The word antichrist has two parts to it. Anti means “in place of” and christ in this context means “anointing”. John wrote to disciples of Jesus, those who are born again, and says about this anointing that you have no need for anyone to teach you since you have the anointing and know the truth (1 John 2:20,27). The writer of the letter to the Hebrews quotes Jeremiah and says that no one will need to teach his neighbour to know the Lord for He shall write His laws on their hearts and on their minds (Jer. 31:33, Heb. 8:10; 10:16). A primary feature of being a Christian according to the New Testament is that you don’t need an intermediary between you and God, there is only One and He is in you. Don’t let any man, no matter how exalted, take the place of God in your life.
2037 – 3036 AD
Entering the upwelling was a remarkable experience even by an immortal’s high standard for such things.
The best way to enter was with others and while singing. Immortals from all ages knew various songs of ascents. It was curious if you thought about it. Timothy, who had been mortal during the first century after Christ appeared on earth the first time was able to sing in harmony with Brian who had sung in the 21st. The styles were different but the combination was wonderful.
Sometimes people held hands, sometimes they just stepped forward together in unison. The force of the water was such that no mortal could enter, they would have just been swept down the mountain, presuming they could have approached the place at all.
When Florence entered the most amazing thrill filled every atom of her body. The space between the nucleus and the electron cloud of each atom resonated so that laser lights poured out through her. Then there was the rush upwards, the deep intake of breath and suddenly out into the brilliant light.
And there she was with the others standing on the sea in the middle of heaven before the throne of God, still singing.
Everything had become heavenly, the music was intricate, multi-placed, harmonious and surprisingly loud. Near the front were some huge drums (though that name didn’t do them justice) producing crashes of thunder and flashes of lightning. The classical instruments of an earthly orchestra had their heavenly counterparts: flutes, trumpets, oboes, violins only these seemed to be living somehow.
The word “life” in heaven carried many different meanings: the source of all life was The Life who was God Himself in all three persons. The Father was somehow unknowable as to His substance – He was Spirit but more than that. Jesus was like the immortals, the Spirit in an indestructible body. Then there was the Holy Spirit Himself.
Then there were the purely spiritual beings, the angels who moved so easily with God.
The immortals standing on the sea were those who had been redeemed from the earth from every tribe, tongue and nation. During this millenial phase they ruled with Jesus on the earth and were able to enter heaven and leave again through the sea.
Florence wasn’t keen on the leaving part. She usually found some way of lingering there as long as possible. The millenium could have come and gone if the Spirit didn’t tell her every so often that she was needed on earth during it.
Then there were the other creatures like the four living creatures beneath the throne. They seemed to be of a different order altogether. It was hard to relate to them and some of the other things going on in what seemed like the endless dimensions of heaven. Florence thought she would have eternity to find out if she wanted to.
Though every time she looked up at Him on the throne she wondered why she would ever want to.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, .. Psalm 46:1,2.
God is an impenetrable fortress in Whom we can rest without any fear of interference or disturbance. The walls to this fortress are sheer, tall and unscalable. The materials of this fortress cannot be destroyed by any weapon no matter how powerful.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid ….”
Psalm 91: 1-5 (NKJV)
The secret place is primarily a place of trust. We all have to face fear but it makes no sense to stay afraid when the God who made the universe is on your side. That is, of course, if you know He is on your side. So how do we know that?
The Scriptures say that God is for us not against us (Romans 8:31). But this and other passages in the letters are written to disciples/ saints/ overcomers, those who have been born again and are walking in the light.
Before you can enter the secret place and dwell there you must have come to faith in Him. Jesus says that we should fear Him (Matt. 10:28, Luke 12:5) and make peace with Him while we are on the way through this life (Matt. 5:25) before it is too late. John points out that unless you are born from above you cannot be in His kingdom (John 3:8). To be in God’s kingdom is to be under His protection.
It is only then that we can truly say that “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
Prayer is more about listening than talking (Eccles. 5:1). The main point of praying is putting yourself somewhere you can hear clearly. There is both a physical and a moral/spiritual element to this placing. Physically it should be quiet and alone (we are not talking about corporate prayer here which is a different thing). Morally you need to be devoted, set aside or holy. Your only desire should be to do His will otherwise you won’t hear properly (John 7:17). You also need to give this time and priority. I find that first thing in the morning is best and an hour is a good length of time.
Once you are in the quiet place (Psalm 91), the aim is to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). I find that the meditative technique of “centering down” helps here. Thoughts actually come out of the heart or centre of you (not your head – Matt. 15:18, Luke 6:45) and therefore bringing your inner man to a place of quiet is important if you are to listen to God who is in you (Col. 1:27).
God is not far away, He is in fact very close to His children (Romans 10:8, Acts 17:28). If you are born again and abiding in Jesus, His word is in your heart and written on your mind (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 10:16).
When a thought comes to you, capture it and check it against the name or character of Jesus as He has been revealed to you through the Holy Spirit and His word. If it requires action do it as long as it is something God would do. If you are unsure ask another brother/sister who you trust and who loves you.
I am writing these things because I believe God has told me to and it is the kind of thing He does.
Florence had always loved spending time in prayer. She had had a space in the house that she had shared which was her own trysting place. In it she would pour out her heart and wrestle with God or simply nestle in her Father’s arms. And that was all before she had been raptured! Now it was rapture indeed to pray.
What she had seem dimly in her mortal body, she saw and enjoyed fully in her immortal one. Before when she closed her eyes it had seemed like imagination played the greatest role. Now she didn’t have to use that function, in her new state she was literally there before the throne of God standing on the Sea.
Jesus had been the first man in a new body to be there and he had waited over 2000 years for others to join Him in quite that way. Until the rapture many had been there in the spirit but no one else in the flesh. Now the new flesh of the immortal bodies had the capability to be there and Florence preferred that place to being on the earth.
Thankfully for Florence and others like her there was a place on the earth where the two combined, Jerusalem. Or more specifically, the worship palace in Jerusalem.
When Jerusalem had been destroyed by the nuclear bomb and the Mt. of Olives had divided in two, an upwelling of water like a giant fountain had sprung up between the two halves. The river that resulted flowed out into the Jordan river and brought life to the Dead Sea and the surrounding area.
To get to the worship palace you had to enter into the middle of the upwelling/ fountain. Only immortals could do that.
The fountain was a portal into the third heaven.
Sometimes the practical implications and implementation of these words of Jesus are hard to stomach:
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
It is one thing to read those words in theory and quite another to put them into practice in the very real presence of the ungrateful and wicked, especially those who have proven through time that they won’t change nor respond to the Gospel. Even worse can be trying to love those you trusted who then betrayed you.
Along with Jeremiah (chap. 12) and Asaph (Psalm 73) I ask: “Why do the wicked prosper?”
My prayer is: “Change my heart so I can love them in Spirit and truth.” Then the actual actions I take will flow from a right heart. I don’t want to believe one thing in theory and then find my actions are taking quite an opposite approach in practice simply because I haven’t fully internalised the truth.
The above diagram is a way of looking at what happens if an individual or church adopts one or two of the three pillars. A balanced Christian or church includes all three.
Recently I spent a couple of hours with someone I hadn’t met in years. As we spoke together it became obvious that he was struggling with his faith. He is a bright guy and had spent a long time researching the nature of Christ as part of trying to allay his doubts. He did what many intellectuals do, that is, he put too much emphasis on a logical analysis of the Bible only.
As someone in relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ I know the Holy Spirit uses the 66 books of the Bible to speak the truth to me. It is part of what Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will do in John 16:13.
But that is the point I made to my friend. Approaching the Bible without the leading of the Holy Spirit is a waste of time. We cannot by our intellects alone know or find God. It is up to Him to reveal Himself to us.
I knew my friend had had an encounter with God many years ago. Prompted by the Spirit I asked him to go back and recall what it was he had heard or experienced then. I believe that if he could continue in what he had heard from the beginning (1 John 2:24) that he would hear and do what he needed to address his doubts.
Standing on one foot is hard. You will eventually fall over if all that is holding you up is one of the three pillars that God has given us. An objective understanding of Scripture is one of those pillars. If you know the Bible off by heart and can quote any part of it then you have a strong leg to stand on but that is not enough on its own. You must be born again and continue in the relationship that God initiates with you spiritually from that time forward. Intimate, experiential relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit is essential if you are to interpret the Bible correctly and if it is to become a living word not just a deadly letter (2 Cor. 3:6). This is the second pillar.
The third pillar is the Church. When we are born again we are part of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12) and it is foolish not to meet together with those who are your brothers and sisters in Christ (Hebrews 10:25). I believe firmly in the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9) and that no one needs to teach you anything if you are born again (Hebrews 8:11, 1 John 2:20). However it would be arrogant of anyone to think that they can live in this sin and devil filled world in a way that is pleasing to God without the other members of the body supporting and feeding into them.
So read the Scripture and understand it as well as you can but don’t do that on your own, let the Holy Spirit guide you into all truth and let others who love you in Christ encourage you. We all need encouragement. Relationship is at the heart of knowing God.
2037 AD The trumpet had been blaring for almost 3 days now. It seemed to be getting louder. Most people hadn’t a clue what it was. The most commonly reported explanation was that it was an atmospheric distortion caused by the massive nuclear explosion that had wiped out Jerusalem just before it started. The earthquake that had followed the explosion had split the mount of Olives in two. Some scientists thought that that had set off a chain reaction that had led to the noise everyone now was trying to avoid.
Or at least nearly everyone. Martin and Jillian were going around encouraging all those that knew them to continue to look up. They were expectant as were some others.
It was a curious noise, this trumpet sound. Different people seemed to experience it in different ways. Most people’s reaction was terror. A lot of people were going around with headphones on. The most noise reducing ones were sold out on Amazon and everywhere else by now. Some people hadn’t left their rooms since the noise started. There was a lot of fear around. There was a rumour the world was going to disintegrate or blow up.
For some though the noise was exhilarating. Martin and others like him were convinced that the noise was the last trumpet that Paul spoke about in the bible. To tell the truth it was hard to stand while listening to it. His flesh quaked to put it in archaic but somehow appropriate terms. It was not quite music but it had the same effect of resounding through his soul and arousing all sorts of emotions. The sound was primal, creative, destructive and renewing at the same time.
The more he listened to it the more he felt ready for the translation he felt sure was coming. He was going to shake off this mortal coil and put on immortality – he felt sure of it. It seemed his wife was feeling as expectant as he was. They both continued to look up.