“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.” Gen.14:18 There’s been much supposition as to who ‘Melchizedek’ is. If this had been the only reference to him in the Bible then perhaps there wouldn’t need to be so much conjecture. But he is mentioned again by David who uses the name of Melchizedek in a prophecy about Jesus. “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Ps.110:4 The apostle Paul quotes this passage in the book of Hebrews chapter five. And in chapter seven he adds to the mystery with these thoughts. For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he abides a priest perpetually. Heb.7:1-3
Without wanting, at this stage, to enter into conjecture as to the identity of this person, it’s probably safe to say, there is more happening here than an encounter with some earthly ruler. This ministry of Melchizedek appears to be of divine origin. If that is the case it is probably stating the obvious to say that this ministry shows that God takes a keen interest in the way His work is progressing in this world. Melchizedek said to Abraham, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand Gen.14:19,20 Melchizedek had been following with interest Abraham’s exploits against his enemies. This narrative about Melchizedek is followed soon after by one of the most succinct statements in the Bible on righteousness by faith. After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great……..Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. Gen.15:1,6
If there is a panacea for all the ills of the human mind this is it. Jeremiah poses the question, Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the the health of the daughter of my people been restored? Jer.8:22 The good news is that God, the Master Physician has provided that Balm. The apostle Paul spends the major part of his writings detailing and explaining this topic. This all-embracing truth, this panacea for all of the human ills was there for mankind in Abraham’s day. And it is still little understood, even in Christian circles. God has always known that it is the only way of deliverance for the human condition. Righteousness by faith is the answer to most of the questions of the human mind.
On the other hand God’s way of law dealt with so extensively in the Old Testament was not a mistake. It was necessary to lead us to Christ. The law was always, the schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. Gal.3:24 Unlike all other religions, pure Christianity is not good advice, it is good news.
This statement in Genesis is drawn on by Paul in the New Testament. This could very well be the most profound and unique truth written in the whole of the Bible. It is the basis of the whole of the dissertation of Paul on this most important of subjects. Paul, chosen by God, to be His spokesperson and embrace and enlarge upon this theme quotes this passage in the New Testament. What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.Rom.4:1-3 The fact that this subject of righteousness by faith is mentioned in Genesis in the same context as Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek is interesting.
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It is said of Satan that he has a ministry where he roams to and fro through the earth seeking whom he may destroy. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” Job 1:7 And again in the last book of the Bible. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev.12:9 And of course the well known verse in the New Testament, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph.6:12
Conversely, our heavenly Father has a ministry to constantly counteract the forces of evil in this world. This ministry is not confined to a nation (as in Israel) or a church. In Genesis chapter fourteen we observe that while God was going through the procedures of calling and bringing into being His nation of Israel, just over the hill, as it were, there was this other work going on with Melchizedek. Melchizedek was there for Abraham before the birth of his son Isaac and therefore predates the main religious belief systems in this world: namely – Judaism, Islam and Christianity. And as we have already noted, it is said of Jesus, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb.7:17)
We are told in Genesis that Melchizedek is, a priest of God Most High. Gen.14:18 Now we know that priests do things. Crudens concordance says,”There were priests in every nation, since the term is used of all who have charge of the religious life of a people.” We’re told a little more about this Man in Paul’s writings. For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he abides a’ priest perpetually. Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. Heb.7:1-4
When the New Testament talks about Melchizedek it speaks of Him being without father or mother. This is significant in that God is saying there is no human element in this ministry. What does that mean to us? In the days of the early church we read of contention between different factions. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren…that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.”….For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? 1 Cor.1:11,12; 3:4 Now if this doesn’t strike a responsive chord in today’s world or today’s church I don’t know what does. We are measured by what doctrinal leanings we have within the church. Do we lean to the left or the right? Are we ultra conservative or liberal or just mainstream? Do we follow this speaker or that speaker, this evangelist or that evangelist? Does this describe our current situation? The ministry of Melchizedek transcends all of these human foibles. In this ministry – the ministry of the Holy Spirit – we can’t boast about whose side we are on. And that can mean within the church, between churches, between different denominations, even between different races and cultures not of Christian origin. God’s work, Jesus sacrifice for mankind, is too important to confine to belief systems or cultures.
In Hebrews chapter seven, while talking to the Jewish people about the change in the priesthood and the change from the old to the new covenant Paul goes on to say, For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness. Heb.7:18 emphasis supplied.Right back then God had a priesthood which was not ‘weak’ and ‘useless’. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.(earthly priests) And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. Heb.7:14-16 For this Melchizedek……..Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he abides a priest perpetually. Heb.7:1-3
Jesus sacrifice was too important, too far-reaching, to be left in the hands of the church with its weaknesses and faults. So Heaven itself takes charge and reaches out to individuals. That ministry was always there since the fall of Adam and Eve…….It is there now having been ratified (made complete) by Jesus the Prince of Peace. For it is witnessed of Him(Jesus) THOU ART A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK. Heb.7:17; Ps.110:4
In exploring a subject like this, while not wanting to draw unwarranted conclusions, we do need to be open to deeper lines of truth hidden just under the surface. If there is a genuine line of reasoning here which is barely apparent to the casual observer then why dig to bring it out? Because it’s there for a reason. It delineates the way in which God’s work will be finished in this world. If we can understand the way that God is working in this world we will be better equipped to work with Him – through personal surrender, intercessory prayer and a willingness to be used by God in whatever way He chooses. He is the Commander in Chief and He will marshall His forces (seen and unseen) to finish His work. God has so many branches of His work active today – all enraging the enemy of mankind to a greater or lesser extent. When these forces are marshaled under one banner – the banner of Melchizedek, King of Salem, without father or mother, without fear of failure, without precedent, there will be such a work performed in this world that will devastate the forces of evil and open the way for the second wonderful coming of Jesus in power and great glory.
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The apostle Paul writes under inspiration, “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance….who WILL RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:……For there is no partiality with God. For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts…” Rom.2:4,6,11,12,13,15.
These statements coupled with other statements such as Jesus iconic passages in the sermon on the mount almost seem to contradict Paul’s other statements on righteousness by faith. Jesus said in His sermon on the mount, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God……Matt.5:3-9
These statements seem to be saying that those who have these attributes will actually have their final reward with God. They seem to fly in the face of Paul’s strong teaching that salvation can never be behavioral. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested…Rom.3:21
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We have heard the term the church visible and the church invisible. The book of Colossians talks about “all things visible and invisible”. For in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. Col.1:16 It is clearly stated in Scripture, …love is from God…1 Jn.4:7 This is a clear unequivocal statement with no cultural or religious boundaries. Any genuine love we see manifested in others can only come from God. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above….James 1:17 And of course we are not talking about a self-righteous, self-serving type of love here.
God’s love and compassion is not limited to professors of religion. The fruit of the Spirit is indeed, …love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal.5:22,23 Unless religion brings out these qualities in its adherents it is worthless.
James, an acquaintance of Jesus, perhaps even His brother, says as much. You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. James 2:24 He says this in the context of Genesis 15:6 which he quotes in the preceding verse. And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. James 2:23 There is a link here between the all embracing subject of righteousness by faith, the tender work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of all receptive ones and the work of Melchizedek.
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We only have to read the papers every day to realize that there is unfathomable evil and suffering in this old world. But we also see and read of instances of self-sacrificing love and goodness. And this is often without any mention of religion. And if we were to know the people involved we may find that they do not have any ‘religion’. What’s the point we are making here? We need to be cautious of denigrating, demeaning or diminishing any genuine goodness (which is always the work of the Holy Spirit) in the lives of others, irrespective of culture or creed. Remember Jesus’ words in Matt.12. That is why I tell you that men may be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit cannot be forgiven. A man may say a word against the Son of Man and be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come! Matt.12:31,32 Phillips This is how important Jesus considered the work of the Holy Spirit. He says to us, Do not judge lest you be judged yourselves. Matt.7:1
What does the Bible say about religion? This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27 What’s being said here? It’s talking about a principle….. a person who has Love in their hearts will naturally want to do good to those around them; they will want to make the world a better place for their passing. But what have we done with a Bible passage like this? We have institutionalized it and made it into another project to do within the church. ‘This weekend we will go visiting the widows and orphans etc.’ I believe in doing this we are missing the whole point of what is being said here. It’s not a command, it’s a statement of fact. This is not a statement of something we have to do, it’s a statement of what we are with Christ in our hearts. JESUS DOESN’T MAKE US RELIGIOUS, HE MAKES US BETTER PEOPLE.
There is a law working in this world. We could call it the law of conscience. For God shows no partiality (undue favor, or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another). All who have sinned without the Law will also perish without (regard to) the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged and condemned by the Law. For it is not merely hearing the Law (read) that makes one righteous before God, but it is the doers of the Law who will be held guiltless and acquitted and justified. When Gentiles who have not (the divine) Law do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, since they do not have the Law.They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and areoperating there; with which their conscience (sense of right and wrong) also bears witness; and their (moral) decisions – their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving thoughts – will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse (them). On that day when, as my Gospel proclaims, God by Jesus Christ will judge men in regard to the things which they conceal – their hidden thoughts. Rom.2:11-16 Amplified This is clearly talking of the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jer.31:33 “ And Paul says, ..not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” 2 Cor.3:3
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We have noticed in previous articles how the original church did not retain its original purity but fell away. If this is true of organized religion (the visible church) you would expect that fact to be reflected in the final book about the church – Revelation.
This writer has long held the view that Revelation should be able to be understood by the layman: that there are deeper spiritual truths there that have not heretofore been understood. There is the traditional, more historical view of Revelation or there is the ‘deeper’ spiritual interpretation. The historical view gives us a neat and dovetailed explanation of the events in this book. But history and knowledge don’t necessarily make us happier Christians. And surely this would have to be the purpose of any book in the Bible.
Some of the opening remarks in Revelation do not seem to imply that we need a degree in theology or history to be able to accept and appreciate its words. Happy is the man who reads this prophecy and happy are those who hear it and read and pay attention to its message; for the time is near. Rev.1:3 Phillips It would seem that the disciples expected Jesus to return in their day. These words that Jesus gave through John were meant to strengthen and encourage. Can’t the same apply to us? The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place…..Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. Rev.1:1,3
The first chapter of Revelation is an introduction to the author etc. And then chapters two and three are a description of the church. The words to the seven churches are to the church visible: ie the church in this world. How do we know this? Because they are full of humanity with its faults and imperfections. They are to the organized churches on this earth, which are of course comprised of fallible human beings. If we can just digress for a moment. Traditionally we have give these passages an historical significance. They have more than just an historical significance. The words to these churches have a peculiar ring and strike a responsive chord in each one of us. How many of us have ‘toiled and persevered’? I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance…2:2 How many have experienced affliction and distress? I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)…2:9 Have at times been beguiled and led astray? But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray….2:20 Have at times been victorious and blessed: I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open doorwhich no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 3:8 We need to personalize these words from God and realize that they describe the experiences of each one of us. Not just our faults and failings but also our successes and God’s constant vigilance and interest on our behalf.
Now back to our main point here that these chapters (two and three) are a description of the church visible.
In Revelation chapter four there is a change of pace and tone. After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven….Rev.4:1 It takes us to, not this earth, where we human beings toil with our weaknesses and faults, but into heaven itself where all is perfection, energy and power. It takes us into the very presence of God Himself. And surrounding the throne are “creatures” who are all powerful and all knowing. Unlike us, who tire and wander in our commitment, these Beings are ever vigilant – they never sleep.
If we leave out the artificial chapter designation we find that chapter five is a continuation of the same theme and we are introduced to Jesus, the Lion … from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David…Rev.5:5. He is not on this earth anymore. His sufferings are over. He is in Heaven, His rightful place, applying His atonement to His saints. …the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Rev.5:8-10 Let’s consider the underlined portion here for a moment – a very comprehensive statement.
Remember the book of Revelation was written by John. He was one of the disciples who had actually walked and talked with Jesus. This tells us that when this book was written the work of the church was still in its infancy. Through the efforts of men like Paul the word had gone out to the countries in the vicinity of Israel and bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This was no doubt a lot of people. But I doubt if it could be described as ‘every tribe and language and people and nation’. (5:9) Is this where the work of Melchizedek comes into focus? If, at that time in the worlds history, the Bible can say that God had purchased the souls of men from every nation on this earth, there must have been a far more comprehensive ministry going on in this world than merely that of Paul. We read the book of Acts and we get excited at how God blessed the work of these early evangelists and so we should. But if we are prepared to look a little more closely we realize that there is a far greater, more powerful ministry going on than simply that of Paul. Jesus didn’t die only for the Jewish nation and its immediate neighbours. He loved and died for the whole human race. And that included peoples on the vast continent of Africa, remote tribes of South America and North America, wandering Aborigines in far away Australia, hidden cultures of Asiatic people in the far east: we could go on and on. These were people who were not even to see white people for hundreds and hundreds of years let alone hear the gospel. Was there no salvation for these souls simply because they did not know? The words of Scripture seem to indicate otherwise. There is evidence of a far more widespread ministry right throughout Scripture. In chapter seven there is mention of the same group of people. After talking of the ‘twelve tribes of Israel’ John speaks of, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; Rev.7:9 Who were these people? Could these be the redeemed from the time of creation up until the time when Revelation was written?
We’re told in Scripture that one of Jesus’ first tasks after the resurrection was to release the souls of the men and women in chains. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is eight persons, were brought safely through the water.1 Pet.3:18-20 We know that the times of Noah go way back, to Adams’ immediate descendants. Noah and his family were the only ones saved from the flood. But there were many others before that time, “who once were disobedient”, who will be in God’s kingdom. Jesus first thought after His resurrection was for these souls. These could include the “sons of God”, spoken of in Gen.6:2 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. Heb.11:13
Elsewhere Paul talks about, the spirits of righteous men made perfect. Heb.12:23 John the revelator does talk about those who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb being before the throne of God. Rev.7:14,15 Now depending on what we believe of the state of man in death, these can be very confronting statements. There is obviously something that Jesus revealed to Peter in one of His private conversations and we’re privileged to be able to read about it here. I don’t think we are to take it lightly. There has always been a battle going on for the souls of men: of that we can be certain. When Jesus was resurrected, having overcome all the forces of evil, He then planted His banner of victory right where it was needed. His first thought was for the multitudes who had died under the banner of Melchizedek but whose salvation had not been ratified up until that time. Now whether these souls were conscious of what was happening or whether they were in the ‘sleep’ of death may not be the important point here. Sometimes our pre-occupation with some doctrinal tenet, can color or spoil our appreciation of some wonderful truth. If something doesn’t fit in with our neat and selective set of values we sidestep or reject it. But notice what’s being said here. For you have not come to a mountain that may be touched (as in Mt. Sinai) …But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. Heb.12:18-24
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When Jesus taught us the Lord’s prayer He said, May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Matt.6:12 Was He talking here about the kingdom of glory which would one day come at His second coming? In the context of this prayer He certainly doesn’t seem to be talking about far reaching historical events. He seems to be talking more about His followers and their immediate needs. So it seems much more likely that Jesus is here talking about His imminent kingdom of grace which was soon to come upon the world at His death. Once accomplished and ratified that opened the flood gates for all sorts of things to happen in this world. Notice again what He said, May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Once His kingdom of grace was here, they were to pray that His will would be done on the earth. Is it fair to say that that would be referring to the whole earth? Not just the immediate nation of Israel, or the few nations that the apostle Paul was to preach to around the borders of the Mediterranean. All those people at that time would have been only a miniscule fraction of the worlds population. And if we are honest today we would have to admit that only a fraction of the worlds population has heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the psalmist says, The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. Ps.145:9
Jesus sacrifice was too important, too far-reaching, to be left in the hands of the church with its weaknesses and faults. So Heaven itself takes charge and reaches out to individuals. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him….. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. Isa.59:16,19 KJV Indeed the Spirit of Melchizedek encourages individualism – which of course is frowned upon by the church.
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There are different types of Christians. The extreme right believe that their ‘church’ is the only true faith and that people can only be saved within its fold. Then there are the more moderate members who believe exclusively in the teachings of their church but also believe that there are other Christians out there who are also God’s children. Then there are those who are much more liberal in their views and believe that God can indeed save ‘anyone’ out there who is faithful to the light that they have received. Romans 1:20 and 2:14,15,16 are usually cited as a reason for their stand. It doesn’t hurt to challenge ourselves with these thoughts and wonder where we lie in this range of thinking.
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If indeed there is this vast and powerful ministry out there, do we as individuals, have a role to play? How then do we as individuals fit into this ministry? We are all limited by constraints and responsibilities. Some are so busy having to work and support their families that they are too tired and have no time for ‘missionary’ work. Some may be too poor to even buy a Bible or a book to share with others. Some may be too shy to speak of their faith. Do these people then have no part to play in God’s great plan? Is the work of harvesting souls only left to the Billy Graham’s of this world?
According to the Bible all believers have a very real part to play in God’s work.
Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? James 2:5 What did Jesus say about us ‘little faiths’? ….truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you. Matt.17:20 Great things can be achieved through even little faiths. He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father……you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellence of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Rev.1:6, 1 Pet.2:9 Not many people reading this article would believe that these verses are referring to the clergy. White collars and flowing robes have nothing to do with the priesthood spoken of here. These are the ordinary men, women and children called on by God to be His followers. These verses would seem to indicate that these people have an important part to play in God’s plan – a very real part.
What is the order of Melchizedek? It’s the most powerful ongoing ministry this world has ever seen – without beginnings and without endings. (Heb.7:3) which means it has always been as God Himself. Who is Melchizedek? – One thing seem certain – He is intimately tied in with the Godhead – always working, all powerful, all knowing, in the background. He is, king of peace. Heb.7:2 Jesus told us, Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you…Jn.14:27. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things…Jn.14:26 As human beings our efforts to “spread” the gospel are usually with the church visible – the gospel commission – …go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God. Lk.9:60 And it’s not without good reason that the countries most civilized and prosperous are those that sometime in their past have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ. Surely this is apparent to any honest, open minded person. But does this mean that God has turned His back on individuals of other countries or indeed the other countries themselves? The ongoing work of Melchizedek would seem to indicate otherwise. Remember the birth of Jesus was virtually unheralded in His own country – the nation of Israel. It took ‘wise’ men from the east to herald His coming. Whatever their origin it’s clear that they were His servants and open to His voice. The implications of this are fascinating. While God had His visible church of the time, there was a very real work of grace going on in other parts of the world. The great New Testament writer Paul alludes to this. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. Rom.2:14-16 There are those, even in our own society, who lead simple lives, who have a deep appreciation of the natural things of creation, who have compassion on their fellow man, who are humble and not strident or aggressive in their views. Such people do exist in our society.
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One thing organized religion (visible church) has is knowledge: and as such they are always in the forefront of the battle between Christ and Satan. A lot may be asleep, a lot may be living in unbelief, but as front-line troops they are very much in the firing line of Satan’s forces. Anyone who has followed the Christian way can testify to its blessings but also to resistance from the enemy. The Master Teacher made this plain when He spoke of the blessings of the Christian life “along with persecutions”. Mark 10:30 This is the experience of all who follow the Pathway. We learn the lessons of life. Understanding the principle of the burnt offering (surrender) as discussed in a previous article, can be of inestimable value.
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We are told in the New Testament, …pray at all times in the Spirit…Eph.6:18 What does this mean? We are also told that, …the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…Rom.8:26 He knows what we need before we ask Him.
The church invisible encourages the spirit of individualism. With the church invisible the angels and the Holy Spirit are the chief agents in their work of salvation for the masses. It’s said of the angels, Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? Heb.1:14
One thing that makes us as human beings unique is our identification with sin. This is something the pure unfallen angels cannot know. We have experienced the pain that our sin and shortcomings can produce. And we, like Jesus Himself, have experienced the pain and suffering that’s the result of sin in this world. Because of this, we, in some uncanny way can emphasize with and support our fellow human beings.
Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews, talks of maturity in the Christian faith. This is in the context of referring to Jesus as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. (Heb.5:10) Concerning whom, we have much to say, said Paul. (vs.11) He then goes on to say, Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. Heb.6:1,2 Now these sound like the sort of things we are taught as fundamental church doctrine – even some of these things sound fairly “advanced” by the standards of many churches. But Paul talks about these things as being “elementary”. Let’s press on beyond these, he says, to “maturity’. If this is not telling us that there is a lot more to the Christian life than we have been traditionally taught, then perhaps we should look a little more closely at what is being said here.
Perhaps, prayer in the Spirit is different to what we have been traditionally taught to believe. Going to God with a list of request. Telling Him what we believe He should do. Prayer in the Spirit is not like this.
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The concept of standing for others is spoken of in Scripture.
There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst…….Her priests have done violence to My law…..Her princes within her are like wolves…. The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Ezek.22:25-30 What is this text telling us? That at that time there was violence and oppression in the land and that the religious leaders of the day were not up to the task. God searched for “a man” among them who would stand for Him. Finding such a man would have paved the way for the mercy and justice of God to prevail. They forgot God their Savior…Therefore He said that He would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach before Him, to turn away His wrath from destroying them. Ps.106:21,23 Here one man stood before God to claim His mercy for the people. Is this just an ‘old testament’ concept or can we find this principle spoken of in the new testament?
In the marriage relationship which God treats as sacred we read, For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 1Cor.7:14 When we read statements like this in the Bible we need to look for principles. And what an amazing principle we see here. A believers loved ones can be saved through the faith of the believer. Elsewhere we read another statement that helps throw light on our discussion here. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; Eph.5:25 Our human nature wants to live for itself. It is not natural for us to give ourselves up for another. This is a principle little known in the world today. Hence the high rate of marriage breakups. But the principle of surrendering ourselves for another is Biblical. We have discussed it in depth in the ‘Burnt Offering’. And from the verses we have just quoted above, there are eternal consequences for good in understanding and following these things. We are not talking about an ‘intellectual’ faith here. We are talking about a ‘childlike’ faith. In the words of the Master Himself, “Believe me,” he said “unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is the man who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. Matt.18:2,3 Phillips Only when we have surrendered our natural vanity and made a covenant with God by sacrifice will we begin to understand these principles.
How often we have looked at evangelists and eloquent powerful speakers and thought what a wonderful harvest of souls they will have. Some people seem to have persuasive powers and great success with ‘unbelievers’. Does that mean ‘insignificant’ people have no part in God’s plan? Ever since the days of antiquity God has called His faithful to intercede on behalf of others. The patriarch Job was called to offer burnt offerings (intercede) on behalf of his wayward children. And then towards the end of the same book God instructed Job to pray for his friends while they offered burnt offerings. (Job 1:5; 42:8) These ‘friends’ had been trying to help their friend Job at a human level.
Once we stand and intercede for a person then God can go to work for that soul – because now He has the legal right to do so. God Himself and all of the agencies of heaven can then become involved in working for the salvation of that individual. The battle will rage because the devil will not easily give up one who had previously legally belonged to him. And we will feel the intensity of the battle in our spirits. It’s not a small thing to bring children into the world and dedicate them to God. It’s not a small thing to go to prayer for others.The visible church today mostly functions at a human level and is sometimes about as useful as Job’s friends were to him.
Remember the devil is the accuser. He will bring people down for what they have done and will show no mercy in doing it. It takes a fellow sinner to understand and emphasize and stand for the one under attack. Jesus has paid the price for the sins of the world but it takes believers to appropriate and apply the blood of the everlasting covenant. The grace of God can be ‘applied’ by the believer because they have been called upon to be priests. As priests they can function, not just for themselves, but for others. In fact, “priesthood” implies service for others. Back in the old days of the sanctuary service the priests “applied” the blood of the sin offering on the horns of the altar in the courtyard and once a year within the holy place of the sanctuary itself. They did this “vicariously” on behalf of others. If believers today are “priests” they can then plead (apply) the blood of Christ vicariously on behalf of their fellow man. The New Testament alludes to this fact. By individually grasping the simple truth that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world we place ourselves in harmony with eternal agencies.
And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Matt.16:16-19 These words have often erroneously been applied to the church visible. All false religions of the world major on the church visible with its magnificent edifices, its ostentation, its show. This is to hide the import of what is being said here. The church invisible, God’s true spiritual church, the order of Melchizedek has been given wonderful privileges and powers. We are talking here about humble people who have learnt penitence at the foot of the cross. These texts imply that the surrendered Christian can be so much in step with Heaven that their will can be God’s will. The devil has no answer for this. He cannot stand against the blood of Jesus Christ. The devil is fearful of Jesus followers grasping this eternal truth.
Why isn’t this wonderful truth more obvious, on the surface, for all to see? Sometimes the richer veins of precious metal are hidden below the surface and we have to dig to find them. They are not there for the casual or the cursory. Perhaps if this truth was there for all to see it would lead to complacency. ‘Why go to all the work to spread the gospel when God is doing it all for us through His Holy Spirit?’ While the work of the Spirit is all powerful and perfect, God has ordered some inexplicable link between mankind and this all powerful ministry.
This ministry is clearly dependent on an army of workers who understand and have experienced the love and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are then able to become prayer warriors – intercessors – for God. They work with God to carry on the work of the church invisible. The result of this work may never be seen in this world, in this life. It is a work of faith. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest….The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Matt.9:38,37 KJV We need to see a higher calling in these words than simply sending more teachers and missionaries. What you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, Jesus said. He is implying a very close relationship between His faithful ones on this earth and the armies of His invisible kingdom. He is calling for His people to be trusting and dependent. His Gift to them of the Holy Spirit will harness them to work in harmony with all of God’s divine agencies. These workers know what it is to pray in the Spirit. They will sometimes not even understand who and what they are praying for. Such people will at times have an intense burden and not know why. They are to accept at these times that the battle is raging and they are to accept and submit – as taught in the burnt offering – as Jesus did in the garden.
The spiritual dimension transcends the human condition. At a human level we can range from ecstatic to the depths of despair but the righteousness of Christ stands as a fixed unchangeable constant and dependable fact. For those of us who think this all sounds too esoteric too vague too abstract, we need to remember that the Bible says clearly, …the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “ BUT THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” Rom.1:17 God’s greatest works have always been accomplished by faith. Prayer will become breathing to God’s faithful. Hebrews chapter 11 is the great faith chapter. We need to read that carefully followed by the next chapter (12) and see if God isn’t calling us through His word. All God’s works have always been accomplished by faith. Should we expect it will be any different in the last time? It is even more so, more imperative.
In a previous article on the burnt offering we observed how the individual, “sinks their soul into a living fellowship with God”. Picture the well known painting of Christ in the Garden kneeling with one hand on His breast the other on the ground – He was working for the human race at that time – sinking His soul into the depths of our need – to pray in the Spirit is not unlike this. How else do we explain the inexplicable burden we sometimes feel for Gods work. In the article on the burnt offering we learnt that Job offered burnt offerings on behalf of his children. And towards the end of the book He is told by God to pray for his friends while they offer burnt offerings for themselves. If the burnt offering signifies our surrender, the sinking of our souls as it were into the death of the sacrifice….how then does this work on behalf of another? This work is so vast it’s beyond our human comprehension. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph.6:12
To counteract these dark forces we are reassured to know that God’s spiritual forces are vast and organized. …of the angels..He said…Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? Heb.1:13,14 God is not fighting for countries or borders or religious denominations. How often we think that. ‘Oh, the work is growing, thousands went to such and such a meeting’. We limit God and we limit ourselves when we think of God’s work just in terms of numbers and popularity. Jesus went through the dedication, commitment and hard work of His life and the agony of His always anticipated death for the souls of individual men and women. Think of that, not massive buildings or cathedrals, fortunes or church records. His sight was always on the individual man woman or child. He could see and appreciate the value of that one soul because He was their Creator and He was never going to give them up easily. God is not limited by the slow progress of the visible church, the organized religion in the world today. He has another ministry out there which has been around since the days of Abraham even way before that. It is the order of Melchizedek – the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The greatest battles are being fought in the spiritual realm – the church invisible.
Professors (of religion) do not count in this battle. The real battle is with those who are struggling with themselves. And that can be anyone. It may be the church member who has taken a public stand for Christ and is struggling with doubt or personal weakness. It may be the non church member who is struggling with violence or addiction in their life. This person may be crying out for help inside. God will minister to such people. The many success stories of Alcoholics Anonymous testify to this fact. These people are told to look not solely to themselves but to their ‘Higher Power’. And very often these people are helped dramatically. Individuals find that they can become appreciative of the finer things in life – good music, the beauties of the natural world etc. This is not just the work of happenstance. This is God working through His divine Agencies because of His love for individuals.
God has many sons and daughters who are not part of any organized religion. They can be living in a western culture where Christianity has always been the norm or they can be in some far away secluded race of people who have not even heard the story of Jesus. The darkness in western cultures, even in some churches with their unbelief and popular teaching, can be just as deep as the darkness in primitive cultures. Remember Jesus strongest rebukes were for the leaders of the church of His day. (Matt.23) Any honest hearted Christian can see that these words of Jesus can apply just as readily to the Christian church today. In the words of the book of Revelation, Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…Rev.3:17
All these years we’ve been praying the Lord’s prayer we’ve been unknowingly praying for a much wider and more powerful ministry than we ever imagined. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven….Matt.6:10 Does that mean what it says? On all of the earth? Was Jesus saying that, in anticipation of the day that the gospel would be preached throughout the whole earth? We know that that hasn’t happened even today, in the 21st century.
Or was Jesus implying that His will would soon be done throughout the whole earth because of what was soon to transpire in His life and the gift of the Holy Spirit to this world. This was to be through His infinite sacrifice, the freeing up of the long awaited gift of the Holy Spirit and the prayers and intercession of His people. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: Jn.16:7,8KJV
While Jesus was here, that is, the presence of God in human, physical form, God’s power was limited to those who were in the physical vicinity of Jesus. Jesus opened the way for a much wider, more widespread and comprehensive ministry.
Melchizedek is the personification of the Holy Spirit, without Whom God’s work can never be finished. What great exploits have been performed by ordinary men and women who, without notice or fanfare work tirelessly for those around them? We read of the great sacrifices made by many during the war years of the 20th century. But it doesn’t stop there. There are many today who work tirelessly for the good of their fellow man. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Jn.15:13 Couple that with the text that tells us that all love is from God. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 Jn.4:7 We can be assured that the love of God works incessantly in this world.
Jesus said, Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Matt.5:5 No mention here of belonging to a church. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 5:8 There are a lot of pure, wholesome people in the world who make no outward profession of religion. God knows those who are His.
What happens in churches today, even in those that profess to be God’s commandment keeping people? Do we see persecution of those who dare to be individuals in their thinking? Do we see the protection of the church’s reputation and ‘security’ put before the individual leading’s of the Holy Spirit? One would have to live in constant denial or have lived under a rock to deny that such things do occur. And let us never forget what Jesus said about denying and refuting the work of the Holy Spirit. (Matt.12)
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In his book “Absolute Surrender”, Andrew Murray says, And lest any should have a wrong impression as to what it is to be filled with the Spirit, let me say that it does not mean a state of high excitement, or of absolute perfection, or a state in which there will be no growth. No. Being filled with the Spirit is simply this – having my whole nature yielded to His power. When the whole soul is yielded to the Holy Spirit, God Himself will fill it. Thankfully there have been many teachers over the years who have recognized these wonderful truths. Truth is never left in the hands of a single individual or denomination or country. The Spirit of Melchizedek is well and truly active in the world.
There are millions of souls, millions of situations out there that need the direct intervention of Melchizedek. The intercession of the saints, God’s people, is necessary and even imperative for this work to go ahead. It’s not without reason that God has us living in an era where we can see the events of the world as they are happening from our living rooms. The Holy Spirit will intervene directly in the lives of those who need help. It may be to give courage in the face of crisis. It may be to heal when there is a need. Remember, Jesus is a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Jesus, as a man, was dependant on the power of the Holy Spirit. And He says to us, But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. Jn.16:13
If the Holy Spirit can do all these things, what advantage is there in being a Christian? Much, in every way. To paraphrase the words of Paul, What advantage has the Jew (Christian) Or what is the advantage of circumcision (going through the Christian procedures)? Great in every respect.First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. Rom.3:1,2 To be a Christian is to understand something of the dynamics of the spiritual dimension. Living in this world can be compared to driving a car. Some people are good drivers but know nothing of what is happening under the bonnet in the engine compartment. These could be compared to those who walk through life contentedly following the golden rule. Other people have an understanding of what is happening under the bonnet, in the engine compartment. They understand the mechanics of what is happening. And they have the ability to do what it takes to keep the engine running smoothly. They may or may not even be good drivers. They do the hard work. They get their hands dirty. They experience the pain and frustration of skinned knuckles and things that break, but they keep the vehicle on the road. Both of these people are needed to get the vehicle to its destination. Christians are taught the principles of life. Their influence in the world is of inestimable value. Some may see the results of their influence in this life, others may not.
How often the great truths of the Bible, instead of being used as knowledge to equip us as prayer warriors against the forces of darkness in this world, have been used as some sort of hedge to isolate us from the world. Jesus walked and talked in the real world. He was not afraid to confront the forces of evil. He told parables that taught deep spiritual truths even though they sometimes crossed the boundaries of ‘good theology’. The rich man and Lazarus were an example of this. The Sabbath is another example. This was the one commandment that Jesus was accused of ‘breaking’. Jesus didn’t let His understanding of the mechanics of the spiritual dimension (theology) interfere with His interaction with real people and their needs in the physical world. His life was an outworking of the true spiritual dimension of the law of God which is loving God with our heart, mind and soul and our neighbour as ourselves. (see Matt.22:37-39)
Christians were to be trained to understand the deeper mysteries of God, of the plan of salvation, and then, thus equipped they were to go forward in faith, not with church membership being a constraining influence on them, but a supporting influence. Through the power of the Holy Spirit they are to do the will of God. With many it involves no more than going on their knees in deep surrender before God and allowing the Holy Spirit to use them in intercession for others. This was a very real part of Jesus life and ministry when He walked upon this earth.
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The true church is described in Revelation 14:12 and 12:17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Rev.12:17 The ‘commandments of God’ referred to here must be understood in the context of all of the New Testament. Paul talks about a law ‘written and engraven in stones’. He calls this the ‘ministration of death’. (see 2 Cor.3:7) Paul makes it very clear that this law is not of faith. And the law is not of faith…Gal.3:12 It does us well to often read the whole of Galatians chapter three. The law describes our condition. It cannot change us. It was given because of what we are. It was added because of our condition. It was never a panacea for our condition. If I went to a friend and said, ‘thou shalt not kill’, that wouldn’t be a very pleasant greeting would it? (unless of course he was contemplating violence against someone) That’s the sort of thing you would say to a murderer. The same applies to all of the commandments be it coveting, stealing, lust etc. Even the fourth commandment is included here. It’s still one of the commandments isn’t it! If I was to go to a Christian and say, You must remember the Sabbath day so that you don’t forget that God created the world in six days, that person would rightfully feel insulted wouldn’t he? And rightfully so, because he believes that already. The Sabbath was given for people who had forgotten God or for people so that they would not forget God. If our belief in God is dependent on a set of rules maybe we need to reassess our motives and our relationship with God. Even the fourth commandment is simply one of ten commandments which were given on account of sin.
Jesus made it abundantly clear that He gave us a new commandment. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. Jn.13:34 And yet it was not new. It was as old as the character of God Himself. And like Melchizedek we are talking forever here, without beginnings – eternal. By His grace He was to take His people back to that Edenic state of righteousness that Adam and Eve had before the fall. And this was to be by faith. The law which had been added because of transgressions would no longer condemn a person who was ‘in Christ’.
A new commandment I give to you said Jesus. ‘New”, in what sense? It is new in the same way as He gave us the New Covenant. What is different under the New Covenant? Is man’s nature any different? No! He is still a sinner ie sinful by nature as in the old testament. Does God give us more power in the New Covenant era to overcome sin? Is that what the New Covenant is all about? No! because in the Old Testament that power was available to overcome sin. God doesn’t tell us to be holy and overcome sin unless it is possible. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Gen.4:6,7 This pronouncement by God, all those years ago, is not just for Cain. This statement is for all of us – for every person who is born into this world. It is not dissimilar to the statement found in the last book of the Bible, He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. Rev.21:7
So what is the difference then between the Old and the New Testament? Between the Old and New Covenant? In the Old Testament God gave the law: because it was needed. Man, by his very nature, was involved in sin. The law was added because of transgressions we are told. Thou shalt have no other god’s, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, remember the Sabbath day —do not forget Me as you are so want to do. Man could look into that perfect law, see his own nature, his own sin and turn to God asking for forgiveness, cleansing and power to overcome. The law was necessary because of sin. It was added because of transgressions. This is the clear teaching of the Bible.
What is different in the New Testament? Are we still sinners? Yes! Does the law still condemn us? Yes! As individuals we are no different to everyone else who has been born into this world. By our very nature we are sinners condemned to die. As in Adam all die. How then did Jesus make it different? Did He simply show us the way to live and give us the power of the Holy Spirit that we could follow in His footsteps? No! No! No! If we believe this we are still living under the old covenant, under legalism. ‘If I can only get my feelings under control, if I can only have more faith, if I can only try harder, then maybe tomorrow I can have the peace that I don’t have today.’ Does that sound familiar? Haven’t we all ‘been there and done that’? Life is a continual striving to be better, never knowing whether we have reached the stage whether we are good enough.
No, we all die in Adam, Yes! But we all live in Christ, Yes! For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 1Cor.15:22 This is the awe inspiring truth of the New Testament. This is the uniqueness of Christianity. Christ’s all embracing sacrifice has, once and for all, given Melchizedek (the Holy Spirit) the authority to do His work in the hearts and minds of individuals. For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1Cor.1:18
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It is this writers contention that there will be multitudes saved who ‘know’ nothing or ‘profess’ nothing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus has circumvented the church with its weakness and human failings. His work is too important and too far reaching to be hindered by the degradation and sinfulness of human nature. How many honest in heart people are put off ‘Christianity’ forever when they have seen and read of God’s professed ministers harming little children. Some of these ‘grosser’ sins are well documented but what about the ‘lesser’ sins of pride and human oppression.
What then of us who have the privilege of knowing the full story of Bethlehem, Calvary, the Resurrection, Pentecost, the history of the early church and the full power of the gospel. The answer is there. It is made very clear how we, who are recipients of all the wonderful story of redemption are different. Once again we quote Peter. This man whose heart was broken when he denied his Lord, and who, like us was the recipient of Jesus unfathomable love and forgiveness – this man was given insights and privileges that have come down to us today. This man tells us, through divine inspiration, But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Pet.2:9 What does this mean? It means that we are different to the individual in our society who has been turned away from Christianity. It means we are different to the person in a far away land who has never heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ. With great knowledge comes great responsibility. If we are a royal priesthood what do we do? As mentioned earlier in this article, priests do things. What do we do? We work with God, with the Holy Spirit. But, many of us will be thinking, should I be knocking on more doors, should I be more outspoken in my workplace? I can’t preach or teach. What can I be doing? Once again the answers are there in Scripture. We may have read them a thousand times and never understood or comprehended them. Pauls writings come to our rescue. He says, …in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaningstoo deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rom.8:26,27 If we are being told here that the Holy Spirit is using us and working through us, doesn’t this mean that we are then part of the ministry of Melchizedek? This is an awe inspiring and sobering concept that perhaps we’ve never embraced before. Were we taught that as a part of our ‘fundamental beliefs’? Generally you won’t find it taught at an institutional level because leaders are afraid of it. It will take power out of their hands. But we are talking here of the Power that will finish the work of God.
It may be hard to join a church and adhere to its beliefs and principles. It may be hard to be different to the world and follow an unpopular belief system. But when Christians enter into a surrendered and praying experience on a daily basis and begin to understand and experience the deeper things of the Spirit; then be prepared for real spiritual warfare. The devil does not mind so much if we join a church, adhere to a set of beliefs, and fellowship with like minded souls. We do not pose too much of a threat to him with all of our programs, institutions etc. But let us begin moving in the Spirit and understanding the deeper things of the Spirit of God and then the devil will be threatened and we’ll begin to understand what real persecution and harassment is. The subject of spiritual warfare needs to be addressed more fully and more often.
Now, as discussed previously, we are not talking emotionalism or extremism or heretical teachings here. We are talking the quiet working of the Holy Spirit in individuals’ lives. God will lay upon us a burden. It may be for a loved one, a family member. It may be for a fellow church member. It may be for someone you do not even know personally – a person whom you are convicted needs God’s protection and help. Never treat lightly such a conviction. You may awake at night with a burden for something you are not even aware of – all you know is that at times you have an enormous burden and in some unfathomable way you can identify with Jesus in the garden. Never treat such an experience lightly, never try to reason it away or take it away with sleeping pills or medication. Accept the fact that you are God’s child, that you are a part of His royal priesthood, and that He has laid a burden on you for something or someone, somewhere at some point in time. A situation that only you can deal with – not an angel – they have never experienced the sin experience as we have. A situation that no other individual can deal with, because we are all unique individuals. If God has laid on you a burden, even if you do not know what the burden is for – He may or may not make it plain to you – we are to accept that burden gladly. Thank God that we have a small but important part to play in His vast plan. At such times, the prayer of surrender, not my will but Thine be done O Lord is sufficient. It may not take away the pain, it may cause us to sob or weep uncontrollably, but we are to thank God and ask Him to perform whatever work He is doing somewhere in the world. This is the way the work of God will be finished in this world. Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Zech.4:6
When the morning comes, in the great day of rewards, when many things will be explained, souls who we did not even know will come up to us and say, Thank-you for bearing my burden, thank-you for seeing me through – I am here because of your intercession. And then all will turn to God, sing hallelujah’s and praise Him for what He has accomplished. All praise will be given to God, but we have a very real part to play in His grand plan. This knowledge is important. This gospel of the kingdom must be preached so that more and more can have this knowledge. God has told us, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6 This present world can’t be allowed to go on. It was never God’s will that this world with its horrendous suffering should go on as long as it has. The work has been accomplished by Jesus, the Holy Spirit now has legal access to the minds and hearts of all mankind, the angels with all their purity and power are there to protect, strengthen and assist. All it takes is for God’s children in this world to embrace the promises and His work will be accelerated and finished. We will see how real Jesus’ promise was that, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you. Matt.17:20
This article provides just a bare bones analysis of this subject by one tiny grain of mustard seed. We may be discounted by men, discarded by the church, but unable to resist or deny the grace and the power and the love of God. Others may be led by the Spirit to add to and enlarge on what is being said here through their own personal experiences and study of Scripture.
We need to stress here that none of this is carried out through our own volition. The Holy Spirit performs His work just as He wills. 1Cor.12:11 How often we are tempted to think, if only I had more faith, if only I could love God more, or I need to love my fellow man more. We forget that all of these things are a gift from God. There is nothing we can do to engender more love, more devotion, more dedication, more commitment even. Once we try and do this we are on the pathway of works. Every day we will have to wrench ourselves off that pathway. Love is of God. Righteousness is by faith. Love is a fact. Righteousness is a fact. They are both outside of ourselves. They are both given as a gift. Even our faith is a gift from God. We cannot engender more faith in God. We can only ever surrender to Him, who is our faith, our love, our righteousness. The fruit of the Spirit is indeed, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; and against such things there is no law. Gal.5:22,23
The significant things in life aren’t what we believe or profess – they are what we learn with respect to other people. Letting go of those things that are ugly or hurtful to ourselves or others. (as is spoken of in the burnt offering) A new commandment I give you said Jesus, that ye love one another. These are the significant things in God’s eyes with respect to whether or not He can allow us into His Kingdom – not whether we have a certain set of beliefs or belong to a certain organization.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. Isa.61:11
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Unless otherwise quoted all Bible passages are in red and quoted from the New American Standard version with any emphasis in bold.