Finding Balance in a World of Extremes-Part 1

Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2 Pastor's Corner

Focuses on maintaining balance in doctrinal differences and social issues
  1. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  2. Finding balance in a world of extremes
  3. Ecclesiastes 3 & 4: Seasons of Life
  4. The Good Life: Happiness and the Work-Life Balance
  5. Finding Meaning in Life: Study on Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

Throughout the past episodes of this study, we’ve dug deep into the Book of Ecclesiastes to discover what God recommends for us humans to have a good life. By a good life, God doesn’t mean one that is necessarily filled with love or trouble-free. What He means is a life that accomplishes its spiritual purpose while achieving a sense of natural fulfillment.

Image credit: SimplyPsychology.org

Just before going further, permit me for a moment to explain what I mean. In his book, Motivation and Personality, the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow taught that we humans have five levels of needs which govern many of our decisions. For those of you listening to this podcast, there’s a diagram of this hierarchy on the website: theLWBC.com.

At the top of the list is the need to reach your full potential as a person or, what Maslow called, self-actualization. I teach my students that it’s to be the best you that you can be.

Well, God was way ahead of Maslow. And in this book of wisdom, through Solomon, God teaches us principles such as finding fulfillment in life, work and relationships, understanding that life operates in seasons.

As we start to wind down our study of the Book of Ecclesiastes, I’d like to draw one theme from chapters 5-8. It is finding balance and learning contentment.

Over the next two messages we’ll focus on the first aspect: finding balance in a world of extremes.

Now, before we get started, remember to pause throughout this study, read through the scriptures and pick up when you’re ready to move forward. There’s no rush and I’d like to make sure you’re getting all the benefit from this that you can because it is important for your life.

Why is this important?

We live in a world of extremes. Extreme pleasure, extreme pressure, incredible wealth—where some can launch themselves into space whenever they want— and crushing poverty.

Against the backdrop of these social contradictions, God is trying to get a Bride who is in the world yet not a part of the world (John 18:36). Honestly, that is one of the biggest challenges a pastor faces in modern times. Preaching so that the people can live successful lives in a world that becomes increasingly ungodly by the hour, yet helping them to live more like the Word “in this present darkness” (Eph. 6:12), is difficult at best. But we are not discouraged and our hope is in the Lord.

One of the keys to navigating this complex age of Laodicea while striving for your overcomer’s crown is to find and maintain a balanced approach to your Christianity. By no means am I encouraging people to be lukewarm—those of you who know me know that nothing could be further from the truth—but I am encouraging you to walk in wisdom as Col.4:5 urges us.

So, what is spiritual balance?

Charles Blondin is probably the world’s most famous tightrope walker. In case you’re not familiar with the idea of tightropewalking, I want you to close your eyes for a moment and imagine that you’re crossing the Grand Canyon on a rope that is just two inches thick—without any belts or nets to catch you.

Blondin crossed Niagara Falls about 300 times on a tightrope and, on at least one occasion, he hauled a stove with him to the falls, lit a fire and cooked an omelet—all on a tightrope that was about 1,300 feet long and 2 inches thick.

I share this because that’s how I believe the Christian walks today. Hell is beneath us. The forces of evil are trying to push us from our Lifeline—the Word. Again, for a moment, just close your eyes and imagine a tightrope walker. Every move you make has to be balanced. Every step must be true.

To do anything else is to die.

Spiritual balance is the same thing. It is not letting yourself tilt toward the lukewarm, looseness of Satan’s Eden and neither is it allowing yourself to become overzealous and, ultimately, self-righteous. God warns Joshua of the same when He tells him not to go to the right hand or the left.

Just like with tightrope walking, it’s easy for us to sway to one side or the other. And so the Bible itself has advice for us.

Chapter 5 opens up with a warning to not be quick to promise God anything (Eccl. 5:1-7). Now this might seem strange as all who love the Lord should be happy to promise him anything—right? Well, not necessarily. The thing is, when you promise God something, He never forgets it and He holds you accountable for your words. Solomon shows us here that we must not let our love for the Lord get us into situations where we cannot keep what we promise. A balanced approach recognizes this and therefore focuses more on worship than making promises.

But balance goes beyond words into daily living. Let’s drill into this a little further. In this next section, I’d like to focus on keeping balance in our natural life and a few areas where the enemy tries or will try to get us off the straight path of the Word.

Natural balance

Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

Ecclesiastes 7:16-18

As we interact with the world on a daily basis, let us keep focused on our mission: hate the sin but love the sinner. Stand for the Word without compromising but do not seek conflict unless you are definitively led of the Holy Spirit to do so.

There’s a good saying that we can be so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good. I recall a time when some married sisters didn’t want to make themselves attractive to their husbands because they were so given to living a holy life. Today, believers sometimes give off the idea that those who struggle with temptation are sinful when that is totally incorrect.

I’ve mentioned from behind the pulpit that we need to balance meeting our physical and emotional needs with bringing our body under subjection. There are times to give in to your body’s will and there are times to tell it a firm “no.” Now is a good time to bring this back to your remembrance while explaining a little further.

The Lord Jesus never focused on being too righteous—He focused simply on doing the Father’s will even though there were times that He was tempted to do what He wanted instead.

Christ showed us balance in all things. In terms of godly service, there were times when He pushed Himself the extra mile and there were times when He told His disciples to “Come aside and rest, (Mark 6:31).” At times He told the disciples to exclusively trust the Heavenly Father for protection (like Ezra of old in Ezra 8:22). But there came a time when He taught His disciples to sell their garments and buy swords (Luke 22:33-35). The gentle love Christ showed the lost was balanced by His fury when He beat the crowds out of the temple.

In like manner, we must accept that there are times we need to rely on the Spirit’s power and there are times we need to trust that the Spirit will work through our efforts. For example, there are times you must take medicine to get better and—when we appropriate the faith necessary—there are times when we won’t need medicine at all.

If you go to the extreme of always relying on medicine, your faith will be weak. But if you go to the other extreme of never taking it at all, without a solid revelation in your heart, you may die. Spiritual balance keeps our faith pure yet grounded in the realities of this world.

Let’s take another look at your life. You are called to be the Word but, like the Lord Jesus, you must balance that out with the fact that you are also human. Because of this, there will be times where we shake off the mental, emotional, sexual, and materialistic pressures of the age without much of a problem and there are times we will have to really do battle to overcome ourselves. And sometimes we’ll stumble and fall and need to cling to the cross to rise and do battle again.

I’m urging you to keep balanced in every area of your life as you look at yourself so you don’t get discouraged. On one hand you can go to the extreme of self-condemnation because you wonder why, as a child of God you’re struggling with ______X__________ (fill in the blank here). This is especially important if you’re going through a new phase in life and have never dealt with this kind of situation before. Think back to my message of Stages of Life. By condemning yourself, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up doubting Christ’s salvation in your life which means you’ll be doing the Devil’s job for him.

On the other hand, you can go like false Christians today and live without self-control, falsely claiming that the grace of God will atone for your lack of holiness and lack of faith. This leads to destruction. This is why the discernment of the Spirit and maturity that comes in Christ is something that all Christians must prioritize. As was well said, “we must lay in Christ’s presence and ripen.”

Jesus Himself maintained balance at all times.

On one hand, there were times that He gave into His body’s love for good food, so much so till the Pharisees criticized Him for being a glutton and a drunkard (Luke 7:34). The critics thought Christ really couldn’t be serious about a holy life if He ate and drank so much—especially in the company of prostitutes (Hmm…). Why, the Pharisees knew the body had to be constantly mortified and fasting should be done twice a week as per the publican (Luke 18:12). How could this Man be the Messiah and give into the love of food?

But you see there was also another side to Jesus. The side that brought that same body into subjection and fasted for 40 days and nights then overcame the temptation to transform stones into bread.

Balance, my brothers and sisters.

Here is what I want you to remember: when the situation demands a certain reaction, we must choose the path that will allow us to be the best that we can be in our current reality.

The Lord Jesus wasn’t the only one to demonstrate the need for balance in our daily natural and spiritual walk. Let’s turn our eyes now to Paul. This great Apostle to the Gentiles believed in divine healing so much that a poisonous snake’s venom couldn’t harm him and yet he knew take a doctor with him wherever he went. He also advised Timothy to pursue a physical cure for his stomach sickness without making mention of prayer. Obviously Paul trusted in prayer but he knew when to pray and when to take medicine.

The point is that we Christians need to find that place where we know we’re living according to the Word without overdoing it. This way, we can be the voices of wisdom that give an accurate picture of who our God is and what His nature is like.

Balance in times of tough choices

We all love the mountain top experiences, those times where the will of God is so clear and the fire of God obliterates all doubt like it did on the Mount Carmel showdown that I spoke of this morning. But as we near the Rapture, we have to realize the BIble predicts that the age will be one that is dismal, a time in which it’s often difficult to discern what is the right thing to do in our day-to-day life (see Zechariah 14:7). Let us remember that it’s in this final age that the Bride of Christ is in her maturity and should be spiritually mature enough to know WHAT God wants done even if He doesn’t outright tell us what to do.

That’s one side of things. On the other hand, sometimes the choices we have to make may not be the choice that we want to make as Christians. I hope that doesn’t stumble you.

We as genes of God often want to achieve something for the Lord or change something in our life but we are “encompassed by infirmity” and cannot accomplish it—at least, not at that moment. We then have to do the best that we can and pray, struggle, and trust the grace of God to bring us through.

Here’s what Paul said:

 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Romans 7:15-20

I love the Bible because it is so practical and doesn’t shy away from open, honest conversations that can help us all navigate a complex world.

Now, this scripture doesn’t mean that we don’t have to overcome but it does mean that we have to accept that there will be times we don’t get to have the clear-cut victory we’d like to have right away and sometimes ever in this life. There are some emotional and physical scars that linger even though God may forgive and we may have to struggle against them all our life. We’re designed this way so we can keep on our knees and always remember the grace that God has shown us.

I hope that’s clear. If not, write me a question and I’ll go into more detail.

The Balance between Christ’s strength and human weakness

There are Christians who try to live as though faith alone can solve all problems. That is not true. Faith must also be balanced by hope and love. In fact, love (which includes compassion) is greater than faith (see 1 Corinthians 13). And in every day living, faith must be balanced with wisdom. Brother Branham tells the story about a woman in midlife who’d been told by a minister that she had seven devils. Another minister told her she only had five. The poor woman almost went insane looking for devils in her stockings. Meanwhile, her home life was falling apart, her marriage was suffering. No doubt the ministers were sincere but faith without wisdom almost destroyed the woman and her family.

When God in His mercy began to reveal the woman’s condition, Brother Branham gave her some good advice.

34 I said, “Go home. Straighten up your house; cook your husband a nice, big, apple pie, about that thick. When he comes in tonight, throw both arms around him, kiss him, set down, and get on his lap, and tell him you love him, and live like a lady ought to.” That’s exactly. That’s all there is.

   55-0224 – Water From The Rock

You see the truth was that a natural stage of life—that every woman has to deal with in some way or another— was causing some emotional turmoil even though she was a Christian. And it is the truth that sets us free, not shouting, stomping, or even our prayer meetings. Deliverance comes from accepting the Word.

With that being said, it’s probably easy to understand how Romans 7:15-20 applies to us in a physical and spiritual sense, so let’s take an emotional example to look at this more closely.

Again, I’m going to reference a story Brother Branham told, this time about himself. He stated that he tried to commit suicide after losing his wife and child.

Now, suicide is something we might expect from a sinner, but Brother Branham was a Christian (filled with the Holy Ghost) at this point in his life. Not only was he a Christian but he was a minister. What did it? A lack of faith? Did he somehow lose the Holy Spirit?

Not at all. It was simply the strain of unrelenting grief. Christian or not, the mind can only take so much. Paul spoke about comforting the feeble-minded in the Body. He did not advise us to take the approach that they should “get over it.”

Now, I realize that I’m constantly challenging the beliefs you may have held, but again, my responsibility before the Lord is to teach the Word in such a way that you can navigate the complexities of this age. Laodicea is like no age that’s ever existed in human history. To overcome, you must be grounded in truth not tradition.

We say that the Holy Ghost is the keeping power but the Holy Ghost is to work through you and me. If we do not support other members of the body when they are tested, can we be surprised when they fall? On the other hand, if we are struggling and we let pride keep us from asking for help from the other members of the body, can we blame the church or the preacher when we find ourselves lost in sin? James 5:14 brings this out clearly.

By no means am I condoning suicide, but I am trying to help you understand the balance between what we should do as Christians and the choices we sometimes make. Suicide is flat out wrong, and is a sin in the eyes of the Lord for you “are the temple of the Lord (1 Cor. 3:16).” No one should destroy God’s temple.

But given that this body (and mind) is prone to weakness–especially in this age of stress and anxiety–it is important that we balance our faith with practical, healthy lifestyles, love for one another, and an awareness of our own human makeup so that we that limit Satan’s opportunities to attack us.

Let’s take another example just to drive this point home. Brother Branham later shares how his second wife, Sis. Meda, was really struggling with the ongoing demands of the ministry. People were camped out in the yard and running to the door claiming to have “Thus Saith the Lord” for her husband and family. Her house was a mess. Kids were screaming on the floor and dinner hadn’t been cooked.

Did that mean she wasn’t a Christian? Didn’t have the love of God?

No.

It was a perfectly normal human response. She snapped under the pressure and had a meltdown.

You see, it’s important that we balance our spiritual faith with a solid understanding of our makeup as humans and know what we can and cannot handle. Knowing your limits, while being willing to push them as you grow in Christ, will help you balance everything in this world.

As Christians, we need to be compassionate and recognize that we do need to support one another continuously with our words and prayer. There are cases where believers shy away from converts who are tattooed or struggle with temptations that came from their life in the world.

It is as though we know God has forgotten their past life in our minds but we who have never stood in their shoes can’t seem to move past it. This approach isn’t good and we must be careful lest we drive those who are trying to follow Christ back into the arms of Satan by our attitudes.

Let’s recap what we’ve discussed so far .

We’ve learned that:

  • The Book of Ecclesiastes is full of wisdom to help us live a good life
  • A good life is one that accomplishes God’s will while giving you a sense of fulfilment in your natural and spiritual life
  • One key element of a good life is maintaining spiritual and natural balance.
  • Like a tightrope walker, you must avoid going to the extreme of being lukewarm or the other extreme of being too zealous or self-righteous.
  • The Lord Jesus demonstrated perfect balance in His natural and spiritual life and Paul also gave a great picture of balance in his life.
  • Balance allows us to take the action that will allow us to be the best we can be in whatever scenario confronts us.
  • We must keep in mind the balance between Christian strength and human weakness.

Here’s a great spot to stop for today. Lord willing in our next message we want to look a little closer at this great topic and focus on maintaining our balance in our interactions with believers and those who don’t know Jesus Christ. . Until then, walk in the Spirit, love God and one other, and may God bless you.

The Millennium Post #1

Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2 Pastor's Corner

Focuses on maintaining balance in doctrinal differences and social issues
  1. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  2. Finding balance in a world of extremes
  3. Ecclesiastes 3 & 4: Seasons of Life
  4. The Good Life: Happiness and the Work-Life Balance
  5. Finding Meaning in Life: Study on Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Revelation 20:4-6

Our next few studies will center around the Battle of Armageddon and the Great Millennium that is to come. Today, I want to address three questions:

  1. What is the Millennium?
  2. How will we live in the Millennium?
  3. What kind of people will be in the Millennium?

    First, let’s recap the basics.

What is the Millennium?

The word “millennium” means 1,000 years and the biblical Millennium is a 1,000 year period promised to the Elected who were faithful to the Word in their generation. This takes place after the Rapture of the Saints and the battle of Armageddon (which we’ll cover in another lesson) .

The Millennium is a honeymoon period—a sacred time where Jesus Christ, His Bride, and the 144,000 Jews who have received the Holy Spirit live and worship together. It is a time of peace that was typified by the reign of King Solomon in the Old Testament.

Notice that Solomon was the son of David. When he took the throne, Israel knew a time of prosperity unlike any other. His reign was a time of justice and peace for all because of the great gift of discernment (wisdom) that God gave him. So Christ—who is called the Son of David during this Millennium (see 2 Tim. 2:8, Rev. 5:5)—will take His place as King over Israel. This is the time that the disciples were longing to see when they asked if He would “restore the kingdom unto Israel” (Acts 1:6). You see, Israel means a “prince with God.” The name itself promises rulership over the nations yet, since the fall of Israel after Solomon’s time, Israel has never again known the glory that God promised.

But the wonderful God knew that the people that would rule with Him during the Millennium would not only be natural Israelites but an elected people made up of Jews and Gentiles. As I said this morning, He has been hand-selecting that Bride in the 2,000 years since He went away, pulling them to Himself for the great Age that is to come. When the last Bride-member comes in, and the 144,000 members of the Jewish remnant (see Romans 11 and Rev. 14) have received the Holy Ghost, God’s predestinated starter-seed for the new world will be complete.

Now, He can restore the kingdom to Israel. So, in the Millennium Jesus, the Son of David, will rule as head over Israel and as the Bridegroom to the Gentile church. To the Jew, Christ is the Root and Offspring of David. In other words, He was before David (the Root of the royal vine), in David, and after David (the Offspring). But to us Gentiles, He is the Divine Lover shown in Song of Solomon who has finally received a faithful Bride.

How will we live in the Millennium?

Now that we’ve got the basis established, let’s look at what happens to the Bride for and during the Millennium. Now take your time and study the Scriptures I’ll share with you. Pause, pray, think and come back whenever you want to so you can really soak in the Word and, I trust, love Christ more as a result of your study.

First, the redeemed upon this earth will live in a glorified body that is just like the body that Jesus Christ will have.

Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Philippians 3: 21

All of our loved ones that died in Christ are in a theophany (2 Cor. 5:1) that does not age, thirst, sleep or get hungry. Therefore, as the Lord Jesus said, there are no human associated relationships in that body. You remember Christ was asked the question about the woman who had married 7 brothers (Mark 12:18-27)? He showed us that there is no marriage in that estate (called the resurrection).

Not exactly with flesh and blood like it will be in its glorified stage, but it is of a form of a human body that doesn’t eat, neither does it drink, but it’s—it’s a body, a body that’s waiting for us as soon as we leave this one. Now, in there, we enter into that body. And that’s the kind of body that God was, for He said, “Let us make man in our own image and in our likeness.”

  57-0828 – Hebrews, Chapter Two #3
    Rev. William Marrion Branham

If you recall Brother Branham’s experience beyond the Curtain of Time, you see this same truth born out. They all called him “our precious brother” including his first wife that had passed on. That body is waiting for the resurrection of their flesh which our text calls the “First Resurrection.”

But when Jesus Christ returns to start the Millennium and His saints with Him (see Zechariah 14:5, Matt. 16: 27, Psalm 96:13, Is. 66:15) the saints will no longer keep a theophany. Instead, the dust, minerals and whatever else that makes up your body will combine with that theophany to produce a perfect body that is ready to live and reign for 1,000 years and into eternity.

Brother Branham says this, speaking of the resurrection and the Second Coming of the Lord.

332 And now when that tabernacle…they left there in that body, they come back to the earth, and that type of a body they had took on immortality. The—the dust of the earth gathered into that theophany of somehow and they become human again, had to eat like they did in the garden of Eden. See? “But if this earthly tabernacle be dissolved, we have one already waiting.”

61-0112 – Questions And Answers

Now there are so many things we don’t understand about how this body will work, as the Bible tells us that it is not fully revealed to us what kind of a body we will have, but we can look back at the pattern of God to get a good idea of what things will be like in the Millennium.

Notice how God brought man from a thought (attribute)–> theophany–> flesh man (glorified). If you can see my diagram it might make a little more sense.

God thought of Adam then He created Adam as a theophany (Gen. 1:28) and then He put Adam in flesh (Gen. 2:7). So we see the same pattern repeating again. From thoughts in God’s mind, we were put into flesh but that flesh was fallen because of sin. Christ’s blood brought us back into God’s order and so we enter into a theophany after this life is over. But the journey isn’t over yet!

And, then, when this robe of flesh is dropped, there is a natural body, theophany, a body not made with hands, neither born of a woman, that we go to.

Then that body returns back and picks up the glorified body.
 

65-0221E – Who Is This Melchisedec?
    Rev. William Marrion Branham

At the coming of Christ, we return to a glorified body just as Adam and Eve were given. Now notice how human desires were granted to them in their glorified state. They got hungry. Tired. They loved. And yet they were divine beings. We see the same pattern in Jesus Christ.

After His resurrection He had to follow a specific order until He ascended to His Father (John 20:17). He did not eat or drink contrary to what He told Jairus to do when He raised up the little girl from the dead. Why? His body was not ready for that yet. But once He ascended and then returned to His disciples, He came with a glorified body that could eat, drink, and be touched. Do you remember what He said to Thomas (John 20:27). Something had changed for, instead of not being touched and eating or drinking, He asked them for food (which He had always loved) to prove that He wasn’t a theophany or a vision!

Now in the Millennium we will have a restoration of all that makes us human. We will eat. Drink. And love.

Micah the prophet predicted this Millennium about five hundred years before Jesus Christ came the first time.

But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.

Micah 4:5

Isaiah also prophesies of this great, agricultural society that lives in the blessed presence of the Son of God.

And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.

Isaiah 65:21-23

In that world, all wrongs will be made right. Those without the correct spouse here will find that God brings them to the correct mate so they can live in happiness and peace.

What people will inhabit that world?

Now, here we’re going to venture into some deep water so get your Bibles and stay with me. The Millennium is only for the Bride and tribes of Israel that stayed true to God. However, the earth will be well-populated.

Notice that all the Elect (those whose names are on the Lamb’s Book of Life) from Adam on to the last one that comes in before the Rapture will be there. But God brings in the twelve tribes of Israel with Dan and Ephraim (who were not among the 144,000 group according to Rev. 7) into the picture. There they establish the temple worship with the nations flowing to the House of the Lord according to Micah 4:1-3.

Let’s read.

But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Micah 4:1-3

Here we see the Gentiles (many nations) being a part of the plan of God. We will all go to worship the Lord in Jerusalem during this time. Whereas these nations (Gentiles) once fought against each other, now they use weapons as agricultural tools for the world has been reset and we turn back to an agricultural society instead of the high-tech, high pressure world that we now know.

Ezekiel chapters 40-48 spell out in detail the order of worship that Israel is to follow and show us that there will be weights, currency, and measurements in this new world–much like there is now. We often think of it as a sort of mystical, dream world but it will be extremely tangible with work and trade being a part of it.

Some have wondered at my repeated statements that there will be children born in the Millennium but let me share just one scriptural promise regarding this matter. It is a beautiful scripture found in the book of Ezekiel chapter 47. Here God is ordering the layout of the tribes of Israel during this Millennium and He says,

And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.

Ezekiel 47:22

You see, a glorified body doesn’t mean that we cease being human. Frankly, Eve conceived although she was in a glorified body, did she not? I’ll let you think on that awhile.

Our human talents and skills remain with us. We will use them to glorify the Lord who will be in our midst. Think of what it will be as we worship for a thousand years with singers like David and Sankey, as we hear testimonies by Paul, Peter Cartwright and Bro. Branham. Truly, I wonder how we’ll find time to sleep with so much excitement going on!

And through it all is the blessed presence of the Lord Jesus incarnate among us.

But, at the end of this Millennial period, some incredible things take place—the anointing of the New Jerusalem, the resurrection of those who have never heard the Gospel, and the general resurrection. How do these events affect the world? How do they fit into Bible prophesy? How does Isaiah’s statement that a child shall die at an hundred years fit into the great picture? Lord willing, we’ll look at this next time.

Study on Adoption #3

Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2 Pastor's Corner

Focuses on maintaining balance in doctrinal differences and social issues
  1. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  2. Finding balance in a world of extremes
  3. Ecclesiastes 3 & 4: Seasons of Life
  4. The Good Life: Happiness and the Work-Life Balance
  5. Finding Meaning in Life: Study on Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

Last week I stressed that spiritual adoption means that God places us in His Body for service and that He gives us a responsibility that we control in His Name. Today, I’d like to dive really deep into what this means for Bride of Christ as we approach the Millennium. Today we’ll study:

  • The link between spiritual adoption and the Rapture
  • Why Satan will be bound 1,000 years (the Millennium)
  • Our role with Christ during this time period.

I’m excited to study this with you and I hope you are too!

What does Adoption have to do with the Rapture?

Let me start by quoting Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:50 where he says “flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The Lord Jesus drove this point home when He taught Nicodemus that we must be born again (1 John 3:3-6) because a sexual birth can’t produce a child of God.

Our New Birth brings us spiritually into condition with God (see Adoption Study #1) but our bodies are still full of corruption.

This must change.

Referring to nature, Paul writes,

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Romans 8:23

Now this is where I believe some get confused and put off all adoption into the future. But Paul here isn’t talking about our soul’s status before God—he is talking about our body. Whereas here we struggle with aches, and combat viruses like COVID, our body will one day receive the acknowledgement of its placing as a son or daughter of God just as our soul receives its acknowledgement when God places us into His Spiritual Body for service.

In other words, we are groaning and crying out for Christ’s return because then, like nature, we will be changed to have a perfect body that will never age, get sick, or die. This is the adoption of our body—not our soul. That has already happened when Christ placed us for service in His spiritual body.

Adoption here is the moment that we stop groaning and we receive the condition we ought to have enjoyed all along. It is the moment where nature recognizes us as supreme lords that rule this world in the place of our Heavenly Father. It is the moment when we regain the supernatural abilities that Adam possessed, and Jesus demonstrated, but we robbed of by our fallen birth.

Again, Paul prophesies the things that are to be.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Philippians 3:20-21

This does not happen at death for death takes a Christian to a temporary body (a theophany according to 2 Corinthians 5:1). Remember, those who go to be with the Lord “sigh and cry” wondering how long until they can come back to Earth (Rev. 6:10).

When Christ returns, then the children of God receive the adoption of their bodies. Take some time to pause and think about this. Compare it to John the Revelator who wrote,

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

1 John 3:2

Pause and think about this. When you’re ready, pick back up here.

Okay, so to drive home my first point, there is coming an adoption of our body (not our soul) in which we will have a body that will be similar to Christ’s at the moment of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8). You see, prophet after prophet in the New Testament understood that there was coming a time that nature itself would recognize the authority of the adopted children of God.

What’s everything waiting on? What’s the whole creation waiting for? The manifestations of the sons of God. It’s waiting for the Church to become into its position. Who was the son of God, when Adam, where was his domain? The earth. He, he had domain over the earth. Is that right? [Congregation says, “Amen.”—Ed.]

He wasn’t Elah, Elah, Elohim then; He was Jehovah. See? That is, “I am God, and I’ve made some lesser ones under Me. And I have give them a dominion. And in their domain, the dominion under them, is the earth.” Man had dominion over the earth. And all the whole creation is waiting for the sons of God to be manifested. Oh!
   60-0522M – Adoption #3
   Rev. William Marrion Branham

In that day our bodies will be changed to wield the authority that God will entrust to us.

“What authority?” you ask. The authority to carry out His commands and rule over this world (and possibly others) as He entrusted to Adam. This is yet another reason why the Rapture is necessary—we cannot fulfill the original commission in this feeble flesh. We need something higher, something divine.

At the Rapture, we are changed to a theophany, and when Christ returns, we receive a glorified body. But we’ll go into details on that another time, Lord willing.

Why will Satan be bound?

Satan will be bound during the Millennium because there is no one for him to work through. We, who were once his slaves in sin, rule over him and sin when we are born of the Spirit. During the Millennium and beyond, the Bride will rule over this world. How can Satan tempt or rule when the sons of God have dominion?

Impossible.

Nothing will be out of order. We will enforce the law of God and nature will willingly humble itself to the leadership of the redeemed. Satan, the one who brought death to man and nature, who turned animal against animal, will be scorned according to Isaiah 14:16-18.

Now, he tries to make us fear him as he bluffs us and attacks our mind. But let us remember that we have already overcome him (1 John 4:4) and we are pressing the battle to the final victory when the spiritual will be manifested and the devil will be our captive (Rev. 20:1-10).

Take some time to think about that before we move into our final segment for today.

How does adoption impact our role with Christ in the Millennium?

I said previously that adoption is a service as well as rulership role. That is true. We are placed in the Body of Christ to serve and are given authority within our role, just as the priests, prophets, singers, and righteous kings of the Old Testament had their specific levels of authority and duty.

Just as we spiritually are placed with authority over a specific area (spiritual gifts, the ministry, the career God has chosen for us or our domestic relationships etc), so will we have specific authority in the world that is to come.

Didn’t Jesus promise us, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne (Rev 3:21).” ? We see here again the parables He taught of the servants who used their talents (responsibilities/callings) wisely and received rulership under the king’s dominion (see Luke 19:11-27).

To the Bride is given the privilege of ruling with Him, not because She is worthy humanly speaking, but because Her character meets His standards for She is part of Him. In recognizing the sincerity of our faith, Christ places us in His Body (or adopts us).

Throughout this life’s journey, we must remain faithful to His calling, giving him interest on the talents (Luke 19) that He has laid in our hands. At His return to Earth, we will receive the adoption of our bodies and usher in a thousand year ruling period in which the Earth will be repopulated and Satan will be bound.

But then comes the really good part—the Eternal world and the New Jerusalem.

Lord willing, we’ll get into that some other time.

Main Takeaways:

  • The adoption of our body is different than our spiritual adoption now. It occurs when Christ returns as King with His Bride.
  • Satan will be bound during that Millennium for the Righteous (Mrs. Jesus Christ) will hold the Earth under Her control in His Name.
  • Christ has promised that we will rule with Him and, to do so, we must receive a body more infinitely glorious than anything we can imagine.

Study on Adoption #2

Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2 Pastor's Corner

Focuses on maintaining balance in doctrinal differences and social issues
  1. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  2. Finding balance in a world of extremes
  3. Ecclesiastes 3 & 4: Seasons of Life
  4. The Good Life: Happiness and the Work-Life Balance
  5. Finding Meaning in Life: Study on Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

Our objective

In today’s message, I want to do two things. First, I’d like to reinforce your understanding of when a child of God is placed (or adopted) and second I’d like to show how this placing reflects the coming kingdom of our God. As we go through this lesson remember to pause, study, and write down any questions that come to your mind.

I’d like to take them in early December if the Lord tarries.

What we learned so far

Last week I focused on what adoption is and we showed that a son of God is adopted when the Holy Spirit places him into service within the body. Now, I’d like to drill that point home.

First, the spiritual is often like our natural relationships. We all at times wanted things from our parents. Maybe we couldn’t wait to drive their car or to do something independently. Well, most parents won’t hand you the keys to their car when you turn 10. If they’re thinking parents, they’ll wait until you reach legal age, then make you go through a driver’s Ed course or teach you how to drive themselves.

Then, when they’re convinced that you can handle the responsibility, and after you’ve passed your licensing test, your parents will probably let you drive their car or get you your own.

My point is that, while you were always their child, they will only give you the responsibility once you’ve demonstrated that you’re worthy of it.

God does the same thing.

After we are born of His Holy Spirit, He tests us to see if we’re responsible, zealous for His kingdom, and if we’ll live in a way that glorifies Him. When He sees that continuous faithfulness, He gives you responsibility within His body. It might be a gift of prophecy, placing you as a model single man or woman, using you to serve as a help within His church or moving you into the ministry etc.

The point is, that God has a place for everyone and, if the church pulls together in that great unity of the Spirit, letting Christ position us as He desires, we will have a spiritual Body that cannot be defeated.

Let me pause to say that God’s placing is not only spiritual. Your natural job can also be God’s positioning within the body—a farmer, a housewife etc. Do you understand? It’s not just preachers or those with spiritual gifts.

Alright, let’s move on.

To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Galatians 4:5

Paul shows us that God’s purpose was to place us within Christ’s body. Compare this to Ephesians 1, where he tells us that God predestinated our purpose in Christ’s body from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1: 5). Then you can see that the adoption of a believer is when he or she is placed within the Body of Christ by the Spirit to do a certain work or hold a certain office.

Doesn’t every part of your natural body serve a function? Or is it there only to say, “I’m a part of the body?” We may be tempted to think that adoption’s purpose is to exercise God’s power but that would lead to pride. Adoption is not only to rule—it is also here to serve the entire spiritual Body of Jesus Christ.

Did not the Lord Jesus show us by His words and example that the one that truly rules is the one that serves?

Now, here is a good time to pause and think about how your natural body functions while keeping in mind what Paul taught the church at Corinth.

For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12

When you’re ready, pick back up here.

Okay, so now that you’ve thought on that, let’s look at this parallel of the natural body a little more closely.

Every part of the body has a specific place and a specific purpose. The kidney cannot move over to the lung’s grounds and say, “this is where I belong, I’ll do my job better here.”

No. Body parts that don’t function as they ought to—or leave their original position—lead to dysfunction and disease. The same is true in the spiritual body.

God has a place for each of His own and He leads us to it as we show our zeal, love, and faithfulness to His Word.

How does this work in our daily life?

When God places you in the Body, or gives you a spiritual gift, you are responsible for its use. You rule that spiritual territory. Now this might sound strange, but it shouldn’t. The Bible says “And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (1 Corinthians 14:32). You therefore, rule over the portion of the Holy Ghost that is given to you. Now by you I don’t mean the human element, I mean that aspect of God that’s on the inside of your soul.

Just like in biblical Israel, each Isaraelite inherited or ruled over a certain part of the possession that served to benefit the whole tribe (and ultimately the nation of Israel), so each member of Christ’s body rules a portion of God’s spiritual kingdom. Through good stewardship of what God has given to you, the entire body benefits.

Now this is true for pastors but it’s also true for the laity who have been gifted with various gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12) or have been called to serve. You are responsible to give God a good spiritual return on what He has given to you and use it as He would for He has given you authority because He trusts you.

How was our inheritance given to us, through what? Predestination. Predestination is foreknowledge. How did God know He could trust you to be a preacher? His foreknowledge. “Not he that willeth or he that runneth, or he…It’s God that sheweth mercy.” That’s right, predestination. He knew what was in you. He knowed what was in you before you even come on the earth. He knowed what was in you before there was an earth for you to come on. That’s—that’s Him. That’s the infinite God, the infinite.

Rev. William Marrion Branham, 60-0522E – Adoption #4

What authority is given to God’s adopted children?

Now this, to me, is where things really get rich. Just as God brings us individually to a place that He can use us and work through us, so He has been building His Bride for 2,000 years to get her to a place of adoption—a time where the Word that leaves Her lips is backed up by God Himself.

Now this has happened as individuals. We see and know that when you are correctly placed by God in your ministry or role in life, God will honor your words to minister to those He has given to you.

If you’ll permit me to say so, that’s one of the secrets that I have held before God constantly as a pastor these may years. When I have a dire need or situation to face that involves the people (not myself), I am confident that I can use my status before God as a minister to intercede. You may have heard me in prayer say things like “I claim this one” etc. That is what I mean.

Because this is my office, or my place in the Body, by His Grace there are times when He will honor that faith that I hold over this spiritual ground. Now I do not often talk about this but, I believe it’s a time for things to be said plainly so we can understand. To quote Paul, “I magnify my office (Romans 11:13).”

Now, we are in a time where the Bride of Christ is pulling into shape to operate collectively as representatives of the Lord Jesus—what we call adopted sons of God.

Forgive me for what I am about to say. Adoption is not something to look to like a Hindu/Buddhist Nirvana. I do not mean to be disrespectful but that is the clearest way I can make my point.

It is not something that we can be “good enough” to attain. As the individuals within the spiritual Body of Jesus Christ take their place, the Body collectively will take its place. Israel as a nation settled Canaan land under Joshua as each individual family possessed the land.

In the days of Nehemiah, the entire land was resettled as each family group repaired their own inheritance.

We are now in the season of adoption, where the entire family of God moves under the Spirit’s anointing to speak creative Words, but that moves as individuals take their place in the Body.

You remember I taught that adoption means to stand in the place of Jesus Christ? Frankly that was the whole point of adoption in the ancient world. A son could represent his father in any business deal. His word was just as powerful as his father’s word.

That is what the Bride of Christ is to be doing today. Throughout the ages, we had portions of Christ representing Himself in the church but now we are here to speak and act on His behalf.

“Go right back to Genesis, to the original, what is it? Now the world and nature is groaning, crying, everything’s moving. What? For the manifestation of the sons of God, when true sons, born sons, filled sons speak and their word is backed. I believe we’re on the border of it right now. Yes, sir. Say to this mountain, let it be so.

81 “Brother, I—I desire so-and-so, a certain thing done. I’m a believer in Jesus Christ.”

82 “I give it to you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen. There’s a manifestation.

83 “Oh, brother, my crops are burning up out yonder. I haven’t had any rain.”

84 “I’ll send you a raining, in the Name of the Lord.” There she’ll come. Oh, waiting, groaning, all nature waiting for the manifestations of the sons of God. God ordained it at the beginning.”

    60-0522E – Adoption #4 Rev. William Marrion Branham

This couldn’t happen in any other day because now the End-Time Word has been revealed. Now, the Seals have been opened. Now, the antichrist is enthroning himself in the church and now Christ is enthroning Himself in His Bride.

Let’s pause here for today and next week, if the Lord tarries, I’d like to look at what this means for the Millennial rule. You’ll understand why our adoption as a Bride is necessary for the Millennium to take place, what adoption has to do with our change of body and why Satan will be bound for 1,000 years.

Main takeaways:

  • Adoption is being placed positionally in the Body
  • The entire Body must be placed correctly and carry out its functions
  • God demonstrates His trust in you by giving you a work to do
  • The adoption that happens as individuals is also happening in the Bride collective