feast: Preparing to Rule (1993)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 04-Oct-93; Sermon #FT93-05; 72 minutes
Sanctification is both a state and a process - a time period between justification and glorification during which overcoming, purification, and holiness takes place with the help and aid of God's Holy Spirit.
By way of reminder, I want to briefly go through the subjects that we have covered in the previous sermons that I have given so far this Feast.
The first one ["Life, Fortunes, Sacred Honor"] had to do with being committed, wholeheartedly involved in what we are called to be, in a similar fashion to the way that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were committed. They gave their all. Some of them gave their lives, some of them gave their fortunes, but they committed to one another their concept of liberty.
We, of course, are being drawn in the same direction to a liberty that is so much greater than they were drawn to, we ought to be able, though, to at least emulate in kind—and maybe in a much greater degree than they ever did—the kind of commitment that they had.
We have to have the right goal. People can give their all for whatever it is. They will give their lives. We read in Romans 5 that every once in a while someone might even die for a good man. So it is possible for people to commit their all, and give their lives as a sacrifice to their country, family, or to some cause that they find very close to their heart, and willing to give the dearest thing they have.
But we want to make sure that we are headed in the right direction. Otherwise, it would be nothing but vanity—for virtually nothing, as Paul explains there in I Corinthians 13. The person who has all faith, but not charity, is nothing but a clanging cymbal. We want to be headed in the right direction.
We need to know for sure that (in sermon two; ["Our Awesome Destiny (1993)"]) the direction that we are headed is the Kingdom of God, not the Place of Safety, not the Millennium. It is the Kingdom of God. We are going to be born of God—very God—sons of God. We are going to be like Jesus Christ. We are going to be of the same kind as God. We will not have the same authority, but we are going to be of the same kind.
Now in that, I began to at least touch on that the goal right now, it not to preach the gospel, but to prepare for the Kingdom of God. That is the work of God. The preaching of the gospel is part of the work of the church. And it is an important part of the work of the church. But we first must be reoriented toward the right goal. And we want that goal to be as vivid and big as it possibly can be, and absolutely right, because we are going to be shaped by what we are aiming for. And we want to be aiming toward the right things. We have to have the right goal, or we are going to be shaped in the image of something else.
God shows that He is re-creating Himself. There is a new creation going on, and the pioneer of that creation is the Second Adam—Jesus Christ. We are being created in His image.
Then the third sermon took ["Going On to Perfection"] the subject of sanctification. It is not something we talk about a lot, but yet, we are talking about it all the time. I say that we are not talking about it a lot, because we do not use the word very often. It is sort of a Protestant nicey-nice word that some have been familiar with, but not really understanding what it is. All along, we have been calling it, “Going on to perfection.” We have called it growing and overcoming.
Ritenbaugh began to introduce a “new” term to many people—holiness. They are all synonyms for the same thing. The Bible basically calls it, sanctification. And the word sanctification means, setting apart. We found the dictionary definition from the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, that sanctification is both a state and a process. And what we want to concentrate on is the process, not the state, because once you have received the Holy Spirit of God, you have moved passed the state of justification (although we never really leave it). We are always justified before God, so long as we are under the blood of Jesus Christ. We have access to God because of that, and we can communicate with Him, and we have the ability to become just like He is through the process of sanctification.
God gives His Spirit to sanctify us, and then be the power, aid, guide, or whatever is needed, to take us through the process of sanctification until we are holy like God is holy. That is the aim right now. The perfection of Jesus Christ to become holy as God is holy.
I mentioned to you that the word holiness comes from the same word as “sanctification.” Both of these come from the Greek word hagios. And I should inject here that all of its cognates, which is nothing more than a related word that comes from the same root, has the basic meaning of, “to be set apart.”
There are reasons why things are set apart. And that is what is important to us right now.
Why have we been set apart?
Sanctification, the English translation of hagios, indicates being set apart. And then, from time to time, the translators also used holiness to indicate that there is a purity in our sanctification, which is actually the aim of sanctification—to be pure as God is pure.
So now, in this fourth sermon, we are going to be broadly tying sanctification to what we will be doing in the Kingdom of God. We are being prepared for something, and it has already been mentioned a number of times.
I want to interject here how miraculously these sermonettes and sermons are fitting together into this Feast. Whereas I tend to cover things in broad generalities, the others are putting details in that we need all of the time. Yesterday’s sermon was on healing, and it focused on two things: the healing of the body, but of exceedingly more importance is the healing of the mind. That takes place through the same means—by faith! To me, that was the overriding thought in what the message was about, even though the subject was healing, the real subject was faith! And we have got to get back to the faith once delivered to the saints so that we are living by it!
If we are living by it, believe me, God is going to respond mightily, and we are going to be healed! Not for our good, necessarily, but for His glorification, and for His use. That is one of the major reasons why Jesus healed so many people; it was to bring attention to the Great God who was healing these people, and then focus on the message, because He was the messenger through whom the healings were being done. So God will use healing to glorify His name. Our responsibility is to turn to God in faith.
We need to understand that statement by Peter, that we have been given the divine nature, and with it, all the power and gifts that are necessary to do what God wants us to do—all the gifts necessary for holiness, and for righteousness. We have been given those things, but they have to be developed. We are very much like little children; all the raw material is there. But it needs to be developed. The talent needs to be honed, polished, and shaped so that it can be in a form that will bring greater glory to God, and will suit His purpose.
Now, let us begin in II Thessalonians 2 where Paul writes,
II Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning [tie this in with Ephesians 1:4-5 where the topic is predestination] chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining [Look at this!] of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are going to be something less than God? I say that sarcastically. The proof is all over the book in little isolated statements like that. We have been called for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when He comes, we are going to be like Him!
A major portion of this process is sanctification. Here it is used in the context of salvation. But, sanctification begins with the receipt of the Holy Spirit—“chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit.” This is what begins the process; the state of sanctification is the receipt of the Holy Spirit, but as it also says here that it ends in salvation.
Now, every one of us knows that salvation is a process, and so also is sanctification. And that is why the Interpreters’ Dictionary of the Bible said that sanctification is both a state, and a process. We are sanctified because we are in Jesus Christ, and we have received the Spirit of God. It is a process because we are just beginning; we are set apart for a purpose—the end, the goal, for which we are to be straining towards. It is the period of time when growth, overcoming, and perfecting holiness is taking place because we are humbling ourselves, and yielding to, and cooperating with God’s purpose and plan.
Now, there are reasons why that sanctification continues toward its appointed end.
Turn to I Peter again. I am not going to go through this a great deal, but there are a number of scriptures, here, that I will be going through fairly rapidly. I will not expound on them too much, because I want you to see what sanctification is for. The bible makes it very clear. We are set apart for something.
I Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit [there is the means] for obedience [and there is the reason for sanctification].
We are set apart for salvation. We saw the overview in II Thessalonians 2:13, where we are set apart for salvation, and here we see a detail—we are set apart for obedience. There are thousands of sermons contained right in that statement! How many aspects of obedience are there? It is almost endless! It starts out with the great commandment—to love God; and the second commandment, to love mankind. Then there are all ten of the commandments. Each one of them can be broken down into how many sermons? How many applications? You see, we are set apart for a specific reason.
Let us understand this “set apart” just a little bit more, because you do exactly the same things as God does, though not in the way that He is doing it, because He is dealing with eternal life—a way of life. He is dealing with His purpose. He is recreating—reproducing—Himself.
Yet, you set things apart. You have special things that you only use on special occasions. They might be china, or silverware. These are things that are not used for everyday reasons. They are set apart and kept in the china closet for a certain reason. That is the principle we are involved with here. In our case, God is setting apart a people for a reason—salvation, obedience, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ—do you know what that indicates? Remember that old Protestant song, “I am cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb”? This is what that means. It is not just merely forgiveness of sin, which is a cleansing aspect, but it is talking about the whole cleansing process until we are absolutely undefiled and pure in character, thought, heart, mind, motive, and attitude.
See? The sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ indicates a process, does it not? It does not happen all at once. I do not know how many people who have told me in the course of my years as a minister how that somebody came up out of the waters of baptism (and I think you understand the symbolism) that the water is purifying them. They come up out of the water, and they are pure.
Now, they can receive God’s Holy Spirit, because it will go into a pure vessel that has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Then how quickly do we leave that pool, and go commit a sin? We are immediately defiled again! It happens very frequently. But even if we do not do it immediately, we eventually do it. Usually in pretty short order, we are back to sinning again. And so, it is a process of cleansing that we are going through.
We are sanctified for obedience. Obedience has something to do with cleansing, it has something to do with the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, because every time we repent before God, after we are made aware of a sin, our conscience is guilty, we go before Him, and we are cleansed once again.
Hebrews 2:10-11 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain [author] of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies . . .
That is Jesus Christ. He is the Sanctifier! He is the One who sets us apart. It is by Him that we are cleansed. He is the One who administers the Holy Spirit of God. He is our High Priest mediating before God on our behalf. He is the propitiation for our sins. He is the Advocate before the Father. We are His responsibility. And so, He is the One who sanctifies those who are being sanctified—you and me.
Is it not interesting that the verb “being” also indicates a process in progress? Does that not indicate activity—movement—toward an end? Yes it does! And it not only indicates those who are being added to the body as they are led to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, they are being justified before God. They receive God’s Holy Spirit, and so we see a process in that way. But we also see a process because of what the context is, being perfected through sufferings.
The sanctification, then, becomes more and more specific as the process of perfection—of cleansing—is taking place in our lives. It indicates an ongoing process in those likewise being perfected through suffering.
Where does the suffering come from? Most of it does not come from persecution. Most of it takes place internally. It takes place in the mind. You might say that it takes place in the heart.
It takes place in overcoming sin. It takes place in getting rid of the bad attitudes. It takes place while humbling ourselves and sacrificing ourselves. It takes place in the process of being cleansed by the Word of God.
Remember I said in the other sermon that it is not short, nor is it easy. Anybody who is serious about striving to attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ is going to go through a great deal of pressure in his life.
Paul put it this way. He said there is a war going on: “The flesh wars against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” This is part of the process of purification. He said, "We do not war against flesh and blood, but against wicked spirits in high places." So, there is a war going on between the knowledge of God that is in us, and the knowledge that is in us from all of our experiences in the past while we were in the world. Those things put a great deal of pressure on us, because we know that they are not right, and they need to be overcome and gotten rid of. That is where the suffering comes from.
Once in a while, we will receive some tribulation as a result of persecution. But most of that suffering is going to be the result between the Spirit and the flesh, the Spirit and the world, the Spirit and Satan the Devil. So we get pulled one direction, then another.
Turn to Ephesians 5, which is so frequently used in terms of reference to marriage,
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her [Why?], that that He might sanctify [remember Hebrews 2:10; the Sanctifier is Jesus Christ] and cleanse her [I Peter 1:2 being sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ] with the washing of water by the word.
Let me interject something else here: The ministry always gets up and tells you that you need to study and pray. Can you see why? It is so simple. It is the Word of God that cleanses us! Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
Words are symbols, and it is by words that we think. They form the concepts that eventually become actions. So, conduct is actually controlled by the way that we use words in our thoughts.
We must have the Word of God. God wants us to think by His Word. And, if we do this, we are going to be pure.
The trouble is that we have been taught by the world how to think. So, our decision-making process is all muddied. That means we need to get all the mud out of there so that the thinking processes are clear. It will all be clear as the Word of God grows within us. This is where our cleansing comes from. It is the cleansing of our mind, replacing the thoughts of this world and all of its educational and religious systems, and its cultures—whatever does not fit with the Word of God has to be rejected and thrown out.
We are part of that sanctification process.
Ephesians 5:26-27 That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, [for the reason] that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
That is why the translators, every once in a while, interjected that word “holy” instead of using “sanctified,” because they wanted us to understand that the intention of the context indicates purity—being without blemish.
God is holy in a way that we can never be holy, because He is transcendent in everything. Everything about Him is holy. We can come only part of the way. God will continue to think of us in that state. This is good. But it will not be until we are in the Kingdom of God that we are going to be holy like God is holy.
Now, God’s word is truth, and it is here that we find the sanctification unto holiness described as a cleansing of our minds. Turn to I Thessalonians 3.
Incidentally, I Thessalonians is the first epistle that Paul wrote that eventually became part of the Bible. So we have here some of his earliest thoughts in terms of the church, and what it was to be doing. We find holiness and sanctification scattered all throughout I and II Thessalonians.
I Thessalonians 3:11-13 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another, and to all, just as we do to you, [here comes the purpose:] so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all His saints.
Did you see that last phrase added to holiness? It shows that the God who inspired Paul to write this does not expect us to reach this point until the time of Christ’s return, “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
It is a process. It is a stage of growth. That is what we are in now, and that is where the focus of attention, especially at this time, needs to be.
As we heard in the sermonette, the focus for the past 40 or 50 years was turned in another direction. But now the time has come, and Herbert W. Armstrong saw this, that he said at the end of his life to Mr. Tkach, to “get the church ready!” The focus needs to be redirected and the attention needs to be paid to the brethren, because we need to recapture something that was lost.
Now, we cannot stay this way all the time, either. If we get completely focused in on ourselves, we do not move in the other direction so the witness can be made. This becomes self-defeating once again. We, in effect, would be only doing this to please ourselves. And so, we have to be careful, and praying in that area, that God will bring the church into the right balance at the right time, so that once the sanctification process is well underway, then we can begin to shift our emphasis to the other part of the church’s commission, and we would then be prepared to do, in the right way, pleasing to Him, so that we do not get things out of focus, having the right balance—guided by His Holy Spirit.
I Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God.
Notice what the context is about—conduct!
I Thessalonians 4:2-3 For you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus, for this is the will of God: your sanctification. . .
They were already sanctified. But here Paul is indicating, again, a process. The sanctification, brethren, intensifies. It is something that is to be magnified in the lives, the understanding, and in the mind of God’s people, because this is where they have their input—their point of cooperation with God—in achieving God’s purpose in reproducing Himself.
And now, just to make it clear, Paul wants you to understand how sanctification, as a process, works.
I Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality [as an example].
Sanctification takes place when we come out of sin. That is what makes it become pure.
I Thessalonians 4:4-7 That each of you should know how to possess his own vessel [his wife] in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
Holiness is the opposite of uncleanness. What is uncleanness? It is sin. It is being defiled; made filthy by a way of life that is diametrically opposed to God. We are to become holy, to become clean, to become pure—we are to become sinless. This is a great and high goal!
I Thessalonians 4:8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
There are, of course, other sins and other kinds of immorality than sexual sins, but this was apparently something that was on Paul’s mind, because it was a problem in that area. But we need to understand, here, that holiness comes as a result of having God’s Holy Spirit, and conducting one’s life, being led by it. It is the Parakletos—the Guide, the Comforter, the One that goes alongside. Being guided and led by the Holy Spirit will lead one to holiness. That is why it was given: to lead us to holiness.
Now turn to II Timothy 2. As far as we know, this is the last letter that Paul wrote. So, we have gone from the first, and now to the last. He wrote this just before he was, as tradition says, beheaded just outside of Rome. This, then, was what was on his mind at the end of his life.
II Timothy 2:19-21 Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ [true Christians] depart from iniquity." But in a great house [family, dynasty] there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself [we have a part in the process] from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
There we are, brethren! We are being prepared, not just for a good work, but we are being prepared for a great work, a majestic work, an honorable work, an awesome work. We are being prepared to save the world! We are being prepared to cleanse the world! We are being prepared to rebuild the world. We are being prepared to beautify the world.
I hope that you have the same vision that God has for you. We are being created in Christ Jesus. God began one creation, as it were, through Adam. And another creation He began through Jesus Christ. We have been a part of both. However, we are to leave one, and become more and more a part of the second. This is where the difficulty lies, because it is hard to leave the imprint of this world, and all of its systems that has been made on us, to be cleansed of it. It is as though we have been stamped with ink. You know how hard it is to get ink off your skin.
But we have been stamped in our character and thinking processes, and that needs to be eradicated. It can be, as we yield to the Word of God. As we take His Word in, and begin to use it, thinking by it, that ink begins to be washed away, and we being to take on the image of God. So, we are being created in Christ Jesus, being prepared for a greatly expanded dominion over God’s creation. And that means of preparation is conforming to the image of Jesus Christ.
Now, it is this that is the very means, or things, that will enable us to reign and rule with Jesus Christ: Will we have proved that we can govern ourselves? This is foremost among these things.
I gave at least ten sermons on government, and the whole point of that series was to help us to understand that God expects us to govern ourselves within the framework of His law. That is our responsibility. If we cannot govern ourselves, we cannot govern anybody else. We have to prove that to God, first. We have to control ourselves to the very best of our ability, straining toward that end.
If we can do that, we will have proved to God that we will be faithful in controlling ourselves to live within the framework of God’s way all of the time.
Even here and now, as we do that, the witness will keep getting brighter and brighter, and purer and purer. And, God will use it because it reflects His image. He would be proud to use it! Even as we are proud to see a child of ours, whether they perform, or just conduct themselves in public, because we know, and we are sure, that they are going to be faithful to the teaching that we have given to them; that they are going to be respectful to their elders; that they are going to obey the laws of the various institutions; that they are going to be able to handle things carefully, and will not be rough, or raucous. It makes our hearts swell with gladness when we see our children reflect the teaching that we have given to them. And it makes us cringe inside, and maybe outside, too, whenever our kid makes us want to pull our hair out because they have done something stupid.
God gave us these feelings so that we can understand the way that He feels too. As John was explaining in his sermon, it pains God whenever we do not represent Him in a right way. I can just imagine Him: “Oh no! There he goes again.”
This is the period of time where we come to learn these things, seeing the flaws within us, and begin to make the steps, and begin to work toward those ends.
Please understand, we would never do this unless God has called you. You would never do this unless God gave us His Holy Spirit. And so, He gives us all things pertaining to life and godliness. It comes from Him. We would never do it on our own. And so, we can never claim that it is our righteousness. It is His righteousness because of His Holy Spirit put there. It is His righteousness because He called us. It is His righteousness because He was merciful enough to do these things for us, and He has given us the power. God gives of His, and that is what adds to the quality that enables these things to be accomplished.
Each of us must be aware that even as there is individual responsibility to God, there is also a responsibility to the entire team or body. We know the principle, and we know the theory. But is it a part of our thinking so that it becomes a part of our practice?
Impacting upon this is something we see in I Corinthians 1:
I Corinthians 1:26-28 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.
We know what we are, despite what our ego may be saying to us. Our vanity keeps telling us that we are great; that we are unappreciated; that we are pretty, handsome, or clever. And when we get to thinking straight, every once in a while, we know that the reality is not what our vanity is telling us it is. So we wonder, how can we ever play our part in this great scheme that God is working out? (I am using “scheme” here in a good sense, meaning the plan that God is working out.)
We see ourselves in this congregation. You do not see yourself up here speaking, or serving in any great capacity, and I know that you very likely think that you are a nobody even here. But that is not so! You are a somebody. There is no greater honor any person could be given than to be given God's Holy Spirit and to bear the name of Christ. You are so important that the second-most important Being in the Universe died to save your life! He not only died to save your life, He died to give you an awesome future—that you can live with Him! You are not unimportant!
Not only are you not unimportant, you are very important to Him! You were personally hand-picked by God. And God knew that when you were born, you were behind the door when the brains were handed out. He was well aware of that.
God has not called the great, or the mighty engineers, architects, politicians, speakers, or professors (and on and on). He has not done that. He has not called the scum, either. You may think of yourself that way. But you are a person of awesome potential. Your potential right now is so exceedingly greater than any human being that has ever lived, except for all those others who were also called in the same way that you were. You are going to put the great minds of the past, present, and future to shame.
That is what He says here! God has called you to put to shame the great of the world. It is very likely that had you had the opportunities that these people, who are great in the world in all the world’s history, that if you had the same opportunities that they had in their lives, it is entirely possible that you would have achieved just as much as they did. You were not behind the door when the brains were handed out. You were not behind the door when the skills were given. They are there. But they need to be developed. That is what sanctification is for.
Now, be careful here. God is most interested—most concerned—about developing a special kind of set of skills, of characteristics. Do not get your focus in the wrong direction here.
We can look forward in our mind’s eye to the seemingly monstrous unsolvable problems of today’s world, and project them forward into the years. And here you are, just a construction worker, or nurse, or school teacher, or computer operator, or bus driver, or bank teller, or homemaker. It does not matter. And you wonder, “How am I ever going to be qualified to take over authority of even a small town, let alone a number of cities, a county, or even a nation?"
It is rather daunting when we think of having to supply a city, maybe, with water, sewage disposal, refuse service, transportation system designed and put into place, building codes established; a plan to follow so that your town just does not grow like topsy all over the place into an uncontrolled mess like we have today in most cities. There has to be budgets to distribute and control expenditures, there have to be taxes maybe to take care of roads, school systems, electricity, police, firemen, industrial development, parks, and entertainment areas of development; you see all these things have work in the cities of today.
What about managing all the administrators who are operating all these divisions of government necessary to allow the town to effectively function in a way that permits the greatest amount of liberty and creativity without the citizenry either abusing the environment or infringing on other’s liberties? To me it is daunting even in the light of the recent sermon about starting out small.
In addition to that, we have ample information especially from Revelation 8, 9, and 16, to add to the already existing people problems, from the utter devastation of transportation systems, communication networks; cities once teeming with populations, and buildings, in which they worked and lived in unlivable ruins.
I know that some have speculated that maybe the enemy might come over here and drop neutron bombs all over the place. So the buildings and the physical plants, and systems will be saved, but the people will be killed.
Impossible! Do you know why I say that? God's Word shows the world in utter destruction when Jesus Christ returns, because if men do not knock it down with their bombs, He is going to knock them down with earthquakes. I am pretty sure that He does not want anything of this world but rubble to be left when things are finished, because He wants a witness to be made to mankind that this is what his way of life led to.
There is another reason for this—what does Satan mean? If God does not do it, Satan will destroy everything. He is the Destroyer! He lives to destroy things, but especially people. Now you add that to your problems—all the cleanup mess that is going to have to be done—dams, bridges, roads, electrical systems, gas heating systems—none of that will be functioning.
Did you ever think that if Jesus Christ comes at Trumpets, that winter is just over the horizon? Who knows how bad those first couple of winters are going to be when the earth is practically denuded of its vegetation? What kind of weather patterns will surface after such things? Wild, weird, extreme, excessive weather patterns are we going to see until God's healing power begins to take over and begins to set things into right balance once again.
That water is going to flow out from Jerusalem, but it is going to take a while to get around the world and heal things as it comes in contact with the soil, and vegetation. The earth will come back fairly quickly.
I recently saw some pictures that John Reid took of Mount Saint Helens, which blew its top in 1986 or so, and you have probably seen the trees leveled for miles around from the concussion from that explosion. And you saw the trees stacked up like so much cordwood, bent over by the force of that concussion, yet the earth is recovering. Those trees in the pictures from John Reid were only two to four feet, maybe some taller, but nonetheless it has been about 8 years since that has taken place. The earth has not completely recovered in that area. It is going to take a while for those things to occur. We are going to have to deal with those kinds of things.
I am giving this only because we worry about whether we are going to have the ability to do these things. We worry about whether we are going to have the experience necessary for organizing and administering over other people, regardless of how large a number it might be.
Do you think that God would put you into a situation that you could not handle? No, He would not, because God is always God. He never changes. He tells me in I Corinthians 10:13, that He will never put us into a situation that is too great for us, that we cannot handle.
Whenever that time arrives, you are going to be able to do it. And I am confident—absolutely confident that you are going to be able. I do not care whether you are an 80-year old grandmother right now. And, maybe you never had a high school education, where the highest you ever went was the 5th grade. And maybe you never even were out in the work-world, because when you became 16 or 17, as was the time in your culture for a young lady to get married, so you went right from grade school to working on the farm to getting married. And you never got out into the world that way. You were married by the time you were 16 and had maybe had two or three children by the time you were 20. You are going to be ready when that time comes. Because God finishes what He starts. And you will be able to oversee whatever engineering requirements are going to be necessary to lay out a city. Whatever is necessary for taking care of the water supply system, should that be needed; or the electrical, or gas, should God permit us to go into those aspects once again. And there is a reason.
Turn to Isaiah 51. There is a reason why you will be ready.
Isaiah 51:3 For the LORD will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
God is not saying that this is going to take place immediately, does it? Nowhere does it say that it is going to take place immediately. He just holds it out as a beautiful picture showing peace and prosperity; this is going to occur.
Isaiah 52:9 Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.
Isaiah 58:12 Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
Isaiah 61:4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.
Beginning with Jerusalem, the healing and rebuilding will get underway. And, gradually as the word begins circulating around the world about the good things that are going on there, representatives from other nations will begin inquiring as to how to make it work. Thus we see in Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-5 about all nations flowing into Jerusalem. It does not mean all the people, but it means that they are sending representatives to Jerusalem to see how it works.
Now, it is the Kingdom of God that is making it work. And here is where you begin to come back into the picture.
Will you be able to help? The answer is emphatically, “Yes you will!” God made no mistake in calling you, whoever you are. God does not fail in carrying through what He sets out to do. And even though you do not know anything about city management, you really do not have to know.
Look around you again in your mind’s eye at the way the experts—the strong, the mighty, the intelligent, the great, the super-educated of the world—are running the towns and cities and counties, and states, and nations; with all their ability, with all their schooling. Are they doing a good job?
Do you see it? That is not the answer! Technology has never been the problem! Engineering is not the problem! There is something tragically, horribly wrong. There is something missing from the way that they are doing things. What has gone wrong?
We can go all the way back to Nimrod’s time and Babylon in Genesis 11, and we can begin to speculate about the technology that they had at that time. You know, if you live hundreds of years, think in terms of capabilities that we have today while we only live between 70 and 80 years. Knowledge is cumulative. And, as one generation discovers things, they pass it on to others, and then the next generation comes along, and they start out where the previous generation basically ended. And then they add to that, and they add to that some more. You see? Look at what has happened, brethren, in the last 150 years!
Now, you project that back into Nimrod’s day. Or, project it back into Noah’s day, and it is entirely possible that when God brought the Flood on the earth, those people might have been sending spaceships off to the moon. God just wiped out all traces, except possibly the Great Pyramid, which may have survived the Flood as a possible monument to let us understand a little bit about their technology. I am personally convinced that God did not wipe out a primitive world.
Do you know what was happening? By the time you get to Genesis 11, the same thing was happening again. So, this time, for the purposes of His plan, He stepped in and confused their language in order to slow down the process—He confused their languages, and scattered them all over the earth, so that they had to develop at the rate of speed that He deemed for them, not them.
He has, in a sense, unleashed mankind’s brain in the last 150 years. The barriers have been broken. And perhaps the greatest barrier of all that has been broken is the barrier of communication. So now, English is the universal language. More people speak English than any other language except for maybe Chinese (because of their huge population). But who does business in Chinese? Even the Chinese do business in English. It is the language of culture. It is the language of business. It is the language of education. It is the language of trade.
The British spread the English language all over the known world. And as they began to plummet, the Americans picked up the baton, and they continue to spread it all over the world. Unfortunately, we are spreading all our culture over all the world, too. And that is not so good.
And now, communication over the last 150 years, the barriers have been broken, and look at what has happened! Now, God permitted that. Has all that technology made things better? Not in the least.
To me it is interesting! That the people that God used to write the Bible—there is certainly more than one reason—did not have washing machines, automobiles, air-conditioning, tractors; their farming implements were rudimentary, walking behind a horse, and/or rode a horse. Back when, the Israelites were not even allowed to have horses! Did you know that? They were allowed to have donkeys. Humbling, is it not? It is like God said, “Well, you can have a little Honda, but you cannot have a Cadillac.” So, you are humbled in the Honda so you will not be puffed up in a Cadillac.
Those people had time to think. They were not distracted by television. They were not running off to the movies. Their families were all together. The communities—everyone knew one another. Those are the kind of people that God had to write His Word—people who could sit out on a hillside, and meditate with Him, looking at the stars, and stand in awe of His creation, and think about how great He is.
The problem, brethren, has never been technology. The problem has always been the way we think. Today’s massive problems are very, very simple in what their cause is. There is nothing complex about what is causing the trouble in Russia right now .
What does James 4:1 say?
James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
Is that not simple? You have two men, or two groups, who desire the same seat of authority. There is nothing complicated about that.
Now, why will you be ready? You will be ready because God will have gotten rid of the problem in you. The governments today consist of people who have the same problems, the same character, the same thinking as the people over which they are ruling. It is not possible for them to do anything other than what they are accustomed to doing. And they are not living according to the way of God, they are not educated in His way, they do not have His character, they do not have His mind, they do not have the education that His is giving to His people—instead, they have an education and way of thinking that has come from Satan the Devil. And therein lies the problem.
So, those who are governing cannot do any better job than the governed—even though they have better education.
What God is working toward, and why we are sanctified, why we are moving toward perfection, is that He is preparing a government that reflects His mind. That is so simple.
That is why you will be able to take care of the problems because the problems have never been technology, the problem has always been character, a lack of love, self-centeredness, lust, jealousy, vanity, greed, and sexual immorality. We do not have to get involved in the complexities of the great cities. Why? Because, the people who design and build these things are going to live over into the World Tomorrow. And their minds and training will already be there.
Do you think God is dumb? He is not dumb. If He wants a city planner to survive over into the Millennium, to use that person’s training, that person will be there. If He wants a sanitary sewage engineer, he will survive. But He will have us guiding and directing, teaching, cleansing—helping to get everything in the right direction.
I am not saying that we are going to have a World Tomorrow that is highly technologically advanced. I do not know that. I do not know how advanced the technology will be, because once you develop something, it keeps linking up with other things. For instance, if you want a light bulb, rather than a candle, what do you need? Glass, some sort of filament, some sort of gas that will give light when electrically charged in a vacuum tube. Where do you get the gas from? Where do you get the tungsten from? Where do you get the brass base for the bottom? You begin to need plants to produce those things. If you need the plant, then you will need the mines to provide the bronze, brass, tungsten. And then you will need a transportation system to move those things back to the plants. Then, you will need a sales staff. Then you need. . . you get right back into the same ways again, do we not?
God may permit it, but I can guarantee you that if He permits it, there are going to be new developments of technology that He is going to allow men to work with.
Our responsibility will be to rule with a rod of iron, without abuse, but firmly and with good direction. And because we will have the character and mind of God, completely in tune with Him, the direction that those things will be taken will be the best direction so that the earth will not be abused, people will have the greatest amount of liberty, and they will have an environment in which God's purpose can be carried out in their lives.
So you see, sanctification is God's means of preparing us for the most important area of need—a governing agency that will follow His will, His way, His mind, His heart—completely in tune with Him. Then the earth can be used to tend and to keep, and dressed in the way that He originally intended. And it will be developed in a way that is beautiful and honors God.
We can see that in His Word.
Our job is going to be to work to heal minds.
I hope that you can see a little bit better how sanctification is a preparation stage that fits in with the purpose that God is going to work out through us in tomorrow’s world.