“And the God of peace, Himself, sanctify you wholly; and your whole spirit and soul and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Spirit of the Most High God directed the steps of His servant Paul to Thessalonica, “where was a synagogue of the Jews” (Acts. 17:1). There was no advance party that scouted out this region of Macedonia to conduct a straw poll to see how receptive Paul or his word would be and there was no security force in place to ensure his well being during his visit. This servant of God was commissioned with the ministry of reconciliation, to wit, that God had reconciled the world unto Himself, as he preached the manifestation of the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah to the world. He was more important, not in and of himself but by reason of the glad tidings of great joy which he was sent forth to proclaim, than any religious pontiff, social debutante or chief magistrate that could ever set out on this kind of journey and he was protected by the hand of the Lord God Almighty. No one could touch this man and no power in heaven, in the earth or beneath the earth could hinder the course he had been predestined to walk or the work he had been assigned to perform. When he arrived in this portion of Macedonia therefore, he did as was his customary practice and entered into the synagogue of the Jews on three Sabbath days. Here he “reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging that Messiah must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead” and that Jesus of Nazareth was Messiah of God (17:2f). (We write the word ‘Messiah’ instead of ‘Christ’ because, even though they mean the same thing, “anointed”, it would have been improper for Paul to enter into a synagogue and speak Greek. This would have been an affront to the meeting and an insult to the hearers.)
God had appointed this ‘messenger’ to preach the power of God unto salvation in this specific place to these precise hearers as the interwoven means of His will. Accordingly, those who were ordained to eternal life, believed and these were of the same lot (inheritance) as Paul and Silas. These were not exclusively from the nation of Israel but also a great multitude of devout Greek and chief women gave evidence of the work of the Spirit of God within as they revealed the mystery of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They received the ‘power of God unto salvation’, not by the intellectual reasoning or emotion persuasion of Adam, but in the “power and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance”, these became followers of the Lord, having received the Word in much affliction with the joy of the Holy Ghost. Thus were they “examples to all that believed in Macedonia and Achaia” not of the ability of man to be saved but examples of the grace of God in every kindred, nation, tribe and tongue of the world.
This process is not isolated to these few here in this remote region of the globe but rather is a testimony of the grace of God, to all of the elect according to grace, from generation to generation. Each has been chosen in the Anointed from before the foundation of the world and born from above in the time of their habitation in the earthen vessels afore prepared unto glory. Then at a time when it so pleases the Father, He reveals Himself in the tabernacle of this dwelling. This event, known only to the ‘inhabiter of eternity’, results in an action which is not of the will of the flesh nor by the power of man. When the light of His glory is revealed unto the weary traveler in the barren wilderness of this world there is a reaction to all that is and a response to the manifestation of the truth. When God reveals Himself in His children, they see the wickedness of their ways in Adam and they despise themselves and are ashamed. They are given an understanding of the purity of the Holiness of the Father and the exacting justice that His Law demands. This is not an awareness of the Ten Commandments, the dietary restrictions or Holy day observances of the pattern given in the mount and it is certainly not according to the carnal contrivances of the mind and lusts of man. It is an understanding that in Adam dwells no good thing and that nothing that he can think, imagine or perform could ever be acceptable in the sight of God or measure up to the standard of His perfection. It is also an acute awareness that he has believed himself ‘not so bad’ as he has perform the ‘works or righteousness’ by the polluted hand of man and that he expects God to be satisfied with his endeavours.
Now when God sent forth His Word, by the mouth of this prophet, those who had eternal life in them and unto whom God had given ears to hear, heard these sayings, they responded. Even though it was Paul who spoke, it was the Word of God who revealed Himself in His people and caused this reaction, just as He did when here on earth when He spoke and the deaf heard, the blind saw and the lame walked. They could do none the counter wise, for they which heard, “received not as the word of men, but as of God which effectually works also in you that believe” (I Thes. 2:12). They had the love of God shed abroad in their hearts because they were kept in Christ Jesus. They had the testimony of the finished work and the mystery of fullness of the time of the Gentiles and were part of the New Covenant. They had the Law of God written upon their hearts of flesh, they had the Spirit of God in them and He causes them to keep the Law of God perfectly. Therefore they loved one another and had a good testimony of “faith and charity” as the brethren beheld their faith and order.
“For you, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus; for you also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they of the Jews” (I Thes. 2:14).
The manifestation of the grace and presence of God is accompanied first by the curiosity of friends and family who caringly offer sympathy for this strange manner of thinking. This is normally followed with an isolation from the society that was common as the conversations and antics of the world begin to vex the soul. This is coupled together with accusations of intolerance, abject self ascribed holiness and the absence of intellectual sophistication. Thus the hatred of all men is revealed against the children of the King of the universe, but it does not end there.
The affront to the standard and accepted axioms of the religious world are at first accepted with some form of tolerance but this quickly festers and matures into outward actions of anger, malice and hatred. Yet there are a few who feel that these old-fashion tales of a ‘wretched man’ and indwelling sin can be isolated to be dealt with philosophically. Thus the words of the messengers are explained in ways which are less obtrusive to the ears of man, the text is questioned for authenticity and accuracy and mythological tales of the Master Himself are concocted to impugn His Lordship and Deity.
This group of men in Thessalonica was not stirred up because of mere doctrinal disputes. Many groups and sects had arisen which spent their time doing nothing more than disputing doctrines and traditions and although each thought the other in error, none sought to kill the other. There were Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, Greeks and every sort of natural philosopher that were ready and willing to discredit the position of the other groups while fully endorsing their own conclusions. These men all gathered together, in search of the truth (as they understood it), like the Athenians, either to tell something new or to hear the superstitions of others. When Paul arrived at the ‘meeting place’ (synagogue) of the Jews, he took hold of the old writings and showed, through the Law and the Prophets, those things concerning Messiah, but when he came to the issue of the resurrection, then the uproars began. This is because if Jesus is resurrected from the dead, then He is the Lord of all. If He is the Lord of all then He is the King of Kings and if that be so then the Jews killed Him so that God would raise Him up again. If all the Law and the Prophets speak of Messiah as the Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace, then the world stands guilty of rejecting Him and killing Him. If God has raised Him from the dead then judgment has come upon the whole of Adam’s race for He was that sacrifice for sin and He had endured the judgment of God upon His people.
Every place where he preached the gospel was seemingly without issue until he brought up the hope of glory in the resurrection of the dead. To the scholars this was outrageous and to the wise it was utter nonsense because, although these men spent their time in religion, they had not the Spirit of God, therefore they knew not of spiritual matters. Their hope was placed upon lineage, performance and intentions just as every religious ideology is today and shall be until time is not more.
The resurrection of the dead is a spiritual matter. Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life of His people. They were all raised up together with Him and are seated in the heavenlies in Him and every child of grace, groaning within themselves because of the vanity they have been made subject to in hope, patiently awaits the manifestation of the sons of God in their glorified body. The dead men have all risen after the third day in Christ (Is. 26:19) and the whole house of Israel has been quickened together with Him (Ez. 37:11) and this was manifested when Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rms. 1:4). This is the primary (first) resurrection and all who have part in the first resurrection have no part in the second death. This is the boiling point for every group to which the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached. This is a matter that the natural man cannot receive neither can he know it, because it is spiritually discerned.
“You are all children of light and the children of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness” (I Thes. 5:5).
The conduct of the children of grace as they walk through this world is not to be of those things which are inherent to the indigenous people of the world. The church of Jesus Christ is not of this world yet she is in the world. She is manifested from place to place throughout all generations, as a little flock of poor and afflicted people. There are not many noble and not many rich in the things of this world; one even spent his entire time in the habitation of this dwelling as a beggar with sores who lay at the gate of the rich man pleading for bread to sustained him (Luke 16:20).
The children of man, who have not been given the “light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel” (Luke 2:32), love the darkness. Their deeds are dark and they have concluded that none can see them in such darkness. They have been afore outfitted for destruction, they have been created wicked and reserved for the judgment and they have rejected the corner stone of the foundation. These are without thanks before God for all His wondrous works as they have become vain in their own imaginations and have reduced God to the diminutive state of that of His creation. They are drawn away after the natural desires of the flesh while they esteem themselves as being wise yet they daily display themselves as fools.
This is the natural man without the indwelling of the Spirit of God. He is of the night and lives in the kingdom of darkness his entire life. When the time of that habitation is over and the body returns unto the dust from whence it came, there shall be no natural man in the heavens. The new heaven and new earth, wherein exists the New Jerusalem have no need of any sun, moon or stars there for the glory of God and the Lamb are the light thereof. There is no night there and no darkness therefore no children of the night shall enter in through the gates. Only those whose names have been written in the book of life of the Lamb dwell in that Holy City.
These have peace with God through the death, burial and resurrection of the Anointed of Yehovah. He is the King who made Himself of no reputation and taking on the form of the servant of God, He fashioned Himself like unto sinful man. He endured the contradiction of sin against Himself and being touched with the infirmities of His people in Adam, He became perfect in all that He suffered. He who knew no sin, became the sin of His people so that His shed blood might be the remissions of their sin. He therefore as King and Priest upon the throne and being the Prince of Peace has redeemed His people unto Himself, washed them of their sin and cleansed them of all unrighteousness in Adam and has covered them in the day of the wrath of God which is manifested against all unrighteousness.
This is the same God of Peace and that same peace which exceeds all understanding who has set apart a people unto Himself. They are His workmanship, the sheep of His pasture and the citizens of His kingdom. He has preserved them unto the day when, every man in his order, their sonship shall be made evident and the bondage of this corruption shall be no more. He has preserved them as His Bride without spot nor blemish and nothing can harm them or separate them from His love. They are one in Him as He is one in the Father and the Spirit. They are complete in Him, body, soul and spirit yet, as they appear in the flesh, they cannot see what they shall be; but they know that when He shall appear unto them that wait for Him, in the day of their Lord, and they shall be like Him.
“Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit; despise not prophesyings; prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every appearance of evil.”
This is not a check list of duties to become a child of the kingdom for if not born of that incorruptible seed from above, none can enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). These are the natural characteristics and daily conduct of children of the light, who walk in the light of the Lord. The Spirit within sings the praises unto God in that pure language and with an unstammering tongue speaks of how great things God has done. The Spirit causes the groanings and utterances which cannot be heard to ascend continually before the throne of God in the smoke of the incense of a sweet savor unto God. The natural man is not thankful and cannot offer the praise of thanks. Only the messengers about the throne and the elders and the four beasts can properly fall upon their faces to worship God aright with the innumerable host of the redeemed of God, saying “Amen, blessings, glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honour, power and might be unto our God for ever and ever” (Rev. 7:12) as the will of God is performed in heaven. His children rejoice in the Spirit and call upon His name in their trials and tribulations of the flesh and in all this suffering, wherein they have been counted worthy to suffer for His name’s sake, they are thankful unto God for His love, for He treats them as children and not as bastards.
Since the natural man cannot receive or know the things of the Spirit and therefore cannot worship God aright, it is the Spirit within which causes the sons to walk by faith. This faith, which is the faith of Jesus Christ, is not logical as discerned by Adam, it is based upon the hope of the resurrection wherein the spiritual man returns unto God unshackled from the vanity of this world and it cannot be proven by anything that is tangible or visual to the naked ye of man. Thus a man shall act with no regard to his apparent station in life for he has a burning desire to leave his fathers house and venture into a country unknown unto him. He is given a trust and a hope in a promise which cannot be verified in books, through nature or in conversation with his family and friends and he performs those things which defy nature itself as God works in him both to will and do His good pleasure.
The leadership of this Spirit within is contrary to the delights and desires of the flesh so that there is a warfare as the child discovers the law in the members which wars against the law in the mind. He is taught that his natural heart is so desperately wicked that he cannot know it, his thoughts and impulses are so vile that he is repulsed by them and yet at the same time drawn after them and he finds that when he would do good, evil is present. To this the Spirit instructs the pilgrims and sojourners in the flesh, to be aware of His presence, His leadings and His Word (which is the testimony of Jesus Christ – Rev. 19:10) and ‘give account’ to the evidence which cannot be seen.
This is not a blind acceptance and ecumenical adoption of every wind of doctrine for if the Word cannot be verified in the mouth of two or three witnesses or if the word spoken does not come to pass, then it is another gospel and the speaker is ‘Anathema’. Therefore, to the children of that city set upon the hill, the breath of God commands that all things are to be tried and proven as they hold fast that which is good. These walk circumspectly in this barren wilderness knowing that their affection are on high as they long to return to the Father’s house. They cannot ride the land (their earthly tabernacle) of the inhabitants of the land (Adam) but the grace of God has made the elder (Esau/Edom/Adam) servant to the younger, the child of promise. He, the Lord God Almighty, has set His people apart from the world and all her sin and He shall preserve them without blame unto the day when He returns in the clouds to call them home.
“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect whom God justifies? Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ,; tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword? (As it is written, ‘For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’)
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us; for I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rms 8:33ff).
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
April 6, 2014