- Terry Crisp -
The word came in an instant, piercing the silence like a knife. "Come quickly! Tamar has sent for you! And from the sound of it, there's not a moment to waste!" Gathering her things, the midwife hurriedly ran out into the stillness of the night, not knowing what to expect.
The moment she pulled back the veil, she realized this was no false alarm. The contractions were coming very close together now, and Tamar's anguished face and tightly clenched teeth revealed the degree of pain to which she was suffering. Early into the pregnancy, they knew that this was not going to be an easy delivery for her. For one thing, Tamar was not a young lady. For another, this was the first time she'd been with child. And, to make matters worse, she was carrying twins. So they were prepared, at least mentally, for the possibility of complications.
Beads of perspiration were brimming Tamar's brow, as she firmly grasped the birthing stool with both hands. "Push," the midwife coached her, "Push! Give it everything you've got!" Bearing down with all of her might, there suddenly appeared a tiny hand from the womb. Knowing the importance of the birthright, and in order to tell the children apart, the midwife quickly bound a bright scarlet thread around the wrist, so as to identify this one as the actual firstborn. Then, almost as quickly as it was extended, the hand was withdrawn.
Finally, amidst great tumult and travail, one of the two children was born. At first glance, he looked just like the one which was to come. But upon closer examination, it was apparent that something was conspicuously missing. The scarlet thread! Somehow, a violation had occurred in the order of things, and this son had broken in line in the birth canal. "Wait a minute! Why have YOU come forth?" the midwife exclaimed. "This breach is upon you!" Because of this, the child was named Pharez (meaning "breach"). Soon thereafter, the son to whom the promise belonged came forth, brandishing the scarlet thread. What a relief! As they pulled back the curtain flap to make the announcement, it was only then that they noticed that the long night was over, and the first rays of light were appearing. Praise God! A new day had begun! Therefore, they named this little manchild, "Zarah," which, by interpretation, means "Sunrising." As most of you know, the story above is no work of fiction. It was taken from Genesis 38, and is fraught with meaning. We believe that it reveals a pattern for us in these last days, which is even now in the process of fulfillment.
Someone might ask, What are we to make of these twins? What do they signify? And what of the scarlet thread? What is it's significance in the larger scheme of things? These are all questions which we hope to answer in the course of this message. Let us therefore consider the symbolism, and then we can better understand how it applies to us.
(Note: By mentioning the names of certain individuals in this presentation, we're not attempting to assign credit to merely a handful. Nor are we trying to speak as authorities on the issue. God knows the contributors, and has rewarded them accordingly. Our purpose is merely to state the facts as we understand them, and to give a brief background history for the sake of perspective.)
THE MEANING OF ZARAH, AND THE OUTSTRETCHED HAND
I suppose if we were looking for a starting point, we would do well to begin around the turn of the twentieth century.
October of 1900 marked the month and year that an unassuming Bible teacher by the name of Charles F. Parham opened a Bible school in Topeka, Kansas. Through a series of miraculous events, he'd secured the use of a beautiful old mansion (known commonly in that area as Stone's Folly) in order to offer the courses. Since he had absolutely no ambition in profiting from this endeavor, there was no tuition required of those who were interested in participating. However, there was one thing that Brother Parham did seek, however, and that was to attract a particular class of students, who were willing to forsake all, sell what they had, and trust God for whatever they might need, while they earnestly sought the face of the Lord in prayer and in the study of the Scriptures. It was his desire to assemble with like-minded believers, who, like him, wanted to discover truth at any cost!
On the day that the building was dedicated as a school, one of the men who'd enrolled had retreated to the prayer room. While he was there, the Lord revealed to him by way of vision "a vast lake of fresh water about to overflow, containing enough to satisfy every thirsty soul." This was taken by all to be a token of something significant which God was about to do in their midst.
For the next three months, classes were held on various subjects, such as repentance, conversion, consecration, and sanctification. But by December of that same year, their studies had led them to the second chapter of the Book of Acts. As timing would have it, Brother Parham was about to embark upon a short ministry trip in which he would be involved through the Christmas holidays; but just before he departed, he gave his students their assignment. They were to see whether the experience which occurred on the Day of Pentecost was but a historical event, if there was any evidence that was to accompany the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and if it had any relevance for their day.
Brother Parham returned from his trip on the morning prior to watch night service. As he opened the class for discussion of their assignment, he learned that the students had reached a consensus. Their conclusion was this: while there were different things that occurred whenever the Pentecostal blessing fell, it was indisputable that on each occasion recorded in Scripture, the recipients spoke with other tongues. Furthermore, they all agreed that what happened on the Day of Pentecost was not just reserved for those in the Book of Acts, but was available to them, as well!
Evening came, and the watch night service began. As the midnight hour approached and the twentieth century loomed near, a student by the name of Agnes Ozman requested that hands be laid upon her, in order that she might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. In Brother Parham's own words, this is what happened: "At first I refused, not having the experience myself. Then being further pressed to do it humbly in the name of Jesus, I laid my hand upon her head and prayed. I had scarcely repeated three dozen sentences when a glory fell upon her, a halo seemed to surround her head and face, and she began speaking in the Chinese language, and was unable to speak English for three days. When she tried to write in English to tell of her experience, she wrote in Chinese, copies of which we still have in newspapers printed at that time. Seeing this marvelous manifestation of the restoration of Pentecostal power, we removed the beds from a dormitory on the upper floor, and there for two nights and three days we continued as a school to wait upon God. We felt that God was no respecter of persons, and what He had so graciously poured out upon one, He would do upon all."
Well, this, in our estimation, is how Zarah began in recent times. These were the first signs of life in the womb (one might legitimately trace it as far back as the Pentecostal outpouring in the book of Acts; but we felt to start here). The Lord showed Brother Parham that the message of the baptism of the Spirit would go through a time of testing before the outpouring would be manifested in full measure. Over the next 5 to 6 years, the move of God's Spirit would leap from Topeka to Wales, then back to Los Angeles, finally settling for a season on a run down old livery stable located at 312 Azuza Street, where William Seymore, one of Brother Parham's students, was holding prayer meetings. Just as it was that shepherds were drawn to a lowly manger to behold the birth of Jesus, even so were men and women attracted from around the globe to this humbling little sanctuary, in order that they might see and experience the overwhelming Presence of God's Holy Spirit in action!
Among the chief emphases during the course of the movement was the believer's need to be absolutely abandoned to the Holy Spirit, the oneness which was to exist among the members of the body of Christ, and, in connection with that, the dangers posed by the spirit of sectarianism, authoritarianism, and the desire to organize what God was doing. Frank Bartleman, who played an active role in the revival, had this to say: "We are coming back from the dark ages of the church's backsliding and downfall. We are living in the most momentous moments of the history of time. The Spirit is brushing aside all our plans, our schemes, our strivings, and our theories, and is Himself acting again. Many who have feathered well their nests are fighting hard. They cannot sacrifice to rise to these conditions.
"The precious ore of truth, the church's emancipation from the thralldom of man's rule, has been brought about in a necessarily crude form at first, as rough ore. It has been surrounded, as in nature, by all kinds of worthless, hurtful elements. Extravagant, violent characters have sought to identify with the work. A monster truth is struggling in the bowels of the earth, entombed by the landslide of retrograding evil in the church's history. But it is bursting forth, soon to shake itself free from the objectionable matter yet clinging to it, unavoidably for the time. Christ is at last proclaimed the Head. The Holy Spirit is the life. The members are in principle all 'one body'" ---end quote. In spite of this optimism, and in spite of its miraculous beginnings, a departure from the goal occurred. Though certain individuals continued to operate in the Spirit to the edification of the body of Christ, and a remnant clung to the vision initially revealed, things, for the most part, settled back into the old familiar patterns of tradition. Denominations formed, and splinter groups developed from them. But, praise God!--- the work was not finished yet!
Fast-forwarding ahead to the year 1947, another phenomena occurred which brought unprecedented change to the Christian world. At the beginning of that year, two of the most prominent pioneers of the earlier Pentecostal movement died within a few days of each other (Charles Price and Smith Wigglesworth). Some, who remembered the former things of old, had begun to wonder whether the days of revival were over. What happened through the course of that year, therefore, was beyond anyone's wildest expectations.
In his book, All Things are Possible, David E. Harrell reports the following impressions of this revival, which became known in time as the Latter Rain Movement: "The revival erupted in 1947 with astonishing force. The practice of praying for the sick," wrote John T. Nichol, "was revived on a scale hitherto unknown." David J duPlessis wrote: "The sudden move toward mass evangelism lately has been as unexpected and has been equally as little prepared for, as the phenomenal growth...fifty years ago. It cannot be attributed to anything else than the spontaneous move of the Spirit of God upon all flesh."
Continuing, he wrote, "The revival that began in 1947 was, to say the least, numerically an astonishing success." "Vast crowds have gathered in many places in the world," wrote Donald Gee in 1956, "that far exceeded those of the former generation of evangelists." The postwar healing revival dwarfed the successes of earlier charismatic revivalists. It had a dramatic impact on the image of American Pentecostalism and set off a period of world-wide pentecostal growth. A generation grew up that would never forget the ecstatic years from 1947 to 1952, years filled with long nights of tense anticipation, a hypnotic yearning for the Holy Spirit, and stunning miracles for the believers performed by God's anointed revivalists. In the hallowed atmosphere under the big tents, it seemed most surely that all things were possible." ---end quote.
Out of nowhere, it seemed, great healing ministries burst upon the scene, conducting massive miracle-working crusades throughout the world. God raised up men like Oral Roberts, William Branham, Jack Coe, and others to carry the torch of revival fire, and to illuminate their generation to this new thing God was doing in the earth. God was vindicating His Word with signs following!
Just as the scarlett thread meant divine deliverance for Rahab and her household (Josh. 2:18-21), even so did God mark this movement with demonstrations of genuine deliverance in a measure and on a scale heretofore unheard of since the beginning of the church age. Untold multitudes who were sorely oppressed of devils were healed and set free by the mighty power of God. The testimonies that issued forth were virtually innumerable!
Those who were used instrumentally to bring this deliverance were like the spies who brought back the first ripe fruits of Canaan. They gave us a view, a sampling, a foretaste of what we can expect in the days to come. Now, mind you, these vessels were certainly not without their faults. Some of them were flamboyant, arrogant, and full of pride. Nevertheless, God still used each of them in their own unique way as an extension of "the hand," in order that they might show in part the liberty God has in store for those who love Him. They'd been enlightened, had tasted of the heavenly gift, were made partakers of the Holy Ghost; and they'd tasted of the good word, and the powers of the world (age) to come" (Heb. 6:4-5)! What a wonderful time this was!
It is to be pointed out that in the midst of the healing revival, another less widely known happening occurred which further changed the course of church history. In February of 1948, at Sharon Bible school in North Battleford, Saskachewan, Canada, God poured out His Spirit in a most unusual manner. Pastor George Hawtin, his brother Ern, and Percy Hunt, as well as faculty members and students alike, had all been praying for a manifestation of that which they'd been sensing in their spirits for quite some time. They'd felt that there was something more in store for God's people...perhaps, even a word which would give direction and purpose to the revival, and would more clearly define God's agenda for the days ahead. Therefore, they sought the Lord diligently, and He answered them in spectacular fashion.
An eyewitness account of the phenomena is as follows: "For many years great numbers of consecrated Christians had been fasting and praying for long seasons that God would restore the gifts of the Spirit to the Church. In 1947 in the month of September several of the brethren were led of the Lord to open Sharon Bible College in North Battleford, Canada. The opening of the school brought a great burden for fasting and prayer upon all of the students and the staff. This settled down until it seemed that not a day passed by for months unless some were in fasting and prayer. Some fasted for two weeks; some for three weeks; some for thirty days; and one man fasted for forty days. After many weeks of fasting and prayer came the eleventh day of February, 1948. I shall never forget those days as long as I live. How the Spirit came down was indescribable!
"I remember a prophecy being given by one of the young women in the Bible School, saying that we were on the verge of a great move of God, and that all we had to do was enter the door; but I said, 'Father, we do not know where the door is, neither do we know how to enter it." It was on the twelfth day of February that God showed us by the Spirit how to enter in through this door. On that morning one of the teachers rose to prophesy. All of the students were kneeling. He prophesied by the Spirit of God for about half an hour. During the prophecy, He called the whole school to great reverence and said we must walk in the fear of God. Then there was a warning that we should not mention to anyone what was transpiring at the school. As the prophecy went on, these earth-shaking words were given by the Spirit of God: "Remove the shoes from off thy feet, for the ground upon which thou standeth is holy ground...at this time I will restore unto My Church all nine gifts of the Spirit, and they shall be given by prophecy, with the laying on of hands of the presbytery." This we knew was according to the Word of God, but we had not been able to understand it until the moment when it was revealed by the Spirit of God. The prophecy went on to say, "I will indicate from time to time by My Spirit they that should be called to be prayed over to receive their gifts of the Spirit."
"The next day, February 13, we searched the Word of God practically all day to see if these things that had been prophesied were according to God's Word. We found that Paul had said to Timothy, 'Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery' (I Tim. 4:14). And, 'Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the laying on of my hands' (II Tim. 1:6). We found how that king Saul had received the gift of prophecy by having this gift prophesied to him by Samuel. We saw how Joshua had received the word of wisdom when Moses laid his hands upon him. We read how Paul wrote to the Romans, 'For I long to see you that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift...' (Rom. 1:11).
"On the fourteenth day of February, I can never begin to properly describe the things that happened on that day. It seemed that all Heaven broke loose upon our souls and Heaven came down to greet us. The power and glory of God was indescribable. Men and women were prophesied over and received the various gifts of the Spirit. To some it was prophesied that they would receive the gift of healing and immediately they began to heal the sick. Discernment of spirits was given, and the influence of evil spirits was discerned, and these evil spirits were cast out. Some received the gift of faith, and faith began to operate mightily in our midst. Men and women prophesied like a mighty river. Heaven had truly come down to meet us. We sang new songs in the Spirit, songs that had never been sung before. Soon the multitudes were coming to North Battleford from the north, the south, east, and west. A new day arrived for the people of God. This was only the beginning!" ---end quote.
As was mentioned in the above account, among the many truths revealed were those concerning the restoration of certain manifestations, such as the laying on of hands by the presbytery, the impartation of the gifts of the Spirit through the laying on of hands, the operation of directive prophecy, and the restoration of the offices of modern day apostles and prophets (thus completing and restoring the five-fold ministry to the body of Christ). These became leading truths after which subsequent revelations would follow. Along with the restoration of the gift ministries, there also came a renewed sense of purpose, which pertained to the members of Christ's body. That purpose is most clearly stated in Eph. 4:11-13..."And He gave some...for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect Man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ...".
This, then, was understood to be the goal of the five-fold ministry, to lead God's people beyond the elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ, and beyond the elementary stages of Christian faith and experience, and into the knowledge of the Son of God, that is, into a fully awakened and conscious state of the mind of Christ (according to I Cor. 2:16, we have already received the mind of Christ, whenever we were born again; but it's obvious that we don't always move in it). Furthermore, they were to take the Word of God, and show that it is God's will for them to come into the same place of spiritual maturity and perfection that was exemplified in the Man Christ Jesus. With the enlightening assistance of the Paraclete, these tutors and governors were to educate and inform the saints of all that was reserved for them in heavenly places in Christ; to help them gain a spiritual and more mature view of their inheritance, in order that they might put away the childish things tradition had taught them (I Cor. 13: 9-11). They were to prepare them for the real world...the world of spiritual realities, and to equip them with the vision and faith necessary to possess the land as one singularly united and perfected Man, who had come to "measure up" to the full stature of the Christ!
(It should be noted here that not all who were involved in the Latter Rain Movement shared these beliefs, or agreed with this emphasis. Like the multitudes in Jesus' day, a great many were primarily focused on the signs and wonders aspect of it...the miracle and healing side of the revival, and the personalities associated with it. They either didn't have the vision, or the faith required to believe that God could do such a thing in a people. Nevertheless, though some tried to perpetuate the spirit of the revival through their own impetus and ingenuity, it became obvious that the Lord saw fit to change the order of things. The glory days of Latter Rain only lasted for a few short years, before the hand was noticeably withdrawn...and with it, the scarlet thread of deliverance. This is not to say that the manifestation of the supernatural ended altogether. But it did cease on the magnitude and scale on which it had previously been exhibited. At any rate, a word had been given, and a revelation had come forth. And this revelation began to develop in the hearts of those who would go on to know the Lord.)
As a result of this newly recognized purpose, Jesus came to be seen as being more than just our Savior / Redeemer, Who came to die on the cross and, afterward, be raised for our justification. He appeared as the Pattern Son, the elder Brother, the Firstborn among many brethren, or, as the Weymouth translation renders it, "the Eldest in a vast family of brothers" (Rom. 8:29). This is why there were three and a half years of His life and ministry provided for our observation in the gospels, and not just the last three days. He gave us an example of what a fully matured and manifested son of God should look like, think like, and act like, once He had come into the fullness of the inheritance. Praise God, Jesus was the perfect illustration of sonship in shoe leather; the epitome of everything we should expect as joint-heirs of the promises of God! As He grew in wisdom and in stature in the days of His youth, He understood that His inheritance was not natural things, such as pie-in-the-sky, or a cabin in the corner of gloryland. Rather, it consisted of all that was necessary for Him to be about His Father's business...that business being, the restitution of all things (Acts 3:21). As was God's intention from the beginning for man, Jesus received power and dominion over all the works of God's hands (see Psa. 8:3-8; Heb. 2:6-9). He obtained the spiritual ability and authority to reestablish order, and to restore all creation to that pristine glory which it had before the fall. Furthermore, He possessed a mind which was always consciously in-tune with the will of the Father, so that everything He said or did was in perfect step and synchronization with the mind of the Spirit. In fact, He summarized the primary reason why He was sent into the world, when He said, "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." By that, He was not just speaking of fallen man, but of all that man had lost as a result of the fall. The same is true for us. We are presently growing up into Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Eph. 4:15). We are learning that, as heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus, what He received is also what we are destined to receive, at the appointed time of the Father. At this particular stage in our development, we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). It's the guarantee, or down-payment of all that is to come. But in due season, all the power and dominion which our Lord exhibited over the natural and spiritual elements will be given to the saints of the Most High, when once we've come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is why Rom. 8: 18 from the Phillips Translation says, "In my opinion whatever we may go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own". The reason for this is, when God's sons finally come into their own, "the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in the magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God!" (Verse 21, Phillips) Therefore, as we are growing up into Him individually, we are simultaneously being fitly joined together by that which every joint supplies, and corporately united as a perfect Man (that is, a singular perfected expression of the life of Christ in the earth). This, they came to realize, was the purpose for which we are destined; and those early pioneers of the faith preached it with rigor. In time, it became what is known as the message of sonship.
CHRIST FROM HEAD TO TOE
While the emphasis of the Azusa Street revival was primarily on the union which is to exist between the members of the body of Christ, the emphasis of the Move (as it eventually became labeled) was upon the union which exists between Christ the Head and the rest of His body. Allow us to explain what is meant by that. During that time, the concept of Christ was undergoing a fundamental and radical expansion in the minds of many. Passages, such as I Corinthians 12:12-27, were taking on newfound meaning, as the scriptures opened up to them. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: SO ALSO IS CHRIST." Suddenly, they began to realize that the term Christ was originally intended to include all the members of the body, and not just the Head. This came as a shock to many. True enough, there was a time when the title only applied to Jesus. Until the Holy Ghost was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, and a corporate body was prepared for Him to do God's will (Heb. 10:5-7), the Son of Man had no place to lay His head [ship] (ref. Matt. 8:20). He was alone in the world, being the only one of His kind. Everyone else, without exception, had their place in the first man Adam, as a collective expression of his life in the earth. However, when once those waiting disciples were baptized into Christ, and the body of Christ came into existence, the title of Christ (which simply means, "anointed," or, "the anointed One") was extended to include each member of that corporate Man, with our Lord Jesus taking His rightful place as its Head. Now, since that time, whenever God thinks of Christ, it is not one individual of which He thinks, but that one New Man, which He has made in Himself, who is comprised of both Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14-15). "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular" (verse 27). The implications were tremendous! Other scriptures which refer to and depict this corporate Christ would be Gal. 3:16, 27-29; Psa. 2:1-12; Rev.1:12-18; Rev. 11:15; Rev. 12:5; and Obadiah 21, for starters. (It was noted that a distinction was made by the New Testament writers, whenever they used the definite article the in connection with the word Christ. This occurred some eighteen times in scripture, and was their way of indicating that it was Jesus, singularly, to which they referred, apart from the rest of His bodily members.) As we said, the very idea of this was shocking to some; and to some, it was even bordering on blasphemy. There were concerns that such a view might somehow diminish the glorious preeminence of Jesus, and would reduce Him to a place of equality with His creature. Given the fact that men historically have been known to twist scriptures to exalt their own personal status; and given that even the Lord Jesus Himself warned that many deceivers would come in His name, saying, "I am Christ" (Matt. 24:5), these concerns were not unreasonable (we might note, however, that this is one of the verses wherein the definite article the precedes the word Christ in the original). They were given a great deal of careful, prayerful consideration. However, the words of Peter in Acts 2:36 were given by the Spirit to balance out the issue. "...God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." By this, it was understood that as Lord, Jesus is undeniably one with Divinity. As such, He retains a position that is absolutely unapproachable by anything or anyone that belongs to the created realm (including the new creation realm --- ref. II Cor. 5:17). But as Christ, He is one with humanity (His church, in particular). Because He was the firstborn among many brethren, the beginning of the (new) creation of God, He was given to be the Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph. 22-23). That, in itself, is a tremendous amount about which to think. You see, while He unquestionably holds the position of Head, it is to be pointed out that the Head can't say to the feet (those members of the body of Christ which are in contact with the earth) "I have no need of you" (I Cor.21). The reason for this is because the Head alone doesn't make up the fullness of Christ...it takes every member of the church, which is His body, to do that. Thus, it was settled (at least, among those who were entertaining these views) that no blasphemy was committed by believing that Christ was but one of the many titles which Jesus possesses, and one which He shares with all those who have been anointed with His indwelling Spirit, both past and present. It's the title wherewith He identifies with humanity, and which joins Him in vital union with His body.
In support of this, George Hawtin wrote in a publication called Treasures of Truth, "I have found even among good men that there is a tendency to imagine that the Son of God (Jesus Christ) and the sons of God who are to be manifested at the end of the age are two separate entities. This is not true. Such an idea comes from a lack of understanding as to what a son of God really is, and how such a son comes into being at all.
"It is impossible to explain to the natural mind how two entirely separate things can, though separate, still be one. Men seem to be able to understand how a foot, a hand, and a head can, though separate and different, all be members of one and the same body. We are able to understand this because these members are joined together by flesh and sinew and blood, but when asked to believe that the Son of God at the right hand of the Father is one with the sons of God on earth, we flounder in the bogs of unbelief and trip over the stones of doubt and misunderstanding. If, however, we would ask God to reveal this mystery, we would easily see that, if physical members joined only by the weakness of flesh and blood can be one, how much more one are things joined by the Spirit of the living God! An arm that is severed from the body no longer belongs to the body because the bonds of flesh are broken, but time or place or space has nothing whatever to do with the unity of the Spirit, for the Spirit is omnipresent even as God is omnipresent.
Therefore, whether a man's abode is on earth or in heaven makes absolutely no difference to spiritual unity, for to spirit there is neither time nor place. Time, place, distance, and all such things belong to the bondage and corruption of the flesh. The Spirit is confined by none of these things. Some day we will realize what a world of truth lay in the words of Jesus when He said, 'No man hath ascended up to heaven but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.' Jn. 3:13. He who lived as a Son of God and had His being in the Father and in the Spirit, even while standing upon the earth, was able to declare that He was in heaven, and so truly He was.
"This should help us to see how we are one with Christ and how Christ is one with the Father. This should help us to understand the fathomless depths of meaning in the words of Jesus, 'I in them and Thou in Me that they may be made perfect in one,' Jn. 17:23, and again in verse 21, 'That they may be one as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us.' It is this unity with Him and this alone that makes a son of God" ---end quote.
THE APPEARING OF THE LORD
As Brother Hawtin emphasized, the thing that makes this oneness possible is the fact that we have the one and selfsame Spirit dwelling within us. It's like the life-blood which courses along the circulatory system, through every individual member of the human body. Were it not for this glorious mystery, which had been hidden for ages and generations, there could be no unity with the Head, and, consequently, we would have no hope of glory. Therefore, Colossians 1:26-28 came to bear vital importance in understanding that of which the Spirit was speaking. The fact that we have received Christ in us gives us our hope of glory! We could not possibly hope of obtaining the glory of sonship otherwise!
Every revival throughout the history of the church has been accompanied by a great sense of immanence in regard to the coming of the Lord. This move was no different. However, the expectation generated by the Spirit this time was not so much one for His physical appearing, but rather, for that universal appearing wherein "He shall come to be glorified IN His saints, and to be admired IN all them that believe in that day" (II Thess. 1:10-12). It was this coming after which they so earnestly sought, knowing that "when He shall appear, we shall be like Him: for we shall see Him as He is" (I Jn. 3: 2).
This appearing will not simply be on the personal level; nor will it be limited in it's audience, as it has been since the Incarnation. As you recall, Jesus had told His disciples that, following His physical departure, "I will not leave you comfortless: I WILL come to you" (Jn. 14:18). He went on to say, "Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more; but ye see Me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you" (verses 19 & 20). And in verse 21, He said that if anyone would keep His commandments, "...I will love Him, and will manifest Myself to him." It should be noted that the word "manifest" here is also translated in other places as "appear." In other words, He was saying that even though He would no longer appear to the world as He had for the past thirty three and one half years, He would, nevertheless, appear to those who loved Him. The way in which He would make that appearance was by coming, and taking His abode within them. This is exactly what He did on the Day of Pentecost!
Since that Day, the Lord has been appearing to His people. Multitudes have personally experienced this appearing, as He has come to them in the form of the Holy Ghost. However, simply having Christ within is not enough. Before the world is able to see Him again, and before He shall come to be glorified in His saints, He must necessarily be formed in the hearts of His own. This is why Paul said to the Galatians, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you..." (Gal. 4:19). He knew that there was a work that must needs transpire, before Christ could be manifested to the world at large. Therefore, while the body of Christ has been in formation over the course of time, Christ has simultaneously been in the process of being formed within each individual. When that process is complete, and the internal work of the Spirit has been finished, then "every eye shall see Him" (Rev. 1:7), as He comes to be admired in those who believe in that day. He shall be openly manifest for all the world to see!
THE CATCHING UP OF THE SAINTS
Naturally, this expanded view of Christ, the purpose for which we find ourselves in the world, and the great expectation now held of the Lord appearing in His people, caused a theological chain-reaction in the way some thought about the end-times. And one of the first things it caused them to rethink was the idea of a pre-tribulational rapture of the church. If the Lord was preparing His people for warfare (Eph. 6:10-18); if He intended for us to inherit the earth; and if we were to be used instrumentally in delivering the entire creation from the bondage of corruption, why then should we entertain the notion that God was going to evacuate us before the evil day? Why should we think that He was going to take us out of the world ere the work for which we had come into the world was complete? This just didn't seem to make sense. Didn't this contradict what Jesus said, when He prayed for His disciples that they would not be taken out of the world, but that they would be kept from the evil (John 17:15)? After all, isn't "the blessed hope" supposed to be the appearing of the Lord, rather than the disappearing of the saints? This started some to take a fresh look at what saith the scriptures.
One of those who began asking these questions was George H. Warnock. Brother Warnock touched off a firestorm of controversy, when he published a book in 1951, entitled, The Feast of Tabernacles. In it, he called into question the escape rapture theory, and pointed out scriptures which clearly showed that God would have an overcoming people in the last days, who would be kept during the hour of temptation, which would come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth (Rev. 3:10). Rather than expecting to be physically raptured off of the planet to avoid great tribulation, he believed that God's people should expect to be caught up in the Spirit, even into a conscious awareness of the heavenlies; into an experience which would raise them above the carnal, earth-bound limitations of the natural man, and into the secret place of the Most High (Psa. 91). Such a catching up would enable them to endure whatever might face them in the days ahead with confidence and full assurance of faith, while equipping them with power from on high for service.
One of the ways Brother Warnock explained this was by pointing to Revelation chapter 12. Here, he focused on the Manchild, who, immediately following his birth, was caught up to unto God, and to His Throne (verse 5). While traditional theology had it that this reference was exclusive to Jesus (and to the victory He won over our adversary), Brother Warnock argued that this could not be so, seeing that by the time the book of Revelation had been written, Jesus had already been born, had died, and had been resurrected. And according to what John was told at the beginning of the revelation, what he was about to witness were "things which must be hereafter" (Rev. 4:1-2). So, from a chronological point of view, it had to possess wider implications. The obvious conclusion was that this must represent the Lord's Christ, yea, even that whole vast company of overcomers whom God has ordained to ultimately rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:26-27). The birth of this Manchild began some two thousand years ago (when Jesus the Head came forth); and it will not be concluded, until the very last member whom God has purposed to go into the composition of this New Man has come forth. Once this has occurred, we will experience the fullness of our salvation (spirit, soul, and body), and strength, the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ, not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of all creation.
While there are different ways in which this spiritual experience is illustrated, it is best typified by that which transpired with Jesus at the River Jordan, just prior to His being led into the wilderness (the place of trials and testing... "great tribulation," if you will). As you recall, it was after Jesus had reached thirty years of age (in Hebrew culture, as well as in Biblical numerology, the age of maturity), and after He had submitted Himself to John's baptism, that He straightway came up out of the water, and three things happened. The heavens were opened to Him, the Spirit descended upon Him, and a Voice spoke out of heaven declaring, "Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased" (Lk. 3:21-22). This was all quite significant. Typically speaking, this entire event corresponded to the ancient adoption ceremony, where a Hebrew father would confer upon his male child all the rights and privileges that were reserved for a full grown son, and where that son would enter into the family business as an equal partner, having now become one with his father. Experientially speaking, it was the point in which a brand new world opened to Him...where He stepped behind the veil, and was caught up into the heavenlies. The strange thing about this was that it happened without His feet ever having to break contact with the earth. From that moment on, He demonstrated authority both in heaven and on earth, where angels and principalities became subject to Him, and the wind and waves obeyed His commands.
Now, because of the popular concept of heaven being a physical place with a geographical location, it may be difficult for some to understand what is meant by that, or how such a thing could be possible. Indeed, how could He be at two places at the same time? If there was any question whether it was so, one need but consider the verse cited earlier in the quote from Bro. Hawtin: "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13). Even as Jesus spoke with Nicodemus that night on Solomon's Porch, He claimed to be in heaven. Furthermore, He substantiated that claim by performing the works of the Father (Jn. 10:37-38; Jn. 14:11). That being a fact, the question still remains...how can these things be so?
In order for any of this catching up to make sense, it requires a radical change in the way in which we view heaven. While we don't have space here to go into it at length, we will briefly say that, rather than looking at it as a place where fantasies come to life...which exists as a glittering, jewel studded city with streets of gold and gates of pearl; and rather than viewing it as a place which must be entered into by being transported somewhere beyond the Milky Way, it has to be realized that heaven is simply another term for the spirit realm. It speaks of the entire spiritual dimension (with all of it's varying degrees) which envelopes the natural creation, being all around us; and which influences the natural creation, but whose presence and influence generally goes unnoticed by it. It's that realm which transcends man's sensory perception, and which is not subject to the time/space continuum, but which exists in a very real way, nevertheless. Oftentimes, when it's described like this, people mistakenly think that what you're suggesting is that heaven is imaginary; that it's merely a state of mind. (Mind you, included in its definition would be a higher state of consciousness. But it's certainly not limited to that.)
The reason for this is because most folks generally tend to think of that which is real as being that which must necessarily belong to the material realm. But just as God does not need to be physical in order to be real, neither does the realm which He occupies. This should make it easier for us to understand how Jesus could occupy both realms simultaneously. In His Spirit, He was caught up to the high and lofty realm, while in His body, He remained on the earth. What was true, therefore, of the firstborn Son of God, will likewise be true of all who go on to know Him in the power of His resurrection. They, too, will know what it is to go beyond the veil which separates two worlds, while remaining fully cognizant of them both; and they will do even greater works than those which He did in the days of His flesh, because He has gone to the Father (Jn. 14:12).
A NEW AGE TO COME
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the Day dawn, and the Day Star arise in your hearts..." (II Peter 1:19)
Glorious as these things are, there is one thing which must necessarily be kept in mind; and that is, there is an appointed time reserved of the Father for all these things to be fulfilled. Manifested sonship is not something that can be apprehended simply through an individual's faith or tenacity (the same goes for a group). Nor is it something that has already transpired. It is a hope which remains to be seen. "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Rom. 8:25; see also I Jn. 3:3). We know that just as surely as there is a purpose, there is also a time when it will come to pass (Eccl. 3:1). Therefore, as in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son; we believe that in the fullness of the times in which we live, He will send forth His manymembered Son to bring about everything that has been prophesied concerning them by God's holy prophets since the world began. At such a time when the Day Star arises in our hearts, Zarah will be fully delivered from the womb. Then, the Day will dawn, and a new age will begin, and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ (Rev. 11:15). Rejoice, for the Day of the Lord is at hand! Much more could be said concerning these things, but we have used up our allotted space in this article. In the article following, we hope to share with you a historical description of Pharez, and that which we believe he represents. We trust that you'll remain with us, as we acknowledge the Lord for insight concerning this wondrous theme.
To be continued...
Writings in This Series: