2010 ©Homer Kizer
Commentary — From the Margins
“The Saints: Those Who Keep the Commandments of God”
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus (Rev 14:13)
Too much of Christendom claims that the Law [Torah] has been abolished, or fulfilled and of no concern to Christians when Jesus clearly said, “‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matt 5:17–19). … Have heaven and earth passed away? Are they likely to pass away anytime soon? Has all been accomplished? Or with only a third of humankind professing to be Christian does there remain much to do?
Christians are quick to say that when Jesus, on the cross, said, “‘It is finished’” (John 19:30), the Law was fulfilled, that while Jews remain under a dispensation of law Christians are under a dispensation of grace. But those theologians who teach a two-tier track to salvation are without understanding. God simply is not a respecter of persons; so those who teach a dispensation of law versus a dispensation of grace commit blasphemy. Their end will be the lake of fire; their judgments have already been declared for all of them are anomians: Jesus said, “‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness [tēn anomian]”’” (Matt 7:21–23).
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Cor 4:1–5)
But the judgment of the Christian who prophesies in Jesus’ name and casts out demons in Jesus’ name and does mighty works in Jesus’ name but who doesn’t do the will of the Father through being of the ones working the lawlessness evident in mainstream Christendom will, on the day when judgments are revealed, be denied by Jesus. This Christian’s judgment has been revealed beforehand because of how heinous it is to teach disciples not to keep the commandments … to be great in the kingdom requires the disciple to keep the commandments and to teach others to do likewise (Matt 5:19).
Addressing what Paul wrote roughly three decades before John wrote his gospel, Paul didn’t understand all that the Lord would reveal to John, the disciple whom He loved best. Paul didn’t realize that the Lord wouldn’t return in his lifetime:
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thess 4:15–17 emphasis added)
Even though Paul had received knowledge directly from the Lord, he didn’t understand exactly what he had received. Just as Paul didn’t understand why he couldn’t rule over his body—“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom 7:15)—he didn’t realize how long it would be before Jesus returned, and he didn’t realize that disciples judge themselves through either believing the words of Jesus or being condemned by the words of Jesus.
Grace is the garment of Christ Jesus’ righteousness, with disciples putting this garment on daily as ancient Israel sacrificed the daily [i.e., the daily sacrifice] … when the temple went from being a building of shaped stones and hewn timbers to being the Body of Christ (cf. John 2:13–22; 1 Cor 3:16–17; 2 Cor 6:16; 1 Cor 12:27), with disciples being living stones built up as a spiritual house (1 Pet 2:4–5), the daily went from being a bleating lamb offered morning and evening to being the garment of Christ’s righteous, with Christ Jesus being the selected Lamb of God. Grace is not unmerited pardon of ongoing sin as anomians teach; for if it were, Jesus’ words would have no meaning—
Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:25–29 emphasis added)
If the sinner were truly pardoned with his or her lawlessness being remembered no more, there would be no basis for resurrecting those who have done evil to condemnation. The evil these sinning disciples do is temporarily “covered” by the glorified Jesus, as the reality of the Azazel, bearing their sins until their judgments are revealed, meaning that anomians do not immediately die for their lawlessness but continue to live physically even though they are spiritually condemned. They are disguised ministers of righteousness (2 Cor 11:14–15): spiritually, they do for the Adversary what politically liberal journalists did and do for communism; they are useful idiots. And they are even useful to the Lord, for they separate those self-identified Christians who actually believe the Father and the Son from the majority who do not believe.
The Christian pastor of a mega-church or the hireling of a mega-denomination doesn’t think of him or herself as a useful idiot, but then those journalists who selectively report the news by carrying water for President Obama do not think of themselves as useful idiots even though that term was appropriately used by former Soviet premiers for their ideological predecessors … which Christian in America, in Pakistan, in Kenya doesn’t know that Jesus said, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets? They all know what Jesus said. Therefore, they are all without excuse when it comes to doing the will of the Father who is in heaven. If they do not know the will of the Father, they are truly idiots. If they know the will of the Father—His will being that His sons walk like their older brother, Christ Jesus—then they are deceitful bastards, the sons of the Adversary. And that is how John describes them:
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that He [Jesus] appeared to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4–10 emphasis added)
No one who abides in Christ—no one who is a Christian—makes a practice of sinning, or transgressing the law, with the commandment most likely to be transgressed by self-identified Christians being the Sabbath commandment; for the Sabbath, since the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, represents liberation from bondage (Deut 5:15).
If self-identified Christians are going to break only one commandment (they usually break most of the commandments), they will inevitably break the Sabbath commandment; for they remain in bondage to the prince of this world. They are humanly born into this world as sons of disobedience, and if they “discover Christ,” rather than making a journey of faith from spiritual Babylon to heavenly Jerusalem, they set their Christ up as an idol in Babylon as they remain living as sons of disobedience—
No Christian attending weekly worship services on Sunday has metaphorically crossed the Jordan to enter into God’s rest. Every such Christian remains in spiritual Babylon when the way has been paved for the Christian to go to Jerusalem, with keeping the Sabbath representing crossing into spiritual Judea and with keeping the holy days [the High Sabbaths] representing going to heavenly Jerusalem the three seasons when all human sons of God are to appear before the Lord in the place of His choosing.
The war fought between the Law of God that was in Paul’s mind and the law of sin and death that dwelt in his fleshly members—with Paul individually representing the collective Body of Christ—is today still being fought within disciples, and will continue to be fought until the Second Passover. Then, and not before then, every Christian will be filled-with and empowered by the spirit of God … the Second Passover liberation of Israel will see the fleshly body of the Christian becoming the servant of [subservient to] the living inner self (Paul’s new creature or new man). Whatever the inner self desires, the body will do. Thus, the thoughts of the Christian will be made visible through the actions of the flesh. Jesus said that “‘nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known’” (Matt 10:26). And following the Second Passover liberation of Israel, the rebellion against God that is today masked in Sunday-worship will openly appear as rebellion.
The theologians of mainstream Christendom—the Adversary’s useful idiots—would have disciples focus on the things of this world, with one set of theologians focusing on social justice and the equitable distribution of goods and services in this world, and with another set of theologians seeking to restore faith, hope, and charity to the churches of anomians … can Christians get any farther from God? To focus on the things of this world, regardless of whether these things are the foodstuffs needed for the daily maintenance of physical life or equal access to healthcare or the social issue of gay rights or the issue of abortion or monetary debt, or whether the issue is the construction of an earthly temple in physical Jerusalem—to focus on the things of the flesh is death (Rom 8:6). This person cannot please God (v. 8), and is not of God.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15–17 emphasis added)
Former Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens was recently killed in the crash of a small plane in the Bristol Bay region: he was on a fishing trip with friends and their teenage children. He was doing what he wanted to do, and he was not far from where I would like to be … during the winter of 1961/62, a fellow came to Taft High School, Lincoln City, Oregon, and played a home-produced 16mm movie about Alaska and his homestead in the then new state. Admission was a dollar or so. I went. As a high school junior, I wanted to go to Alaska. Already a few fishermen out of Depoe Bay were venturing north in the summer to fish salmon, and staying later and later in the fall to fish red king crab. So as a high school senior the following year, I applied to University of Alaska Fairbanks. I was accepted, but no scholarship was forthcoming—and I had scholarships to two other universities so I didn’t go north when I wanted. I remained in Oregon until spring 1974.
My desires were to hunt, fish, live away from people.
Sometime during my first winter in a small cabin outside of Ninilchik [Kenai Peninsula] I read a brief announcement of a plane crash that killed the fellow who had shown the movie in Taft High’s gym thirteen years earlier. But by this time, the announcement didn’t mean much. I knew others who had walked away from plane crashes, and others who hadn’t. A plane crash into the side of a mountain was a fact of life, not a pleasant fact but a real one that everyone who travels in Alaska has to accept. The possibility of a plane crash, of a vessel sinking is the price of admission into rural Alaska, a world that is gloriously spectacular in a Romantic [versus Medieval] way.
When I first sailed into Dutch Harbor, I felt like I was “home,” like I had been there before, like this was where I belonged in this world. But the grass-covered headlands and sheer capes of the Aleutians were not of God, something that is extremely difficult for the mind-set-on-the-flesh to accept … how can the raw, unspoiled beauty of the Aleutians not be of God?
Nothing physical is of the Father; for it was the Logos [Ò Logos] who was God [Theos] and who was with the God [ton Theon] in the beginning (John 1:1) who created all things (v. 3), including the islands of the Aleutians. It was the Logos [Ò Logos] who was Theos who entered His creation as His only Son (John 3:16), the man Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:14). The Logos got to live in what He created, and to live among the descendants of the man and woman He created. But the kingdom He would receive is not of this world or from this world (John 18:36). It is a kingdom that is not physical, with the turf over which the Son of Man will reign being the mental topography of physically and spiritually living things/entities.
So the things of this world, the things that decay or die, are not of the Father, and this includes the desire to cast a line to schooling salmon in fresh or salt water. This includes the desire to harvest a moose, a caribou, deer on Kodiak, to climb the headland above Gull Point, Ugak Bay, and feel the uplift of the wind that makes a person wonder if he or she could join the eagles in their domain. These things appeal to the desires of the flesh, but again, they are not of the Father.
The gap between the Christian who sees the raw beauty of this earth or of galaxies as a thing of God and the Christian who understands that this world is passing away along with its desires is so great that the gap cannot be bridged. … A bridge will be constructed when God fills every Christian with spirit, but the bridge will not hold; for the physically-minded Christian will continue to be physically minded even when filled with spirit. This Christian will return to disobedience after being liberated from indwelling sin and death, for that is the habit of this Christian. And the rebellion against god of this Christian will be a far greater tragedy than any plane flying into the side of a mountain.
What would it take to convince the Christian who is today physically minded to cease and desist?
According to Scripture, nothing can be done to prevent the collective Christian Church from rebelling against God 220 days into the Affliction. But individual Christians do not have to rebel—
The Lord to whom the Father has given all judgment (John 5:22), judges no one (John 12:47) but reveals the judgments already made when He comes again. He left His word with His disciples, and His word will judge them (v. 48) if they do not hear His words and believe the One who sent Him and thereby pass from death to life without entering into judgment (John 5:24)—and to hear His words, His voice, Christians must believe the writings of Moses (vv. 46–47). And the Christian who believes the writings of Moses will keep the commandments.
Thirty-five hundred years—a time, times, and half a time—separate endtime Christians from Moses, with these millennia shrinking Moses into being a character in children’s Bible stories, a picture to be colored in Sunday school classes while parents denounce Marxist politicians as godless heathens. Moses looks like Charlton Heston in this world, but spiritually, he looks like Christ Jesus.
Once the Second Passover liberation of Israel occurs on a near [in time] second Passover, the Christian who takes sin back inside him or herself will commit blasphemy against the liberating spirit of God. This Christian will have just flown him or herself into the side of the mountain of God.
When fishing a small boat out of Dutch, when sitting anchored in bights and coves on Akutan or Akun Islands, when hiding from the wind in the bays of Afognak Island, I breathed in the beauty of raw nature—and I knew there was more to life than what my eyes could see. I had known that as a fact for some time; I had experienced the reality of a world that couldn’t be seen shortly after I had been drafted into the Body of Christ [yes, drafted is the most appropriate word].
I hadn’t set out to be religious. I wasn’t looking for God when drafted into the Body. But apparently God had a job for me to do, a job that I have been about doing since being called to it in January 2002. However, before being called to reread prophecy in 2002, I lived where I wanted for long enough to realize that what I really wanted was to obey God … I kept the Sabbath in a 24/7 world because keeping the Sabbath was the right thing to do. So today, with former Senator Stevens’ death still an open wound with photos of the crash site available for all who want to see, I looked, saw the mountains, the green valleys, the fog, and I know why he was out there fishing. I too would like to be fishing somewhere along Alaska’s coast, but not enough so to leave off doing the work being done here at the tip of Michigan’s Thumb.
A person eats every day. He or she sleeps somewhere. The physical things of this world have importance to the flesh, and these physical things include what the eyes see. But the inner son of God, born of spirit, doesn’t see with human eyes and certainly doesn’t catch salmon with hook and line. Nevertheless, this inner self grieves when lives are lost, with the greatest loss of life to occur when Christians rebel against God after being filled with spirit. It is no wonder that the two witnesses go about dressed in sackcloth [mourning garb] (Rev 11:3).
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."