Good evening. Several years ago, when we had the Watts riots in Los Angeles, I was calling on Interstate Restaurant Supply in Watts. As I was about to leave, I noticed a small Japanese man waiting in the lobby. In my flawless Japanese, and in his flawless English, we struggled to communicate.
I found out his name was Manabu Yamamoto, and that he was trying to gain some information regarding the restaurant supply business. He was planning to walk to a bus stop and catch a ride back to his hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Seeing the riots had just ended the day before, I doubted if he could get there in one piece. I volunteered to take him with me to his hotel. So I put him in the car and took him downtown
From that time on we had a pretty good lifelong friendship. When he came here on trips, Manbu would come and stay at our home. We enjoyed having his company. Over the years, sometimes he would attend Church with us and with John Ritenbaugh as well.
Then he started to ask if we could take some Japanese children into our home. He brought children to stay with us that they might get a taste of America and how we lived. We enjoyed that. There were had two girls, Akiko and her sister, Tamoko, who were just delightful. They didn't speak English and we didn't speak Japanese. It left a little bit to be desired, but we really had a pretty good time. When the summer was up, our lax simple home as compared to the tight structure Japanese home had been a pleasure to them. They didn't want to leave; they wanted to stay and be Americans.
The parents of these children wanted them exposed to America, and they wanted them to see what its citizens lived like and what our values were. This is why they were there. And on the other hand we had a great deal of enjoyment and fun in showing them how we did things. It was exciting for us to show them how Americans lived and what we ate, the sights that were worth seeing, and things like this
In a sense it was exciting for us to share our lives with others. God gives us these experiences in sharing so that we can, in some small way, begin to understand how excited God, the Father, is to share what He has with us. We can't see what God has; we don't see the spirit world. Yet, God, the Father, is extremely excited—and so is all the host of heaven—to share what they have with us.
I imagine your guardian angels have seen you goof and make mistakes. I know my guardian angel probably shakes his head and says, "how can he be that way?" But he is going to enjoy showing me all the things that we now have in common. They have watched us strain; they've watched us grow and to overcome; they've watched us slip and get up; they've seen us struggle; they've seen our tears in trying to overcome. They've also seen some of our little, puny successes. And they can't wait to share what they have with us! I think that this time pictures that.
We know that we are the first fruits of Gods calling, but what does that mean? How are we called to first fruits? Why are we first fruits, and for what purpose? Will we have inheritance; if so what will that be?
Will we be members of God's family as God is God? What will we be doing? What is our future? Much has been written discounting all that we believe by the churches outside, and by the critics. But God gives us the holy days as a reminder of His purpose for us today. I'd like to review the promises made by God regarding our future.
What are the first fruits? The term first fruits means to ripen first, the beginning, i.e. the first fruits of man or beast. The first fruits were sacred to God. All through history God pictured, by offering of the first fruits, what was to take place on Pentecost—the selection of his first fruits by the giving of His Holy Spirit.
What caused us to become first fruits? We were called by God. Turn over to James, 1 verse 18.
Of His own will (referring to God, the Father) He begat us with the word of truth (He opened our mind, He called us; He gave us to Jesus Christ) that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
That's really exciting. Nobody else realizes this, but you've been called to realize this and to understand it.
John 1:12 - 13
But as many as received Him, He gave them the power (the ability) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name, which were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but God."
So God has called you and He's given you and He's given me the power to become the son of God, to be in the God family, to be in the kingdom of God. And in Galatians 3, what is our part in being the children of God?
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us into Christ that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith was come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster for we are the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
We now have faith. We've been called by God. We've been given faith by God. We trust God. We now have faith in Jesus Christ. II Cor. 6, please.
II Corinthians 6:15 - 18
What concord has Christ with Belial, or what part has he that believes with an infidel? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God (that's who you are). As God has said, "I will dwell in the and walk in them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them and be you separate says the Eternal. And touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you. And I will be a father unto you and you will be my sons and daughters says the Lord God Almighty.
What a wonderful opportunity we have been given!
Romans 8 please, verse 14. We must humble ourselves and be lead by God's Spirit.
For as many as are lead by the Spirit of God they are called the sons of God, and they are called the sons of God that they might glorify God by the way they live.
And we are going to hear during the Feast some wonderful thing about our calling.
And finally, as children of God a wonderful thing has to happen. We are going to possess all that God possesses. We could look up at the top here in verse 15 of Romans 8.
Romans 8: 15
And if you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption, whereby cry Father. And the spirit of it shall bear witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. (And it's a wonderful honor.) And if children of God, then heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ if so be that we suffer with Him so that we may be also glorified with Him.
And being heirs with Christ, we are going to inherit everything that Christ has. That's what's in store for us, and that's what's important this Feast to realize.
Now in Galatians 3, it talks about adoption, and it did here in verse 15—the spirit of adoption. The adoption here pictures the Roman adoption in a sense. It is to secure legal and social standing. In every aspect the adopted one belonged to the family and carried the name. When a child was adopted into the Roman family it was as if he or she were born there. That child became part of the family. He or she was entitled to everything they had. Every thing that they had, that child had.
In Romans 8 the term for adoption implies more than legal and social standing. It implies total legitimacy. That the child is legitimately (as if were born) entitled, as opposed to being illegitimate. And with that comes the rights of the family, the obligations as well, and in the case of God, the obligation to carry on the family name.
We have three adopted children. They are wonderful; we love each one. I just use this as an example, because prior to their adoption, they weren't wanted. When they were adopted, we raised them. They gave us a tremendous amount of joy—as I am sure we give God a tremendous amount of joy—amidst all the headaches we sometimes give him as well. At the same time they will inherit all that I have when my wife and I die. They will inherit all that I have because they are adopted into our family. When you adopt they can legally take them back for one year without any recourse. I can tell you from being an adoptive parent that within two weeks after they came into the house, if they had tried to take them back they would have had to go through me with a shotgun, because I was going to stand in that front door. They were my kids; there was no doubt about it. That the way God feels about you too. You're God's kids!
What will we inherit?
Well—God's Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are adopted children of God and than as children heirs, then joint heirs we have inheritance is to be joint heirs with Christ. Because of that we will share in the glory to come with Him. That's the future that you have. How was he glorified? He was changed from flesh to spirit, and that's going to take place with each of you.
For what purpose did God set us apart?
He set us apart to make us heirs. Refer to H. W. Armstrong's, Mystery of the Ages. You probably haven't heard some of these things in a lot of years. "God saw that no being less than God (in the God family) could certainly be relied on to never sin. We must be like God who can not sin in order to fulfill His purpose for the entire vast universe. God saw that nothing less than Himself, the God family, could be absolutely relied upon to carry out that supreme purpose."
What assurance do we have that this will take place? Well God has a pattern.
Romans 8: Verses 27 - 31
And He who searches the heart knows what the mind is, what is the mind of the spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them who love God and to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did foredestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. (to be just like Jesus Christ), that he might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them he also called, and whom He called, them He also justified, and whom He justified, them He glorified. (And that's for us.) What shall we than say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
God knows what He is doing. When you're changed you will be ready, you will be perfected, you will be glorified—it will be tremendous! The exciting part of this verse is that we are to conform to the image of Christ. That's what God's purpose is, and He's the prefect Father. He's going to see to it that we do it; He's going to see to it that it's done.
Colossians 1:12 - 19
Giving thanks unto the Father which has made us mete to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in life (here we see that God is making us partakers; He's going to do it), who has delivered us from the powers of darkness, who has translated us into the kingdom of his dear son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature (that includes you; that is you.), For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things. By Him all things consist. He is the Head of the body, the Church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead that in all things He might have preeminence, for it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.
So here the Father states that we are qualified, as if we were. He views it as already done. To share in the inheritance of the saints in light, the truth and benefits of God. We are to have joy, wisdom, and love to the fullest. We have been delivered from the power of darkness, the power of evil (this world's value system—even thought it pulls at us, we have been delivered from it and all the grief and pain of living the way that Satan does in this world). Jesus Christ owns all the power to create, to set up thrones and leaders, to help and defend. By Him all things exist, and He has all the power to help us—to help us to stand and to make it.
and He is the head and the body of the Church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things He might have pre-eminence.
He is the beginning, the cause, the act. He is the cause the beginning of creation. He is the efficient cause of creation. He is the beginning of something as the beginning of a line, of a family line. He is the beginning of the family line of God. He is the first born from the dead. That's who we are going to follow. He is the beginning of the line, and you are to be part of that line. That's exciting, brethren! That's exciting!
I Corinthians 15 please,
I Corinthians 15:15 - 23
Yes, and we are found false witness of God because we have testified of God that He has raised up Christ whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead raise not. (In other words, Christ had been preached as having been risen from the dead.) Some of you say that there is no resurrection. If that's' true, then Christ has not risen and if that is the case, then we preach in vain, and then you faith is in vain, and then we are found to be liars, because we say that the Father has raised up Jesus Christ. And you say that it never happened. (However, 500 people saw Him in verse 6, so there's something wrong with your thinking. If it didn't happen then the dead don't rise.) For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised, and if Christ not be raised, then your faith is in vain, then you are yet in your sins, and they also which have fallen asleep or have died in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (Another words, if there is no other hope in this life) If in this life we have no other hope and confidence but in Christ, and if He is still dead and not yet risen, then we are to be more pitied than any other men.
We are sadly deceived. We have denied our selves and been denied by our fellow men, because of our belief and hope in one who is not existing, because He doesn't exist, and He can't help us.
But now Christ is risen from the dead and become the first fruits of those who have slept. But in His resurrection, it has been demonstrated, it is fact and that means that ours will follow. Our resurrection, our changing will follow. He is pictured here as the first fruits—picturing a harvest to follow.
And when will that harvest take place?
But every man in his order, Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's sat His coming.
What will signify that event? It will be by us changing.
i corinthian 15, Verse 51 and 52
Behold I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep but we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For at the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raise incorruptible. And we shall be changed.
I Thessalonians 4, verse 13 - 18
I would not have you sorrow, brethren, for those that have gone to sleep. But the trumpet will sound and those that are dead will rise first and then we who remain will be changed.
That's a promise. That's a promise of God. We have that to stand on.
Now staying in I Cor. 15.
What kind of body will we have?
Verses 35 - 38
But some will say, how are the dead raised up and with what body do they come? You fool, that which you sow is not quickened except you die first.
He said you have to loose this body. And that which you sow you sow not that body which shall be, but bare grain. It may be of chance wheat or of some other grain, but if God gives it a body that is pleasing to every seed his own body.
Drop down to verse 42
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption and it is raised in incorruption.
We are going through the corruption part right now. We're all suffering and straining in the body we have, but it is going to change.
Verse 43 - 49
It is sown in dishonor and raised in glory. It is sown as weakness and it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body and is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and a spiritual body. And so it is written. The first man, Adam, was made a living soul. And the last man was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural. And afterward that which is spiritual. The first man of the earthy, the second man, is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy such are they that are earthy. And as are the heavenly such are they which are also heavenly. And as we have born the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
This is what he is talking about.
Get a little bit better handle on this.
I John 3:1 and 2
Behold what manner of love the father has bestowed upon the sons of God. Now, that word sons of God could just as easily be translated, and probably should be translated, the children of God. Therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved now are we the sons of God (or the children of God), and it does not yet appear what we shall be. But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.
Now the word children here is another word indicating adoption, just as we had heard before, but is much stronger and has a much more tender meaning. I don't think we begin to realize how much God is for us and how He's pulling for us. It means descendent posterity; it means true children. In the most tender of terms, it means my child. God would be standing here at the door with a shotgun, if they tried to take you away. It means my child. That's how special you all are to God!
Go to Philippians 3:20 and 21 because that shows where our citizenship is now.
Philippians 3:20 and 21
For our citizenship is in heaven, from when whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
You see God calls us as thought we already were; God doesn't mince any words. He knows; God doesn't make any mistakes. You're going to hear this too. God trusts you; He has faith in you, and He doesn't make mistakes. He's called you.
He who starts a work in you will finish it.
And that's God. He knows that you are going to make it. So He says here, "Our citizenship", and we should start to consider our citizenship in heaven. We are so physical! We think of our bills. We think of our House. We think of our infirmities. We have about the vision of a myopic. And I'll raise my hand to be the biggest myopic. We've got to start looking past that. We've go to start realizing that we belong to the living God! And that our citizenship is in heaven with Him. That's what it's all about. That's why you're called.
So that's why God says,
in verse 20,
Who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body. According to the working where by He is able to even subdue all things unto Himself.
You know the old saying when you were a kid, "My dad's bigger than your dad? My dad can lick anybody on the block "Well, your Dad can lick anybody—period.
Okay, it shows where our citizenship really is, and what will happen on His return. King David knew his destiny too. Let's take a quick look at Psalms 17. Here David was asking God to vindicate his cause from the wealthy men of his time who were fed by the goodness of God. These people were all taken care of by God, and fed by God. But they didn't realize it and they didn't stop to consider it. David said he didn't envy them, but in verse 15 he says why. He doesn't envy the men of this world. In verse 15 he say why.
As for me, I will behold your face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied when I awake with your likeness.
You see, in one way or another, brethren, each of us, when we awake, will awake, if we remain faithful, with the likeness of God. We are going to see Him as He is. It will be truly wonderful!
Now, what will we be doing in the kingdom of God?
Revelation 20:4 - 6
And I saw thrones, and they that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
That's what you're going to be doing. You're so special; you have such a wonderful future! You see, you have to prepare now for that future. I hope we realize that too. You haven't been called to just sit on your lower exterior posterior. You've been called to work and to get ready. I heard of one thought going around, not with us, but with somebody else. "Don't worry about overcoming now. Just support the work. You can overcome in the place of safety. Well, if you wait to the place of safety to overcome, you're going to have an extremely long wait. It's now that we have to overcome.
You'll be learning how to be God. You should be learning how to be God right now, having been putting into practice all that we've been taught. This is what you're here for. We are leaving our physical world and entering into a spiritual world. If we are going to be different, we have a lot to learn.
When Manabu Yamamoto came to our house, he thought nothing of running around the house in his shorts, as they do in Japan. Well, in our house, I didn't particularly care to have Manabu running around in his shorts. So I had to tell him our custom isn't that way. In the orient, in Japan, I went into the rest room, and all of a sudden a lady came in with me. That was a custom I wasn't ready for! They have the little half Dutch doors, where the ladies have their commode, and the men have their apparatus over on the wall. You could chat and so forth. Like I said, that was a custom I wasn't prepared for. But, I've got to say this, after a while it was no big deal. But the first time it was really a shock!
Well, we are going to have customs, not those kinds I'm sure, but we are going to have customs to learn. We should understand from going to kindergarten, just from watching our children growing, just from watching ourselves growing, that we have to grow up. We go from K-6 through 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, to advanced schooling. We have to learn; we have to grow. You don't just all of a sudden take a super pill and become what you want to be. It takes grunt work; it takes effort. I think everybody understands this. We are going to have to learn to help those coming out of the tribulation. Lets turn to Isaiah 49.
Isaiah 49:22 and 23
Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I will lift My hand to the Gentiles, and I will set up My standard for the peoples. They shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders; Kings shall be your nursing fathers, and queens your nursing mothers; They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth, and lick up the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord, for they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.
We are going to be kings and priests, and we are going to be nurturing those who come out of the tribulation. We'll have to learn how to heal the earth and God's people. Read Isaiah 35 about turning the deserts into springs and things like this. The animals are going to have their natures changed, and we are going to have the blind and the lame and the halt and the deaf and the dumb. We are going to heal those and teach those people how to live. God, in his great mercy for us, is going to start small. Mr. Armstrong always said that God always starts small. It's going to be such a small portion of the population left that we are going to start to work with; so we'll be able to grow in our jobs. But we better be learning now how to work with those people and take care of them. That's what God's doing. These are some of the things we'll have to learn then, but we'd better be learning now how to apply what God is teaching us.
At the end of the thousand years, we are going to have to prepare for the Great White Throne Judgment. By that time, hopefully, there will be thousands or millions more that will be spirit beings as well, because there is something like 40 billion people on the face of the earth. I have no idea how God's going to do it. I don't know if God's going to bring everybody up all at once, and that's a distinct possibility. It's indicated in Ezekiel 37 that that will happen—certainly all of Israel. There'll be homes; there'll be farms; there'll be cultures. There'll be teaching to be done.
There is so much hatred and anger in this world. There have been so many mistakes made that we don't have any idea the size job that we are going to have on our hands. But that's going to be your job. Of course, you will have started with the first fruits at the beginning, and therefore all that come after you will probably be under you, and you'll be over them and guiding them. It's going to be a really interesting time, brethren—a really interesting time!
Go to Hebrews 2:4 - 8. The universe is going to continue to expand.
Hebrews 2:4 - 8
And God also bearing them witness both with signs and wonders and with different miracles and gifts from the Holy Spirit according to His own will? For unto the angels has he not put into subjection the whole world to come whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified saying "Where is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You visited him? (Ps. 8 of David) You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. And you put all things in subjection under His feet." For in that He put all things in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we see not yet all things put under Him. And that not yet all things put under Him is the universe. I don't care if we have something on Mars or going around Saturn. We have a lot more coming brethren, the entire universe! What a wonderful future we've all been called to, every one of us!
But what about the trials we face now? I know nobody has trials but me out there, but lets turn over to Philippians 3:8.
Paul who had been going along so peacefully and quietly and all of a sudden he was blinded, and God sent Ananias. Now I'll just say this for a minute, because Ananias always amazes me. Paul had been struck blind, and God said, "Ananias." Ananias said, "What, Lord?" God told him, "I want you to anoint Paul." And Ananias said, "But Lord, he's a bad guy?" God says, "I know, Ananias." What struck me about that was that God talked to Ananias like I'd call you on the telephone! He said "Ananias"; Ananias says, "Yes Lord." If God talked to me I'd probably collapse. Yet Ananias took it as being normal, and I ask John about that. I said, "John, will that happen again?" He said, "Yes it will." He said God will talk to us like that.
He said anoint Paul. And then He told Ananias, I will show Paul all that he has to suffer. And boy, Paul had a lot to suffer. He gave up a lot. He was the best at what he did. He was tops.
Yet doubtless I count all things but loss.....(all the things I have) for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and so count them as dung, that I may win Christ.
That word dung is rubbish, or if you want to make a modern translation, it what we used to pick up in the back yard after the dog. He said I count it just that low. All the excellency, all the prestige I had, all the wealth, all the honor, I count it as nothing for Jesus Christ. He says that's where my focus is; that's where the excellency is; that's what I'm going to pursue.
I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be received in us.
He said they won't even be remembered when we see the glory that is to be revealed to us. Just as my wife and I were pleased to show these little Japanese girls California and so forth, when we see what God has in store for us we won't even remember anything, any of the trials we faced. Mr. Armstrong often stated that God had allowed mankind to govern itself to destruction. And that's what we are doing. Man had to come to see that his way was a failure and thus we have the terrible problems we see all over the face of the earth. And we, along with the creation, must suffer until the return of Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:19 - 23
For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. (That's us) for the manifestation, for the making evident of the son's of God—for the change (when you and I are changed into spirit beings) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him (God) whose subjected the same in hope; because the creature itself also shall be delivered from bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together. (Because we aren't handling the creation correctly. It's dying.) And not only they, but ourselves also which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body.
All of us groan. I can't tell you how many people said to me, "I can't wait for the Feast to come. I need to be uplifted. I can't wait for the kingdom of God to come, because I need to be changed. I'm tired of the world. We all pray for the kingdom. We want it to come, but we don't like what's going on now. But we are going to have to go through part of that, or perhaps much more. I don't know. We see the entire earth suffering. It doesn't function as it should. We see slaughter and war. 30,000 people the statistics say loose their lives every hour in war. That's a hard number to even fathom! Every day goes on like that according to the stats. How much more starvation and pollution, how many more will be in fear of their lives, their food, their property? How many more are handicapped, blind, and deaf, and lame are there, just longing to be whole. And doesn't your heart go out to them when you see them. When you see the person limping or the person in the wheelchair that can't make it, your heart goes out. You want it changed. The whole earth is coming under attach.
I think one of the saddest things (this does not compare to an adult that is suffering) is when seagulls and albatrosses, and so forth will lay their eggs and look for them to hatch, but there wasn't any shell there because of DDT poisoning. It was just laid there, and sat there, and then broke wide open. And they looked stupid. What's wrong, what have I done wrong? But that's the creation. The whole thing is dying; the whole thing is hurting. Of course the rain forests are being cut down and we have oxygen problems. We have a lot of problems that are facing us.
Paul who had been through so much wanted relief as well. II Corinthians 4 please.
II Corinthians 4:16 - 18
For which cause we faint not, though our outward man perishes, yet the inward man is renewed day by day (by drawing close to God). For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works in a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (In other words, going through the trials and remaining faithful to God works for us a tremendous weight of encouragement, a tremendous weight of glory.) while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary (or temporal), but the things which are not seen are eternal.
We look for the kingdom of God! We look for a future. That's where our focus is. We're citizens, and that's what it's all about.
For we know that if our earthly house, this tabernacle, is dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
This is what we have in store for us, so even if we fear death, and even though we get really nervous when we get very sick, in the back of our minds, brethren, we know that we have the kingdom of God. We know that we are going to be spirit beings, and that God is watching over us, and that He's with us in everything that takes place in our lives.
Verse 2 - 10
For this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our house which is from heaven, if so then being clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now He that has wrought us for the selfsame thing as God, who has also given unto us the earnest of the Spirit (the down payment). Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are also absent from the Eternal. For we walk by faith, and not by sight. Wherefore we labor, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he's done, whether it be good or bad. (We all know this is in the future.)
In Ephesians 1 God gives us the guarantee of His Holy Spirit. Let's take a quick turn over there.
Ephesians 1:11 - 14
in whom also we have obtained an inheritance (we've been adopted, we have obtained an inheritance), being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of his own will, that we should be the praise of His glory who first trusted in God. (That's what our calling's all about.) In whom you also trusted after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of you salvation; in whom also, after that you believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the first position, unto the praise of His glory.
That means you have received the inheritance, the down payment of becoming a spirit being, and you will be redeemed and you will be changed into spirit being. Even though the labor is hard at times, which it is, sometimes we fight the uphill battle to where we almost can't do it. Yet it's going to be worth it. James 1 please, verse 12.
Blessed is the man that endures temptation (or trial); for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to them that love Him.
When you get thorough the trial, the crown of life is going to come. II Timothy 4, please.
II Timothy 4:6 - 8
For I am now ready to be offered, for the time of departure is now at hand. (Paul knew this.) I fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give to me on that Day, and not only to me, but unto all of them also that loved His appearance.
And that's you. You will receive that crown.
Now we all realize that here Paul used the example of the Grecian games as an example of achieving victory. He says I wrestled the good wrestle. He was basically saying, I started for the prize, I came up to the goal, beating my competitors, and I have gained my prize. I kept the faith. I followed the rules, which were God's laws. I conquered each exercise that I was in, and now I have the right to expect the prize. He said the crown is not just laid up for me, but for others who were also faithful. The Lord is the righteous Judge, and he pictures the righteous Judge as being the umpire at the games. He says He is going to judge correctly. That is for those who love His appearing, those who look for Him to come. And remember the reward isn't earned, it is by grace. We don't earn our salvation; it is by grace. The reward is what we earn by how we compete.
There are two words basically translated as crown in the New Testament. I think we think of crown with the spikes and the jewels and the things like this. One is the diadema and one is the diadem, which means to bind around. It is not a crown as we think of a crown today, but as a filament of silk or of linen. It was tied around the head. It was a symbol of kingly, imperial, royal dignity. It was that type of crown. It showed the offices that one held. You can read about that in Revelation 19:12.
But the crown we are to receive is stephanos. It primarily means that which surrounds the wall, as a wall or a crown. The word is use for a crown or for head ornaments of various sorts. When it was used for kings, it was used as a state crown, an official crown. And in our case it denotes a victor's crown, a crown of victory, a symbol of triumph in a game or contest. It was awarded as a prize. And a secondary meaning, it was used as a token of public honor for distinguished service that was accomplished by the person who achieved it. So it was either a military advancement or achievement or festival gladness. Now these crowns were not made like the crowns of today. The were woven of a garland of oak—hopefully it was not poison oak—ivy, myrtle, olive branches or an imitation of these in gold.
The one we receive will never wither or fade away. It will be forever; it will be a permanent crown! Imagine the ceremony that will take place. Remember how I told you how we enjoyed having Manabu here and telling him about America. We took Manabu camping out in the desert. We went geode hunting. We went 20 miles off the highway. Now a man that comes from Japan has never seen a desert. In Japan you can't drive too far without getting in the water. When he saw the desert and camped under the stars, he had visions of John Wayne. We ate by bonfire at night, and Manabu was thrilled. He bought a 10-gallon hat. (He was only about so big.) He wore that back on the airplane, and he got off back in Japan with this huge hat on his head.
But can you imagine the ceremony that will take place when the firstfruits of God are inheriting the Kingdom? We all rejoice at coming to the Feast. Can you imagine the spirit beings? We're anxious; we don't know what we are going for. We know that we are going to look like God. We know that we are going to be like God. We'll be changed into spirit beings, but we don't have any idea of what that means. We know that Jesus Christ could walk through a wall, that He could appear, but we don't have any idea what that's going to be like. And yet, they do! God the Father, Jesus Christ, and all the spirits know just what that's going to be like. And they know what it is going to be like to give up these tired bodies that are getting older and weak, the eyes don't work quite right, or those that are crippled, or something like that. They know what the change is going to mean to us, and they are on the edge of their seats to see us get there.
A special meeting will take place. Turn over to II Peter 1, please, because I think we should go through this. He's talking about all the articles there from verse 3 that pertain to this life and godliness, and precious promises, partakers, and so forth, giving diligence, add to you faith, virtue and knowledge and so forth. Then in verse 10 he says....
II Peter 1:10 - 11
Wherefore, the rather brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure for if you do these things you shall never fail; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In one of the commentaries that I read, it brought out that this entrance was a victor's gate. The victor's gate was never opened, except for the victors. So they had the wall. They had the games. They had all these things, but the victor's gate was opened only for the victors. It was a special entrance. And a special entrance is going to be made for us.
Where will this take place? Very probably at the throne of God with all the angels, all the spirit beings, the judges, the elders, everybody. Turn over to Revelation 1, please.
Revelation 1:6 - 16
And He's made us kings and priests unto God His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever. Amen. Behold, He comes with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him. And all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, says the Lord, which is, which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."
I, John, who also am you brother and companion in tribulation in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle of Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Eternal's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and , "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are unto Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea." Then I turned to see the voice that spoke to me. And having turned I saw seven golden candle sticks , and in the midst of the seven candlesticks One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot and girded down to the paps with a golden girdle. His hair was white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like a flame of fire; His feet wee like as to brass as if burned in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a two-edged sword, and His countenance was as the sun shines in full strength.
That's the party you're going to. That's going to be the individual that's going to be there to greet you, and to say well done good and faithful servant. Twenty-four elders will throw their crowns down and will bow and will give all the glory to God. The only description that I found of God the Father is in Daniel 7. Let's turn over there as we draw to a close on this.
Daniel 7:9 - 13
I beheld as the thrones were cast down and the Ancient of Days did sit; whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued and came for the before Him. A thousand thousands ministered unto Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The judgement was set and the books opened. I beheld then because of the great words which the horn spoke: I beheld till the beast was slain and his body was destroyed and given to them for burning. "As concerning the rest of the beasts, they all had their dominion taken away from them, and their lives prolonged for a season. I saw in a night vision, and behold, One like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before Him.
(You can just see thousands upon thousands and 10 thousands of angels and God the Father sitting there. And that's where you're going to go when we are changed. That is going to be brethren from all we can tell, where you are going to receive what God has in store for you. And if you don't think that God's not excited, He is thrilled. But brethren in all the confusion and pressure at the end of this age we sometimes need to take a look over the top. When I was in the Army, they told us whenever you're lost, climb a tree. Look over all the forest and see where you're going. This is so important to do, because if you don't, you can walk in circles. Get on some high promontory, climb a tree and look out and see where you're going. We have to do that. We have to look over all our problems to see where we are going. We need to have a compass to fix our destination. This is, in essence, what I tried to do tonight on short notice. I was worried about speaking tomorrow, but I didn't have time to worry about speaking tonight.
In conclusion, I remember how excited we'd get when we knew Manabu was coming over with his children. We planned activities and events for them. But far greater than anything man could plan or conceive of is what God has planned for each of us. And God wants to make sure that we are there. So in Luke 12:22 through verse 32, He gives us some sound advice and some wonderful encouragement.
Okay, to conclude then, Luke 12, starting in verse 22.
Luke 12:22 - 32
Life is more than meat and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens that they neither sow nor reap, which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. How much more are you better than the fowl? And which of you taking thought can add to his stature a cubit? If then you be not able to do that thing which is least, why take you thought for the rest? (In other words, if you can do the small things why are you concerned with all these great things?) Consider the lilies and how they grow. They toil not, they spin not and yet, I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And seek not you what you should eat or what you should drink, neither be you of a doubtful mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and you Father knows that these things you have need of. But rather seek you first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Good night, brethren. We'll see you tomorrow.
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