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To the elect of the Holy Spirit gathered from all the ends of the Earth, consider this:

“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.  God is Spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

As I have said before, Israel is the only nation that has the privilege of worshipping the God they know, whereas no other nation or religion gets to worship the G/god they know, only the G/god they believe.  For no other nation was born out of slavery with their God doing mighty miracles without a shot, an arrow or a sword drawn to free itself.  All other nations are born of blood, war and revolution, Israel was not.  All other religions were formed by men preaching what they believed and converting others with their words and/or their swords.  Israel alone and its religion were born by men who preached with their God confirming the word decreed with exactly the miracle promised, twelve in all.  No religion ever had two entire generations of their founding fathers who spent their entire lives in the presence of their God daily as did the Israelites, whose first generation saw the column of fire by night and the cloud by day as they wandered in the desert.  And their children saw the mighty power of God vanquish nations before them with walls like that of Jericho falling down with a shout and not with a siege.  They were founded on knowledge and not faith as such, for they saw and heard what God did and said to them.  They were witnesses of His words and actions, but they never came to know His thoughts.

You see, they had said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”  They had seen God deliver them, but now they wouldn’t let God talk to them directly.  If you do not allow a person to communicate with you directly at a time of his choosing, how are you to ever begin to know what he is thinking?  Yes, Israel worshipped the God they knew, or as Jesus said, “We worship what we do know,” but they did not know what God was thinking.  They never came to the place where not only did they know their God’s words and deeds, but also His thoughts.  So, did God react to that snub by them in Exodus 20:19?  Did He then stop all His efforts to reveal His thoughts to Israel?  No, not at all, for Amos wrote:  Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets. … He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals His thoughts to man, He who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the Earth—the Lord God Almighty is His Name.

When Israel was not interested in listening to Him directly, God raised up prophets to whom He revealed His secrets, plans and thoughts, but Israel still would not listen.  They weren’t interested in His words or deeds, and so they were not going to be interested in His thoughts.  As such, Israel never came to know God as deeply as God desired that they should come to know Him.

Now, that is Israel, so what of the church?  If God wanted Israel to know the way He thought, then how much more God wants those He gave to Jesus to know His thoughts, plans, secrets and the way He thinks.  To this end, He sent Jesus with His word as well as to show Israel and the first disciples what God was doing through His miracles.  However, knowing that the disciples would have difficulty understanding Jesus, (even just before the crucifixion they didn’t understand why He washed their feet) Jesus also asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit who knows the thoughts of God so that the Holy Spirit could also make them known to us.  So for the disciples of Jesus Christ, those who hear His word and practise it until they are doing what He has been doing and even greater things, the Holy Spirit would not only give them power to be the witnesses of Jesus, but make known to them also the thoughts of God and the way of God’s thoughts, so that through the eternal life that all who believe in Jesus have received, all may come to know God in word, deed and thought.

Like Israel, we did not listen and we did not do what He wanted us to do, until like Israel, we are ignorant of the thoughts of God.  As Paul wrote, the church is the body of Christ, so then what good is a body that does not respond to the thoughts of the mind.  It is useless and paralysed.  That’s what we have by and large, a body that does not know what the mind is thinking, so it either does not respond or flails around with meaningless movements like a person suffering from an epileptic fit.  How many of you would be happy with a body that is either paralysed or only moves in uncontrollable spasms?  You may put up with it because you are stuck with it, but happy with it?  Never!

Now, if it were only us we are talking about, then we are stuck with our body, but it is not us we are speaking of, but God.  We are speaking of Him who bought Israel out of Egypt, yet who said to Moses, “I have seen these people, and they are a stiff-necked people.  Now leave Me alone so that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.  Then I will make you into a great nation.”  We are speaking of He who does not lie, who actually had a change of mind when Israel made the golden calf in Exodus 32 and wanted to destroy the Jews down to one man, Moses, and then use him to raise up the nation again.  That is, we are dealing with God who could destroy the church down to one man and raise up a new church all over again.  For He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  So, perhaps you might not be so confident of your place in the Kingdom of Heaven just because you call Him, “Lord, Lord,” and say to Him, “Lord, did I not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?”  For when the Lord plainly says to those these dreadful words, “I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers,” it is like a man cutting off a part of his body as if it did not belong to him. 

He who taught us:  “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off,” will certainly not hesitate to cut off from His body that which causes sin, that is, that which causes disobedience to God’s perfect command.  So, anyone who causes sin in the body of Christ, that is, anyone who causes disobedience to the command to “Listen to Him, My Son,” will find themselves in danger of being cut off, and He who was not afraid to destroy Israel down to one man, Moses, is the same Person who raised the church.  So, repent and consider carefully your thoughts and your ways today, even if you have been prophesying, driving out demons and doing miracles in His Name, but have not listened to Jesus, nor have you led others to listen to Jesus, but rather, to listen to you.  Repent, for the sword is coming, first to cut off from the body of Christ all that causes sin within His body so that there will be a body made fit and ready to receive Him when He arrives.

And if it is dying after living a Christian life so that you would enter Heaven, then think again, and consider these words:  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven.”  And what is the will of the Father?  Jesus said, “For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Those who are dead and were denied direct personal access to the Scriptures during the dark centuries, but believed what they were told by their preachers who came in the Name of Jesus, have been judged according to what they have heard and believed.  The ignorance of the Scriptures and the power of God that led them into error is not held against them, but against those who wilfully denied them the knowledge of the Scriptures and the power of God.

Consider this and think now, did He who suffered so much to give us access to the Holy Spirit as our personal Counsellor and Tutor, who would give us power to do what He has been doing and even greater things, as well as giving us a promise that “whoever lives and believes in Me will never die,” have in His mind that His friends, Peter, James and John and all the others, would die such horrible cruel deaths so that they might be like Him?

While you are thinking, consider what God said to Israel in Jeremiah 19:  “Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle.  For they have forsaken Me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent.  They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter My mind.”

When we do things that are not commanded nor mentioned and never entered the mind of God, we find ourselves in most dire consequences.  Consequences designed to bring us back to repentance and consequences that hand out due justice to us for our disobedience, but which will still give us a hope and a future.  That is the goodness of God.

You see, only to Paul and Paul alone did Jesus ever make a promise such as this:  “I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name.”  Sure, He promised there would be persecutions, we would be hated by all men and brought before judges and kings, but He also said to the twelve, “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”

Yes, persecutions will come— they would even stone some to death, like Stephen, but… but… but… the Holy Spirit is within you!!  Yes, the Jews stoned Stephen and it is recorded:  he fell asleep.  Look at that— Stephen fell asleep, it doesn’t say he died, no, it is written that he fell asleep.  So how come Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him?  Why didn’t they wake him up like Jesus woke up the little girl who fell asleep, who they all had said was dead?  I hear you say they must have tried and failed.  If they did then the Holy Spirit would have told Luke to write:  After they failed to wake Stephen, they buried him and mourned deeply for him.

You see, the enemy launched an attack in Acts 7:59 against the church, and when they found the church powerless they then attacked in force, and on that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem.  Perhaps, perhaps if they had been able to wake Stephen up, those Jews would not have broken out to persecute the church there and then, but held back and waited until later, until the time permitted by the Lord had come, which He had told the twelve about:  “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.  I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

Perhaps the twelve did not flee in Acts 8:1, but all stayed in Jerusalem, and so missed the opportunity to fulfil Matthew 10:23 because they were not ready.  If we say the persecution broke out prematurely and so caught the twelve by surprise so that they did not flee as they were told to do in Matthew 10:23, it does not absolve them or us because it was the lack of the demonstration of power that gave the enemy the opportunity to break out the persecution.

If Stephen had been awakened by those Godly men, if they had even tried, then early persecution would or could have been averted.  The truth is, when the opportunity comes to do what Jesus had done, we more often than not don’t, but our thinking governs our actions and speech and we do what everybody else does no differently.  In Stephen’s case, Godly men buried him instead of raising him.  Once the enemy saw that the church was not prepared to act as Jesus had told them, it emboldened them, and so in Acts 12 Herod killed James the brother of John, one of three who saw Jesus transfigure and who heard Jesus tell them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

You know, James did not go with Peter and John to the tomb on resurrection morning, and neither was he with Peter and John in Acts 3.  In fact, we do not hear or see James the Elder do or say much.  So he became the first to be beheaded in Acts 12:2, removed, cut off from the body of Christ and assigned to Heaven where there is no work to be done!  But in the graciousness and love of God, he is given an opportunity to return with Jesus for the Millennium, but not the honour of being the first martyr.  That belongs to Stephen whom they did not arouse from his sleep.

Peter was crucified upside down outside of Rome, as tradition records it, and you may say Jesus purposed this because He had said to Peter, “but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  But don’t you see it is because “when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted,” that Jesus said the second half of the sentence?  And Peter did go where he wanted and dressed the way he wanted, as Paul testified to us:  Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.  But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.  The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. 

If you think about it, Peter’s fear was laughable.  No wonder Paul was so angry with him, a man who had power to raise the dead afraid of people who are afraid to touch the dead!  Peter’s horrific death was never in the mind of Jesus, but Peter led himself there.  Only Paul’s sufferings were in the mind of Jesus, hence his promise of Acts 9:16, so that Paul would pay for the suffering he had afflicted on the church.  Didn’t the Lord say, “It is Mine to avenge,” and didn’t the writer of Hebrews warn us, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”?

Yet for all our mistakes, Peter and all the others who suffered because of their mistakes were allowed to be martyred so that they would come back for the Millennium.  Truly no wonder Paul wrote and testified:  And we know (not believe) that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. 

As the Lord asked of Jeremiah, “What do you see?”  So elect, what do you see and what do you think?  Is the present temple of God built according to the plans of God?  Is it functioning according to the purpose of God?  If Jesus were to come and inspect this present temple as He did the second temple, what would He say?  Will He not say once more, “Destroy this temple… and I will raise it again in three days”? 

Listen, consider and hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to you, church.  Why do you think God told Daniel, “When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all things will be completed”?  The two most powerful men we will yet see for a long time of Revelation 11 will be allowed to be killed by the beast that comes out of the Abyss.  And for three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.  … But after the three and a half days… a loud voice from heaven saying, “Come up here,” raises them up.

What do you think, elect?  Is the present temple built according to the plans and functioning according to the purpose?  What is your verdict and what do you think we can do about it?  What do you think is the purpose of your election?

 

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