Jesus said to the people, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘a shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens Luke 12:54. While it looked like He was commending their power to forecast rightly, He hit them hard unreservedly—without respect for political correctness in verse 55 “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
For Jesus, the important thing that generation should have discerned was the “present time”, season or situation they were in. We in this present generation also need to learn a lesson in this matter of discerning the “present time” and not be deceived into inventing liturgies to suit man’s ever evolving and unstable culture. What exactly did Jesus mean by the phrase “present time” in verse 54 of Luke 12?
The parable of the “fig tree planted in a man’s vineyard” as told by Jesus in Luke 13:6 can help us understand His usage of the phrase “present time”. In this parable, it is said, that the “man came or visited” (which is an indication of present time) later described clearly in the passage as a “three years” visiting time verse 7 and, a “one year” that will culminate to a pleasant or wrathful visitation verse 8 Luke 13:7-8.
The purpose of the vineyard owner’s visitations for three years (present time) was clearly defined. It was to reap fruit from the fig tree verse 7. Hence, what was and still is paramount is the fig tree knowing or discerning its state and cooperating with the Gardener (Holy Spirit). Rightly forecasting “climate change” is of least importance.
In the Gardener’s reply to Christ, a “one year” period was solicited and scheduled verse 8. This one year “present time” is a time of mercy and grace for the fig tree to engage in repenting and cooperating with the Gardener to please the “owner of the vineyard” by bearing fruit. The privilege of admission into the vineyard must be justified.
Now, the question is this: What will our 21st century generation do with this “present time”? What will you and I do with it? What are the youths being taught to do with this “present time”.
The Gardener’s responsibility is to dig and manure the vineyard and not to force the fig tree in the vineyard to yield fruit. Therefore, He reaffirms to the “vineyard owner” to keep up His responsibility relentlessly verse 8. Nevertheless, the Gardener concludes His speech by saying, “… if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down” verse 9. The lack of presumptuousness on the side of the Gardener is striking! Gentle and unassuming is characteristic of the Gardener. The fig tree of the vineyard can’t be passive as modern “Christian revelatory teachers are selling”.
Paul, like the rest of the apostles, recognized the all important work of the Gardener and the response needed. It inspired His admonition to the saints thus, ‘Do not grieve the Spirit but rather cooperate with Him’ Ephesians 4:30. The redemption of saints is nearer than ever before and it is tied to the work of the Gardener. Therefore, any predicting of the future, and analysis of present world events that does not culminate to this one thing—that is, cooperating with the Holy Spirit “in this one year season” is merely being religious, a waste of time and energy or life.
Hence, in Ephesians 5: 15-16, saints are both exhorted and admonished thus; “… be careful to live your life wisely, not foolishly. Take advantage of every opportunity because these are evil times”.
On the one hand, it is evil times because the “vineyard owner” is ready to cut down the fig tree if it does not bear fruit and on the other hand, Satan is at his best with deception to discourage the fig tree from cooperating with the vineyard Dresser or Gardener. As a fig tree, check out what comes out from you when you fail to submit to God (cooperate with the Gardener) and restrain or resist the evil one. The Church restrains evil and the evil one victoriously only through the Gardener’s work in and through her Zechariah 4:6. This re-emphasizes the indispensable place of the Gardener in the vineyard.
Therefore, the heavens, world events, earth and the sky that man is so good in predicting are joined together in pleading with those without Christ in this age and to the saints: Yield to the Gardener—that is, choose life and if you have already done so, then, live the abundant life in this age at this “present time” John 10:10. But to disobey Him persistently is choosing death and the wrath of God. What is God’s advice to us in all of this?
His advice is this: Now, (signifying chance for a fresh start) “… choose life—so that you and your descendants will live—by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. That’s how you will survive and live long on the fertile land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Verse 19-20 of Deuteronomy Chapter 30 (CEB).
This fertile land has a character of flowing with milk and honey! And it has a mystery too—which is this: Its maker and builder is the Architect of the universe, Christ Jesus Himself. The one to who all spirits in heaven, on earth and beneath the earth are subject to. And to whom all glories belong, the Head of the Church of the Living God, Father of all creation. He is speaking about this “present time”. Let all who have ears listen—listen to what the Spirit is saying. Within the period of the “one year” of Christ’s visitation, it can happen that we leave this world into His pleasant or wrathful presence. Therefore, man ought not to boast of tomorrow. Today is the best to bear fruit unto God.
This “present time” is a “one year” (not literal one year) of friendship with the Gardener who leads us into all the mind of Christ and participation in Christ’s suffering—in the face of multi-dimensional battles. It is a great call to perseverance and humbleness. It is a time of friendship with the One who leads us to fruitfulness and resounding victory.
Is the bible actually true or what? Careful reading of the bible affirms that it is saying, ‘Before Christ came into the world, mankind did not have life as a result of Adam and Eve’s fall’. We just existed! We were working, discovering and inventing things, eating, having sex and making babies. In this sense, humans are not far from the ants who, also work smartly, build and engage in reproduction.
So, Christ Jesus came to give mankind life, life in its abundance!
Does this suggest that holy men and women of old before Christ did not have life too? The bible gives this notion and I second its truth. They had glimpses of His life from a distance and longed earnestly to possess it. The longing kept their hearts and minds towards God. So they served Him with reverence and fear.
But, since Jesus’ birth, ministry, death and resurrection some people have been escaping from merely existing into life. And no longer are those who have the glimpse of life just longing after Him—they are possessing life, life in all its abundance. Nicodemus had something of the glimpse of life so he went to see Him (Life) better at night. Christ Jesus nodded him towards the life—‘get born again, and then you will see life clearly. You will not only see it, you will possess it by water and the Spirit’ John 3:1-5.
Since His resurrection, a body of people on the earth described as His body possess life and increasingly have Him in all of His fullness. Note, it is not just having life but possessing life (Christ) in His fullness— having a real vibrant relationship with the living Christ Jesus the Head and High Priest of His body on the earth John 10:27. Not a fairy tale.
“If the Lord is not a real and vital part of our lives, then we are only half living”— Crosswalk. In which case, God is asking, where art thou? Genesis 3:9.
Dear friend, are you part of His body? The Holy Spirit will bear witness to you in your spirit Romans 8:16. His joy and peace will evidence it to you in your inner man. Restfulness in your inner being will testify to it. Crazy thoughts and jumpy actions will be vanishing as you are astonished by His awesome power resurrecting you to an increasingly godly and goodly thoughts and actions that gladdens the heart under every situation. Which is to say, all things are now working out only for good in your life! All things are beginning to be made by the Holy Spirit to serve as a springboard to prepare you as a part of the bride (wise virgins) for the bridegroom (Eternal Life).
The measure of life, abundant life that mortals can contain is made available by Christ Jesus to all who ask for it Psalm 86:5. How merciful and gracious God is!
Merciful because He looks to His Son’s sacrifice and grants forgiveness to all who ask for it though they be sinners—gross sinners who murdered His Son, Jesus.
Gracious because He is all powerful to rescue all who are in hiding beaten or negotiated down (Genesis 3:1-6) by the dominion of darkness if only we will come out to meet Him as He walks towards us and not hide behind trees (ministries and other people, so to speak Proverbs 11:21) Genesis 3:8. By His power, He translates all who receive and accept His Son (the Messiah) from the darkness of hell into the light of heaven—that is, His Kingdom. This is the power of the second Adam, the life giving Spirit.
The life of God in the earth is flowing in His Kingdom on the earth. And the Kingdom soon will overun the kingdom of this world as the will of God is increasingly being done in the earth as it is done in heaven.
Sinners and religious (pious) people must now flee to Christ Jesus for safety. The appointed time God has given for all men to be saved is running out Romans 13:11. The righteous are being taken out of the earth yet men know it not. God is rejoicing as His own return home.
God is strengthening the body of His Son on the earth to tell the world that God loves them. God does not want anyone to perish Titus 2:11, 2 Peter 3:9. Enough people have perished because while on earth clothed with mortal body, they only existed having refused and rejected life. Receiving this life (Christ) is so crucial and as such, God gave opportunity to even those who existed before Christ’s advent the chance to receieve Him, in their hearts.
Mankind (men and women) need eternal life in this present life. Therefore, have life that you may live ABUNDANTLY forever not exist forever. Goodness and religion do not give life! Life gives goodness and devotion. Those who know and possess life know this reality, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” John 10:10.
Life is at your disposal; take Him in richly Colossians 3:16!
In this article, we’ll look at the difference between the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT) Prophets. The aim is to establish that, the New Testament prophets unlike the oldies are not exactly given to loneliness, extreme acrimony and hatred from the majority of the Church “representing the Israel of God”.
For clarity, I am not for replacement theology.
The Church, being those who are circumcised in heart by the atonement of Christ’s blood, have the Spirit of Christ in them. This point is crucial for the positive assertion of the theme of this article.
In the Old Testament, the natural Israel as a nation was unquestionably chosen by God as His people—This, they inherited from their forefathers that had the promise from the faithful Creator of the universe and beyond.
It is interesting and important to note that they did not choose God rather they only inherited His promise to their fathers. This has implications.
One key implication is this: they did not have the faith seed in their lives as their fathers. They were mere men struggling to keep the laws the God of their fathers gave. This had implication on the prophets.
The implication on the Prophets of old
The definition of a prophet elucidates the reason they had to be an extremely set of lonely people in their environment and interaction with this “mere men” who know not the God of their fathers that the prophets represented. The OT prophets had the faith seed in them and were always speaking the things which only faith, not law, could comprehend. See 1 Peter 1:9-25.
In verse 9 of 1 Peter 1, Peter the apostle spoke of, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls”. Then, note what he says next in verse 10 regarding the OT prophets, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you”.
While the prophets was talking about the salvation of their souls, the Israelites were overwhelmed with desire to be saved from their earthly problems:
*For the God of their fathers to rescue them from physical Egypt,
*Give them cucumber and meat
*Make them greater than other nations they considered better than them because those nations had kings ruling them.
So, the prophets of the OT were prophesying to their people of something to be a gift by faith through grace to a future people in the dispensation of the Church. The prophets talked to a people whose spirit, soul and body was accustomed to naturalism—to only what they could see, feel and touch.
Against the above background, only those who by faith yielded to the God of their fore-fathers not just His laws could ever have been at peace with the prophets.
Only by faith did anyone escape the natural realm at their time to worship God in spirit and, it remains the same today. It is only by the means of faith could anyone interact with the great “I am that I am” the Yahweh of Israel and maker of the heavens and the earth!
Therefore, unavoidably, the OT prophets had to have loneliness, extreme acrimony and hatred from their own people because they were neck-deep with a people who had not what they had. The prophets’ only solace was to keep far away from their people and come to them only as the Spirit of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit moved them to speak out to the people. God kept speaking to the people through the Prophets despite the fact that they were hated.
God kept speaking to the people through the prophets though they were in the dispensation of the law because, He intended for the prophets words to burn in their hearts and ignite faith for their salvation. Even at their time, faith came “by hearing, the hearing of God’s word” Romans 10:17. Praise God the scriptures has record of those who at that time had faith and so, lived beyond the law and gazed at Christ Hebrew 11:17-38. They searched after Him as one searches after a precious city till they died or were taken Heb 11:10.
In each generation of the Old Testament, all who were searching for the City (Christ and His body) whose architect and builder was not man but God never had problem with the prophets. Men and women whose lives were centered around searching for the City no matter what happened to them or trade they engaged in, never joked with presenting their bodies as a living sacrifice to God. They always eventually came to understanding not by some human persuasion and persuaders’ that God, deserves to be loved by being worshiped in spirit and truth—mean, to give God our spirit, soul and body totally and progressively till we’re taken or die Genesis 5:24, 6:9 Hebrews 11: 13-14,39-40.
Prophets in the Church
Having defined the church and the much said above, NT prophets are relieved from the aloofness, loneliness, extreme acrimony and unpleasantness coupled with hatred the OT prophets suffered from their own people. Their people were law en-caged and governed, while the people of the household of faith in the NT are utterly faith and grace regenerated, lead by the Faith and Its grace. This NT peoples (the Church), serve one another by faith and grace in love and honoring one another because they are a spiritual people .
In OT, the people had nothing to give the prophets since they lacked faith while the prophets were motivated by faith. The prophets towered far above them rightly because, faith surpasses law by far! The prophets dealt with the Reality (Christ) while the people followed the shadows (laws). Even the levitical priest feared the prophets and could not really serve them. The prophets walked with God like Adam and Eve did before they fell in Eden garden.
The NT people however, are a royal priesthood headed and lead by only One High Priest, Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Shepherd and Evangelist from the beginning and so shall it be for all eternity. All the parts of this “many one body” which, the people who lived by faith in the dispensation of law longed to belong and have now belonged as part of the cloud of witnesses above through Christ’s resurrection had their gifts with which they served God and His people.
We in the NT are better advantaged in that, we all have been engrafted by faith as cloud of witnesses on earth, having each our own gift(s) by which we serve God and one another in the different assemblies God has planted on the earth. No gift in anyone is above the gift in another. They just function differently for His vision which is, to glorify Christ in serving one another by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in each part. And together, declaring the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and power in the heavenly places as we preach the gospel that redeem those outside Christ.
No one should accept to be driven to aloofness because of Christ’ gifting in his or her life and cheated out of the rich life of Christ flowing out from the parts of His body. No gift in the body is unique since, it is in the Body— this body whose origin and all who are in it have the same component (Christ) by faith.
How then, can anyone with the spirit of Christ fear, hate or disrespect any aspect of Christ’ ministry gifted to some of His sheep to serve other sheep and also be served.
Let us view this with respect to 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
For the People of God who love and want the truth, He obligates Himself to give them the truth and they will know what the truth is in living relationship with Him without doubt and confusion.
Those who seek a truth to use for their own kingdom purposes must be astute theological lawyers, authenticating and priding themselves in the knowledge of the law without the expectation of finding the truth in a living relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is why many of us are unbeatable in theology with our world–wide reputation yet, we remain cessationists which also indicate that we don’t believe in the Holy Spirit at all.
How then, will we not beat down those parts Christ’ ministry is flowing out from.
Have we failed the test…? I fear the subtle sin of being presumptuous therefore, I am examining myself… please dear reader, would you be exhorted to examine yourself too?
To those truly gifted with the ministry of Christ and his spiritual gifts, please come out of the false emotion of being lonely or, confined to walking only with people of similar gifting. Just be wise to know you operate in the gathering or places to which God has set you.
Not as a prophet but, I prophesy this: “We’re in a time for prophets to enjoy. Though, full of heaven’s burden, it shall be lightweight for, the ministries in My Body and the spiritual gifts are about to serve (bless) you greatly by playing their part to you. I the Lord am working in my Body to cause all parts of My Body to function well. Her increase is coming to fullness as each part is releasing My assigned measure. In Her, My banner of “Love” will be seen and Her hidden foundation will remain established as “love”. My glory and peace is with my Body”.
It is difficult to understand what is happening to this generation. We’re so blessed with eyes and ears but, we have refused to hear or see. There is something happening here besides pride and stubbornness.
There is a deafening and blinding cloud over the earth—this clouds lifts for us to hear and see only when, making economic progress is preached or written, when more ways for fleshly pleasure is invented for us and when new strategy for man to dominate man is written or being taught.
But, once it pertains to participation in Christ’s divine life which is superior and eternal, we become dull of hearing. As a result, inconsequential things that end when man dies seem to matter far more to majority of us Christians than ever before. Yet, we fervently claim, “This world is coming to an end”. It is a sure sign that we have lost the hope of eternity. We don’t truly believe that this world is coming to an end—not now or even in the future. It is just a religious slogan to hold cowards down. Really!
Christians use to be cowards to non-Christians but now, Christians who forget what is behind and set their eyes on the stature of Christ have become cowards to their fellow brothers—brothers who the god of this world has partially blinded Phil 3:13-16. Paul says, “And if in anything you think otherwise”, that is, you get partially blinded; the Holy Spirit not a brother or sister will reveal it to you.
Who will submit to God to be used to tell us that we’re in trouble if we carry on as things are presently? Hardly any!
No one wants to be torn to shreds. No one wants to be branded unforgiving, holier thou thy, divisive, brother or sister perfect, spooky, know it all, individualistic, wield, graceless, depressed, lonely, anti-social etc. Those who are nicknaming His remnant are unaware that God’s grace that is to be revealed at the appearing of the King of glory is drizzling.
His return is nearer now than ever before—it will soon rain.
The meeting of the former and latter rain is at hand. Just as the people of old who read the Torah did not believe it in their heart, so are MANY of us who read the bible today. They were caught unaware with the birth of the Messiah. They were not prepared for divine reality because they were engrossed with shadow. Though His words were gracious, it vexed and inflicted more pain and anguish on their souls far more than the systematic bondage the reigning temple high priest, chief priest, scribes, Pharisees and the Romans had them in.
Religiosity makes people murderers 1 John 3:15. Fortunately or unfortunately, religious people will always start their killings with their own people 1 Thess 2:15. They indeed murdered Christ—who can escape them!
The 66 books of the bible are awesome, wonderful and unique. But, the book of revelation—Oh, that book is indeed unique! It is in this book that a people clearly with ears are called to hear not what a prophet, apostle, teacher, evangelist or a shepherd is saying but, what THE HOLY SPIRIT IS SAYING. Destruction is sitting on the laps of those who have ears but can’t hear what the Spirit is saying.
Those who’re hearing what the Spirit of God is saying are also receiving the grace accompanying the trumpet sound. This is why the Holy Spirit dwells inside each believer.
There is a time frame in the scheme of the devil when his power will so assail this earth and make it so difficult outwardly to distinguish what comes from God and the things which are of the devil. Those who are not interacting with the Holy Spirit will be thoroughly defeated and destroyed. We’re in that period, a time many will call good evil and evil good.
A time of seared conscience is with us now. A time when after all said and nothing is done, making money is the bottom line– period! The spelling of the word success among God’s people is fast being subtly changed to m-o-n-e-y or c-a-s-h. Good is being branded stupid, uncivilized, and narrow minded and as a result, many are abandoning good for evil.
Unfortunately, for those who hold to the doctrine of Balaam, transferring the wealth of the ungodly to the godly is not the next thing in God’s agenda—don’t be fooled and don’t ever think you’re unfoolable. Safety is only found in giving your ears to the Holy Spirit—His Church will find grace! Amen. 1 Pet 4:19, Gal 6:9, Rom 2:7.
Simeon and Anna refused to be fooled by the deafening cloud of their time because they reserved their ears for the Holy Spirit Luke 2:25-27, 36-38.
It is imperative to note that the Prophetess was not divorced neither was she touring the earth jumping up and down on stages. She recognized that she was from the fading regime in which God allowed things to serve as shadow of the reality–that is, Christ Gal 5:25.
It is easy for us to misunderstand one another’s motives and so, refuse to listen to what God is saying to us through one another. God understands this possibility. However, when His Spirit speaks to us, is distinct, most forceful and gracious all in one. Therefore, we can’t be excused to think His Spirit is bias, jealous, unforgiving, not submitting, individualist et al.
Do you have ears?! Are you hearing what God is saying about eternity? What He is saying regarding today, the season mankind is at—this generation.
You and I need to hear it before we aspire to conquer our communities and the world for Him. Don’t just stream along with those who want to change the culture of their community and the world—a thing which even God has not succeeded to do because He is not looking to do so. He wants to wipe-out this earth and her disfigured values, culture, ethos, conventions and traditions once and forever.
And in its place, a new earth is fast coming—its culture has been determined from the beginning of time by the ancient of days Eph 2:10. The foundation of this culture is love.
John clarifies it in 2 John 1:6. Love is to walk in the things Christ or the Holy Spirit commands us—summed as one command—that is, to walk in it John 14:15. We obey what He says to us to do towards God and our fellow men.
Jesus Christ’s birth, sufferings, death and resurrection was given to us as a gift to SHOW mankind what a great price it cost to purchase the culture that will reign in the heavenly Jerusalem that is coming down to the earth. Mankind has seen it—that is, Christ’ stature (nature and attitude). All peoples are being invited to thirst and hunger for Him. Those who thirst are told “come and drink freely and you’ll never thirst again” because He will keep welling up in them to eternity. Those who refuse to thirst and who dislike and hate His stature, God says, ‘Destruction and gnashing of teeth awaits you’. Universalism or ultimate reconciliation floating in Christendom is foolery.
The world can end for you and me even sooner before the final collapse of the earth. Some of the richest, poorest, literates, illiterates, saints and sinners I’ve known or have heard about in the past four decades are no more on the earth with us. Their world ended—eternity opened facing them. Its reality is doubtless more real to them where they are now than the earth where we are. Selah!
Religious people have done God most disservice. See how He pays them back in Deut 30:19. What a Fatherly, loving and gracious advise! Who will you and I choose or, who have we chosen? Life and blessing (Christ) or, death and curse (Satan).
The Lion of the tribe of Judah is coming! Don’t be deceived! Surely He is coming. When is He coming? Oh, I wish I know. However, for the “one people” whom He is preparing on the earth, fire is devouring in front of them and behind them—they are increasingly beside themselves yet, as sane as sane could be. This “one people” BETROTHED to Him who’re scattered in the four corners of the ends of the earth are being moved by the Spirit of God from one degree of glory to another 2 Cor 3:18, 2 Thess 3:5.
Because of this blessing of His glory towards us who have fled to God for refuge, the Spirit revealed to Paul the apostle thus; “So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours,and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” 1 Cor 3:21-23.
So, stop forcing yourselves to be mere human and listen to the Holy Spirit because, all things are working together for your good—you who love God and are called in Christ Jesus (the Purpose of God). Amen!
This rich exhortation that grows the weak and stabilizes the matured is taken from, “Rooted and Grounded” by T. Austin-Sparks.
And the remnant… shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. (Isaiah 37:31)
The Lord must have something which cannot be carried away, which cannot be removed, cannot be shaken, and certainly something which cannot be rooted up. That is His remnant. That, He must have for His own glory, and, that being so, He will take every measure with His remnant to have them after that kind, with roots downward. Of course, unto fruit upward. We speak much about the upward side of things, life in the heavenlies, sitting in the heavenlies, and our warfare and work – the fruitfulness of our life in union with the Lord. That is only possible as our roots are downward. In order that that might be so, we have to get into a place of unshakeableness where the roots have got such a grip that nothing can overthrow. And I believe that explains a very great deal of what the Lord is doing with His own spiritual people in these days.
It is true that the true children of God are going through a time of intense trial and testing spiritually in these days; everywhere it is so. Why? Because the Lord must have something against which hell is impotent and by which He demonstrates to the universe that strength of His might which causes to stand and withstand, and having done all to stand. If one were asked what the last issue for the Church in this age is, I would say that it stands, and that is saying a tremendous thing. Oh, you say, that is surely limiting things, are you not expecting much more than that? Progress, advance, sweeping movements? The Church will have all its work cut out in the end to stand, but its standing will be its victory. Just to be able, through testing, trial, when everything is blowing round you like a blizzard; when everything is dark, mysterious, and even God seems far away and unreal, and faith is tested and you are being assailed on the right hand and on the left , and there is every reason outwardly for your moving, giving up, falling down, surrendering, lowering your standard, just to stand and not be moved in your faith is the greatest possible victory….
We are passing through deep experiences, the enemy is doing it and the Lord is not preventing him, but we are coming to a fuller knowledge of the power of our God and a deeper rooting beyond all previous shakeableness. And the Lord is seeking to have a people who cannot be shaken, against whom hell with all its demonstration of arrogance and pride, is impotent. “And the remnant… shall again take root downward.” That is what the Lord needs.