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“Be strong and courageous.”[1] This was part of what the Lord said to Joshua in Joshua 1 when He encouraged and commissioned Joshua to take the Promised Land in the absence of Moses, who, as God said, “Moses My servant is dead.”[2]

Now, the Father will not have the need to say to us, “Jesus My Son is dead,” for that is not true. However, Jesus is not on Earth but at the right hand of the Father. So far, we, the church, have been very blasé about the Holy Spirit. In fact, we have so taken Him for granted that we have no idea what it would be like in a world where the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way, as He will be, so that the lawless one can be revealed. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the One who now holds it back will continue to do so…[3]

One day it may just be possible that the Father will say to us, “The Holy Spirit has been taken out of the way,” that is, He is no longer available to immediately help us and counsel us, even though, being the Holy Spirit of God, He is omnipotently ever present. It is as if He steps aside and can only watch us so that we now have to run the race alone. Such a thought is so terrifying to most Christians that they have invented the Theory of the Rapture, which says that when the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way, the whole church will be raptured before the days of the lawless one begin. If that is true, then Paul would not have written: …we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.[4] Remember, Paul began this verse with these words of irrevocable authority: According to the Lord’s own words.

Joshua and Caleb are like ones who fit Paul’s description perfectly, we who are still alive, for they were the only two of their generation left after Moses was gone, alone with the entire first generation. These words, we who are still alive, also mean that there are many who are now dead! So, the rapture that many have been misled into anticipating is not going to come the way they think. It is not a rescue before the battle, but rather, the battle will take place and those who are left alive will see Jesus arrive with the holy angels and the members of the First Resurrection. However, a multitude, one third of mankind,[5] will be dead before this happens. Included in that one third will be a large number of Christians, dead but safe in Heaven, separated from their flesh to await the Second Resurrection if they have not died in a way that makes them eligible for the first. That is, if they have not been beheaded for the sake of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.[6] Dead also because, although they believed in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, who was sent by God,[7] they failed to keep the words of Jesus, for Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps My word, he will never see death.”[8]

So, how do you keep anyone’s word? With Joshua, God taught: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.”[9] That is, say it regularly, think about it regularly, and practise it regularly, if not constantly, but how can you say, think or do what you have not heard, and how can you hear unless you know to listen? So, the restoration of the command, “Listen to Him,” is paramount to help those who would be destined to be left alive to survive and not see death.

Jesus said, “…and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die,”[10] which can be taken that anyone alive who believes will never die. Yet many believers, in fact, all believers have died, and we have no 200 years old believers recorded in history. If you have the faith to accept this, accept this, if not, do not accept it. The verse of John 11:26, does not mean anyone who is alive and believes in Him, rather, it is, “whoever lives in Me” and “whoever believes in Me will never die.” There are many believers who do not live in Christ, for they do not speak the words of Christ, think the words of Christ and practise the words of Christ, but have the words, thoughts and practices of men like James the Younger, as part of their ‘Christian life’. Unfortunately, those who live like that, with a mix of words of men and words of Christ, find themselves being torn like a new cloth tears an old cloth, and that tearing is finalised when their spirit and soul have to leave their body because of death. The words of Jesus are spirit and they are life,[11] and as such, they have no room for death. A dedicated holy speaking, meditating and practising of the words of Jesus can only give life. Thus, those who live in Jesus and who believe in Jesus, even when it seems unbelievable, are those who will never die.

So, like Joshua and Caleb, there will be those amongst the church who will make up the group that Paul was shown by the Lord as the ones who are left alive. If you have the faith, accept it. If not, do not accept it, for this has nothing to do with salvation of your soul, but the glorification of our Lord. Indeed, whether you live or die, you are saved if you have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, believing Him to be God’s Son sent by God, accompanied with sincere repentance of your sins. So, understand that we are not speaking of salvation, but amongst those who are saved and strive to be mature, we speak a word of maturity, maturity for those who are mature enough to care for the glory of their God and their Father, as well as their Lord and Brother, Jesus Christ. If childish ways are still your fare, then go and enjoy your childish ways, but leave the place of work for it is not the place for childish ones. Although some children are more mature and less childish than many whom are adults and should be mature.

Because of the disobedience of his compatriots, Joshua spent 40 years in the desert and found himself leading their children into battle, yet, not once did Joshua speak ill of that generation who died in disbelief, not once. Could this be the source of his strength as well as his obedience to the Lord’s commands, even to the writing down of a copy of the Law for himself? Through the 40 years of desert dwelling, Joshua did not speak of it to the children of the dead. Why? Because, he had forgiven them, he had forgiven them of their disbelief when the people listened to the other 10 and not to Caleb and Joshua himself.

So, when God said to Joshua, “Moses My servant is dead… now be strong and courageous,” that is our cue to prepare ourselves for the eventuality when we will be told, “My Spirit has been taken out of the way, now be strong and courageous. Since we have forewarning, then we have time to prepare our strength as well as our courage, but for now, it serves our purpose to concentrate on strength.

Since the joy of the Lord is our strength and God rejoices when we repent and Jesus died for the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins, God’s joy is when He is able to forgive because we have repented. Forgiveness then is the key to the strength, as receiving of the Holy Spirit in baptism is the key to His power. So, how strong can we and should we get? As strong as possible, you say, but how would you measure that strength? As strong as the Lord you say? So, how strong, not powerful, how strong is the Lord? We already have an inkling of His strength through His incredible ordeal on that cross with His display of gratitude, grace and forgiveness. Paul described His strength in this verse when he asked this question: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? He answered by writing: Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?[12] And he declared to us: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nor Heavenly rulers, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, NOR ANYTHING ELSE in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.[13]

When Paul wrote: nor anything else… perhaps he forgot or perhaps he did not forget the one thing that can and does separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus—unforgiveness, for if we do not forgive those who sinned against us, “your Father will not forgive your sins.”[14]

Rest assured, Paul did not forget, for he took care of the subject of forgiveness of sins and repentance in the preceding chapters 4 and 6 already. As such, in Romans 8:35 onwards, he was addressing those who are no longer under any condemnation, but have been set free through the Law of the Spirit of Life,[15] even though they, like him, are still sinning.[16]

It is not sin that separates us from the love of God, but rather unforgiveness, for the covenant that awaits the love of God that is in Christ Jesus is called the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins, not the Covenant of Faith. Oh, faith saves, yes, by the glory of God, but if you lived on faith alone, you will experience moments of separation. For though the righteous will live by their faith, the life they live is not eternal life, unless to that faith they add the knowledge of God and His Jesus Christ.[17] James the Younger would have you add good works to your faith to prove that you have life, for he wrote: You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.[18] Yes, what you do can justify you if that work adds to your knowledge of God, otherwise they are just dead works, which the writer of Hebrews mentioned: Let us… go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works.[19] Any work that does not add to your knowledge of God is a dead work. Thus, you may have faith, but without knowledge of God, eternal life has not been lived. It may have been received, but lived, no.

Thus, you may speak the word of Jesus and meditate on it day and night, but unless you also practise it, then at best you are a theologian (a theoretic knower of God’s ways), and at worst you are a hypocrite (one who does not practise what he/she says or thinks). If you are the latter, you are cursed and if you are the former, you are not much use when the fighting starts. No armchair general is any use on the battlefield.

No, nothing nor anything else separates you from that love of God that is in Christ if you have forgiven those who have sinned against you. Now, Christ has commanded all disciples, not believers, disciples, and indeed when He gave this command, He gave it first to the apostles for it was only the eleven who heard it when He spoke it, “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command.”[20] The proof of that love by action was the laying down of His life and so our proof is the laying down of our lives, which is the action.

But the quality of that love is that it is a love inseparable by neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nor Heavenly rulers, (also unclean spirits), neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor ANYTHING ELSE in all creation, (not even sin) will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In order to obey that command, not just by deeds but by a deed of suitable quality, the quality of the love must be an inseparable love, a love so strong nothing can separate us one from another. For that is the love that God has for Jesus, an inseparable love, a unity so strong that nothing, no power, not death, nor Satan, can separate them, so that even after being forsaken by the Father, Jesus could still say, “Into Your hands, I commit My spirit.” Inseparable to the very end, and so, “It is finished.”

However, we were not left with a church that was inseparable by death, life, angels, demons, the present, the future, any powers, height nor depth, much less anything else. Rather, we have a church that is separable by anything and everything, from the slightest word or whim or offence, a church so divisible that Satan might as well have been resting, and indeed he has. For when there is no enemy that is strong and powerful enough as to be invincible facing him, he can rest and let his cohorts run the battlefield. But, the appearance of the church invincible will force Satan to take to the field personally and even make an alliance with the condemned ones, the beast out of the sea[21] and the beast that looked like a lamb but spoke like a dragon, the beast out of the Earth.[22] Until then, Satan has the church deceived, one third refusing to acknowledge he exists, one third thinking they can bind him when Scripture clearly says that he will not be bound until Jesus arrives,[23] and the remaining one third practising the words of James the Younger, resisting him in disobedience to Jesus’ own command, “Do not resist an evil person.”[24]

The church invincible will be the church triumphant, and for that, it needs its power restored and its people strengthened, strengthened through the joy of the lord, strengthened through a continuous unceasing delight and enjoyment of forgiveness, which strengthens our love for one another until not only is it sacrificial, but inseparable. Sacrificial and inseparable love, so inseparable that nothing, NOTHING, not even sin can separate, and a sin forgiven is a sin that cannot separate.

For the Parable of the Lost Son clearly shows us that the father saw the son while he was still a long way off, “and filled with compassion for him, he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him,”[25] before the son repented to him. Inseparable love comes from forgiveness that precedes the repentance, which is why before the resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”[26] But after the resurrection, He said, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.”[27] Those who are still being discipled will rebuke and forgive after there is repentance, but those who are overcomers, will have forgiven before they rebuke. Is it not to overcome unforgiveness that truly gives us the hallmark of an overcomer?

Thus, our challenge, should we accept it, is to become not only powerful, but develop our strength based entirely on love that is not only sacrificial, but inseparable, and that will come by an unceasing continuing practice of forgiveness of one another’s sins, even if it is against each other.

So then, we can truly love one another as He loves us, sacrificially and inseparably, a fellowship where disciples are so one in love for one another, that nothing separates them. And the taking out of the way of the Holy Spirit only serves to cement and bind them even closer, as they will then have to rely on each other only until Jesus arrives, for then they will not even have the Holy Spirit between them. Amen


 

[1] Joshua 1:9

[2] Joshua 1:2

[3] 2 Thessalonians 2:7

[4] 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

[5] Revelation 9:15,18

[6] Revelation 20:4

[7] John 3:16

[8] John 8:51

[9] Joshua 1:8

[10] John 11:26

[11] John 6:63

[12] Romans 8:35

[13] Romans 8:37-39

[14] Matthew 6:15

[15] Romans 8:1

[16] Romans 7

[17] John 17:3

[18] James 2:24

[19] Hebrews 6:1 OKJV

[20] John 15:12-14

[21] Revelation 13:1-3

[22] Revelation 13:11

[23] Revelation 20:1-3

[24] James 4:7 opposed to Matthew 5:39

[25] Luke 15:20

[26] Luke 17:3

[27] John 20:23

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