Suffering # 6
Conveyance of Escrow Blessings.
There are two stages in the maximum glorification of God by the believer on earth. Both are exclusive privileges of Spiritual maturity.
1. God is glorified when the believer attains SPIRITUAL MATURITY, Gate 8 of the Spiritual life. At this point the believer begins to receive distribution of the ESCROW BLESSINGS that God created in eternity past.
2. God is glorified when the mature believer passes EVIDENCE TESTING.
Every Church Age believer belongs to a unique plan designed by God in eternity past. The objective of this plan includes blessing for the believer “beyond all that [He can] ask or imagine.” (Eph 3:20) God is glorified by distributing these blessings to the believer in time.
The first thing God ever did for us is the means of glorifying Him: He created the believer’s blessings before He created the believer. “Before the foundation of the world,” (Eph 1:3-4) God the Father tailored fabulous blessings specifically for each individual Christian; and deposited those blessings in escrow.
Worthy of praise and glorification is God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who [The Father] has blessed us with every Spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Eph 1:3)
God’s plan for blessing the believer may be compared to an escrow contract. An escrow is a deed, bond, or other agreement by which one person conveys some form of property to another person. Rather than being conveyed directly, however, the property is deposited with a third party, to be delivered when the intended recipient fulfills certain conditions set forth in the terms of the escrow agreement.
Just as an escrow agreement has three parties, so also (Eph 1:3) mentions three parties: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the believer. God the Father is the grantor. In eternity past He created each believer’s blessings for time and for eternity and deposited them with Jesus Christ, who acts as a depositary or escrow officer. Each believer is the grantee of an escrow contract from God. If you have believed in Christ, you are the grantee of blessings that stagger the imagination. However, part of Divine wisdom is the Principle that capacity for blessings must precede the conveyance of blessings. God, therefore, designed the protocol plan to produce that capacity which makes the distribution of blessings meaningful, enjoyable, and glorifying to God. Blessing does not begin at Spiritual maturity. As part of His logistical grace policy, God has designed a system of lesser blessings which He distributes during the entire earthly experience of the believer. (Matt 5:45) This means that logistical grace is not simply a vehicle for sustaining the believer’s life on earth but is a system of providing undeserved blessing, whose enjoyment can be surpassed only by the ultimate distribution of escrow blessings for time. Furthermore, whatever capacity we have for blessings in time is far exceeded by our escrow blessings for eternity. Between the logistical blessings of Spiritual childhood, and early Spiritual adulthood, and the escrow blessings of the eternal state, is this fantastic grace provision of God for the believer who executes His plan, purpose, and will by the attainment of Spiritual maturity. Obviously, God is glorified when any believer executes this plan, and as a sign of His pleasure He conveys escrow blessings for time! The path to these magnificent blessings involves undeserved suffering. These blessings come through suffering as well as through prosperity. (Php 4:11-13) The believer who attains Spiritual maturity is classified as a winner! The question arises as to what happens to the escrow blessings of the Christian who is classified as a loser; the believer who fails to attain Spiritual maturity. To illustrate the Biblical answer to this question, we again return to the analogy of the escrow agreement. In the state of Texas, escrow contracts are irrevocable. From the date the contract is signed, the property in escrow cannot be retrieved by the grantor, and the contract cannot be canceled. Likewise, the believer’s escrow contract with God is irrevocable. (1Pe 1:4) The only reason a believer’s escrow blessings are not delivered to him is his failure to fulfill the conditions of the escrow agreement. The only condition the believer must fulfill is to advance to Spiritual maturity! (John 15:8) When he fails, he becomes a Spiritual loser. (John 15:6) The loser’s escrow blessings still belong to him irrevocably, but they will remain undistributed, on deposit in heaven forever as a memorial to lost opportunity, and as a monument to the eternal bounty of God’s grace. While the Church Age believer will not go to the Lake of Fire, he can lose the conveyance of escrow blessings for time and eternity. Escrow blessings are called “Spiritual” in, (Eph 1:3) not because they are intangible, but because God is emphasized as their source. (John 4:24) Escrow blessings may include material prosperity and temporal success as well as invisible impact and the Spiritual strength of maturity itself. The characteristics of Spiritual self-esteem, which are strengthened in Spiritual autonomy, become stronger in Spiritual maturity and constitute fabulous blessings in the inner life. In addition to this marvelous stability and capacity of soul, Jesus Christ as the depositary begins with the conveyance of escrow blessings for the mature believer’s life on earth. A treasury of blessings for time and eternity has your name on it. Your personal blessings are irrevocable, “imperishable, and undefiled and will not fade away”; neither you nor anyone else can cancel them. (1Pe 1:4) The location of the deposit is “in the heavenlies”; no repository could be more secure. (Eph 1:3) The date of the deposit is “before the foundation [Creation] of the world”; no other fortune has an older heritage. (Rom 8:17) The depositary is Christ; no one could be more personally interested in delivering your blessings to you. (1Jn 3:16) The creator and grantor of your blessings is God the Father; there is no greater giver.
He [God the Father] who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He [The Father] not also with Him [Christ, the escrow officer] freely give us all things [Our escrow blessings? (Rom 8:32)
Because God is glorified by blessing the believer, the purpose of the believer’s life is to receive escrow blessings. What must he do to receive them? Grace excludes all human works. Therefore, the Christian’s responsibility under the conditions of the escrow contract is to utilize the assets of the Spiritual life and advance to Spiritual maturity. (Matt 13:8) Only in maturity does he have the capacity to receive the marvelous blessings that God has placed on deposit for him.
Suffering plays an essential role in advancing the believer to Spiritual maturity. After he reaches maturity, and after he has received many escrow blessings, suffering then makes a unique and specialized contribution to the maximum glorification of God. (1Pe 4:19) Undeserved suffering in the life of the mature believer furnishes evidence in a courtroom drama that has been unfolding since long before human history began. (Eph 3:10-11) In the appeal trial of Satan, (Zec 3:2) a summary of which follows, God calls mature believers to the witness stand to testify concerning His matchless grace. Evidence testing is Satan’s attempt to discredit their testimony. (Job 2:1-10) Like escrow blessings, evidence testing is the privilege of the mature believer and the final category of suffering for blessing. Evidence testing follows the pattern of all suffering for blessing in that “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested beyond what you are able to bear.” (1Co 10:13) Only Spiritual maturity has the strength, and enough Divine Thinking, and Virtue-love, to endure, benefit from, and even enjoy evidence testing! (Dan 6:20-23) In short, God can glorify Himself to the maximum through escrow blessings and through evidence testing only in the lives of mature believers. This is another reason Spiritual maturity is the objective of the Christian way of life. (2Pe 3:18)
SUFFERING, HAPPINESS, AND THE ESSENCE OF GOD
SUFFERING POSES NO THREAT to the plan of God. The pain of adversity is real, but even the most horrible suffering loses its dread in the light of the grace of God. In fact, the protocol plan of God incorporates suffering and uses adversity for the purpose of blessing the advancing believer. Suffering tests his understanding and application of the Mind of Christ. [God's Thoughts] As he passes each test, he confirms and deepens his love for the Lord Jesus Christ; and hones his use of the problem-solving devices for Spiritual adulthood. God loves every believer with His infinite, Personal love. Nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:39) God never desires any harm to come to any member of the royal family. Yet suffering exists; believers face severe pain of body and anguish of soul. This study of suffering has explained from Scripture how and why Christian suffering coexists with God’s love for the believer. Most Christian suffering is self-induced misery under the law of volitional responsibility. Believers defy God’s desires and bring harm on themselves. (Prov 8:36) They ignore the precise protocol of God’s plan, and such ignorance and arrogance merely complicate the problems of living in the devil’s world. Apart from persistent self-induced misery, all suffering in the Christian way of life is designed by God for the believer’s benefit. Even unbearable Divine discipline; is a gracious attempt to restore the believer to the Spiritual life. Indeed, the fact that ignoring and violating the protocol plan of God is the cause of self-induced misery; demonstrates by contrast that learning and executing Divine protocol bring blessing. No degree of suffering can destroy the blessings of life, in the palace of the Spiritual life. Through suffering; God reveals His marvelous power to sustain and bless the believer who follows Divine protocol and utilizes his royal assets. (Acts 5:41) Suffering focuses the attention of the believer, who is imperfect and prone to distractions. Adversity and or testing compels him to remember, apply, and thus more fully understand the Spiritual Thoughts in his soul! Suffering accelerates his Spiritual growth. Suffering helps him see the essence of God.
Suffering is inevitable for the believer on earth. Every Christian must prepare himself to meet and conquer adversity as part of advancing to Spiritual maturity! To be ready for suffering when it comes, (Php 1:27-29) he must give first priority to learning, metabolizing, and applying Truth, as consistently taught by a Theologically orthodox pastor. Each believer must receive, retain, and recall the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Spiritual life. (John 4:24) The purpose of this book is to delineate systematically and comprehensively the Divine Viewpoint regarding Christian suffering. In the midst of adversity, the Spiritually adult believer shares the happiness of God as a consequence of Thinking with God's Thoughts and consistently utilizing the Spiritual life of God. We must Think as God Thinks; and regard adversity in the light of His marvelous objectives for our lives. By perception of the Truths pertinent to suffering, we gain access to the problem-solving devices that convert suffering into blessing. Each problem-solving device is efficacious because of its relationship to the essence of God!
Is based on Divine justice and faithfulness. Because God judged all the sins of the human race at the cross, (1Jn 2:2) He is always consistent in forgiving our sins, when we acknowledge them, known, or unknown, when we realize we are out of fellowship, and just want to get back in! (1Jn 1:9)
The FAITH-REST DRILL depends upon God’s omnipotence, immutability, veracity, and faithfulness, which stand behind all His Promises. Furthermore, His integrity and omniscience guarantee that God is rational and that true Conclusions can be reached logically from God's Thoughts, The Word. (Rom 8:28-32)
HOPE as a problem-solving device also depends on Divine veracity. Hope is our absolute confidence that God is true to His Word! (Heb 6:18) Divine Veracity is manifested in pertinent Biblical Doctrines that cause us to anticipate future blessings that will glorify God to the maximum. Hope # 1 Salvation. Hope # 2 That we can reach maturity. Hope # 3 That we will receive rewards in eternity. God never leaves us hopeless! And hope means in every case; confident expectation!
PERSONAL LOVE FOR GOD focuses on His absolute righteousness, the Divine attribute that is the object of His own Personal love. Only when directed toward perfect God does our Personal love become a Virtue in itself.
IMPERSONAL LOVE FOR ALL MANKIND is modeled after God’s Impersonal love for the fallen, degenerate, Spiritually dead human race. God never feels threatened by sinful man. He saved us because of His own integrity, not because we deserved Salvation. Therefore, Impersonal love for the entire human race is based on our Christian integrity, and follows the pattern of Divine self-esteem and Divine love as expressions of the integrity of God.
HAPPINESS as a problem-solving device is sharing the very happiness of God. The believer enjoys God’s happiness as a consequence of learning, metabolizing, and applying Truth. He Thinks with God’s Thoughts and shares His Reality concerning all things. By inculcating our souls with the Thinking of God as revealed in the Scripture, by applying His Truths to the circumstances of our lives, by executing Divine protocol in the power of His Spiritual life, we come to appreciate Who and What God is! We grow in our respect for the One “worthy of praise and glorification!” Our resultant contentment is the most powerful solution to the frustrations, the difficulties and the heartaches that we cannot avoid. No suffering in life is too great for the plan of God!
OCCUPATION WITH CHRIST being aware of His presence, and Thinking about Him and His Thoughts. (Acts 7:23; Heb 11:27)
DIVINE JUDGMENT IN CONTRAST TO DIVINE DISCIPLINE
GOD’S DEALINGS WITH UNBELIEVERS IN TIME
AN ESSENTIAL DISTINCTION must be understood concerning God’s punitive actions against man during the course of human history: Divine discipline is not the same as Divine judgment. Discipline is reserved for believers; judgment is for unbelievers (The lake of Fire) but may affect all categories of the human race and fallen angels as well. The believer suffers in time. (Rom 8:17-18) He is disciplined in time — (Heb 12:7) individually and collectively — but his appointment with eternal judgment was canceled when he believed in Christ. (John 3:18; Rom 8:1) The unbeliever suffers in time and in eternity. He may face individual and collective Divine judgment in time; he will receive individual judgment throughout eternity. (Rev 20:15) Because God deals with unbelievers as well as with believers, the Doctrine of Divine judgment toward unbelievers on earth reveals God’s justice and grace and also explains a tremendous amount of worldwide suffering. Like discipline to the believer, (1Co 11:30) Divine judgment in time to the unbeliever is administered in progressive stages:
1. JUDGMENT BY PAIN
2. JUDGMENT BY DEATH
3. JUDGMENT BY FINESSE
Judgment by pain and judgment by death are the progressive stages of Divine judgment in time. Finesse judgment presents a Principle by which Jesus Christ controls history despite Satan’s rule over the world.
JUDGMENT BY PAIN
The first stage of Divine judgment, judgment by pain, is an expression of God’s grace to the unbeliever, just as warning discipline expresses God’s grace to the believer. Evangelism is the objective of all judgment by pain! On the Cross Jesus Christ paid for the Salvation of every human being who will ever live, whether or not that person ever believes in Christ. (1Jn 2:2) Our Lord has accomplished completely all the work of Salvation; nothing remains for an individual to do but to accept the work of Christ on his behalf. The way of Salvation is simple and plain: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved.” (Acts 16:31)
Because God will never violate man’s free will, He must wait for positive volition before He can actually apply Salvation to any individual. In grace, God has already gone to the farthest extreme — the judgment of His own Son. With the work fully accomplished, God continues to do all that is possible to bring the unbeliever to eternal Salvation. Normal evangelism involves the presentation of the Gospel. God has an obligation to supply Gospel information to all who are receptive and desire to know Him when first they become aware of His existence. (Psa 19:1) Their positive volition at the point of God-consciousness usually remains positive at Gospel hearing. (Rom 1:16) They believe in Christ with no greater stimulus than a clear presentation of True Gospel information. But for others, who are indifferent or antagonistic to their first awareness of God — negative volition at God-consciousness — God still repeatedly extends the opportunity to be saved.
But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.” (Rom 10:18)
When normal evangelism fails, God shifts gears into crisis evangelism. Crisis evangelism involves judgment by pain. (Acts 9:8) As with discipline to the recalcitrant believer, judgment by pain to the negative unbeliever is designed to shock him into temporary objectivity. The pain proves his inherent weakness, his need of a relationship with God, and provides a lucid moment in which the Gospel can be considered.
The Salvation of the Apostle Paul is a dramatic example of crisis evangelism. Saul of Tarsus, as Paul was known during his meteoric career as a Pharisee, was a zealous persecutor and murderer of Christians. Only when struck blind on the road to Damascus did he objectively consider the Gospel of Christ. Judgment by pain was responsible for the Salvation of the greatest believer who has ever lived. (Php 3:3)
JUDGMENT BY DEATH
If repeated judgment by pain fails to bring the unbeliever to faith in Christ, judgment by death becomes the only alternative. (Acts 12:23) Judgment by death against unbelievers and carnal believers, who have hardened their volition against God, is Divine protection of the human race. The evils of cosmic influence must be restrained; therefore, following a period of grace before judgment, God removes the cancer from society in order to preserve Spiritual believers and perpetuate mankind. The Pharaoh of the Exodus, Amenhotep II, suffered increasingly intense pain in the plagues against Egypt. By persistently rejecting the message of Moses, Pharaoh “hardened his heart.” (Exo 8:32) His obstinacy through the first five plagues locked him in the cosmic system beyond any possibility of escape so that he was incapable of right decisions. For him, faith in Christ, who is the God of Israel or His Word, had become impossible; he had shackled his own volition. (Rom 3:18; (2Co 4:3-4) When further grace becomes pointless, God normally removes the person from this life. However, God did not remove Pharaoh but “allowed him to stand . . . in order to proclaim God’s name through all the earth.” (Exo 9:16) Following the fifth plague. “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” by allowing him to continue making negative decisions. (Exo 9:12; Rom 9:17-18) Pharaoh’s deceitful negative volition presented an opportunity for God to evangelize the world through further displays of Divine power. (Exo 7:3; Exo 11:9; Jos 2:9-10) In the final Divine exploitation of Pharaoh’s stubbornness, God administered judgment by death as the tenth plague. Pharaoh was not merely a private individual; he ruled an empire. His negative volition represented the obstinance of many of his subjects, who shared his rejection of God and applauded his decisions to retain the Jews as a race of slaves. (Rom 2:9) The tenth plague killed the eldest son of every household in Egypt that joined Pharaoh in rejecting the message of Moses. God’s action was not indiscriminate genocide. Many Egyptian families believed in the God of Israel and survived that night of judgment, and many joined the Exodus as the “mixed multitude” of Gentiles. (Exo 11:3; Exo 12:38) Furthermore, the Egyptian infants who died before reaching the point of God-consciousness, which is also the age of accountability, received automatic Salvation. (2Sa 12:23) Pharaoh himself did not die in the tenth plague but was allowed to release the Jews and then precipitate yet another crisis, at the Red Sea, which again glorified God. (Exo 14:13-18) Judgment by death was the extreme measure taken by God to remove individual negative unbelievers and in doing so to demolish hardened opposition to the Exodus. God’s Promises to Israel, and to mankind hinged on the national freedom of the Jews; through whom would eventually come all client nation Concepts, the Mosaic Law, the written canon of Scripture, and above all the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. God was protecting the human race and the Jews and advancing His plan of grace by administering judgment by death.
JUDGMENT BY FINESSE
The third category of Divine judgment demonstrates the genius of Jesus Christ in controlling history despite the fact that Satan rules the world. In finesse judgment, our Lord uses evil to destroy evil.
Arrogance cannot tolerate arrogance; one form of evil despises another form of evil. An intense, human-good “moral” crusader cannot abide a lazy “immoral” degenerate. The unrestrained by law or “morality”, regards the religious reformer with contempt. One form of prejudice despises another form of prejudice. The Nazi hates the Communist. Each is hostile toward the other. The very multiplicity of gates into the cosmic system, which successfully appeals to the weaknesses of so many different kinds of people, is the system’s ultimate flaw. The greatest destroyer of evil is evil!
For the wrath of man shall praise You... (Psa 76:10)
The sons of Sceva were sorcerers who traveled throughout the region around Ephesus discrediting Paul and promoting themselves at his expense. (Acts 19:13-20) Thoroughly evil men, these exorcists claimed to cast demons out of the possessed. Although they were permanent residents of the cosmic system, these unbelievers tried to use the names of Christ and Paul in incantations aimed at exorcising a demon from a young man. The evil demon perfectly squelched the arrogance of these evil charlatans:
...I recognize Jesus and I know about Paul, but who are you? (Acts 19:15)
The demon then attacked the Sons of Sceva so that they fled wounded from the house. As a result “the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified” (Acts 19:17) in the vindicated Doctrinal ministry of Paul. The Principle of finesse blessing, and judgment applies to nations as well as to individuals. An evil nation is often permitted power in history for the sole purpose of being used by God to judge another evil nation. Israel is God’s chosen nation, but in 721 B.C., again in 586 B.C., and again in A.D. 70, God’s client nation had degenerated into evil as its citizens lived perpetually in the cosmic system. The pivot of mature believers had shrunk; the spin-off of cosmic believers was dragging down the entire nation. On each of these three occasions, God raised up an evil empire to punish Israel. Evil1 destroyed Evil2. In 721 B.C. the Assyrian Empire destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In 586 B.C. the Chaldean Empire destroyed the Southern Kingdom. In A.D. 70 the Roman Empire destroyed religious, pharisaical, rebellious Judea. Finesse judgment of collective groups is not reserved strictly for degenerate client nations. As foretold in Prophecy, God will destroy the worldwide religion of the Tribulation, which will be sponsored by Satan, with an attack by a rival political entity, also sponsored by Satan. (Rev 17:16-17) God’s objective will be achieved by Satan, when the devil betrays one part of his own cosmic system in a treacherous ploy to increase the power of another part.
How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? [Ignorant of God's Thinking] And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing [I don't need Truth] And fools hate knowledge? [Living for what they want] Turn to my reproof, [Tells us: We are wrong] (1Jn 1:9) Behold, I will pour out my Spirit on you; I will make my Words known to you. Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge [The Word of Truth] And did not choose the fear of the LORD! [Living in fellowship with God the Holy Spirit] They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness [Double-minded] of the naive [Ignorance of Truth] will kill them, And the complacency [Prosperity] of fools (Jer 17:5) will destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil. (Prov 1:22-33)