“ON EAGLES” WINGS MINISTRIES”
“See how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself.” Exodus 19:4
Royce Kennedy ◊ 909 Whistling Duck Drive ◊ Largo, MD 20774
“The Desired End of Our Salvation” -- April 2011 part 1. Page 1.
As we have often mentioned to in these studies, salvation for the average believer means a mindset framed in a single set of beliefs. It means getting saved, doing one’s best to live right, adhering to the doctrine of the local church, dying and going to heaven to be with Jesus. From that perspective we were given songs such as “There’ll be shouting on the hills of glory; shouting on the hills, shouting on the hills; when we reach the land of which we heard the story, there’ll be shouting on the hills of God.” And here is another, perhaps not so well known! “I’ve been travelling with Jesus so much of my life, I’ve been travelling on land and on sea, but I’m thinking on taking a trip to the sky; that will be the last move for me. When I move to the sky, up to heaven on high, what a wonderful trip that will be; I’m all ready to go, washed in Calvary’s flow; that will be the last move for me.” We have libraries stacked with songs and sermons based on our trip to heaven to possess our mansions and to remain there with Jesus.
The title of this study is going to be based on the context of “the desired end” but not our desire; rather, it is God’s desired end of our salvation. It is really funny come to think of it, how far away our desired end is from the desired end of our heavenly Father. Without breaking out into a little sweat, if we look a little closer to the relevant scriptures, we will see that God’s desired end for our salvation is at the other end of the compass from ours.
In passing and in an effort to build a sort of platform or foundation for this study let us quickly look in on Peter before the council of apostles in Jerusalem defending the fact that he went and preached to Gentiles. After much argument back and forth on the issue, James, who seemed to preside over the hearing offered his own summation: “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” It is like establishing a church in your town or village. The question becomes, to what end? Or for what purpose! That the residue (or remainder) of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord who doeth all these things.” Acts 15: 14,17.
Time and again we have read and incorporated in our sermons the fact that we were raised up together with Christ to sit in heavenly places. At this thought and offering of biblical truth don’t we get an infusion of anointing of the Spirit as we make a deeply convincing case? But upon what desired end is this truth fixed? In other words, why are we seated with Christ in heavenly places? “That in the ages to come (beyond our time as we now know it to be) he might show (put on display) the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2: 6,7. As we proceed slowly through this lesson, we are going to see that God has specific reasons and has determined specific results for all he does especially when it concerns our redemption. The church as
we know it is so set in “sin-consciousness” that the greatest event will be when God finally takes his redeemed people out of this sinful place. Is that God’s ultimate goal?
I remember vividly that when I was in bible school, back in the mid 1950s, one of our many assignments was to write the entire chapter of Isaiah 53 from memory. The school was dedicated to “soul winning” and we were told that in order to effectively witness to an unbelieving Jew we had to be able utilize Isaiah 53. So needless to say that I am very familiar with the contents of this wonderful chapter that portrays the sufferings of Christ in very stark language and imagery. Although a preacher or bible teacher may select a verse or two from this chapter like I have done over the years, of late something peculiar has peaked my curiosity that caused me to take a closer look for little nuggets of truth that we may have over looked in spite of our long years in the ministry.
To get to the core issue that this lesson wants to provide, we will intentionally adopt a slow pace, and try to include all relevant scriptures so as to offer a concise and complete picture. I don’t know if you have found this to be true, but I have found that certain truths are scattered about in the bible, and simply running references is not enough because quite often at a glance there seems to be no connection between varied number of scriptures. Over time, as we begin to see more clearly the connections and relevance between these scriptures, we marvel that so many years elapsed and we just did not see what was always there at our very finger tips. We will read the passage from Isaiah and then we will apply more careful scrutiny as under a microscope to discern the appropriate connections that eventually unfolds into a canvas of brilliant truths designed to satisfy the hungry soul.
“He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: (at only 33 ½ years old) for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet is pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when (or after) thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53: 8-10.
There are two contrasting views embedded into these couple of verses that the casual reader is likely to miss. The first bold account before us is the fact that Messiah was cut off out of the land of the living. So basically, his days on earth came to an end abruptly at a tender age. We are then told some of the circumstances that surrounded his trial and death. Isaiah’s account equates with the words of Pilate; “I find no fault in him.” John 19:6. The prophet’s narrative chronicles God’s own perspective of the crucifixion of his Son. It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief! Isn’t this a bit harsh? How could God be pleased with the anguish, bruising and actual slaying of his Son?
Instead of being pleased, we are often told in sermons that at that dreadful moment on the cross, God could not look upon sin, so he turned his back on his Son, who, in turn cried, “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” This conclusion sounds reasonable to the natural mind that can only unwrap that which is logical to the five senses. “It pleased the Lord to bruise him” does not refer to physical joy that we experience that causes us to smile and experience even exuberance. God was not smiling and perhaps reaching for a little refreshment to pass the time. God being pleased is based on the fact that his plan for our redemption was being executed according to his predestinated will, when the Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world.
We were healed by his stripes, but it was out of his wounded side the Church of God emerged by water and by blood that flowed out of his side, much like the woman taken out of Adam’s side in the Garden. We are told boldly and in no uncertain terms that he was cut off out of the land of the living and this truth cannot be argued or contested. But without inferring that somehow, somewhere he would come back to continue his original role, we are told; “He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Hold it! There must be a missing link here somewhere! How can his days be prolonged and the Lord’s good will and pleasure are prospering, when the fact is that he was cut off out of the land of the living? To find the answer, we are compelled to read every word and keep each one in its proper context.
Watch this very closely! Yes, he shall prolong his days! Yes, the pleasure of the Lord will prosper in his hand only after his soul has been made an offering for sin. This brings to the forefront what we call a “metamorphosis.” It means a change in “form” but not in “substance.” For instant, a grain of corn planted in the earth, springs forth like a blade of grass. It grows into a small tree much like a sugar cane. The original form and feature of the grain of corn is gone forever as far as that tree is concerned. But the substance remains “corn” to such an extent that the tree produces one, two, three, or four ears of corn on its stalk.
So we take a step back to re-examine the offering for sin as mentioned by Isaiah. It seems to me that it was out of this offering for sin that a Seed was produced in whose hands the pleasure of the Lord will prosper. God’s desired end for Christ was not his horrible death, because in reality his death marked the beginning of something more glorious and spectacular. Let us consider the term “His Seed” for a moment. It stands to reason that although Christ himself was cut off out of the land of the living, through one process or another, he was able to produce Seed.
Are we merely treading water here? Are we grasping at straws to make a case that has merit? Can we present a case that is underwritten by scripture? When I looked closely at Isaiah’s narrative, I did not see conflict or contradictions; rather I saw an amazing cluster of truths that Jesus himself expounded upon during his earthly ministry. As big and bold as that particular lesson is, very few ministers have taken time to share it generously to their listeners whether by radio, television, camp meetings, weekend seminars, or workshops. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover and was met by a huge crowd with palm branches that we now call “Palm Sunday.” Among the multitudes in attendance were certain Greeks that came to worship at the feast. They came to the disciples of Christ and said: “Sir, we would see Jesus.” The disciples in turn came and told Jesus that the men were outside to see him. Here is something that seemingly does not fit into this picture. Jesus could easily have stepped forward and greet the men by asking, “What can I do for you? Or “I understand that you want to see me. How may I help you?”
That would have been a rational response that would raise no brow or made no waves as we say these days. Instead, picture Jesus stepping forward and saying, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” Does this address the interest of the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus? Notice that Jesus did not step forward and say, I am Jesus the Christ. Instead he introduced a dynamic process of life being produced out of death; pointing to his own demise and the fruit that would be produced in the earth thereby. The process that we are now studying is not mere conjectures or empty speculations with no merit. As Jesus announced that the hour for him to be glorified is come, he opened the broad spectrum of what is involved in the process of reproduction. In Genesis 1: 11, God initiated the law that every seed must produce after his kind, and that law is still in effect today. Jesus now takes us through the gallery of another law that is fully on display. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12: 23,24. Let us see how a few other translations render this lesson: The paraphrased edition of The Living Bible says: “Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem to attend the Passover paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida, and said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. Jesus replied that the time had come for him to return to his glory in heaven, and that “I must fall and die like a kernel of wheat that falls into the furrows of the earth. (I particularly like the next part of the statement) Unless I die I will be alone—a single seed. But my death will produce many new wheat kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” Can we ask for a more candid yet simple rendition of this magnificent truth?
Did you notice the switch that Jesus made in shifting attention from himself, and indirectly pointing to those who would be produced as a result of his death? The corn of wheat in this case was Jesus himself, and we should bear in mind that he never did present himself to the Greeks as Jesus or the Christ. In some of my sermons I used to infer that whatever God touches, dies before it comes to life. Germination is a process that is triggered and set in motion through death. An anointed and surrendered life is one that has gone through death. It is death that dismantles the old and creates a path for a new creation to emerge. Thank you Jesus!
The premise of our salvation is riveted and anchored in the bedrock of death. When Jesus said, “come, take up your cross and follow me” he did not mean we are to follow him to heaven; Rather, he meant come follow me and die! Here is Paul’s own contribution to the subject! “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life…meaning resurrection life: For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” Romans 6:3-5. We give glory to God for his marvelous transforming power!
In another scripture Paul offered a more candid affirmation of the process in which he did not mince words. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:3,4. In essence Jesus was not in a hurry to address his person and mission to the Greeks who requested; “Sir, we would see Jesus!” Isn’t that the cry being made by many hearts across the broad spectrum of human existence? Yes, they have seen and heard the bishops! Yes, they have been under the white top tents! Yes, they have admired the many mega churches with overflowing parking lots. Yes, they have been to camp meetings and retreats. Yes, they have been to conventions where Christians from around the world were in attendance. But somehow, after the glitter, the glitz and fancy trimmings; yes, after the parade of dignitaries and a reading of their many accomplishments, perhaps somewhere many hearts are still crying, “Sir, we would rather see Jesus!” Yes, I have seen the parade of religious stalwarts; men and women whose work speaks volumes; but my heart’s cry is; “Sir, I would rather see Jesus.”
At arm’s length, the Greeks could have reached out and touch Jesus. He could have extended his hand with a warm welcome and embark upon a fruitful dialogue with them. Instead, he knew that the world needed to see many “of himself” that could only be produced and come forth out of his death. This lesson of the reproductive process was not taught by Jesus from the slopes of Mount Olives, or from a ship drifting on the Sea of Galilee. People learn quicker by “seeing” than by “hearing;” and the moment was fast approaching when Jesus had to fall into the ground and die so as not to remain alone. No matter how vibrant and healthy a seed may be, until it is planted in the earth, it abides alone. As long as that healthy seed sits on the mantle piece safely sealed in an envelope, it remains alone.
How about the law of reproduction as set in place by God himself? Each seed must produce after his kind. As the law takes on form, cows produce cows; fowls produce fowls; lions produce lions, so on and so forth. But to take it one step further, man, or mankind produces mankind. A man and wife can produce only a boy or a girl, and if an African man marries an Eskimo woman, the baby is not half gorilla and half penguin. No Sir! The baby is a full and complete human being because the seed produced after his kind. Let us take this one step further for good measure. Since the law of reproduction cannot be broken, if each seed produces after his kind, what kind of offspring did Jesus produce? Shouldn’t he produce after his kind? Should we get bent out of shape over this principle that the Lord himself initiated and activated? The solemn truth is that Jesus set about to produce a people after his own likeness. Listen to this truth being expounded upon!
“For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of ONE: for which cause (or because of this truth) he (Jesus Christ) is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Hebrews 2: 11. Why do you think Jesus said before his disciples, “OUR Father?” Why did he not say “My Father?” Why did he send word to tell his disciples that “I ascend to my Father and your Father; to my God and your God?” As a way to initiate this process and to afford us legal entry and participation Jesus took the first step. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Hebrews 2: 16. Another piece to this unfurling mystery is noted here! “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2nd Corinthians 5: 21. Can you appreciate the fact that our salvation was well thought through before the worlds were formed? This was God’s grandiose scheme, well thought through, and well executed. Nothing was left to chance, and that is another reason why I stand in awe of God. I mean, he figures out all the details and has all the answers long before they are needed. There is no mind like the mind of God!
It seems to me, and you can agree if you are so inclined, that if it were a simple matter of saving us from sin, keeping us faithful in church life, then whisking us off to heaven, God would never have invested so much of himself in the process. Ever since the creation, God has had a special interest in the works of his hand. Job mentioned “Thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hand.” Job 14: 15. Over many decades and even centuries Christendom has been fed a steady dose of us possessing heaven, but very little has been said about “saviors coming upon Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.” Ob.21. “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” Psalm 115: 16. It is no wonder John wrote that as kings and priests of God, we shall reign with him on the earth.
Royce O. Kennedy