“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.” July 2011..Part 2
The emphasis as seen in recent letters is based more upon what the Bible actually said concerning earth and heaven, rather than embracing the traditions into which some of us were born and learned from our youth. Taking away the concept of going up in the sky on our trip to heaven, is like discarding the Holy Grail, and taking away the only hope and reason for living the Christian life. My practice, as can be seen throughout all of my writings, is to produce actual scripture texts to underscore each point of view that I raise.
For instance, I have no objection to the saints lifting off in silence while the world is asleep, to meet Jesus in midair ever to be with him in heaven. I have no objection to seeing Jesus standing on Mount Olives and later walking into Jerusalem to sit on David’s throne. My objections or your beliefs have no effect at all upon what God has already set in motion from the foundation of the world. But I would not consider myself to be an honest minister of God’s Word if I ignore what the Bible teaches so as to lend credence to traditions that have no foothold or foundation in scripture. As a teacher and preacher of the gospel, I feel completely obligated to God and will be held responsible for what direction I lead his people. Paul once said; “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel,” and again, “Woe is me if I preach anything else.”
In part one of this study, we spent some time unlocking to a greater dimension the law of reproduction as it applies to all creatures including man, beast, and even the smallest grain. First of all, we learn that except it dies, a grain remains alone. Secondly, we observed that we reproduce after our kind which is a law instituted by God himself in the Garden of Eden. We alluded to the fact that if cows produce cows, fowls produce fowls, goats produce goats, humans produce humans, it stands to reason that Jesus must also produce more Jesus’.
Many years ago I preached this message in a well established Church and at the end of the service, the host pastor greeted me by saying, “hello, little Jesus.” The bible said that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” But I put it to you another way, simply to challenge your thought process. Instead of waiting for an appearance some time in the future, I suggest to you that as soon as you begin to see him as he is, he has appeared unto you and in stages, you begin to become like him. The problem that has constantly beset Christians, is that we see him as we are and not as he is.
As we saw in last month’s study, “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call us brethren.” Hebrews 2: 11. Through the process of reproduction, Paul was not hesitant in exhorting us on this wise: “As certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver,, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” Acts 17: 28b-29. The word “offspring” means “off-shoot” or next of kin. So biblically (and that is good enough for me) we are God’s off-shoot and his next of kin. When you look into your mirror what do you see as you proceed to apply your makeup, shave, or brush your teeth before heading off to work? When you look into your mirror, you see yourself and any time you look into your mirror and see me, or Uncle Johnny, or Aunt Mary, brake the mirror and make haste to get out of the bathroom, because you are suppose to see your own likeness. Your mirror reflects who and what you are. The image it reflects can signal excellent health, or it can bring to light certain abnormal health functions that serve as warnings of something more serious in the making. You do not have to pretend or put on an act when you look into your mirror, because you always look for reality and truth in your reflections.
Paul puts it this way: “But we all, with open face (meaning uncovered face) beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2nd Corinthians 3: 18. Please notice that with an open face, or a face that has shaken off the many lies we have been told down through the years how wretched and undone we are. Covered with those lies, when look into the mirror, we see a sinner still on repentance ground, still not worthy to even look up to God before his throne. When we with an open face cleared of all religious pretenses and play acting look into God’s word which is the only mirror we have we see his glory, and gradually are being changed into that same glory.
While we are being fed a steady diet of being “Left Behind” in the “any moment rapture,” the creation has other ideas. Is the creation waiting for the Church to leave so that the warriors from hell can break loose on earth? Is the creation waiting for the lake of fire to be unleashed with its continual burning leaving earth with no future at all? Don’t take my word for it! Let us call upon the apostle Paul yet again! He writes candidly:
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:19,21. I especially like the way the Paraphrased Living Bible renders this: “For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day when God will resurrect his children. For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay—the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command, will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy. For we know that even the things of nature, like animals and plants, suffer in sickness and death as they await this great event.”
One writer in his translation said, “The whole creation is on tip toe, waiting to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own, which will be their full and complete salvation. Let us stand assured that God’s intention and ultimate purpose in saving us, is much more than making us “good people” selected and stamped for a wonderful trip to heaven. God placed man in the Garden and gave him commands that he broke in the process of time. He sent angels with his Word, but man got worse. He raised up men like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Samuel, Solomon; women like Sarah, Esther, Rahab, Ruth and others. But still his word kept falling as it were in unfertile soil.
Even the Church of Pentecost quickly veered off course all the way to the Dark Ages.
But God kept a faithful line through which his light would shine unto that perfect day.
We have become a people of destiny and purpose. We are waking up to the knowledge that our salvation was not to benefit heaven (God and his holy angels are doing a good job there) but as Jesus said in the parable of the noble man who went into a far country, he gave his servants talents and said; Occupy until I come! We are now looking on why Jesus became the firstborn in a huge family of brothers, and why it is of paramount importance that the multitude of other brothers be conformed to the image of the firstborn. Many brethren or “brothers, in this context,” simply means “brotherhood” that consists of both sexes, and not meant to be confined to men only. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God! Again that means both sexes.
In a previous writing we emphasized the fact that it was God who introduced the pattern of the inheritance going to the younger son, even though under Jewish law it is the firstborn who held entitlement over the inheritance. God in his wisdom and on our behalf, who were to be born in his family thousands of years later, put in place and set in motion a system wherein the younger son (or sons) are given right to the inheritance. But this right is based upon one condition and that is, we must conform to the image of his Son.
As we stoop over and look closely into Romans 8: 29, the message that hits us between the eyes is clear and distinct: “For whom he did foreknow, he also predestinate (pre-determined—pre-ordered—pre-determined) to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he (the Son) might be (or become) the firstborn among many brethren.” Here is the general consensus that does not require any help from the Holy Spirit. If there are no more sons exactly like Him, bearing all the family characteristics, Jesus remains the “Only born Son” and cannot be referred to as the “Firstborn.” To have a firstborn, there must of necessity also be second, third, fourth, and many other “borns.”
God works in parallels between the Old Testament and the New Testament. We notice that the firstborn of Egypt died to set the Israelites free, and Jesus as the firstborn died to set all of mankind free. In both cases, the death of the firstborn had immense significance for a very large number of people. As we look more closely at the meat and substance of this lesson, we notice that even before time began, back when God foreknew us, he determined that we should be conformed to the image of his Son.
Seemingly, to God this process stood predominantly above every other purpose, and in order to set the process in motion, God took the first step. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Romans 8:30. Here is how the process works! God in the beginning predestinate us; next, he called us unto himself mostly through the preaching of the gospel and the effective working of the Holy Spirit. But for us to come to God and join his family, it was necessary for him to remove all charges of sin against us, and pronounced us “innocent”. That is why we are told, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” But understand that justification is not a process that we initiate or even participate in. It is a sovereign act of God who does it, simply because he wants to, and because it serves his own purpose in the redemption of the human race.
Let us look at all the pieces again! He foreknew us! He predestinated us! He called us! He justified us! And finally he glorified us; all of this with a single objective in mind; that we be conformed to the image of his Son, so the Son can become the firstborn among a family of many brothers. Can you see how meticulously God set every fiber in place?
He left nothing to chance and by all accounts earth and its wellbeing is his concern.
The next item of major importance is based in this question: “How do we conform to the image of Christ.” The first scripture that pops into my mind as I write this is the words of Christ himself: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:29. Generally, when you see a horse drawn cart with two horses involved, one is placed between two beams or rod and a yoke is put around his neck. The other horse is on the outside and has a lot more freedom. Among shepherds, when there is a sheep that is rouge and regularly strays off from the herd, the shepherd puts a yoke around his neck so that it cannot go under fences or through small openings. By having to stay with the rest of the herd be it by force, the sheep gradually learns obedience and how to blend in with the rest of the herd.
It is this principle that Jesus employed in this admonishment; be yoked to me, and remain so until you have learned my nature, my will, and my purpose. Thank you Jesus! Let me continue to learn your ways and your will! Because of those who walked into lasciviousness and all manner of uncleanness, Paul rebuked the Ephesians by saying:
“But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:19-24.
There is call that has been made and is constantly being made to the believers of Christ, to conform to the image of our Lord. Don’t just live right and do your best to make it into heaven. For many years now, since I came into a better understanding, heaven is not my concern because God and his holy angels are doing a fine job up there, or over there, where ever that is. And if my reward is there, Jesus did say work and whatever is right I will give it to you. So my mind can be focused away from all those little “incidentals” and upon the main reason for my salvation in the first place. So here is question: “How do we conform to the image of Christ?”
Paul entreats us this way: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1,2. I have a couple beautiful offerings from two other translations. “With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves toward the goal of true maturity.” Phillips Translation:
“And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.” The Living Bible: These translations break down the language of the King James Version of the Bible so that it becomes much easier to understand, while not changing the substance of the lesson.
As a man thinks in his heart, so is he, we are told, and preachers of positive thinking along with motivational speakers focus heavily upon our thought process. This is called a “mindset.” The optimist has one sort of mindset that seems to be wired into all that is positive, while the pessimist lives out of a reservoir of doubts, misgivings, and insurmountable hurdles. Yet, to be conformed to the image of Christ, seemingly the process begins with changing our thought pattern and process. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” There is no need to go on lengthy fasts, or long moments of meditation, and consultations with a guru. There is no magic required here!
Let us use a simple scenario to demonstrate how a change in the mind can affect what we do, say, or conduct ourselves. John and Jane were high school sweethearts. They went to the movies together and stopped for ice cream at the shop on the corner of Main Street and Vine. John was not willing to make the sort of commitment that Jane longed for, and soon she left for college. After some years, while walking down the street a voice called out, “Hi John!” It was Jane who was back in town on a visit. John ran across the street, all excited. Is that you Jane? Yes! I am here on a visit. How long are you staying? A few days! A week at the most! Oh, that’s great, said John. I tell you what! How about us getting together for dinner and a movie like we used to do—you know, for old time sake!
Jane replied! Sorry John, you have missed the boat! When I lived here and we were friends, you did not want to commit yourself in our relationship. You are too late! She holds out her left hand and showed John her wedding ring. John, as you can see, I am now a married woman! I belong to someone else so like I told you, you missed the boat.
Here is John! Here is Jane! The movie house is still in business, so is the little ice cream shop on the corner; so what has changed? Why couldn’t John simply take Jane by the hand and picked up where they left off? Because Jane had a change of heart. She knew that she now belonged to someone else, and the old life with all its old charms were in the past. She did not need to have her husband walking by her side and holding her hand as a constant reminder of her marital status. We need not rise in the morning repeating, “I belong to Jesus! I am a new creature! Over and over all day long! What we are is real and solid! For instance, the bible said: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2: 9.
By embracing this truth, I never have to fall to my knees in prayer asking God to make me complete. I do not need to give it a second thought as something or a status that I need to acquire. What the bible said about the issue indicates that the subject is eternally settled, and from henceforth I need not pray and ask God to make me complete. I am always tickled that after David said that God would be with us in our going forth and in our coming in, this time and forevermore, when we sit in the church bus, some dear heart has to pray and ask God to “come and go with us Dear Lord, and keep the wheels from falling off.” He already said he would be with us both coming and going, so turn the ignition key, crank up the engine and let us go. Feel free to thank him in songs and praises that he is on board. I have no objection there, but is really silly to ask him to do what he already promised he would anyway. Conforming to the image of Christ begins with a renewed mind that embraces the fact that he called us, and justified us; meaning he removed all guilt and all charges of wrong doings, and moreover, he does not see us as ex-sinner, ex-gambler, ex-lady of the night, or ex-anything. He sees us as a new creation,
and as his own body that will fill the whole earth with his glory. Being found wearing the image of the firstborn is God’s desired end of our salvation to the praise of his glory.
How do we know the timing for, or measure our progression into conforming to the full image of Christ? To begin with, the Church of Jesus Christ was given five ministerial gifts on this basis and for this reason: “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.” Ephesians 4: 13. The process has been extremely slow because the church that emerged from the Dark Ages had no semblance of the church the apostles left behind. The birth of the “Protestant Age” that dressed itself in Luther’s concept of “The Just Shall Live By Faith,” brought with it much of the old Babylonian image and practice. It was not until about 1906 that a Brother Seymore from Topeka, Kansas, went to Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California, and after being rejected, he finally found a few people who were willing to make room for him to minister. Speaking in tongues and the gifts of the Spirit began there, even though some historians said this phenomena had begun in Germany some years prior to 1906.
This movement became known as “Pentecostalism” to be followed by “Deliverance” The Latter Rain” and “Body Ministry.” But as good as all of this sounds, the church order that was set up by the original apostles never came back to life to claim its rightful place in the Body of Christ. So coming into the unity of the faith and unto a perfect man has been an ongoing struggle with very little progress being made. Paul indicated that “the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now (that was back in the first century) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit (meaning the down payment or token money) even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit (or to experience) the redemption of our body.” Romans 8: 22,23.
Adoption as rendered here does not mean legally adopting a cute little baby by signing a few official documents. Rather, it means being placed or declared a fully grown son, who is become of age and now able to transact family business; and redemption used here does not means ransom from sin, but the loosing away of our body from all encumbrance, hindrance and restrictions. Paul puts it this way: “Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant (slave), though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.” Galatians 4:1,2.
Allow me to insert two of my favorite scriptures at this juncture. “And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28b. I especially like how J.B. Phillips renders this: “To those who look for him, he will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to bring to full salvation those who eagerly await him.” For a more comprehensive study on this, go to my website and click on “The earnest of our inheritance” or write for your free copy with no further obligation on your part. Alas! The problem that Paul found with the church back in his day still exists in the pews of our modern up-scaled temples, chapels, and shrines. Touching the deeper things of God, the apostle said it was hard to share them with the Body because they were dull of hearing. “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God: and are become such as have need of milk, and not strong meat. For everyone that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.” Hebrews 5: 11-13. The greater percentage of Christians worldwide have been taught to keep their eyes on the eastern sky, for any moment now, Christ is going to break through to take his people out of this sinful and corrupt world. Thus we have songs such as: “Some glorious morning sorrow will cease; some glorious morning all will be peace. Heartaches all ended, school-days all done, Heaven will open, Jesus will come.” And: “It must be the breaking of the day.” But consider this! How is it that Jesus taught his disciples for 3 ½ years and finally sent them out to make disciples of all nations, but he never explained to them the theory of the secret Rapture. None of the apostles did, neither did the Apostolic Fathers who were the immediate successors of the original apostles. No one during the reign of Constantine in the 3rd century taught an event called the Rapture. Isn’t it strange that no one in the church heard about this event until 1830 in Scotland? As the practice has always been, when we concoct a theory and develop a doctrine, we dissect the scripture, and like playing chess, we shift and crisscross piece after piece until we create what looks like biblical truth.
Consider this! The proponents of the Rapture theory have suggested that one day not in the too distant future, the world will awake to the news that millions upon millions of people throughout the world have disappeared. Vehicular traffic worldwide has crashed in huge heaps as their Christian drivers have suddenly vanished from behind the steering wheels. Planes, trains, cruise ships, pleasure boats, tug boats and oil tankers are left to drift aimlessly with the tide as their Christian operators have vanished as it were, into thin air. The awful truth has dawned upon us, and human history has come to a sudden end. Life and time as we knew it would never be the same again. Are we to believe that in all of his teachings and predictions, Jesus simply missed this momentous event and failed to mention it?
Actually, Jesus taught his disciples all we need to know about the end of time. He spoke in clear and concise tone so that no doubt should arise in our mind. In one of his parables, he spoke of a man who sowed good seeds in his field; but while men slept, his enemies sowed tares among the wheat. Upon their discovery, his servants were ready to uproot the tares and sought permission to do so. However, the good man of the house suggested that the tares should be allowed to grow with the wheat until harvest, because in removing the tares, the wheat could be hurt as well.
The pivotal part of this parable is this: “And in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together FIRST the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. After the multitude was dismissed the disciples came to Jesus asking for more explanation of the parable and Jesus promptly obliged. Please pay keen attention to the truth explained by Jesus himself. “He answered and said unto them, he that sowed the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun (right here on the earth after the wicked are taken out) in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” Matthew 13: 24-30,37-43.
Did Jesus even vaguely allude to an event called the Rapture? Of course not! Listen to Solomon’s words of wisdom! “For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.” Proverbs 2: 21,22.
Royce O. Kennedy