Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“To me, the least of all saints, was this grace given,
to preach among the Gentiles the incomprehensible richness of Christ
and to enlighten all men as to what is the plan of the mystery
that has been hidden from the Aeons by the God who created all things through Jesus Christ.”
Paul, in Ephesians 3:8–9
Adapted from a sermon on December 15, 2010
The ultimate goal of everything Satan wants to destroy, or envies (he actually wants to have a part in it, but he can’t) is the fellowship of the saints. What is it about fellowship that makes Satan want it so badly, and yet strive so much to destroy it?
Fellowship in Christ is when we who are in Christ feel the same thing, when we have the same mind — without talking it over beforehand. It is when we have the same judgment concerning situations and people, and the same love for one another. And this fellowship is created only when God’s Wisdom comes down upon us. It is something that is created within us by God. It is not voted on by men. It is not of the will or wisdom of man at all.
The apostle John said that when we are born into the kingdom of God, we are born “not of blood [that is, of human blood, or human origin], nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man” (Jn. 1:13). This concept is very difficult to anchor in the hearts of believers; but, the kingdom into which we are born of God is a kingdom where every thing that counts is not of human origin, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man. If something counts in the kingdom of God, is it not of the will of man, not of the will of the flesh, and not of human origin (that is, “not of blood” of this world — no human race, no human genealogy, or any such thing). Those are the three things John said that those born into God’s kingdom are not of: they are born not of the will of man, not of the will of the flesh, and not of blood (actually, that word is plural in the Greek: bloods). That means, we who are in Christ are not of any human race, not of any human genealogy, or anything like that. We no longer have any national earthly identity.
When we are born again, we are born into a spiritual place where everything is that way - not just the born-again person. God’s is a kingdom where communion with God and with one another is not of the will of man, or of the will of the flesh, or of human origin. If we have any communion in the kingdom of God, it will only be of God, just as our birth into His kingdom was only of God. Communion with God happens only when God creates something to eat with us, something invisible for us to share with Him. And when He creates something within me and within you for us to enjoy together in Christ, we have fellowship, which is true communion.
The important thing to understand is that if God doesn’t create the fellowship, we don’t have it — even if we both want it, even if we both vote for it, and even if we both claim to have it. What we say does not make anything true. Nothing of earth matters; nothing of earth makes anything real in God’s kingdom. Nothing in God’s world is of the will of man; everything in God’s world is of God, just like our spiritual birth. Everything.
This includes the doctrine. God’s doctrine is not of the will of man. If it is not of God, it is not a part of God’s kingdom and carries no authority over the saints. It cannot be of the will of the flesh and be true in God’s world. It cannot be of human origin. Nothing in God’s kingdom is any of those things. We who believe are in a different universe now. When we entered into Christ, we crossed a line into a heavenly kingdom that is in no part human. Believers live in a different world from ordinary men. We live in a different universe, with different standards and a far greater wisdom. Paul’s famous phrase, “If anyone be in Christ . . . all things are new”, is real. We are not even our old selves anymore. Paul said, “I die daily” because he was living in that new realm, where his thoughts and his feelings were no longer of human origin.
Our feast days, our baptism, our holy places, the robes we put on for worship — nothing in our kingdom is of the will of man. You know as well as I do, when you see those colorful choir robes in Christian churches, that a man has willed to buy those pretty robes as opposed to what he considered less pretty ones. And because that choice and that purchase was of human will and ability, it cannot be a part of the kingdom of God. Those pretty choir robes do not belong in our world if we are in Christ.
God has called us out of this world; now, let’s stay out of this world! Jesus is saying, “You were born into my world. Now, stay in my world and be satisfied.” Godliness with contentment will make us truly rich.
Many of God’s own people are not content with the world into which they were born when they were baptized with the Spirit. They are not content with it because God’s world is not of the will of the flesh, and they are still in the flesh. Or they are not content with it because God’s world is not of the will of man, and they are still self-willed. Or they are not content with it because it is not of human origin, and their hearts are still attached to this world. Discontented and divided saints are still enamored of things that originate on earth, such as a carnal ceremony, or some doctrine formulated by human wisdom, or some other familiar form that is not a part of God’s kingdom.
Here at my house, we do not want any of that, and we will not have any of that. The holy Spirit will certainly not have any of that, and if we will only deny ourselves and humble ourselves to the Spirit, it will save us from all worldliness. He will save us from the spirits of the religious systems of man, including that of Christianity. He will save us from the unclean spirit of Christianity so that we can experience true fellowship in Christ and so that we can come together as a body and have it be for our good and not for our harm. We benefit from our gatherings only when we live close to God and worship Him “in spirit and in truth”. The holy Spirit is in no measure of this world.
Our sweet, shared life in the Spirit is the mysterious fellowship that Satan hates above all things because it is of God, and God has cast him out. He cannot share in it. The fellowship of human religions is of the world, and Satan does share in that. Jesus said that Satan savors “the things that be of man” (Mt. 16:23). Satan has been forever cast out of God’s kingdom, and he is very angry about that. He envies and slanders everyone whom God still welcomes into the pure fellowship of His kingdom. God is so determined that Satan will have no part in His kingdom again that even if a body of saints is fooled into making room for Satan, even if they are foolish enough to welcome him into their assembly, God withdraws that pure fellowship, and all that is left is a dead religious form. When God withdraws fellowship from a body of believers, all that remains is something of the flesh and of the world, some ceremonial form, some religious ideas, in which things Satan can have fellowship with man.
If we are to continue to enjoy the fellowship that is in Christ, we must walk together in the Spirit and refuse those things that are of the will of man, or of the will of the flesh, or of human origin. Instead of trying to serve God in such worldly things, let’s do the will of God and serve Him “in spirit and in truth”. Doing that, neither the things of this world nor Satan will ever pollute our communion with Christ and with one another.