This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Tape No. I-5030Page
Lord, we just open our hearts and minds to thee now through the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus, trusting thee to quicken thy word to us and make it real and apply it in a very practical way to each one of our lives and situations. That it may accomplish your purposes in us and make us more fully what you want us to be as your people. For your glory, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
We have a lot of material to cover so I’m going to try and go pretty quickly. First of all, a little quick review as I warned you. We’ve been speaking about seven successive pictures of God’s people presented in Ephesians. I would like you, without reference to your outline, to name them in their correct order. Number one, assembly. Number two, body. Number three, workmanship. Number four, family. Number five, temple. Number six, bride. Number seven, army. It’s amazing. Both classes always come out clearest on the bride, it’s quite surprising. Everybody remembers the bride.
We’ll do that once more very rapidly. Number one, assembly. Number two, body. Number three, workmanship. Number four, family. Number five, temple. Number six, bride. Number seven, army.
We’ll just quickly answer in respect to each one that we studied the three questions. What purpose does it serve for God? What does it require in our relationship to God? What does it require in our relationship to one another? Now try and do it without looking at your outline. There’s no marks off if you do look at your outline because there’s no marks anyhow.
The assembly, what does it show of God? His government or his authority. What does it require in us? Order. What is required towards one another? Recognize. Okay. That was pretty good for some of you.
Secondly, the body. What purpose of God does that serve? It’s his agent. What is required in the members in relationship to the Head? Availability. And what is required in our relationship to one another? Interdependence. We depend on one another.
Number three, the workmanship or the masterpiece. What does that display of God? His creative genius or his many sided wisdom. What is required in us as being part of his workmanship? Pliability or we used another word, yieldedness. And what is required in our relationship to one another in that context? The word I gave you was mergeability, willing to be merged together into something which our individuality is, in some sense sacrificed.
The fourth one was the family. What does that display of God? His Fatherhood. What is required in us as his children? Obedience. And what is required in us toward one another? Love.
Number five was the temple. What does that provide God with? A dwelling place. What is required in us as living stones in our relationship to God? Correctability, the willingness to be chiseled, cut, shaped. And what is required in our relationship to one another? Placement, the willingness to be put in our right place.
We have two more pictures to do in our closing study. The next one is the bride. We’ll ask ourselves the same three questions. The bride reveals Christ’s what? Several people got it right. The answer is glory. We’ll come back to the scriptures for that in a moment.
What is required in us in our attitude towards Christ as the bride? Adoration is all right. Loyalty I’d rather keep for something else. Devotion is good. But in all the parables that speak about the bridegroom and the bride, there’s always one thing that’s emphasized. Readiness is really the right word. I put expectancy but readiness is saying the same thing. Every one of the parables that speaks about the bride speaks about expectancy. I believe if we are lacking in expectancy it’s questionable if we’re ready to be the bride.
And then in our relationship towards one another, this is a little intricate. My answer which I will support later is that it demands that we exalt one another by example. Exhortation or example would be the answers I would suggest. Of course, as I’ve said before, many different answers are all perfectly reasonable.
Now let’s look at the statements that the bride is to reveal Christ’s glory. Let’s turn to 1Corinthians 11 and we look at two verses. 1Corinthians 11:3 says:
“But I would have you know...”
And whenever Paul says that I’m sure he realized the majority of people didn’t know.
“But I would have you know, the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”
Putting that in descending order, God the Father is the head of Christ; Christ is the head of the man or the husband; the husband is the head of the woman. There is a divine order of headship that starts in heaven and moves down into every home.
This involves responsibilities on both sides. And so Paul says in verse 7, and we’re not dealing with the question of whether ladies ought to wear hats in church so just don’t get on your guard because we’re not going to attack you. It says:
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God...”
It was the male who was created in the image and likeness of God to show forth God’s likeness and glory to the rest of the creation.
“...but the woman is the glory of the man.”
Or the wife is the glory of the husband. The wife’s responsibility is to reflect her husband’s glory. And as the bride of Christ, our responsibility is to reflect his glory. This is a very deep and a very practical teaching.
I don’t want to take long on it but I just want to relate it to the marriage relationship because it’s so close to that between Christ and his bride. See, some ladies have got the idea that because the Bible teaches the wife should be in submission to the husband that that implies inferiority. That is not so. Submission is not inferiority because Christ is in submission to the Father but he is not inferior to the Father. In fact, he said, “I and my Father are one.” Submission is not inferiority, it’s placement. It’s being where you ought to be.
And then again there are responsibilities between husband and wife. And when I say that my wife is my glory, I’m really not placing the responsibility nearly so much on my wife as I am on myself. And it’s a very challenging responsibility.
Somebody asked a well-known preacher once “What kind of a Christian is Mr. Smith?” The preacher answered, “I can’t tell you, I haven’t met his wife. I’ll tell you when I’ve seen her.” That is a very wise answer. If you want to know what a kind of Christian Mr. Smith is, look at Mrs. Smith. She’s his glory. She reveals what he’s really like. To me, this challenges the husband much more than the wife. If you want to know what kind of a Christian I am, you have to look at my wife. If my wife is restful, secure, joyful, fruitful, relaxed; she’s my glory. But if she’s insecure, frustrated and bitter; it tells you a lot about me. She is not my glory. It’s my business to protect her. It says in Ephesians 5, “Christ is the savior of the body,” which is the church.
You see, it all began—actually we don’t see this so much but the problems of the human race began when the man failed to protect his wife. You have to go behind the surface but it’s there. God placed Adam in the garden to keep it. The Hebrew word means to protect it. He failed, he let the snake in. He ought never to have let the snake in because it was one of the beasts of the field, it had no place in the garden. Then Eve failed because she was away from her husband and met the snake in her own strength and wisdom, which she was not expected to do.
You’ve probably heard Ern Baxter say all the troubles of the human race would never have arisen if only Eve had said to the snake, “I never talk to strange snakes without my husband.” Each of them was out of divine order. Surely this tells us that the remedy for our problems is divine order. That’s, I believe, what God is really saying to us today.
So, the wife reflects what her husband is. This is very, very true. I’ll tell you something else. Children reflect what their parents are. As a visiting preacher, I’ve discovered that a married couple can conceal their real attitudes towards me, but their children rarely do. And when I go into a home where the children show me love and respect, I know that’s what their parents feel. But when the children are sassy, the parents may talk nice to me but I question whether that’s their real attitude. See, we’re always revealing ourselves in those to whom we are related.
Coming back now to the church, the purpose of God is to reveal the glory of Christ in the church. God is present everywhere. He’s omnipresent. But his glory is where his presence is manifested. It can been seen, it can be felt. Many of us know what it is to feel the glory of God in our bodies, in the atmosphere, to see it on the faces of other Christians. That’s something manifest. And the purpose of God in the church is to manifest the glory of Christ the bridegroom in the bride. Jesus is not coming for a bent, wrinkled, haggard old crone.
Let’s look in Ephesians 1 for a moment. Mind you, I’m not in any way speaking disrespectfully of old age, don’t misunderstand me. But I’m just pointing out that the bride that Christ is coming for is going to glorify him. Ephesians 1:11 says this:
“That we should be to the praise of his glory who first trusted in Christ.”
We are to be the demonstration of his glory so that all the universe will praise his glory when they see it in us.
And then in Ephesians 5 we have at verse 25:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water by the word.”
That, I believe, is what he’s doing right now. The word that’s translated “word” there, rhema, means the preached word. I believe one of the things that God does at a camp like this is cleanse and sanctify the believers through the preached word that goes forth. Christ redeemed the church by his blood that he might thereafter sanctify it by his word. He came by water and by blood. By blood is the redeemer, by water is the sanctifier. He redeems the church by his blood, he sanctifies it by his preached word. And it’s only after it has been sanctified that it will be what he intends it to be which is described in the next verse, verse 27:
“That he might present it to himself a glorious church...”
That’s not just language. That means that the church will be permeated with the manifest presence of God.
You know, actually when you see a young woman who is really in love with her husband, everything in her face just beams love at him. She’s radiant. Well, that’s how God wants the church to be. A radiant church without spot or wrinkle. Unbelievably beautiful. Isn’t it good that God can do it? He’s going to do it.
We’ve got to go on. What is required in our relationship to Christ the bridegroom as his bride? I’d like you to turn, first of all, to a scripture in 2Corinthians which I find very, very significant. 2Corinthians 11:2–4. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth which was the product of his ministry. And he says:
“For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband; that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtitle, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”
Let’s look at the picture there and see what it says to us. We have to be acquainted with the basic principles of marriage amongst the Jewish people. There were two main ceremonies. The first was espousal which is something like what we would call engagement. The second, which usually followed about a year later, was the actual marriage ceremony which was followed by the physical union between the man and his bride. But in Hebrew custom, espousal was a very sacred binding covenant agreement between a man and a woman. And although they still lived apart, and they did not come together in physical relationship, the woman was bound to the man by that covenant. And if, in the course of that time she became related to another man, she was treated as an adulteress and the relationship was broken by something that was known as a divorce. So solemn was the espousal commitment.
And of course, this is exemplified in the story of Joseph and Mary. Joseph and Mary were espoused, they were not married and when Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, he was minded to divorce her the scripture says, to put her away.
Now Paul says in this passage, “I have espoused you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” When we become Christians we are espoused, but the marriage hasn’t taken place. That’s yet in the future. What is happening in this period between espousal and marriage, our loyalty to Christ is being tested. And Paul says, “I want you to be a chaste virgin when you meet the bridegroom.”
There are some very beautiful thoughts in that because if anybody, any group of people, by natural standards did not qualify to be a chaste virgin, it was the Corinthians Christians. They were prostitutes, homosexuals, effeminate, drunkards. And yet, the grace and blood of Jesus gave them the privilege of being in God’s sight a chaste virgin.
But now Paul says be careful that you don’t lose your virginity. Be careful that you don’t get tricked into a wrong relationship which will make you unfit to be the bride. And this is so highly relevant to our contemporary situation that I want to take a moment or two to look into it. He says in verse 3:
“I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtitle, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
It’s interesting to notice the parallel between Adam and Eve which I don’t want to press, but it struck me that Adam and Eve had never been physically related when the fall took place. They were, in essence, in the state of espousal, not in the relationship of marriage. And Eve’s mind was corrupted from loyalty to God and to her husband through the subtitle of the serpent.
And so Paul is afraid for these Christians that the devil will get at their minds and corrupt them from the pure simplicity of faith in Jesus Christ and total commitment to him. And in the next verse he described the way that this could happen. And as I read these words I just want you to ask yourself do we not see this indeed happening all around us in the churches of America today? He says:
“If he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached...”
What kind of other Jesus? Well, a great teacher, the greatest guru, just a little higher than Buddha and Socrates and Plato and Martin Luther King. But not a redeeming savior. Do we hear another Jesus preached? Do we hear a Jesus preached who is not born of a virgin? Who is not truly divine? What’s that? Exactly what Paul was talking about, preaching another Jesus. And then he says:
“...if you receive another spirit...”
Were these Spirit baptized Christians? Was it possible for them to receive another spirit? Apparently. How? Through receiving a wrong picture of Jesus. In other words, they could open their mind to an error that would open their spirits to a spirit of error. And then he says:
“...or if you receive another gospel...”
What kind of gospel could that be? Well, a gospel that speaks only about the love of God and never about the judgment of God. A gospel that just tells us God loves everybody, that talks about the Fatherhood of God even over the unconverted. The Bible doesn’t say the unconverted are the children of God, it says they’re the children of the devil. Is that happening today? Why? Because the devil is seeking to corrupt the bride from her loyalty to Jesus Christ.
At the close of this age it’s my firm conviction there will be only two groups in Christendom. Not two denominations but two groups. One will be the bride and the other will be what? The harlot. What will be the difference? Is it speaking in tongues? Is it water baptism? What is it? Loyalty to Jesus Christ. The bride has remained true, the harlot has been seduced from her loyalty to Jesus.
Just look for a moment and you see the two of them presented in the book of Revelation. We won’t dwell on it, Revelation 17:1:
“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying, Come hither; I will show thee the judgment of the great whore [the great harlot] that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”
We see there the description of a church system that is dominating a political system.
And then in Revelation 21:9:
“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither; I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
So there the two are set in opposition to one another. The harlot, the bride. Not a denomination, not a doctrine, but a relationship to Jesus Christ. And I would say both are well advanced in formation in the church today. The bride is nearing completion and the harlot is surely being manifest.
I would add this. People say stay in your church. My counsel is neither stay in your church nor come out of your church. I don’t believe preachers really have authority to tell individual believers that. But just make sure that you don’t end up in the harlot. I think I have authority to say that. Because there are a lot of churches that have got a lot more of the harlot than the bride in them. This is just an obvious fact, it’s not to be controversial.
Let’s look at two other passages of scripture. Hebrews 9:28.
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
What’s the qualification for seeing him appearing unto salvation? What kind of person will he appear to? Well, out of this verse here, “Unto them that look for him,” what’s the key word? Expectancy. He’ll come for those who are expecting him as savior. For the rest he will come as judge.
And then in Revelation 19 we need to look at these verses for a moment. Verses 7–8.
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”
You understand, now we are not talking about espousal, we’re talking about marriage. The espousal has taken place, the marriage is yet in the future. But there will come a moment when Christ will be united with his bride in marriage. Though I may not fully understand that, I personally am convinced that it will be a real union. And it will be a productive union. I believe the purposes of God for all subsequent ages will be brought forth out of the union between Christ and his bride.
Now we have the description of those who constitute the bride in the next verse. That’s verse 8:
“To her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
In the Bible, fine linen is always a type of purity. All through the Bible. You’ll remember in one place in Ezekiel the priests that were girded with wool were not permitted access to the presence of the Lord. And in Deuteronomy it says you’re not to wear a garment of mingled wool and linen or cotton. But there has to be absolute purity in the priesthood. So here fine linen speaks of absolute purity. And its says the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. That’s the King James translation.
But we need to look below the translation. There are two Greek words for righteousness. One is ?day-ki-ous-u-nay?, the other is ?day-ki-oma?. Now you don’t need to bother about the exact form of those words but ?daykiousunay? is righteousness in the abstract. ?Daykioma? is righteousness in act or an act of righteousness. When you and I believe in Jesus Christ, his righteousness, ?daykiousunay? is imputed to us. We are made righteous with His righteousness. When we live out of faith, we express that imputed righteousness in ?daykioma? which is outworked righteousness, our acts of righteousness.
Now very interestingly, the word used here is ?daykioma?, ?daykiomata?, plural. The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. That’s a very searching statement. “His wife hath made herself ready.” How? By her righteous acts.
In every culture that I’ve ever known, there’s one rule about marriage. The bridegroom never prepares the bride. The bride always prepares herself. The responsibility is placed on her. The scripture says his wife hath made herself ready. How? By her outworked righteous acts. The imputed righteousness of Christ will not avail for the bridal feast. It’s got to be the outworked righteousness.
My wife and I had a friend, a missionary, years back in Jerusalem, a lady whom we knew well, a very precious lady who became sick. She lay sick a long while and she thought she was going to die. She was kind of getting ready in her mind to die and one night the Lord gave her a very vivid dream. And in this dream she was working on a beautiful white dress. And as she looked at the dress in her dream she saw that there was a lot of it that was not yet finished. She realized there was a lot more work to do on the dress. When she woke up in the morning she realized the Lord had shown her that she wasn’t ready to go home because her work was not yet finished. I always think about that when I hear the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Every one of us has got a dress to complete. And we complete it by our acts of obedience. This is very important.
Let’s look at another parallel passage in Philippians 2:12–13.
“Wherefore my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
See the balance there? God works in you and he works in you first to will, then to do God’s pleasure. The Christian life is not struggling to do something that we don’t want to do against our will, God works in us the will to do what he wants. Then he works the ability to do it. For God works in us to will and to do.
But, he only works in us so far as we work out what he works in. God works in, we work out. The measure of what God can work in is determined by the measure of what we work out. So there’s a two way process. God is working into us, but by the way we live, by our righteous acts, we are working out what God has worked in. So the preparation of the bride is to work out what God has worked in. The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And we don’t want any saints with miniskirts. That statement just slipped out!
All right. We’re going on. What is required in our relationship to one another? I said exhortation and example, didn’t I? Let’s turn to Hebrews 10:23–25. I believe there’s a message there.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)...”
As I pointed out the other night, one of the themes of Hebrews is a continual exhortation not to go back on your first faith because the Hebrew Christians were in great danger of doing that. Of almost giving up the profession of faith in Jesus the Messiah and becoming enamored again with the Old Testament worship and the sacrifices. You see, one of the great themes is continually pointing out the superiority of Christ and the New Covenant over the law and the Old Covenant. It’s addressed to people who were still in some way enamored of the old, who had made a profession of faith in Christ but were in danger of turning back.
So I think there are five separate exhortations in Hebrews on the dangers of turning back. And here the message is let us hold fast, let us not give up what we have professed. Verse 24:
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works...”
This is part of our responsibility, not merely to hold fast ourselves but to encourage one another, to consider how we can provoke one another to love and good works. The word provoke I think is deliberately paradoxical. Normally we provoke people to bad acts, to anger and jealousy. But we are to consider how we can provoke one another to good acts, to the outworked righteous acts of obedience.
And then together with that we have verse 25:
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
The day of Christ’s return. So the nearer we come to the day, the greater our responsibility to meet together, challenge one another, provoke one another to that which is good and exhort one another and watch over one another.
Now here is where I believe the small group, the cell group or whatever you like to call it, has a unique function. I think that’s where we can do that the best. In a large gathering, the person who is being really troubled or on the verge of backsliding can remain hidden. But in a small group of ten or twelve persons, very little remains hidden for long. And in the big group, the person who has some deep, inner personal problem probably will never come out with it. But in the small group, as we lay bare our lives to one another and meet together and encourage and pray for one another, things come out into the open.
Now my experience is in dealing with cell groups, you come to a point where you’re sorely tempted to turn back. Especially if you’re religious. This is comical. The people have never known anything else, they don’t have many problems. But the people who are used to being religious—you see, in my way of thinking, the cell group isn’t a prayer meeting, it isn’t a Bible study. And people say what do we do? Just sit and look at one another. Well, there’s something to be said for doing that.
I’m not against prayer meetings or Bible studies, but you see, in a Bible study somebody can sit there and remain hidden. In a prayer meeting they can pray a beautiful prayer. But when it comes to really opening up to one another, every one of us that’s been this way has come to the point, “well, is it really worth it? And do I really want people to know me that well? Wouldn’t I prefer to keep my mask on?” Here I really believe is something very much related to what we’re reading because the word that’s used in Hebrews there is “your synagogue,” the place where you gather together. It’s not the word ekklesia, it’s not the church assembly. I think it really is speaking about little meetings where people become very honest with one another.
See, I have been concerned for years that people can sit in a church for 15 years, have deep personal problems that never are revealed to anybody. For instance, in many churches, in my ministry of deliverance as a visiting preacher I’ve discovered there are homosexuals. You’d be surprised how many evangelical Pentecostal churches have people there with the problem of homosexuality. But it never is revealed because they’re ashamed, they don’t dare to come out into the open with it. I had a letter from a young man somewhere in this part of the country and it was about a 4 page letter. The first 3 pages were devoted to getting me ready for what he wanted to tell me. The fourth page was that he was a homosexual. And it took him all that time to take up the courage to make that statement. I wrote back and told him that there was hope, there was a way out. He wrote back and said, “You’re the first person who has ever done anything but discourage me or reject me.”
So what I’m really talking about is a relationship between believers where when the problems come up they come out. And we exalt one another, encourage one another, correct one another but don’t reject one another. You’ve probably heard Bob Mumford’s little slogan, “Correct me but don’t reject me.” That’s what people are crying out for. Correct me but don’t reject me. I’ve got this problem, help me but don’t give up on me. So I really think that this passage in Hebrews here is particularly relevant for the time and the situation in which we find ourselves.
We’re going on. Let’s take that passage from the Song of Solomon just for a moment very quickly. Song of Solomon 1:4. This is the young lady speaking and she says:
“Draw me and we will run after thee...”
You’ll notice, from singular to plural. “Draw me and we will run.” That’s examples. So it’s exhortation and example. When the Lord can draw you, the people who see you running will want to run with you. So there’s the responsibility of example in our relationship to the bridegroom. If you read through the Song of Solomon there’s much of that there. “What is thy beloved more than another beloved?” they say. “I’ll tell you.” is the answer of the bride. And that’s how we need to provoke people to love and to good works.
Now we’re going to the last picture, the army. We’ve got just not very much time left. We ask ourselves the three questions bearing in mind that my answer is not necessarily the right answer. The army manifests God’s what? Power is good. Somebody said it. Victory is the word that I would choose because power is manifested in nature, it’s manifested in many ways. But it’s essentially a military phrase that we want and I think the most suitable one is victory.
What does it require in our relationship towards our commander in chief? Obedience, but we’ve done that for the family, remember? Loyalty I’m going to save for the next one. I don’t know how many of you have been soldiers, but I was a soldier much longer than I ever wanted to be. There’s one distinctive thing that—that’s right, discipline. That’s what the army essentially imposes upon you. Discipline.
Somebody said the army gets you in by appeal but when it’s got you there it changed its language, it doesn’t make any more appeals after that, it says do this! You may go in on a wave of patriotic fervor, but when you get in that’s not relevant any longer.
What’s required in our relationship toward one another? There’s where I think the word loyalty really is appropriate. It’s one thing to be shot at from the front, it’s another thing to be shot at from the back. Most Christians are casualties from their own forces. I really believe this is where the emphasis of the Holy Spirit is right at the moment, it’s on discipline and loyalty.
You see, I think it was kind of prophetic insight that caused Paul to keep these two pictures that we’re dealing with now for the end of the epistle. The bride and the army. I really believe they are the two emphases at the end time of the Holy Spirit. The bride getting ready for the bridegroom; the army going forth to defeat Satan.
Let’s look then very quickly at the manifesting of God’s victory. This is a tremendous theme but we’ll deal with it very rapidly. First of all, we need to see that the Lord is a military commander. Exodus 15:3 says:
“The Lord is a man of war, the Lord is his name.”
We need to know that God is a man of war.
And then in Psalm 24:8–10:
“Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord might in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.”
We’re very used to the phrase the Lord of hosts. But it covers up something because we are not familiar with Elizabethan English. But the word that’s translated “host” in Hebrew is ?savah? which is the standard Hebrew word for an army. And it’s used of the modern Israeli army. So he is the Lord of armies. And he’s a God of battle and he’s a man of war. He is worthy and capable to be our commander. It’s good to know that. To have confidence in your commander is a very important thing in military life. Morale always fails amongst troops when they lack confidence in their commander. But we can have our morale strengthened by the knowledge that the Lord knows his job. He’s a God of battle, a man of war, the Lord of armies.
Then we need to know that Christ has already won the victory. Colossians 2:15. I’d love to be able to dwell on these verses but this is not the theme of our study. It says that God in Christ spoiled principalities and powers. That’s Satan’s whole kingdom with all its authorities and rulers, Christ stripped them. He stripped them of their armor and he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in the cross. The cross was the place where Christ once and for all sealed Satan’s defeat. Satan sent Christ to the cross and procured his own defeat. And ever since, when he realized what he had done, he has been busy to keep Christians ignorant of what the cross accomplished because it accomplished his total defeat.
However, Christ does not want to defeat Satan alone, he wants us to share in his victory and its fruits. And so in 2Corinthians 2:14 we have this glorious statement.
“Now thanks be unto God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.”
Take the two adverbial phrases in that and you’ve got “always” and in “every place.” Just think about that. It leaves out no time and no place. God always causeth us to triumph in Christ in every place.
Now we need to know what the meaning of the word triumph is. It was a very distinct, official word in the Roman Empire. If a Roman general had been particularly successful in overseas wars and had added territories to the Roman Empire or defeated dangerous enemies, when he came back to Rome, the Senate of Rome voted him a triumph which was the highest honor that could be afforded to a Roman general. The triumph consisted basically of this: The general was placed in a chariot drawn by two white horses. And in this chariot he was led through the streets of Rome while all the people of Rome stood on the side of the street and applauded him.
Typically enough, in accordance with the Roman way of thinking—and this is just a little side light—in the chariot they placed a young boy to be with the general and his only responsibility was to keep saying to the general ?Memento te homonym?, Remember you’re a man. Don’t begin to think you’re a god! That was typical of the Roman attitude, keep him down, don’t let him get too high. Of course, later the Roman Caesars all believed that they were gods. And the title diverse or divine was given to them.
Now, behind the chariot they would parade all the emblems of his conquests. For instance, if he had been in a land where there were wild animals that were not familiar in Italy, they would bring specimens of these animals. Maybe tigers or elephants and they would parade them behind the chariot. Then behind the animals would come all the kings and generals whom that general had defeated who had been taken prisoner. They would be led in chains in humiliation behind that chariot. And then, rank after rank after rank of prisoners who had been captured in the war. And these would be the emblems and the demonstration to the people of Rome of what the general had achieved by his victory.
So when Paul speaks about Christ triumphing, that’s the picture that he has in mind. Christ is in the chariot and behind him, in display, follow all the forces of evil that he has defeated. The principalities and powers of Satan and all the things that oppose God and us are there being led in captivity behind the chariot.
Now Paul says “thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ.” Where are we in the scene? Some Christians would picture being led in chains behind the chariot, but that’s the place for the enemies. Where are we? We’re in the chariot. And do you know how you get there? I can tell you this great secret in one simple word. By faith. You just have to believe. You can’t work it, you can’t pray it, you just believe it. Thanks be unto God who always causes us to share Christ’s triumph. Wherever we go we’re part of the spectacle and the whole universe lines up and applauds what he had done.
Going on we look at what is required in our relationship to the commander in chief. We’re going to deal with this rather rapidly because I think the picture is so clear that we don’t need to spend too much time on it. Ephesians 6:10 and following.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God...[verse 13] Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God...”
It’s our responsibility as soldiers in Christ’s army to put on our armor. Paul warns us very clearly we’re in a conflict. And he says God has provided you the armor, and he lists six items of armor in the following verses plus one more which is in verse 18, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”
Charles Wesley, in one of his great hymns, talks about the weapon of all prayer. So we have six items plus the weapon of all prayer. Of those six items, seven with all prayer, only two are weapons of offense. All the rest are weapons of defense. But the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God and the weapon of all prayer are weapons of attack.
And if you look at that picture you’ll find that you are completely protected from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet upon one condition which is? You don’t turn your back, that’s right. Because there’s nothing to protect the back except your fellow soldiers. So that shows that we cannot afford to turn the back and we better have somebody behind us who can protect us.
Then in 2Corinthians 10. We’re only glancing at these scriptures, we’re really near the end of our time. 2Corinthians 10:3–5.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh...”
We’re living in a carnal world, a material world. We are at war but our war is not in the carnal or material realm. The objects of our warfare are not flesh and blood, we are not fighting human beings. Just bear that in mind. We’re not fighting Communists, we’re not fighting Russians, we’re not fighting anything that’s made of flesh and blood. We are fighting principalities and powers, evil spirits, demonic forces, unseen enemies. Therefore:
“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal...”
They’re not material, we don’t use bombs or tanks or guns because they wouldn’t do any good.
“...but they are mighty through God...”
What’s the opposite of carnal? Spiritual. So our weapons are spiritual. And through God they are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. No matter what roadblocks Satan may erect, we have the weapons to demolish them.
“Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
You’ll notice where the warfare is? In the realm of the mind. And we have spiritual weapons that will release men’s minds from the deception and slavery of Satan and bring them under the control of Christ. This is the great battle that’s going on in the world today, it’s a battle in the invisible realm for the minds of men and women. And in every nation of the earth the intensity of the battle is increasing. Nation after nation is becoming a battleground between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. The forces of truth and the forces of error. The forces of love and the forces of hatred. But we have been given weapons that insure us the victory if we will use them.
Then we need to speak for a moment about our character as soldiers. In 2Timothy 2:3–4. But before we read that I’d like to read verse 2 because I’ve come to see a connection.
“The things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
In a sense, that is the basic principle of discipleship. It’s teaching others what you’ve been taught. This verse has been used by the navigators for a generation. It’s not something new. And the navigators will point out to you—I heard ?Lon Sani? teaching on this verse in London in l954 at the first Billy Graham crusade that ever came to London. And he pointed out there are four spiritual generations. Paul who taught Timothy who taught faithful men who were to teach other faithful men. That’s the way of perpetuating the truth in the ministry. That is the basic principle of discipleship. Teach men who will teach men who will teach men.
Mathematically, the implications are almost incredible. I’m not a mathematician and you’d have to have a calculating machine, but you get one man who wins one man and teaches him for one year. And at the end you have two men. Each of them wins another man and teaches him for another year and you have four men. You go on and you have eight men, sixteen men at the end of five years. But at the end of about thirty years there’s nobody left. The whole world has been included. That’s geometrical progression.
Whereas, if you were to win 1000 persons to Christ every day, that would be 365,000 persons a year. This seems staggering. But after 20 years, the other process would have completely left behind this process of simply winning people and leaving them there. Mathematically, it works. The problem with most of us is it means starting very small. We’d rather reach out for something bigger and more dramatic. And this is the thing that’s smaller and more effective.
In this connection Paul goes on to say to Timothy, and I think the connection is very significant:
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
So that’s discipline. That’s military discipline. You’re prepared to endure hardness. Comfort and luxury are not primary considerations. One mark of an old soldier is he’ll always make himself as comfortable as possible anywhere, whether it’s in the bottom of a trench, in a commandeered house or wherever it is. A solider can settle down anywhere and he doesn’t depend on circumstances. He’s kind of, in a sense, detached from the normal way of life of people around about him.
I believe all this is a picture of discipleship. I believe the two passages really go side by side. Teaching others and leading a disciplined life. I believe that’s what involved in the army.
We’ll look at the final picture there, what’s involved or required in our relationship to one another? I’ll just give you one brief picture in 1Chronicles 12 which lists the people who came to David from all Israel to make him king. And representatives from all the tribes came under their leaders in military order to make David king in Hebron. I really believe that this is a kind of picture of the way God is going to unite his people. The tribes will gather together under their leaders. I think the tribes are the various denominations. I think the denominations are going to be represented under their leadership all with one purpose: to make Jesus king.
And we have in verse 23:
“These are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war, and came to David at Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord.”
And then there’s a list of who came from every tribe with the captain specified. And then it says in verse 33:
“Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart.”
I think that’s the essence of what we’re saying. Men who could keep their place in the rank side by side and were not of double heart. They were loyal, they were committed to one another. In a battle, you need to know that the man at your right hand is still the on your right hand regardless of whether it’s raining or shining, regardless of whether it’s dangerous or peaceful. You’ve got to be able to rely on that man.
And I really think that this is what the Lord is instilling into us and I think at this camp he’s been saying a good deal to us about the needs for committed loyalty to one another. That’s people who can keep rank. They’re not of double heart. The Hebrew says not of a heart and a heart. Do you know what kind of person that is? The person who is sweet to you to your face and criticizes you behind your back. You can’t go anywhere with a man like that in a battle. He’s more dangerous to you than the enemy.
So God is saying we need to be loyal to one another. To be loyal doesn’t mean to agree with everything that somebody else does. But it means that you don’t betray them. You don’t turn and stab him in the back.
Looking in verse 38 of that:
“All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron...”
See again? Keeping rank and a perfect heart. The two go together. If your heart is divided, you’ll not keep rank. You’ve got to be a person that the commander and your fellow soldiers can count on to be in your place.
Just in closing let’s take a moment or two—because we’ve done rather well with the time—to look at how the picture of the army relates to some of the other pictures that we’ve looked at. For instance, earlier on we looked at the picture of the body. And there is a very definite correspondence or relationship between the two in Ezekiel 37 which we don’t need to look to but you can if you like. Well, maybe you don’t know it as well as I do so you can look there. Ezekiel 37, I’ve preached on this maybe 50 times at least so I’m fairly well acquainted with it. It’s the vision of the dry bones and how the bones were brought together bone to his bone and became complete bodies. That wasn’t the end of the vision. The next time Ezekiel prophesied and the breath of God came into the bodies, they stood up on their feet an exceeding great army. Shall we look at those two verses? Verse 7:
“So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.”
That’s what’s been happening in the Charismatic movement. It’s like bones have been coming together, bone to his bone, bound together with ligaments, covered with flesh and with skin: complete bodies. God is going to have complete bodies all over the earth. Completed churches with all the gifts and ministries and functions. But that’s not the end. The next time the Spirit moves, it will be the last time. It will move not upon the individual bones but on the completed bodies. And they’ll stand up on their feet. Do you want to see that? Verse 10:
“So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”
That’s God’s objective. Out of the bodies he’s going to make an army.
Then look at the relationship between the army and the bride which is a very surprising one. But you’ll find it in Song of Solomon 6:4. The bridegroom is speaking:
“Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah [the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel], comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.”
That’s how the Lord sees his people. Comely, beautiful—but terrible.
And then in the same chapter, the 10th verse, the world sees the church. This is beautiful. The world has never seen a church like this. But here we have the reaction of the world when Christ brings the bride and the army forth.
“Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?”
Who’s that? The end time church. She’s fair as the morning. After a long dark night the morning breaks. She’s fair as the moon. What’s the moon’s supreme function? To reflect the sun, is that right? How many of you have seen the moon rock in Houston at the NASA center there? I looked at it and I almost worshiped the Lord when I looked. They say it’s the most highly reflective substance man has ever discovered. Its supreme function is to reflect the sun. So the church is like the moon. Her supreme function is to reflect the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. She’s made of reflective material.
But, the moon is not constant. One time it’s full, then it wanes and it grows smaller and smaller and you see less and less of it. It reflects less and less of the sun until in the middle of the month it’s out of sight. You think it’s gone and then it reappears a tiny, slim crescent, begins to grow again and get bigger and bigger until it’s full orbed, fully reflecting the sun.
Now that’s church history in miniature. The New Testament church was full mooned, it had all the gifts, all the ministries, all the graces. It completely reflected Jesus Christ. Then there was decline and the moon got smaller and smaller and smaller. There was less and less of it to be seen. It reflected less and less of Jesus Christ until in the Dark Ages there was nothing to be seen. But then with the new movement of Reformation and the other related movements, a little faint crescent appeared again in the sky, and it’s been getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And the end time church will be full mooned once again, totally reflecting Jesus Christ in gifts, ministries, graces, authority, purpose and function.
But that’s not all. She’s as fair as the moon, as clear as the sun. That means to say that she’s clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. She’s not appearing in her own righteousness but in the righteousness of Christ.
And finally, she’s terrible as an army with banners. So the bride looks like an army.
Now look at one last picture which is the relationship between the army and the assembly. Psalm 110:1–3:
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool...”
That is applied to Jesus Christ four times in the New Testament. So we know who that is, that’s Jesus our Lord sitting at the right hand of God the Father.
The next verse describes the assembly, Zion.
“The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies...”
Out of Zion in the assembly of God’s people the Lord the Holy Spirit is sending forth the rod of Christ’s authority which is in his name, and ruling the nations for God.
Now, having looked at the assembly let’s look at the next verse. I’ll give you the King James Version, then I’ll give you the Prince version.
“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.”
Now you can check with some of the modern versions, none of them agree, all of them are different. I have looked at the Hebrew, looked at the modern versions, and come up with the Prince version. But you’ll see the New American Standard Bible is not far from what I’m proposing to you. “Thy people are freewill offerings in the day of thy army.” Power, the word is ?savah?, army. So this is the day of God’s army. And God’s people are freewill offerings. What does that mean? God wants you. He doesn’t want your talent, he doesn’t want your money, he wants you. You yourself are the only thing he’ll accept for his army. You’ve got to be the freewill offering.
You’ve probably heard the story about the American Indian that was in a meeting where a preacher was preaching the gospel and the Indian came under conviction and thought he ought to bring something to the Lord. So he went up to the altar and he laid his bow and arrow on the altar and said, “Indian bring bow.” He went back to his place, still didn’t feel restful so he thought he ought to give a bit more so he went back again with his blanket and laid that at the altar and said, “Indian bring blanket.” He went back to his seat but still had no peace so he thought what’s the most valuable thing I own? He went outside and fetched his horse, led it into the church and up to the altar and said, “Indian bring horse.” But he still didn’t get peace. So the fourth time he came and said, “Indian bring Indian.” That’s all God wants. He doesn’t want your horse, he doesn’t want your blanket, he doesn’t want your bow, he just wants you. God is smart enough to know that when he’s got you, he’s got yours.
So, “Thy people are freewill offerings in the day of thy army, in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning.” Now when we speak about the womb of the morning, the word womb tells us there’s going to be a birth. The word morning speaks of the end of night. So after the long dark night, with the morning there’s going to come a birth of God’s army. And it says, “Thy youth are unto thee as the dew.” So God’s youth are going to come forth by a birth from the long dark night of apostasy and unbelief in the beauties of holiness, radiant like the dew upon the grass at dawn. That’s the army related to the assembly.
So we have the army related to the body in Ezekiel 37, we have the army related to the bride in Song of Solomon 6, and we have the army related to the assembly in Psalm 110:1–3. I believe that’s really very relevant because I believe the assembly has got to rule over the powers of darkness to open the way for the army to go forth and cast down Satan’s strongholds. I believe that’s God’s strategy for these closing days.
God bless you. And remember, just don’t bring your blanket, bring yourself.