Word which God "put" in our mind becomes formed as an inward nature – "written" in the heart. It is not merely the heart feeling the impulses and the power of His Word, but it is the heart being fashioned and molded into the divine image. There is a complete transformation, a complete change, a divine metamorphosis, out of the natural into the spiritual, out of the soulish and into the divine. This is conversion! In this wonderful way God puts His law into our minds and writes it in our hearts! Here's how it works both on the natural plane and the spiritual:
Plant a word in the mind, and you will reap an act.
Plant the act and you will reap a habit.
Plant a habit and you will reap a character.
Plant a character and you will reap a nature.
Plant a nature and you will reap a destiny.
It all begins with the mind. "I will put my laws into their minds." That is why the emphasis of the Holy Spirit in this hour is upon the way you think. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (Phil. 2:5-6). Someone says, "That was alright for Jesus, but you can't say that you are equal with God." I agree with you – there was a time when I wouldn't have dared to. But I have discovered something. First of all I have discovered how the Lord Jesus could think that way. He said, "The words that I speak, they are the words my Father has given me." In order to be a father you must start something. Fathers are starters, originators, instigators, initiators. Fathers are begetters. Fathers give life. When Jesus said, "God is my Father," He revealed that the words He spoke and the works He did were only the birthing of that which the Father started in His mind. If the words and works of God had not been put into His mind they would never have been written in His heart. If the words and works of the Father had not first been written in Jesus' heart, there would have been no revelation of God through Him. For Jesus, as for us, there is the same procedure. The Spirit of God in Jesus spoke a word of Spirit to His mind – "You art My Son." And Jesus allowed His mind to think it at the level it was spoken to Him. And the mind, being a womb, female, soul, received the seed and it germinated and sprang forth within as a nature. So He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. In other words, as the offspring of God, His Son, He gave Himself to growing up into all the fullness of His Father, conformed to His image, the express image of His person. That is what sonship is! It is the image and expression and revelation of the fullness of God unto creation.
Great is the mystery and the wonder of it, but the apostle Paul explains in I Cor. 6:17 that "He that is joined to the Lord IS ONE SPIRIT." When the Spirit of God came in and quickened your human spirit, His Spirit and your spirit became ONE. One spirit – just as when a man is joined to a harlot they become one flesh – one humanity, male and female, Adam. There is no difference! Bible translators have found it very difficult to decide whether "spirit" in some passages refers to the Holy Spirit or the spirit of man. The reason for this difficulty lies in the fact that in the believer the Holy Spirit and the human spirit are joined together as ONE SPIRIT! We are one spirit with the Lord. It is like joining hydrogen and oxygen to make water. When you look at the water or drink the water you cannot tell what is hydrogen and what is oxygen. In their combination they have formed a new substance – water. In the water the two are one. In like manner, such a united spirit makes it difficult for anyone to say whether this is the Holy Spirit or the human spirit. The two are compounded as one. We may say it is the Holy Spirit, and yet we can also say it is the human spirit. Sometimes we make a beverage by mixing two kinds of juices – apple and cranberry. After it is mixed it is difficult by taste to tell what kind of juice it is. Is sit apple or cranberry? We would have to call it apple-cranberry. In the realm of the spirit it is wonderful to see that the two spirits, the Holy Spirit joined with our spirit, ARE ONE SPIRIT.
Ah – Christ is in us, but where within us is He? In what part? It is abundantly clear – Christ today is in our spirit. We should not be so vague, like many who say, "Oh, the Lord is in you and the Lord is in me." The last verse of II Timothy 4 definitely states that Christ is in our spirit. "The Lord be with your spirit." The preposition "with" is from the Greek SUN which denotes "union." The Lord is in union with our spirit! There is a mighty working taking place within God's people – no more to have that duality – our spirit, His Spirit, but to be so fully merged into one with Him that HIS Spirit is mine, and my spirit, quickened by His Spirit, is swallowed up into His. "There is ONE SPIRIT" (Eph. 4:4), says the apostle. That one spirit is neither the Holy Spirit nor our spirit – it is His Spirit joined to our spirit, the ONE SPIRIT of God in His sons and daughters. And whenever you move by the spirit, that is God moving. Whenever you speak out of the spirit, that is God speaking. Whenever you act by the spirit, that is God acting. It is not merely God moving, speaking, and acting through you – it is God moving, speaking and acting as you. It is you moving, speaking and acting as God! And it is the Spirit of God in you that is now speaking to your mind, saying, "You art My son." The import of that word is now germinating in your mind. You are letting that precious mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God.
"By His own will begat He us with the word of truth." HE is the great and eternal God, we are His children, His offspring, the ones who have been spawned out of the loins of His omnipotence. God is now putting the reality of what is true in Himself into our minds. As we walk it out, this glorious and eternal reality of God will be written in our hearts, impressed into us as the nature of our being. Was not this great and eternal purpose burning in the heart of the apostle Paul when he cried out, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" (Gal. 4:19). When the reality of Christ is fully put into our minds and written in our heart there will be the revelation of the full personality of God. You will know and express Him fully, not after a Catholic mentality, not after a Baptist mentality, not in a Pentecostal mentality, but in pure GOD CONSCIOUSNESS. You will no longer know Him in creed or doctrine, in ceremony or ordinance, in gifts and experiences, you will not know HIm through anything or anyone outside of yourself. You will know HIM personally, intimately, fully.
When God's law, His nature and state of Being, is written in our heart, to express God becomes as easy as, alas! it is difficult now. In the divine nature it is as easy to go with the stream of His life, as it has been for the carnal mind to go against it. In the divine nature doing the will of God is as easy as breathing, digesting food, or sleeping. Don't you wish doing righteousness was as easy as doing wrong? Wouldn't it be wonderful if being sweet and kind and gentle were as easy as flying off the handle and saying things that offend, which we later regret? How we desire pure thoughts and holy attitudes to come as easily for us as lust, resentment, spitefulness and a critical spirit! If only love was as natural and effortless as animosity and hatred! Ah, my beloved, when the law of the Lord is fully inscribed in our heart all the attributes of God flow like a river of life from our innermost being – for we are doing what comes naturally! "Naturally" means "nature-ally", for to PERFORM OUT OF A NATURE is what "natur-ally" signifies. The heart possesses the center of the will of man. I'm sure you have heard the expression, "I just do not have the HEART to do that." What that one means is, "I just do not have the WILL to do that." The will of the soul is too weak to think, speak, or act like God. But when the law of God is written in the heart, the will of God in the heart becomes the central force that drives the outward expression, as it is written, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them" (Eze. 36:26-27).
A dear brother has aptly written, "God wants people who are motivated by desire so that when something is worked into them, it will be a natural desire for them to do it. Jesus did not have to walk along the road and keep muttering to Himself, 'You shall not, you shall not.' He did not need to, for He delighted to do the Father's will. He did not need the law. Sons of God do not need the law because 'Christ is become the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.' The carnal external law kept telling us 'to do' and 'not to do' and we kept doing what we did not want to do; then the law was right there to bring us condemnation. In Christ it is entirely different." Andrew Murray beautifully expressed it thus: "The power of the new covenant is to convert the external law into an inner life, to put it so in the heart that it shall be its inmost life, so that, as naturally as the heart wills and lives and acts on earth, it shall will and live and do what God commands. Why does an acorn so spontaneously grow up into an oak? Because the law of the oak is written in the heart of the acorn. The life of every creature on earth acts with delight in accordance with the law of its Creator, that is, its inner nature. God and His holiness, Christ and His Holy Spirit, if they belong to us, must be as near to us, as essentially within us, as truly inherent in our own life, as our own thinking, willing and feeling. And so God promises that He will put His law in our minds and write it in our hearts, in such a way that it shall be our inner nature, our very life, and we shall act according to it as naturally as we think or live. Yes, He will do it! So that we can say, even as His firstborn Son did, "Your law is within my heart; I delight to do Your will, O God."
As God puts His law of life in our mind and writes the life of the Lamb upon the scroll of our heart, we are transformed from glory to glory. The process is natural, progressive and dynamic, as Lyn Gitchel has explained: "Consider for a moment, what life is, and what it does. The moment of the beginning of life is when that seed meets the receptor that will join with it to bring it to birth. From that moment on the LIFE-force that is resident there forms GROWTH cells around itself, ever expanding itself until it becomes a body. In time the same LIFE-force brings forth that body that it has built around itself by those growth cells, into an environment in which IT CAN MAINTAIN A LIFE WITHIN ITSELF; this is known as birth. Birth is simply a stage of the development of life. That same LIFE-force will then go on forming growth cells around itself and developing until it is able to support itself without dependency upon another. This is known as maturity. Thus, this whole LIFE process is one of forming growth around itself and reaching beyond itself to maturity.
"The LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE is just the same. It constantly builds new and greater spiritual growth around itself, constantly working towards the end of bringing you to a place where that life within you is able to support itself without dependency upon the environment, or others. This, in the spiritual realm too, is called maturity. Maturity is the aim of LIFE. LIFE always keeps growth forming around itself. LIFE is always reaching out for something to expand itself. This is true of the natural body, and of the soul realm of thought, feelings and senses. And, of course, it is always true of our spiritual experiences, which are from plateau to plateau of growth in Christ. LIFE is wholeness; a growth into self-existence. Contained within LIFE is the ability to grow, expand, and bring maturity" – end quote.
In closing I would share precious gems from the ready pen of Ray Prinzing. "'And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire' (Rev. 20:12,15). God is bringing forth His WORD COMPANY, perfecting and maturing those who are to be an expression of His Word, His logos people. They are His offspring, for '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). Born of His will, His thought, His purpose, His living Word. The nature of this OFFSPRING is the nature of the Word, for, these are they who were once contained in the Word in the beginning. We are persuaded that God has a company, A PEOPLE WHOSE NAMES WERE WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. They are a predestinated people, laid hold of by the grace of God for a specific purpose of becoming His firstfruits channel through which shall flow quickening streams of divine life to conquer death, and bring new life to all His creation.
"AND ANOTHER BOOK SHALL BE OPENED, THE BOOK OF LIFE! There will be books that are opened out of which men shall be judged 'by what they have done, their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors, in accordance with what was recorded in the books' (Rev. 20:12, Amplified). And whatever purging and purifying is needed, whatever correctional processings must need be applied, they shall be, for righteousness must be established. But it reads on, THERE IS ANOTHER BOOK THAT SHALL BE OPENED, it is 'another book' that has our hearts rejoicing, for it is BOOK OF LIFE. It is a ministry of righteousness, not condemnation. It is an outflow of love, and love, being non-coercive, sets no standards of man-made doctrines and traditions, but moves in the glorious freedom of the 'perfect law of liberty' in that free flowing of His life. Jesus walked, and talked, and dined with the publicans and sinners, because His love reached out to embrace all men. They received Him because He received them. He met them right where they were, without condemnation. 'For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved' (Jn. 3:17).
"It is not God's purpose to 'rapture' His people away to some little Isle to shine together for each other. It is His plan to place His LIGHTS in those darkened corners that it might dissipate the darkness and the whole thereof become light. This ministry of LIGHT, radiating as from an OPEN BOOK, shall bring penetrating insight, not just looking on the outward appearance, judging the exterior, but looking upon and revealing the cause, the core of self, correction is made. The light reveals, not for the sake of condemnation, but that the true facts and condition being known, there can be a restoration into righteousness, for the light dissipates the darkness, therefore there is healing in its process. The BOOK OF LIFE awaits all the action of the judgments of God to balance them with hope, victory, and a complete restoration of all that is fallen. The 'books' are opened first, and men are judged; then the 'another book,' the 'book of life' is opened – the revelation of His life follows the judgment! Herein is the calling of God that rests upon His apprehended ones today, 'That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world; HOLDING FORTH THE WORD OF LIFE...' (Phil. 2:15-16).
"Shining lights! An open book! HOLDING FORTH THE WORD OF LIFE! This brings us to Psalm 119:130, 'The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple.' This word 'entrance' used here is literally the Hebrew word meaning THE OPENING. When the book is opened, the message within the book shall also be opened, and it shall flow out to give light to those who sit in darkness.
"The vision has been 'unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray : and he says, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray you do: and he says, I am not learned' (Isa. 29:11-12). The unlearned, the undisciplined, cannot tell you the message of LIFE, for they are unlearned, untaught in the way. But those who are being processed, taught by the Spirit, disciplined under His rod, these cannot as yet fully declare the message either, for IT IS SEALED UP WITHIN THEM. But when this 'ANOTHER BOOK' is brought forth, and OPENED, the message which has been sealed up within our deep shall be released, and it will flow out a river of LIFE. Seems so often now when we try to share, we speak in the riddles and parables, and it remains a mystery to those who hear. But in that day there shall be an OPENING OF YOUR WORDS, they will come forth in clarity and bring understanding, and thus bring light to those who have long remained in shadows and darkness. It will be HIS WORD coming forth, and the opening of His Word gives light. There is a holding forth of the Word of Life that shall answer the cry and deep inner frustrations of groaning creation. To be able to say with confident clarity, 'This is the way, walk in it.' Praise God!
"'I have sworn my Myself, the WORD is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear' (Isa. 45:23). When the Father opens His BOOK OF LIFE COMPANY, it is the sending forth of the WORD of His mouth, in a positive, triumphant ministry that shall not cease until every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that HE IS LORD. This is not a confession produced by coercion, for 'no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit' (I Cor. 12:3). Therefore this confession is the result of that ministration when 'I shall pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh' (Joel 2:28). 'And all flesh shall see the salvation of God' (Lk. 3:6). 'He sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions' (Ps. 107:20). 'And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire' (Rev. 20:15). Those who are drawn to Christ now, and are being purged and purified now, have their names written in that book of life, and have no fear of the severity of the fires to come. 'Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some they follow after' (I Tim. 5:24). Confessing our need of Him now, exposed to, and receiving the light now, takes care of the judgment. Refusing to receive the light, our sins will follow us on to that day when the light comes to us, and then the judgments until every part has been taken care of with His purgings.
"Furthermore, Paul taught, 'YOU are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men...manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God...' (II Cor. 3:2-3). Paul realized that those who received the WORD OF LIFE through him, were literally engraved upon his heart – their names were written in him, and in the day that the book was opened, he would testify that they had received the message with gladness, and walked therein. Consider: Wherever the sphere of your influence reaches, and the Spirit flowing through you quickens those upon whom your light does shine, those receiving the light are inscribed in your heart by the Spirit, in the bond of fellowship of His love. Those who resist the light that presently comes to them through you, do not have their names written within your heart, and therefore they will have to pass through the fire, for its corrective work to be wrought in them, and then they, too, shall find themselves BY LOVE enfolded into your bosom, to be nourished with the Christ-life abiding in you, as one in the body of Christ. 'For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish (suffer loss, ruin)' (II Cor. 2:15. THROUGH HIM we may indeed become a book of life, holding forth the Word of Life to all men.
The Father is preparing by His own will
A disciplined people, whom He can fill
With the glory of His presence, His 'I Am,'
Ascending Zion's mountain with the Lamb.
His Book of Life becoming, filled with grace,
Holding forth the Word of Life, to embrace
The whole of this creation until the light
Has illumined every man. No more night.
"'And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that reads it' (Hab. 2:2). What a beautiful illustration – the vision was to be written upon tables, tablets, like our placards (which were hung up in public places), being written in large and bold characters; or, if we were to use a present day vernacular, EASILY READ CUE CARD, so legible that it may be read while running. The Amplified gives, 'may be able to read easily and quickly as he hastens by.' We pray that God would so clarify the VISION of His truth to our heart, and help us to become such a LIVING DECLARATION that when people see us they will recognize the truth – and quickly turn to HIM who is our Head – our Source and Supply. Amen!
"'But what does it say? THE WORD is near you, EVEN IN THY MOUTH, and IN YOUR HEART: that is, the WORD OF FAITH...' (Rom. 10:8). His truth, quickened within us, to become a part of the very fiber of our being, as the message and the messenger become one – thus shall the message be made PLAIN. This, in contradistinction to much that we see today – where one message is being preached from the pulpit, but a different message is being lived out in their every day life. That makes for confusion! What is in our mouth and heart, and lived out each day, will become a clear message for others to read – living epistles known and read of all men..." – end quote.
To be continued...
J. PRESTON EBY
Part 1 |
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