Before you begin your Bible study, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, be sure you have named your sins privately to God the Father.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [Known, Unknown and Forgotten sins] (1Jn 1:9)
You will then be in fellowship with God, Filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to learn Truth from the Word of God.
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth. (John 4:24)
Follow the Colors
THE CHALLENGE TO FOLLOW THE COLORS
Since the dawn of civilization, warfare has played a major role in the affairs of mankind. (Gen 4:22-23) The Bible testifies to this fact, not only by Prophecy, (Gen 3:15; Matt 24:6-8; Rev 6:2-4) but also by historic commentary. A great number of the Inspired writers of the Canon of Scripture; utilized warfare idioms and metaphors to express Doctrinal Thoughts. It is significant, therefore, that the example of Spiritual maturity, (SPIRIT AND TRUTH; John 4:24) should be described in the Scriptures in terms of military terminology.
Down through the ages, military organizations have employed various types of regimental standards or flags by which soldiers could recognize their unit amidst the confusion of combat. For example, emblazoned on the ancient Roman standard was a proud silver spread eagle, a bolt of lightning in its beak, with the initials S.P.Q.R. (Senatus Populusque Romanus} (The Senate and the People of Rome) and the number of the particular legion prominently displayed. Napoleon’s regimental flag, which can still be seen hanging in the Invalides in Paris, also boasted the eagle on the red, white and blue French Tricolor, with a wreath in the white area that contained the number of the fighting unit. Every regiment in the War Between the States possessed its own colors, and under the earlier system of close-order battle, a single standard was borne in front of the entire legion or regiment.
With the introduction of the modern military tactics of extended order of battle and dispersion of troops, the army developed the guidon system. Every regiment was assigned its own particular colors, and each company or troop carried its individual guidons. These were small, swallow-tailed flags bearing the colors, insignia and number of each company. The crossed saber emblem graced the yellow Cavalry streamer; crossed muskets, the blue and white Infantry guidon; and crossed cannons, the scarlet Artillery flag. Whatever the system of identification, the colors were the tactical means for rallying the troops in the heat of battle!
Guidons not only served as an aid to organization but kept the military unit together so that at the point of contact with the enemy, the attacking force was better able to exploit the impact of a breakthrough. The battle cry, “FOLLOW THE COLORS,” became the command to join the fighting and strike a mortal blow against the enemy; to fight to attain the high ground — the place of victory!
In a very real sense, the Command to follow the colors is issued to every believer by Jesus Christ, the Supreme Commander of the heavenly host. (Stay in fellowship and Think with Truth; UNTIL DEATH!) The Church Age believer’s Salvation and regeneration have enlisted him permanently in the ranks of the Royal Combat Divisions of the Family of God. Whether he so desires or not, the Christian finds himself in enemy territory, in COSMOS DIABOLICUS. (Satan’s world system) He is in the world, but not of the world. (John 15:18-19) He is locked in invisible but deadly combat with an unseen, mighty foe the devil and his demonic army. (Eph 6:12) This invisible warfare, (“The angelic conflict”) will not terminate until the end of time; after the Millennium.
In a military situation, the term “STRATEGY” defines the deployment of troops over an extensive geographical area. Strategy serves the purpose of attaining the best possible position from which the enemy can be attacked and annihilated, while the term “TACTICS” refers to the movement of soldiers on the battlefield.
In the angelic conflict, Jesus Christ won the STRATEGIC VICTORY by His substitutionary death on the Cross, His burial, resurrection, ascension and session at the right hand of the Father. To Satan and his demons, the bruising of the Savior’s heel, (Gen 3:15) signaled the inevitable destruction of every fiendish plan since Eden, (1Jn 3:8-10) as well as their ultimate doom. (Matt 25:41) To the believer, the Cross meant a share of the spoils of victory. (1Co 15:57; Eph 4:8) When Jesus Christ took our place on Calvary and was judged for the sins of the entire world. (1Jn 2:2) He provided not only eternal redemption for all mankind but also the most advantageous position for defeating our greatest antagonists: The world, (What people, news, and celebrities, think is real and or important) the flesh (The old sin nature; lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life) and the devil. (Twisted false Biblical Truth and or religion) Human false realities, our old sin nature and the satanic onslaught will always challenge us on the battlefront of our thoughts. (2Co 10:3-5) Every combatant in the angelic conflict can draw limitless equipment from the Divine arsenal! (Eph 6:10-18) Every believer has the opportunity to achieve TACTICAL VICTORIES in his Spiritual warfare! As we once exploited the strategic victory of the Cross by personal faith in the Son of God, (Acts 16:31) so we are now exhorted to FOLLOW THE COLORS by a consistent intake of Truth. By means of that same Truth resident in our souls, we advance to the HIGH GROUND OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY. Once we have seized the high ground; which constitutes the normal Christian life, we are Commanded to HOLD that position by continued positive volition toward Truth and unfailing application of the Divine Viewpoint to every Decision in life! This booklet is therefore intended to challenge the Christian soldier to ADVANCE toward the objective the victory of the mature Christian life.
OUR LORD’S DYING COMMAND TO FOLLOW THE COLORS
Victory in ancient warfare, as well as in more recent times, was always related to the following of the colors. During the War Between the States, the Twenty-sixth North Carolina, a crack regiment commanded by a twenty-one-year-old full colonel, Henry King Burgwyn, was ordered to charge the famed Iron Brigade, composed of the Second and Seventh Wisconsin, the Nineteenth Indiana and the Twenty-fourth Michigan Regiments. After a challenging speech, Colonel Burgwyn concluded: “Since you will be unable to receive any commands from me during the noise of battle, I am issuing one order right now — Close in on the colors!” The new regimental colors, just issued by the State of North Carolina, were then uncased and placed unfurled before the regiment. “Now,” he commanded, “all you men have to do is to FOLLOW THE COLORS!”
Proud to be the first standard-bearer, though knowing full well he would not be the last, J. B. Mansfield stepped smartly forward four paces to the front of the line. Inevitably, color-bearers suffered a high mortality rate; and true to form, eight color guards and ten standard-bearers had been shot down by the time the North Carolina reached the main Federal line. At this point in the battle, Captain W. W. McCreery, a staff officer, brought the order to advance. So inspired was he by the fervor of those gallant men that he picked up the fallen colors, waved the flag and dashed to the front of the line to urge the regiment on. He had advanced only a short way when he too collapsed, five bullet wounds in his chest.
Lieutenant George Wilcox rushed forward and pulled the blood-covered flag from under the body, and again another valiant confederate fell after he had advanced only a few steps. At this juncture, the regiment wavered, but Colonel Burgwyn seized the colors and shouted, “Dress to the colors!” As he moved forward, a young private, Frank Honeycutt, sprang from the ranks to relieve the colonel too late. Colonel Burgwyn was struck in the chest, mortally wounded. Honeycutt too was shot down instantly.
Although the colors changed hands thirteen times in all, that dauntless regiment, outnumbered two to one, carried the hill and drove back the powerful Iron Brigade. The North Carolinians suffered 71.7 percent casualties — the third highest loss of any regiment in the Confederacy; but they had one order — FOLLOW THE COLORS — and follow they did, to the death!
The Principle of victory was always the same: follow the colors! Yet historically this dramatic and heroic action constituted a custom which resulted in the loss of too many men and was thus discontinued toward the turn of the century. During the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, one of the last men to carry the colors was a young trumpeter in the First of the Fourteenth Infantry. He carried the colors over the walls of Peking and planted the American flag atop the rampart. For this courageous ascent, trumpeter Titus won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The last time the British Army carried its colors into battle was at Majuba Hill, in NW Natal, a province of South Africa. Here, on February 27, 1881, a British force of approximately five hundred men was soundly defeated by 150 Boer troops under the command of P. J. Joubert. The British suffered 93 killed, 133 wounded and 58 captured, while the Boers took only six casualties. In order that we might understand our mission on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ presented to the Royal Family of God its regimental colors and issued the command to follow the colors and to seize and hold the high ground of Spiritual maturity! While Truth forms our regimental colors, we can advance only through the residency of Truth in our souls. This advance demands a positive attitude toward the Word and a consistent function of the grace apparatus for perception. (Operation Z)
During the Incarnation, Jesus Christ Himself followed the colors to the high ground, which culminated in the most dramatic and significant event in history; the Cross. From there, He passed the colors on to us. This heritage of Truth for the Royal Family of God can be discovered by tracing through four Verses of Scripture, three from the Synoptic Gospels and one from the Old Testament. Each Gospel writer placed a special emphasis on some phase of the subject.
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. (Matt 27:50)
“Cried” (Aorist active participle of KRAZO) is the key in this verse. The constantive aorist, which gathers up into one entirety the action of the verb and takes us from its beginning to its conclusion, describes the actual SOUND of our Lord’s dying words, He screamed or shouted with a loud voice! “Yielded up” is the culminative aorist of APHIEMI and views the event from its existing results — His physical death. However, Matthew does not give the content of the shout uttered by Jesus. Mark sheds further light on the Concept of the constative aorist.
And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. [Expired] (Mark 15:37)
Here, “cry” is the aorist active participle of APHIEMI, again a constative aorist. Matthew used this same verb for the physical death of Christ, but Mark uses it to emphasize His BREATH control. The constative aorist describes the last breath of our Lord. Literally, “And Jesus, having exhaled with a loud voice, expired. [By His own volition] (John 10:17) While Matthew portrays the loudness of the sound, Mark indicates that Jesus exhaled these words and by an act of His own volition did not inhale again. Mark demonstrates that when Jesus uttered His last words, He was fully conscious and lucid. Had Jesus bled to death, He would have fainted; yet He was in perfect control of all His faculties, a fact also established by John in his report: “. . .And he [Jesus] bowed his head. . .” (John 19:30) His head remained upright until He had finished His mission.
Neither Matthew nor Mark reveals the content of the message. Now Luke amplifies Jesus’ last sentence on the Cross by giving a partial quotation.
And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT. Having said this, He breathed His last. (Luk 23:46)
In the English, the word “crying” appears a third time. This time, however, it is the constative aorist active participle of the verb PHONEO and means “to vocalize.” By using this Greek verb, Luke emphasizes CONTENT. The Scriptures now reveal the words spoken by Jesus. From the three Gospel writers, we conclude that what the Lord said was important, as indicated by His loud voice; He had perfect control, and His words were clearly enunciated. “COMMIT” (PARATITHEMI) means “to deposit”; the aoristic present indicates that only a portion of His sentence is recorded. The completed message is stated Prophetically in the Psalms. (Psa 31:5)
It is interesting to note that all four Gospels have significant information that compare and contribute to the period of Christ’s physical death; in each instance, the culminative aorist is used. Matthew said, “APHIEMI” — the sound was discontinued at the point of His last exhale. Mark and Luke used EKPNEO to indicate that at the close of His words, Christ did not inhale again. John emphasized the sixth cry of Christ on the Cross and used yet another word for His physical death — PARADIDOMI — which means “to deliver over.” (John 19:30) This word stressed that Jesus had no further need for breath or physical life once His work was completed. He therefore delivered over His human spirit to God the Father. His Spiritual death provided for our eternal Salvation; His physical death provided for our Spiritual sustenance in time. Consequently, what Jesus said just before He died physically is so vital, that no member of the Royal Family of God can afford to miss it!
Into Your hand I commit my spirit: You have ransomed [Delivered] Me, O LORD God of Truth. (Psa 31:5)
“Commit” (PAQAD in the Hebrew) also means “to deposit.” “LORD,” the Tetragrammaton, Jehovah, refers to a specific Person in the Trinity — the Father. LORD is followed by an unusual word for “God” — EL — which directs attention to His power and sovereignty. Next, the Psalmist, and later, Christ stated the basis of His deliverance: “Truth.” (EMET) This Hebrew word designates the source of our Lord’s deliverance and refers specifically to the Word of Truth. Thus Christ literally addressed the Father as “Jehovah, God of Truth!”
What sustained our Savior on the Cross? What preserved Him and gave Him strength to bear our sins? What kept His mind clear and alert? Why was He able to say, “TETELESTAI — It is finished?” Because of the Bible resident in His soul! (Isa 53:11) He had matured Spiritually and physically with maximum Truth in His soul. (Isa 7:14-15; Luk 2:40-52) The means of our sustenance in Phase Two by which we may fulfill the Father’s Plan is that very same strength which sustained our Lord throughout His ministry and His deaths (Spiritaul and then physical) on the Cross. From there, in His dying breath; He passed on the colors to the Royal Family. It is our mission to stay in fellowship and Think with Truth until death! (Rev 2:10)
ENLISTMENT INTO THE ROYAL COMBAT BATTALION
The primary purpose of the Church Age is the formation of the Royal Family of God. Upon an act of personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, each believer becomes a son who is brought unto glory. (Heb 2:10) You may well ask, “Why, then, am I left on earth after Salvation?” The answer is that your transfer from the kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God is a Spiritual transfer and does not in any way imply an immediate PCS. (Permanent change of station) Rather, upon your regeneration and accompanying enlistment in the Royal Combat Battalion, your life has taken on a special meaning. In the tactical disposition of His Royal Troops, Divine Omniscience has allotted every believer a specified portion of time and a place on earth where he can best serve his Lord. (Acts 17:24-28)
Lack of sound Doctrinal teaching has spawned many misconceptions regarding the believer’s purpose in the Christian way of life. Among these are the garbled opinions that for the remainder of your life, you must “suffer for Jesus!” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our continued presence upon the earth is never a matter of what we can do for God, but what He can do for us; be obeying the Command to stay in fellowship and Think with His Thoughts! (Gal 5:16-25) However, God’s continuous provision of your daily necessities is only a part of His design. The real reason why God has left us here is so that He can be glorified by BLESSING US in the devil’s world! In order that you might fully realize these blessings, you must understand the separate categories, (Spiritual, temporal and eternal) of the very special Plan God has for your life.
The entire Plan can be summed up in one word Generosity! Since God is perfect, His Plan is perfect and complete. He needs no help from us in its execution; and because GRACE is the issue, the Plan depends solely on Who and What God IS! The Plan of Grace falls into five general categories.
(1) SAVING GRACE (Phase One) encompasses all that the Trinity has accomplished for our Salvation: the Father’s Design, the Son’s Performance, and the Holy Spirit’s Revelation of the Plan. While He hung between heaven and earth, Jesus Christ died twice. His first death was a substitutionary Spiritual death in which the sins of the world past, present and future were poured out on Him and judged. This was the three-hour period when Jesus was forsaken by God the Father. Upon its completion, Jesus cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30) Salvation was provided in full; nothing can or need be added to it!
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that [Salvation] not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
The shadows of the Old Testament became Reality. Once a heavy curtain barred entrance into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle; to all but the Levitical high priest. (Heb 9:7-9) Now the way into the literal Holy of Holies — the very presence of God — has been opened for all mankind. (Heb 10:19-20) We enter by faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the Truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6)
They said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. (Acts 16:31)
(2) LIVING GRACE (Phase Two) includes all that the Trinity must do in order to keep the believer alive in the devil’s world. Phase Two begins immediately after Salvation and continues until death. Since God has assigned each believer a certain span of time on this earth, no person, neither angel, nor any circumstance can remove you from this life until your allotted time has expired. (Rom 8:38-39) For this phase of the Plan of Grace, God supplies the “beans and bullets,” those necessities in the physical and Spiritual lives of His Family. There are the daily needs, such as food, shelter, transportation and clothing; but more important. He has provided the drill manual for the Christian soldier — The Bible; Truth — and Operation Z for perception; and to sustain us in the Spiritual realm and to enable us to reach the objective of Spiritual maturity — this is the tactical victory of the angelic conflict!
Upon the resurrection, ascension and session of Jesus Christ, the Father proclaimed: “...SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.” (Heb 1:13) In effect, this was the announcement that the strategic victory of the angelic conflict had been accomplished: Satan and the fallen angels were condemned; their sentence is pending final execution at the close of the Millennium. Jesus Christ now needed a Royal Family to celebrate and record the strategic victory. Thus, at the moment of Salvation, as a part of the Plan of Grace, every believer is placed by the Holy Spirit into union with Christ, given forty Spiritual assets and made a member of the Royal Family of God.
God the Father attached such high value to the strategic victory of the Cross, resurrection, ascension and session that He interrupted the Jewish Age, which still had seven years to run, and instituted a complete change in the Spiritual history of the human race. A new dispensation was ushered in the New Covenant — Church Age; as the first group to use the New Covenant Spiritual life. (Heb 10:15-17) The next dispensation to use it will be the Tribulation and then the Millennium. (Jer 31:33; (2Co 3:5-10; Heb 8:7-12) The Royal Family of God became heirs to the strategic victory of Christ and was given the means to attain tactical victory in the angelic conflict. Just as royal offspring in the human realm receive special grooming for their eventual function as royalty, so nobility in the Spiritual realm must also be educated in a certain way. Therefore, an entirely new system has been defined in this dispensation for the communication of Divine will and Truth.
No longer is there a specialized priesthood functioning under the Tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron. No longer is there an extensive system of ritual portraying Christ and His work on the Cross. No longer are there prophets ordained of God to proclaim the Word, either in writing or verbally. No longer is the Nation of Israel the custodian of the Canon of Scripture; this is now the heritage of the Church. In order that every member of the Royal Family of God might receive his portion of the Word on a consistent basis, a new classroom has been established — the local church; and now the computer; for the DAILY reading and learning of God's Thinking — and a new communicating vehicle — the gift of pastor-teacher.
(3) SPIRITUAL MATURITY (The “greater grace” of; Jas 4:6) is the high ground of tactical victory in the angelic conflict; and the objective of the Christian life. This is the place of maximum utilization of grace in either adversity or prosperity and the area of reaping what God sows! Basic for the normal function of the royal priesthood, adulthood status is the initial stage of Spiritual maturity. Every believer has a mature-grace category of blessings designed in eternity past just for him. Characterized by temporal blessings of contentment in any and every situation! (Php 4:11-13; (1Ti 6:8-9; Heb 13:15-16) As well as Spiritual blessings, (Occupation with Christ, sharing God’s happiness, capacity for life, love, freedom and respect for authority) the adult Spiritual life is the road to glory for that believer who has maximum Truth in his soul. These mature-grace blessings are the “spoils of victory,” anticipated Prophetically by the prophet Isaiah.
As a result of the anguish of His soul, [Christ's] He [God the Father] will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge [Divine Thinking] the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty [His reward] with the strong; [Mature believers] Because He poured out Himself to death, [Spiritual and physical death] And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. (Isa 53:11-12)
The strategic victory of our Lord demanded His triumphal procession into heaven and the distribution of the spoils of victory. The spoils would be divided in two directions: first, to the Old Testament believers, who would be transferred into the third heaven from Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom to wait until the time of their own resurrection. (Eph 4:8-10) More specifically, the spoils relate to all Church Age saints, who are Royal Family forever and the recipients of the bountiful riches that correspond to our privileged position.
“Therefore” in the Hebrew of (Isa 53:12) introduces a strong conclusion. As a result of the strategic victory of the Cross (Isa 53:11) God the Father would “divide or cause to distribute spoils to the victorious One the — Lord Jesus Christ.” The dividing of spoils is portrayed throughout Scripture by the victory celebrations of the ancient world.
The Roman celebration was one of the most spectacular and unusual of any recorded in history. It often lasted as long as fifty days, depending upon the number of campaigns and victories. During the celebration, the heroes of battle were presented with various awards earned for bravery in action. These were not decorations, such as are given for military heroism today, but large monetary rewards, which ranged from fifty to two hundred thousand dollars. Their system of honoring individual heroism was the splitting of the plunder to the victors. In addition to the presentation of the rewards, the booty and the prisoners were paraded in the famous triumphal procession; for a month the entire army was honored with parties, feasts and promotions!
God the Father presented to Jesus Christ in His triumphal procession the spoils of victory because: “My Servant will justify the many” — those who believe in Christ. Notice the sequence: God the Father gave the spoils of victory to Christ: Christ, in turn, “divides the spoil with the strong’ [The “mature ones”] — believers who have attained Spiritual adulthood and beyond. We know from, (Eph 4:7-11) that these spoils mentioned in the Isaiah passage anticipate certain unique features of the Church Age: A Royal Family; the baptism of God the Holy Spirit, whereby every Church Age believer is entered into union with Christ and lives in the “Palace,” (The completed New Covenant Spiritual life) the written Word and or Bible Thinking; in the filling of God the Holy Spirit. (1Co 4:20; John 4:24)
The greater portion of the blessing which God has designed for believers, is related to the mature status of growth in the Spiritual life. Our present Dispensation of the Church is the age of splitting the plunder of the strategic victory of Christ! Ours is the privilege of advancing to the high ground of Spiritual maturity — the tactical victory of the angelic conflict!
(4) DYING GRACE constitutes the transfer of the mature believer into heaven under conditions of special blessing, whereby dying becomes even greater than living. Dying grace is the golden bridge between the mature blessings of time and the surpassing grace blessings of eternity. (2Ti 4:7-8; Heb 11:13)
(5) SURPASSING GRACE (Phase Three) embodies the special blessings and rewards that belong to the Spiritually mature believer in eternity. If you have experienced your mature category of blessing in time, God has even more superabundant blessings for you in eternity, called “surpassing riches of His grace” in, (Eph 2:7). Above and beyond the normal blessings of heaven, such as those described in, (Rev 21:6-7) these are reserved for those believers who seize and hold the high ground of Spiritual maturity in time.
The issue is, how can a believer advance from the status of “buck private in the rear ranks” (Spiritual infancy) to that of “field grade officer” (Spiritual Maturity) in a minimum amount of time; so that he can fulfill his purpose in Phase Two and receive maximum blessing? The answer lies in following the regimental colors of Truth. How this is accomplished, is the subject of four passages of Scripture: (Heb 10:32-39; Heb 11:1-3; Heb 12:1-3; Php 3:3-21)
TAKING THE HIGH GROUND
Beginning the Advance
But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings. (Heb 10:32)
“But” (The particle DE) is used in the Greek language for continuity of Thought. Here it sets up a contrast between the previous six verses concerning the carnal believer, whose life has little purpose or definition and whose destination is judgment, (Heb 10:26-31) but for the Spiritual believer walking in fellowship, whose objective is the high ground of Spiritual maturity. (Heb 10:38-39) We advance by following the regimental colors of Truth; therefore, the Command, “dress to the colors,” will now be explained.
“Call to remembrance” (ANAMIMNESKO) means to recall something again and again; to remember a moment of happiness, a loved one, some triumph or an event that you have enjoyed in your life. You do not spend every waking moment remembering, but memories will recur at successive intervals all your life. That is the meaning of the iterative present tense used here. In the preparation for the advance, the Christian soldier must expect Commands: consequently, this phrase is in the imperative mood. (A Command)
What are the mechanics of remembering again and again? The function of memory resides in the soul. The soul area contains: self-consciousness, (Awareness of your own existence) volition, (Freewill) faith, emotion, conscience, (Norms and standards) and mentality, which is divided into two lobes. The right lobe is the dominant lobe of the soul, designated in the Greek by the word KARDIA. (Translated “heart” in your English Bible) “Heart” is never used in a physical sense; it always refers to the Thinking part of the mentality. The left or perceptive lobe, where all information first enters, is called the NOUS (Translated “mind”) and acts as a staging area for knowledge. When, under the filling of God the Holy Spirit; (Which neutralizes the influence of the old sin nature) we accept the initial Information, it is transferred to the right lobe and processed into the frame of reference, the memory center and the vocabulary storage. As you begin to put words together, your vocabulary increases and you develop categories. The greater your vocabulary, the better you can Think and the more capacity you have for life! The right lobe also contains a “launching pad” for the application of Truth to experience; that constructs the Divine Reality in our human spirit! (1Ti 6:20-21) We must be equipped in order to advance. (2Ti 3:16-17) Many times in warfare the lack of equipment has neutralized a great thrust. At the Battle of Shiloh, the Confederates had U. S. Grant’s Yankees backed up against Pittsburgh Landing. Just as they were on the verge of a great victory, the Southerners ran out of ammunition. The Federals, with plenty of ammunition, rallied and overcame the weaker bayonet charge of the Confederates. If, as believers, we are going to take the high ground, we need sufficient ammunition on the launching pad in the right lobe; hence, the importance of transferring Truth from the Bible into the mentality of the soul. Truth on the printed page has no value to you whatsoever; until it becomes resident in your soul! It must permeate the frame of reference and the memory center; form vocabulary and categories and be moved onto the launching pad. Here in the right lobe is the area where you fulfill the Command to recall to memory. Holding Ground in Prosperity or Adversity. What is it that must be remembered over and over again? The Jews were commanded to “recall the former days in which after you had become enlightened, [Truth resident in the soul] you held your ground in a great conflict of sufferings.” The “former days” relate us to the interpretation of this passage. The Book of Hebrews was originally addressed to believers in Jerusalem in A.D. 67. They had the advantage of sitting under some of the greatest Bible teachers of all time. These Jews had begun to advance Spiritually; they had been following the colors, as demonstrated by the next phrase, “being enlightened.” Even though they were advancing into the enemy fire of persecution, they remained positive to Truth. This is brought out by the verb “endured,” (HUPOMENO) which means “to remain, to stay under pressure.” In military terminology, they held their ground! In the ancient world, the method of advance involved moving for a short distance, then holding the position; moving again, and holding. At one time, the Jewish believers were following this Principle, just as many of you may have been. What stopped your advance? You may have had a shock; perhaps you discovered that believers have old sin natures! Someone rubbed you the wrong way or said something that shocked you. You became disturbed and bitter and rebelled against Truth. As a result, you no longer exposed yourself to the teaching of the Word, and you became a casualty in the conflict. What happened to the Hebrew believers who had been advancing so well? When God began to send blessing their way and they became prosperous and successful, they failed to pass the prosperity test. (Deut 8:11-14) The greatest danger in prosperity is to lose track of the Source and to assume YOU had something to do with your promotion or success. When you lose the grace perspective, you neglect Truth. Neglect and rejection of Truth go hand in hand and lead to reversionism. This was the case with the believers in Jerusalem. What was the result of their reversionism?
In A.D. 67, the believers in Jerusalem had drifted back into the Temple, where the veil had been replaced and the old ritual worship of the previous dispensation had been resumed. In their reversionism, they preferred to stand before a veil which proclaimed, “Keep out,” rather than to enjoy the privileges of living in the real Holy of Holies beyond the veil. God Himself had ripped the veil apart from top to bottom; but many of these Jewish believers did not recognize the significance of the torn veil. Why not? Because they had retreated and fallen away from Truth. This passage is designed to warn us as it did those Jews in Jerusalem.
There is no temple today or people returning to offer animal sacrifices at its brass altar, described in, (Heb 6:6) as “crucifying the Son of God afresh.” There are believers, however, who peel off because they prefer entertainment or a program for the young people or a church social life over Thinking with Truth; and cannot endure the teaching of the Word day after day. This is characteristic of so many in fundamental Christianity and is the reason that fundamentalism is presently at an all-time low. The majority of fundamentalists are no longer sticking with Truth nor taking it in; they have gone A.W.O.L. from following the colors. Instead, they pursue many forms of allurements and “thrilling” experiences to satisfy their negative volition. As a result, they have fallen by the wayside and are failing to continue the advance toward the objective!
Notice in, (Heb 10:32) You must remind YOURSELF over and over again that Truth, (THE MIND OF CHRIST) is more important than anything else in life! Every believer in Jesus Christ has one objective in Phase Two; to move to the high ground; not to be caught up in some “service” organization to assuage a guilt complex or to gain a certain social standing or to get sidetracked by doing good works. There are many barricades and dead ends that hinder the advance to the high ground. When these arise, it is necessary to stop momentarily and hold your ground. You MUST keep taking in Truth or you will succumb to the pressure and retreat into carnality and reversionism. Remember that the Christian life is a disciplined life! (An ordinary, organized, routine life; with self-command self-limitation and self-restraint; with no nonsense, no silliness and no absurdity!)
Our purpose as a believer is related completely and totally to Truth. It is more essential for us to make Truth resident in our soul than to accomplish anything else in life! Our capacity for life, our happiness and blessing, the glorification of God and the nobility of the Christian life are linked to Truth. All service and function in the Christian life is a matter of guidance based on Truth. This does not mean that everyone must pass out tracts on the street corner, knock on doors, witness to a specified number of people or spend an hour a day in prayer. Certainly, the production of Virtue is a definite part of the Christian life; but it must come as a result of Spiritual maturity! Doing things without Spiritual growth is Satan's plan! All that the Bible Commands, will be fulfilled according to our Spiritual gift; ONLY when Truth is resident in our soul!
What is the means by which we receive our colors? Just as the colors of the military represented authority in battle, so God has provided a system of authority by which we are to take in the Word; the gift of pastor-teacher. Even royalty is subject to higher authority. In the Royal Family of God, two systems of authority must be recognized: an outer authority — the pastor-teacher; and the inner authority — the Bible: Truth, the very Word of God Himself, Who is the highest Authority of all! No one can learn from a teacher unless he respects his authority. It is the pastor-teacher’s responsibility as the commanding officer to pick up the Standard and to lead his congregation to the high ground of Spiritual maturity.
In warfare, distinct orders are absolutely essential. Accurate knowledge based on reconnaissance information relative to the situation, the terrain, the enemy, the supporting forces and the ultimate objective must be transmitted before the troops can move out. Confused and unclear orders lead to confusion and needless casualties on the battlefield and often result in tactical defeat. History is strewn with the wreckage of mismanaged warfare. One of the most famous occurred during the Crimean War at the Battle of Balaclava. The poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, graphically describes the tragic episode in his epic poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed? Not though the soldier knew someone had blundered. Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die. Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred.
As part of the only major cavalry action of that war, the Light Brigade was plummeted into disaster by a series of unrealistic orders, both written and verbal.
Even greater is the need to avoid tactical defeat in the angelic conflict, where this same Principle for the necessity of clear-cut orders also applies to the Spiritual realm. Drawing from the military of the first century, the Apostle Paul metaphorically states the importance of implicit instruction. (1Co 14:8-9) God has never left any believer in the dark with regard to the exact plan for his life. (1Co 14:20) Divine instruction is never obscure where the Word of God is rightly divided! Commands from the heavenly Headquarters are never unclear. Because of His perfect essence, the Divine Commander in Chief has all the facts on which to issue His orders for your life. It is the mission of the pastor-teacher to relay the orders to his “unit” from Headquarters through the clear teaching of the Word of God.
The success of all military operations requires the joint action of the fighting units and their combat organizations. Modern combat support is many-faceted. It involves the personnel whose duty it is to keep the front-line troops well supplied the “beans and bullets” Concept. Although these support teams are not actively engaged in battle, they are nevertheless essential to the men on the battlefields. Theirs is the responsibility to supply the fighting men’s equipment, ammunition, arms; to repair and keep in working order all machinery; to handle all transports, clothing and field kitchens — in short, to render the services needed to maintain a mobile and effective fighting force.
In the Spiritual sense, effective combat support is equally vital to the Royal Family’s advance to the high ground of Spiritual maturity. The believer behind the lines can no more afford to desert his post than the believer who spearheads an assault in the forefront of the angelic conflict. Once combat support breaks down, the team can no longer function as it should. This was the case among believers in Jerusalem in A.D. 67 — a serious situation that had to be rectified. The unknown writer of the Book of Hebrews subtly braced the recipients of his letter by reminding them of their former status:
Partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. (Heb 10:33)
In a superb expression of sanctified sarcasm, the writer resorts to the classical Greek: the word translated “partly” is the accusative neuter singular from the demonstrative pronoun HOUTOS and is coupled with the affirmative particle MEN. I sometimes think of classical Greek as a “gingerbread” language. Its unexpected use in the straightforward language of the common or Koine Greek provides an eloquent contrast and aptly conveys the writer’s point.
Once these Jewish believers had followed the colors of Truth. Not only had they emerged victorious from the fires of persecution but had in turn given combat support to others who suffered even greater affliction. When they had tasted success and prominence; they had made friends outside the periphery of the Royal Family of God and had become casualties to a barrage of flattery! Consequently, they were immobilized by approbation lust, neutralized by that devastating mental attitude sin of pride! “You were once great believers,” the writer reasons, “but now you have developed a grossly exaggerated sense of self-importance.” “Although God has blessed you — you are ashamed to acknowledge Him or the other members of the Royal Family!” Spirit-filled sarcasm is a legitimate weapon when its use becomes necessary in the local church. The effectiveness of sarcasm lies in its indirect attack, in the subtle way it jabs its unsuspecting victims. A verbal parry of this nature could be compared to the gentle words of a lieutenant whose platoon has just retreated down the hill. Can you visualize the impact this little speech would have on its hearers? “Well, now, fellows, what would you like to do? Charge up the hill again? No, I can see you wouldn’t. So, Private McDougal, if you will break out the petunia seeds, we’ll all plant a flower garden right here! And Specialist Hennesey, you set out the hollyhocks. Sergeant Thomas will be in charge of making pink lemonade, while I send back the beans and bullets for some watercress sandwiches; and then we’ll all just relax here and have a tea party!”
John Brown Gordon, the Confederate General and Georgia statesman, a believer who distinguished himself in brilliant campaigns in the War Between the States, was noted for his biting sarcasm. His men were known to have often pleaded in embarrassment, “General, lead us on!” It is possible to become so accustomed to the incessant shouts of “Don’t!” “Cut it out!” “Stop!” That these cease to be effective. But introduce a change of pace for contrast now and again, and presto! You have the attention of all in your vicinity!
This tack is pursued in the phrase, “being made a public spectacle.” (THEATRIZOMAI) (Theater) The Jewish believers in Jerusalem who were under great pressure and ridicule had become a source of embarrassment to some of their fellow believers. Yet, who were those maligners? Were they vital to the Plan of God or to His scale of values? Not at all! These inconsequential and petty individuals had become important only because the believers had lost their perspective. Embarrassment reflects a lack of poise, a lack of concentration on Who and What Christ is. If you are ashamed of your church, of your Christian friends or of carrying a Bible, it is a sure indication you are not following the colors. You are bogged down in a ditch and not advancing in the Christian life. A hypersensitive person is a miserable person!
The second “partly” introduces the problem of the believer’s social life. Pressure had been brought to bear on these Christians to follow the “religious crowd” instead of following the colors of the Bible. If you discover that you are more attracted to unbelievers and or carnal believers outside the periphery of your church than you are to your own kind, or if you are embarrassed by certain believers who find themselves in a period of adversity; then you have lost your grace perspective! Has it ever occurred to you that some Christians around you may be under persecution for taking a stand for the Lord? Yet by taking in Truth these very persons may be steadily advancing toward the high ground while you stand still! Are you going to align yourself with them, or will you slink off in cowardly retreat toward reversionism?
The specific lesson derived from these two verses is the Concept that we are in the same ranks with other members of the Royal Family; therefore, our social life should always be directed toward members of the Royal Family of God! Only in unbroken ranks can we stand by each other in the pressures and persecutions which all believers undergo at one time or another in the devil’s world. We become support units to one another in our tactical advance to the higher ground.
But remember [Keep remembering] the former days, when, after being enlightened, [Truth in our soul] you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle [Theater] through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers [Team spirit] with those who were so treated. (Heb 10:32-33)
Team Discipline and Authority
For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for [In] yourselves [Truth and the new creation] a better possession and a lasting one. (Heb 10:34)
(SUMPATHEO “to suffer with,” from which we derive the word “sympathy”) has a slightly different meaning in the Greek than in the English. Sympathy to most people implies tenderness or sweetness; but “to suffer with” is actually a term which expresses the Principle of group discipline. It does not announce an emotional activity, as exhibited today by socialism or the “brotherhood” movement, nor is it referring to a love-your-enemies operation which advocates that Americans give comfort to our enemies in wartime. Such “sympathy” is not only grossly misplaced but actually constitutes treason! True sympathy based on the Principles of the Word of God takes awareness of Divine establishment and the Divine institutions. Biblical sympathy includes killing the enemy in order to preserve the freedoms of our country, our homes and our families. (Team spirit) (Neh 4:14)
SUMPATHEO says in effect that the dynamics and capacity for life reside in the function of discipline. There can be nothing of value in this world without discipline in every area of life! The reason we enjoy freedom is that someone else submitted to discipline, responded to authority and allowed himself to be molded along with thousands of others into one well-trained team, ready to cope with any emergency in the national entity! A military organization cannot function successfully without group discipline and authority. Raw recruits must suffer with their fellow soldiers under a “beast-barracks” (Difficult) system of discipline and authority. No matter how they may chafe under its severity or disagree with its method, they keep their minds on the objective! When finally they are whipped into a perfectly coordinated unit; then they will have the ability to advance in unbroken disciplined ranks to victory.
This Principle of sympathy was best expressed to me by a young lieutenant who graduated first in his Ranger class at Fort Benning, Georgia, one of the toughest training schools in all of the military experience. He related that the commanding officer of his group said, upon completion of this rigorous course, that he loved them too much not to train them adequately for battle! THAT is “sympathy!” The development of self-disciplined individuals being merged into a disciplined team. Whatever the system involved, no one can advance toward the goal unless he first recognizes authority!
The Jews were reminded of the fact that they had once submitted to the authority of the Word. Together with their fellow believers, they were following the colors toward the high ground of maturity. This may be true of many of you. You have been taking in Truth every day; and as you are well aware, this requires self-discipline, concentration and respect for both the authority of the Word and the authority of the pastor-teacher. There are times when-you may not enjoy a certain passage because the Concepts delineated step on your toes. But if you remain objective, learn the Principles and store them in your frame of reference, you will advance to the high ground of Spiritual maturity. By so doing, you have manifested true sympathy for other believers as well as for your nation; for the Spiritually mature believer is truly a patriot and a contributor to the preservation of his country! (Matt 5:13)
“For you even demonstrated sympathy to those in the embarrassing position of being prisoners.” Many of the believers in Jerusalem were being cast into prison because they refused to renounce their Testimony for Jesus Christ and Truth. Let’s face it, a prison sentence, no matter how unjust, carries with it a blemish. Yet the Jews who were free were not ashamed to be associated with these victims of persecution. Why not? Because they were not ashamed of their Lord!
Not only did they team up with those who were unjustly imprisoned, but they also “accepted to [Themselves] with happiness the plunder of [Their] material possessions.” Scores of wealthy and successful believers had been dispossessed of money, homes and livelihood; yet their mental attitude had remained stabilized. Why? They lived by the Divine Thinking of Truth! Thus their scale of values was fixed, and the norms and Standards of the recipients of this Epistle placed Christ's Thinking above all else. The details of life — job, materialistic possessions, health and or people — can be removed or lost; yet as long as Truth is the sentry of your soul, you will always be on top of life. No fiery dart of the enemy will be able to demolish your inner fortifications.
You see, these early Christians KNEW something: KNOWING! (Present active participle of the verb GINOSKO) This retroactive progressive present means what had occurred in the past and continued to the time of their reversionism. Notice where the knowledge is located: “in yourselves” — not in a book. It is always what you know Spiritually that counts! By the time adversity strikes, the knowledge must have already been transferred from the Bible to the human spirit. A Ranger may carry a manual on an FX, (Field exercise) but once he is under fire, it is too late to pull out his manual and thumb through it to find the page which outlines the correct procedure. His reactions must be instinctive and automatic; the THOUGHTS must be ingrained in his soul before he ever goes into combat. This is developed through persistent training, study and discipline. So it is with believers: it is not what is in the Bible that will see you through the emergency situations; it is the Truth resident in your soul!
What did the Hebrew believers know? That we have (ECHO — “to have and to hold”) a better possession, (Truth) and one which is constantly enduring. Believers have something now and in the future that is absolutely perfect a possession that cannot be lost: God's Thoughts! Truth is permanent just as God is permanent! (2Jn 1:2) Through Truth, you have the opportunity now to anticipate heavenly riches. Although the glories of eternity are future, you can begin to prepare for them in time. Just as military victory is achieved through aggressive action, so it is in the Christian life: by moving out on the offensive with positive volition, by taking in Truth through the daily function of Operation Z, you will obtain Spiritual victory and have heaven on earth!
Once Truth permeates your soul, you have the world by the tail. Neither adversity nor success can defeat you! You have but one enemy to fear — your own negative volition toward Truth! When you reject Truth, you will destroy your own soul as surely as these Jews finally did. They succumbed to the pressure and assault of legalism. Consequently, the moment that first barrage hit them, they turned tail and ran!
Only this side of heaven do we have the opportunity to be tried under fire. Why do I say “opportunity?” Because to pass adversity or testing in time glorifies God. Remember that this was written to a group of people who had almost captured the high ground but who had allowed themselves to be defeated by quitting. Now they were bogged down in the mud of failure; only three years and a stern warning to recover from reversionism lay between them and certain destruction.
Pressing the Attack
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. (Heb 10:35)
The armor which God designed and issued to the members of His Royal combat team provides the Christian soldier with all that is essential for both offensive and defensive action in the unseen conflict. (Eph 6:10-18) It does not, however, permit retreat; for with his back to the enemy of the soul, the believer is most vulnerable. (Psa 73:27; Jer 17:13) Despite the intensity of demonic assaults launched against us, we are Commanded to keep advancing, to keep pressing the attack! One of the most important tactics of warfare is putting pressure on the enemy.
“Do not throw away,” aorist active subjunctive of APOBALLO, means “to throw away as worthless.” The inferential particle OUN (Therefore) calls for a conclusion and indicates that the believers involved did exactly that; they lost all interest in Truth. Other activities and celebrities became increasingly fascinating to them and eventually crowded out the Word of God entirely. To neglect Truth for even a day is to invite disaster!
At some time or other, every believer is faced with the temptation of throwing away the opportunity to take in Truth. You may fall in love with someone who will lead you astray, just as Samson did with that tempting creature Delilah; who took him to the cleaners! Any distraction, such as promotion, social life, involvement with attractive or prominent people, often becomes more important than learning the Word. You must come to the place where your life revolves around Truth, and this requires self-discipline! You must keep pressing every day, no matter how tired, worn out or distracted you become. Truth is as vital to our Spiritual life as food is to your physical well-being! (Job 23:12) It is your only defense in the devil’s world against angelic attack, human conflicts, catastrophes and just day-to-day annoyances.
From this heavy concentration of Truth, you acquire the confidence necessary to face your threefold enemy: The world, (What people, news and celebrities think is real and or important) the flesh, (The old sin nature; lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life) and the devil. (Twisted false Biblical Truth and or religion) Human false realities, our old sin nature and the satanic onslaught will always challenge us on the battlefront of our thoughts. (2Co 10:3-5) Confidence to win in this conflict is expressed by the word PARRESIA. Such confidence is not the result of our own ability or strength but of Truth in the soul. The writer of Hebrews employed the verb ECHO, (“To have and to hold”) more extensively than any of the other simple verbs. The dogmatic declarative indicative mood graphically explains the Concept of pressing the attack. Truth in the soul is acquired through the daily function of Operation Z.
You keep on HAVING or possessing Truth through a continuous absorption of the Word; you keep on HOLDING that Truth when you utilize Biblical Thoughts in all circumstances of life prosperous or adverse!
Although the passage taught may not absorb your interest or even pertain to your life at the time, all pieces of information will, eventually fall into place to form the whole realm of Truth in your soul. (The literal Thinking that Christ used to defeat Satan!) There is, therefore, no portion of the Word of God that you can afford to miss or that does not have great meaning and importance!
The dividends of having and holding confidence in Truth are fantastic. They are called a “great reward.” (Heb 10:35) These refer to future, eternal rewards and to the division of plunder in time. “Great” (MEGAS) primarily means “rich” and emphasizes the abundant riches the Lord has made available to every believer. “Reward” (MISTHAPODOSIA) is made up of two Greek words: MISTHOS — “wages,” which denotes monetary reward, and APODIDOMI, “to give expectation.” Together, they encourage us to anticipate blessing from God. Maturity blessings fall into two categories — Spiritual and material — this verse focuses on Spiritual blessings but does not exclude material blessings. As we stick to our guns with Truth, we possess confidence that “great reward” — a rich distribution of blessings will be forthcoming! The taking of a poverty vow, dressing only in somber clothes or the concept of “suffering for Jesus” is NOT synonymous with being a good Christian! Nowhere does the Bible teach that the believer who appears attractive or possesses materialistic wealth is worldly. Worldliness is a mental attitude; thinking with human realities! We are ONLY to Think with the Mind of Christ in fellowship with God; NO MORE NO LESS! (John 4:24) I know such a statement comes as a shock to believers, who, reared in fundamental Christian homes, were taught that all the virtues of Christianity are related to poverty and self-denial. All their lives they have considered material wealth non-Spiritual and have advocated that such possessions should be given away.
To the contrary, the Bible teaches that it is God’s desire to provide mature blessings for you in time. While this does not necessarily mean that you will be a millionaire, keep in mind that the focus of the Christian life is blessing not — provision! As long as God’s Plan calls for you to remain here, He will keep you alive. Regardless of your Spiritual status, He has promised to supply your needs. (Matt 6:31-34; Php 4:19) You need not even pray in order for them to be supplied!
God is actually “tapping His foot” while He waits to pour out the prosperity and happiness He has designed for you! (Isa 30:18) When this occurs, it literally tears up the devil! As the ruler of this world, Satan always tries to promote or prosper people, to set up a social life totally divorced from God’s provision. Human viewpoint says, “That person will never be promoted — he refuses to cater to this one and that one!” The devil’s program may call for such activity, but not God’s. In business, in the military, in every area of life, it is not necessary to compromise Truth in order to get ahead. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you need only to do your job as unto the Lord and leave the promotion to Him! (Psa 75:6-7) In due time, He will prosper and give, “more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think!” (Eph 3:20)
At one time the Jewish believers had made a strategic penetration into enemy territory — in the devil’s domain — through their faithful intake of Truth. Now they had surrendered to the reaction phase of reversionism. They came so close to the victory of Spiritual maturity and the subsequent blessings; yet their lack of persistence destroyed their confidence in Truth; they became negative and their advance was halted!
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, [Believing and Thinking with Truth] which has a great reward. [Now and in eternity] (Heb 10:35)
Exploiting The Victory
On 16 June 1815, during the events that preceded the Battle of Waterloo, Marshal Ney led his Cavalry against the British at Quaere Bras. While he methodically cut down the regiments of the Black Watch, Napoleon himself directed a successful attack on the Prussians at Ligny. Then Napoleon made the fatal mistake: he did not take advantage of his own victory at Ligny. Had he ordered Grouchy into immediate pursuit of the Prussians, Napoleon could have prevented Blucher and his Prussian army from making a conjunction two days later on the field of Waterloo with Wellington’s “infamous army.” Because he failed to exploit his tactical victories, Napoleon lost the campaign that became a synonym for ignominious defeat! No Christian need ever meet his Waterloo in the devil’s world! He need but exploit the strategic victory of the Cross by following the Divine Commands.
For you have need of endurance, [The daily Rebound, Reception, Retention, Recall, Resisting sin, human realities and Repeating] so that when you have done the will of God, [Reached Spiritual maturity] you may receive what was promised. [Mature blessings now; and rewards in eternity] (Heb 10:36)
The explanatory use of the particle GAR (For) introduces an explanation of why we are here and how we can avoid defeat by exploiting the victory that God intended for us to have. We live in a wonderful country under the laws of Divine establishment; we enjoy all the freedoms that increase from observing these laws; and we are privileged to believe in Jesus Christ, to take in Truth and to grow in grace without persecution by our government.
We “have” (ECHO — “to have and to hold”) a possession that is priceless — the written Word of God, which contains, God's Thoughts and Promises, taught to us categorically. This is our manual for obtaining victory, our source of instruction in both defensive and offensive tactics to reach the high ground. Such fantastic privileges demand an attitude of “patience,” (HUPOMONE) and or perseverance on the part of the believer. We must press on with our Spiritual advance!
In most military situations, the offensive is the most tactically advantageous position. Defensive tactics should be employed only as a holding force while an attack is launched in another area. In the same manner, it is God’s will for every believer to keep moving and then keep moving some more! This requires self-discipline — the fortitude to take in Truth today, tomorrow, the next day and the next — and is a part of the Concept of HUPOMONE.
No military unit can be successful apart from the preliminary phase of training and instruction through a system of strict discipline and authority. The raw recruit in boot-camp is drilled by his instructor until every order is ingrained in his mind and body! Patience and tenacity are involved in the training of an effective fighting team. There must be the continuous exercise in tactical field maneuvering and in the use of various weapons and equipment. The soldiers are required to persevere regardless of how they may feel. They are expected to “gut it out” to stay with it so that in an actual combat situation they will function with the skill and confidence that will defeat the enemy and save their lives!
Endurance is equally essential in the Spiritual realm. Your soul must be prepared for the advance in the angelic conflict just as the military establishment must prepare for combat. Paul stressed the Principle of endurance and self-discipline in his Epistle to the Corinthians when he wrote:
But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. [From reward] (1Co 9:27)
You must be challenged to function under Operation Z daily, no matter what distractions arise in your life, no matter what circumstances or people may deter you. The grace apparatus for perception belongs to every believer, but it functions only through the filling of God the Holy Spirit, and the consistent exposure to Truth and the persistent determination to learn it!
During the learning process, however, you will encounter Truth which is beyond your comprehension. Do not be discouraged! Persistence will enable you to recognize the currently obscure Truth; and it will become clear when you have established the necessary frame of reference! (Mark 8:25; Jas 1:25) This Principle is readily, discerned in the human realm, for in academic categories you begin with simple, basic Thoughts and progress from the known to the unknown. Once fundamentals are mastered, you are able to proceed to more advanced spheres of knowledge.
Of necessity, you must be under the authority of your pastor-teacher; In this way, you also learn not to forget the Principle of authority. When the Bible is taught exegetically, basic Truth will often be interspersed with advanced Thoughts. This is advantageous in that each passage contains information for every believer, regardless of his Spiritual stage of growth. No believer is too ignorant or too academically deficient to learn Truth if he will stick with it!
The Latin poet, Horace, understood and proclaimed the axiom of perseverance: “Let him proceed as he began, and be consistent with himself.” You began by listening to Truth; if you are consistent with yourself, you will persevere until you take that high ground!
Perseverance was the one quality that perfectly characterized the nineteenth century British soldier. In many instances, he was poorly led; and with few exceptions, such as Sir Garnet Joseph Woolly, Eleven Wood, Charles George Gorton, popularly known as “Chinese Gorton,” Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Robbers, and a few others, most of Britain’s military fiascoes were the result of blundering leadership. Yet in spite of this handicap, the Scottish, Welsh and English regiments so valiantly persevered that a great empire emerged to extend to the four corners of the earth. While most Britons were only remotely aware of the gallant deeds of these undaunted defenders of the empire, the regiments themselves never doubted their cause, never underestimated their own courage; and never faced an enemy they could not eventually defeat!
The Apostle Paul affirmed the Principle of perseverance in the Epistle to the Colossians:
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, [Believing the Word]having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, [Spiritual life] just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Col 2:6-7)
Through persistence, the believer constructs his arsenal of Truth — the “Temple complex” in his soul. When Divine Thoughts enter the right lobe thru the function of Operation Z; Faith-Rest is developed. Through continued intake of Truth, a second floor is erected — Grace Orientation. A third: Doctrinal Orientation, Fourth, A Personal Sense of Destiny. Fifth Personal Love for God. Sixth, Impersonal Love for all mankind. Seventh, God’s perfect happiness: Plus H. Finally Occupation with Christ: this is the ultimate possession of the Christian! From there, the believer progresses into the sphere of the mature Christian life. It is here that the normal Christian way of life truly begins, for maturity status constitutes that formidable fortress from which all attacks from COSMOS DIABOLICUS (Satan's kingdom) are repelled!
Some of the devil’s schemes are thoughts of: Godlessness, atheistism, communism, socialism, religion, pornography, moral and immoral degeneracy and the occult. And when God’s Word is not implanted in the soul, the resultant vacuum is filled with these twisted thoughts of demons. (Eph 4:17; (1Ti 4:1)
A portion of this satanic thinking was demonstrated in the Communist invasion of China. On the heels of the ruthless “liberators” followed the Communist “elite.” There was instituted a program of human do-goodism, which amazed even the fundamental clergy: firearms were collected; houses of prostitution, bars and opium dens were closed down. Apparent reforms were then proclaimed throughout the country by radio communiqués. Many of the deluded preachers accepted invitations to praise this display of pseudo-righteousness over the radio and urged the people not to resist Communist aggression. With deception as their weapon, the Red hordes marched in unhindered and enslaved town after town, a calamity which was aided and abetted by cooperating missionaries! Thus, because of their deficiency of Truth, believers betrayed their freedom for a mess of pottage!
Even worse than physical slavery is Spiritual slavery; it is God’s design to give every believer the greatest possible blessing; which is far superior to the crumbs that self-righteousness and legalism offer. Why? That “you might carry off for yourself the Promise.” Your mature-grace category of blessings that are associated with the Promise mentioned in, (Heb 10:36).
For you have need of endurance, [The daily Rebound, Reception, Retention, Recall, Resisting sin, human realities and Repeating] so that when you have done the will of God, [Reached Spiritual maturity] you may receive what was promised. [Mature blessings now, and rewards in eternity] (Heb 10:36)
Any exhortation to persevere to the high ground must contain precise instruction on how the objective can be attained! The average local church meets once or twice on Sunday some even add a midweek service. At best, the most that the congregation receives at these sessions is a devotional-type message. Under this system, it is impossible to persevere or advance in the Christian life; these believers do not receive enough exposure to the Word of Truth they so desperately need.
When the Confederate artillery ran out of ammunition on the third day of Gettysburg, the high tide of the Confederacy turned and began its ebb down the tragic road to Appomattox. Without this advance barrage, the so-called Picket’s Charge (Which actually included troops from Longstreet’s and A. P. Hill’s corps) won death, defeat and immortality! Truth is the ammunition for our offensive action in the devil’s world. If believers are not taught Truth every day, they are unprepared for battle and will suffer inevitable defeat from reversionism! GUARANTEED!
The Importance of Taking the High Ground
FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. (Heb 10:37)
“For yet a little while,” literally, “how short, how short” is an excerpt from, (Isa 26:20) the conjunctive particle GAR expresses both explanation and continuation through documentation from the Old Testament Scriptures. While Isaiah’s Prophecy pertained to the Second Advent of Christ, the application concerns the brevity of our time on earth and the shortness of the dispensation which will terminate with the Second Advent. (Luk 21:24; Rev 11:2)
God has allotted to each of us a certain amount of time on earth after Salvation. Fifty years, fifteen years or just ten days — whatever length it may seem by human standards is a short span in the light of eternity. Yet, long or short, God has certain objectives for us. Whether or not we reach these objectives depends upon our training!
All military service is or should be preparation for combat. When troops are committed to battle, whether they are the transportation or quartermaster corps, a rifle or combat support company, an-artillery battery, beans and bullets or headquarters; they should be thoroughly and completely trained! Should troops be permitted to become slipshod in any area of preparation during peacetime, the tragic results will always be reflected in any sudden emergency. Constant training and alertness, first in mental attitude, then in physical fitness, military science and tactics, therefore become imperative for all branches of the military. When the balloon goes up, it may be on extremely short notice; consequently, they must always be in readiness. (Luk 12:35)
It was our well-trained regular army that bought precious time at Bataan and Corregidor for the preparation of new troops at the beginning of World War II. How different would have been the outcome of the Pacific conflict had these magnificent men not performed their task so valiantly! Too many casualties have littered the battlefields on the Spiritual front of the angelic conflict; too many lives are wrecked on the shoals of laziness and rejection of Truth. What an utterly needless waste, when adequate preparation puts victory within the reach of every believer!
Sometime in your life there will occur a full-blown disaster; you will walk headlong into a maelstrom of adversity. Without Truth in your soul, you will be caught by it and fall apart. On the other hand, if you have persisted in learning Truth, you will never need a pastor or anyone else to hover over you; to utter comments or to quote Scripture which you could not possibly assimilate under pressure. With Truth in your soul, you will be Spiritually self-sustaining; you will have inner resources necessary to meet any prosperity and or emergency of life!
The pastor is your D.I. (Drill instructor) and his job is to train you for prosperity or for disaster. Since he is not omnipresent, he cannot be by everyone’s side the moment a catastrophe occurs — or need he be! God intends for every believer in the present dispensation to be his own royal priest. As such, you are to function on the Truth in your own soul, and you are responsible directly to God. The time to prepare is now! As a prepared Christian, your motto should be one which characterized the life of the Apostle Paul and later became the motto of the Scottish Clan Fraser: “I am ready!” (Rom 1:15)
“How short” does not mean that your time for training is necessarily short but rather that when pressure does occur, it will be short in comparison to your training period. A battle is relatively brief, even if it lasts thirty days. Let us take a hypothetical case as an illustration: say a soldier has been in the military service for twenty-five years. In those years he has fought in three battles: one lasted thirty days; one, two days; and one, five hours — thirty-two days, five hours of combat for twenty-five years!
We at Spirit & Truth Bible ministries have Bible class daily — day after day after day, year after year after year — Why? So that we will be adequately prepared. There is no excuse for anyone to be caught without Truth, to be hopelessly overwhelmed or to cry feebly, “O God, help!” Too late then to plead numbly, “O God, show me a Verse for this disaster!” That will profit you nothing! True happiness in life is always the result of training in Truth. Successful football teams are neither built on a sudden inspiration nor on the exhilaration of the moment. Their bid for fame is a product of endless discipline and monotonous, strenuous hours of agonizing training; yet the games in which they participate may be relatively brief.
In the Spiritual realm, we too must submit to lengthy periods of training, even though the actual test we face may be of short duration. Long or short as these periods may be, we know that God will not test us beyond our capacity, (1Co 10:13) and the earthly pressures and sufferings are not worthy to be compared to eternal glory! (Rom 8:18) Rarely does any believer spend his entire lifetime under disaster conditions. Yet, in a sense, he must be constantly on “red alert!” (Mark 13:37) In order to enjoy all that is wonderful and beautiful in this Spiritual life, there must be soul preparation!
While the introductory words of, (Heb 10:37) alerted us to our present objective, the second phrase pertains to our future. In the original Prophecy of, (Hab 2:3) which is quoted next, “HE WHO IS COMING” refers to the Second Advent of Christ and is so used in this context.
For yet in a little while [How short! How short!] HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. (Heb 10:37)
Retreating From Combat
BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. (Heb 10:38)
This Verse contains a third quotation from the Old Testament. (Hab 2:4) The word “righteous” does not convey the best meaning of either the Hebrew or the Greek. Both TSADIQ in the Hebrew and DIKAIOS in the Greek mean “justified or vindicated ones,” or “someone who has been vindicated.” Vindication exists in two areas: at the moment of Salvation, when the believer is justified or vindicated by faith. (Gal 2:16) And after Salvation, when we are called “approved ones” by reaching Spiritual maturity. (Heb 11:2)
We might picture Salvation as a balance sheet containing a debit side — in the red — and a credit side in the black. Everyone is born into the world on the debit side — hopelessly in debt. When Jesus Christ was judged for our sins on the Cross, He won the strategic victory and paid that debt in full. (Doctrine of Redemption) On the positive side of the ledger, God the Father credited to our account PLUS-R — His righteousness — the moment we appropriated Salvation. In His sight we are vindicated or justified — not on the basis of any good deeds we might have done or because of our excellent behavior pattern — but because of the saving work of Christ on the Cross.
“Justified ones” carries the possessive pronoun: “MY justified ones,” Everyone who has ever exercised faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior is included in the “chosen” of God, His justified ones. This means that God has not only saved us form the Lake of Fire but, even more, in the strategic victory of the Cross, He has provided the assets with which we can win the tactical victories; and live a life that has profound significance. “SHALL LIVE” (ZAO — “the function of life” — in contrast to BIOS — “biological life”) implies an orderly, meaningful and satisfying life with concrete objectives — LIFE IN GOD'S DIVINE NATURE! (2Pe 1:4)
God’s Plan for your life and mine has existed from eternity past; so have the logistics He has provided to enable us to achieve that purpose. In the simplest of terms, God wants us to be happy, successful and prosperous, materially and Spiritually. The reason some do not reach the objective is that they choose to remain on the outer perimeter of God’s Plan for their life; they are negative towards the BEST! (Mark 8:34-38)
The next two words present the means of attaining our objective: “by faith.” They are the preposition EK plus the ablative of the noun PISTIS and should be translated “by means of Truth.” PISTIS (Faith) has three different intensions in the Greek language. Unless each meaning is properly interpreted, this critical word is subject to vagueness and misconceptions. The first and most commonly used meaning is “that which causes trust or faith,” variously translated “faithfulness, reliability, proof or pledge.” The second usage is faith in the active sense of believing, always translated “faith, trust or confidence.” A third use, incorrectly translated throughout the New Testament, means “that which is believed, the body of faith or belief” and is equivalent to Truth and or the Spiritual life. This is the correct meaning here: “My justified ones shall live by means of Divine Thinking inside the Divine Nature — Spiritual life!” (John 4:24)
Life is often a round of monotonous routine interspersed with brief periods of excitement and stimulation. It is the monotony that tears people apart and drives them into a frantic search for happiness. Since the nervous system is not designed to tolerate a perpetual state of exhilaration, the emphasis of this Verse is of utmost importance: with Truth in the soul, you can adjust to monotony, to routine, even to being alone. Truth in the soul creates not only capacity for life but also zest for living and causes you to become aware of the fantastic blessings in life!
Note the practicality of Truth! The last phrase of, (Heb 10:38) applies the quotation from, (Hab 2:4) to daily living and relates back to the warning of: (Heb 10:35) (“Not to toss away Truth as worthless”) “IF HE SHRINKS BACK...” “If,” a third class condition in the Greek — “maybe you will and maybe you will not” always depends on two factors: volition and the frame of reference. You may know what you should or should not do and yet go contrary to Divine Thinking. Thus you may “shrink back,” (Aorist middle subjunctive of the verb HUPOSTELLO) literally, “to retreat.” Those who go on negative volition are the outsiders — the ones who do not stick with Truth and who by retreating fail to follow the colors.
The constative aorist indicates a gradual retreat, which follows the pattern of the descending stages of reversionism — from the reactor factors of bitterness, disillusionment, frustration, jealousy, self-pity, to emotional revolt of the soul, negative volition toward Truth, blackout of the soul, scar tissue and reverse process reversionism. When you succumb to any of the reactor factors, your soul begins to retrogress. Retreat never begins overtly but originates in the Thinking of the soul often long before you move outwardly in the opposite direction.
The soldier who retreats when he is ordered to advance bears the stigma of a coward or deserter. Should you fail to follow the colors, prepare yourself for a Divine court-martial and God’s verdict: “MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.” This is an anthropopathism, expressing a Divine attitude in human terms, and is often used to refer to the essence of God. Obviously, God does not approve of the reversionistic believer; yet this in no way suggests that God no longer loves him. God loves every believer with an equal amount of love, regardless of his Spiritual status. The only detail that changes is the manifestation of God’s love, which is now expressed through discipline.
During a training flight, a friend of mine — a P-39 pilot in the old World War II Air Corps — was buzzing the Panama jungle while simulating low-level attack. As he swished only a few feet above the treetops, he was highly exhilarated by the sensation of speed and power that arises from low-altitude flying. Too late, he saw a tall tree looming up directly in his line of flight. He was moving too fast to avoid it and realized his wing had made contact; he had time only to glance backward. To his horror, he saw, that the wing was sheered off. His momentum carried him forward, only to strike several more trees. On each collision, another section of his plane disappeared — the second wing, then the tail assembly and finally, the engine. When it was all over, one Air Corps pilot found himself five miles from the first impact, sitting in a tree, still strapped to the cockpit, dazed and scratched, but in one piece! Now this is somewhat the way the retreating believers will arrive at the portals of eternity — as though they had been through fire! (1Co 3:15)
God’s disapproval of the believer means that he is disciplined in time. There may be extenuating circumstances in life, but there is NO EXCUSE for not taking in the Word. According to military code, the first answer a soldier should give when anything goes wrong is “No excuse, sir!” The interrogating officer then has the option to issue discipline or to seek an explanation. If the soldier neglects to answer properly, his superior is obligated to order discipline, if for nothing else than failure to apply the correct procedure! God often keeps a believer in the “stockade” for many years to give him every opportunity to reverse his direction and to pursue grace to Spiritual maturity.
BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE [Royal Family of God] SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; [By means of Divine Reality inside the Spiritual life!] AND IF HE [Any member of the Royal Family] SHRINKS BACK, [Continues to live by means of the old sin nature and human realities] MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. (Heb 10:38)
Volitional Determination to Follow the Colors
The most influential military writing in the western world from the time of the Romans to the nineteenth century was De Re Militari by Vegetius. Although little is known of his life, Flavius Vegetius Renatus was a Roman of high rank, and his purpose for writing this manual was to arrest the progressive decay of the Roman armies. It was Vegetius’ intention to restore the Romans to the military glory and virtues they once possessed. This incredible little book became the military bible of the great captains of history, for between its covers are contained the universal axioms of warfare, the Principles of which are applicable even in the Spiritual conflict.
It was Vegetius’ conviction that discipline, knowledge and training were of greater value than numbers: “Few men are born brave; many become so through training and force of discipline.” And thus, he concluded, “Valor is superior to numbers.” This Concept also relates to the Spiritual realm. Any mental attitude that is beneficial is the result of discipline and training, both of which find their source in Truth!
It is the nature of war; that what is beneficial to you, is detrimental to the enemy and what is of service to him hurts you. It is therefore a maxim never to do or to omit doing anything as a consequence of his actions but to consult invariably Divine Interests only! Vegetius succinctly states the very conditions that are true of our position in the angelic conflict. When our mental attitude reflects human realities, we serve the devil and his purpose; yet when we Think with Divine Reality based on the Bible, not only are we benefited but the Lord is glorified, and a blow is struck against satanic forces!
But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. [From Satan's and the old sin nature's control] (Heb 10:39)
To follow the colors requires firmness of purpose. Persistence wins the battle! The descriptive objective genitive of the first phrase of this verse should read, but we are not the retreating type. To qualify for this select category of believers, you must make constant Decisions to follow the colors; positive volition toward Truth in the face of opposition from family or criticism of friends; determination to take in Truth when good times call-us or attractive people would lure us away!
“Unto perdition [The preposition EIS plus APOLEIA] is literally, “for the purpose of destruction.” [The sin unto death and Judgment] Remember, “The justified ones shall LIVE... Although the reversionist is alive, he is not LIVING! He is merely vegetating — a walking zombie — or else he is running away from life. “Destruction” here implies a system of Divine discipline which leads to the sin unto death. The believer who refuses to recover from reversionism not only misses the glory of dying grace but dies miserably and loses out on his mature rewards in eternity. He is a deserter of God’s Plan for his life.
In military service, a person who has been tried and convicted in a court-martial for some military offense is marched out to the parade ground in full-dress uniform, where, before the entire unit, he is stripped of his buttons, insignia and ribbons and given a dishonorable discharge. (As happened to Aaron in; Num 20:23-28) This was the case of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who had been unjustly sentenced to public degradation before his exile on Devil’s Island! If a soldier’s sentence involves the death penalty, he is marched out before a firing squad and shot, and the entire company is compelled to file by! God has a similar system for the reversionistic believer: he is court-martialed and placed under the sin unto death. Often he is turned over to Satan for the administration of the judgment, (1Co 5:5) and there is no suffering which man can inflict that can approach satanic torture. The reversionist is under constant discipline for perpetual carnality.
The aggressive elite believers, whose souls are garrisoned by Truth, do not retreat to be processed by destruction; rather, they advance on with the Mind of Christ and press on to the high ground of maturity! God has assigned to each of us a certain type of death. Just as He has supplied our needs for living, so He has made provision for dying. God sovereignly decides the time, manner and place of our death. For the Spiritually adult believer, dying is far greater than living! I have seen individuals who have been assigned the long and painful death of cancer; yet they experienced fantastic blessing and unusual relief from pain or phenomenal endurance of pain. Why? Because they were sustained by Truth in their souls. Through Truth resident in the soul, God provides the essentials to insure that the period of dying will be a marvelous experience!
The word “saving” is actually a prepositional phrase: EIS plus the accusative of PERIPOIESIS, meaning “to possess something that is wonderful, something that belongs to us as our heritage,” and should be translated “for the possession by the soul.” The unbeliever can be demon-possessed, but never Truth-possessed; the believer can be Truth-possessed, but never demon-possessed but demon influenced! God wants us in COSMOS DIABOLICUS to demonstrate to the devil that the best he can give can never approximate what God offers the believer. We are not here to pursue the allurements and glamorous pipe dreams of Satan’s world system but to follow the glorious colors of Truth to the high ground: to be Occupied with the Person of Jesus Christ; to develop and enjoy tremendous capacity for life and to receive mature-grace blessings. These are all the result of Truth in the soul. Therefore:
But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. [From Satan's and the sin nature's control] (Heb 10:39)
THE GUIDON OF TRUTH
Truth in the Advance to Maturity
(Heb 11:1-3) is a continuation of the Concept presented in Chapter 10, but emphasizes the significance of Divine Reality in the Spiritual life! The remainder of Chapter 11 is parenthetical, intended to demonstrate that Truth was available to the believers of the Old Testament even before it was put in written form. With far less Truth than we possess, the heroes in the front ranks of the Gentile and the Jewish Ages seized and held the high ground of Spiritual maturity.
The entire thrust of this passage is the importance of the Word. In Chapter 10, the Jews in Jerusalem had neglected Truth and had allowed themselves to become sidetracked by the diversionary and deceptive tactics of Satan. As a result, they threw away as worthless their confidence in Truth and retreated from honorable combat into the disgrace of legalism! But retreat is not in God’s Plan for the Christian soldier! Instead, we are born Spiritually for the purpose of possessing Truth in our souls. Therefore, since we have been designed to take in Truth, we must recognize it as our authority; our inner dictator and guide!
Now faith [God's Thinking] is the substance [Reality] from which we keep receiving confidence [Expected Blessings; Physical and Spiritual] the conviction [Evidence] of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)
“Now” (The intensive use of the particle DE) links the previous verse with the opening of Chapter 11 and should be translated “in fact.” The word “faith,” (PISTIS) here and throughout Chapter 11, denotes that which is believed: a system of Truth. The definition: “Divine Thinking is the Substance or Reality...” Since this Verse relates to, (Heb 11:39) the definition is not that of faith but of Truth: Divine Thinking. Faith per se cannot accomplish all those tremendous feats of victory mentioned in this passage. It is Truth resident in the souls of believers which produces Understanding, confidence, strength, and dynamics in life!
Depending on the context, HUPOSTASIS can mean “Reality, confidence, assurance” as well as “substance.” Here, “Reality” conveys the correct sense. Truth from the Bible must become more Real than what you see, (2Pe 1:12-21) or you will discard it like trash. When you find excuses for your failure to take in Truth on a consistent basis, you are saying in effect that there is some object, some person, or some activity more fascinating and more real to you than Truth. God does not desire to withhold good things from us; (Psa 84:11) rather He wants to bless us to the maximum.
The English translation, “of things hoped for,” is vague and suggests some obscure desire. Far from that, the present passive participle of ELPIZO actually means “from which we keep receiving confidence.” Truth is the Substance and or Reality from which we derive our confidence: expected blessings, confidence in the Lord, in His Plan, in our function within that Plan; our confidence of status as Royal Family of God forever; confidence in our home in the Holy of Holies — heaven!
Men in military service have no permanent home; that is a part of their sacrifice. Their wives often do not adjust well to constant moves unless they realize that their husband’s destiny is theirs as well. Some wives complain to commanding officers that prolonged separation destroys relationships. But this is the nature of military service. In order to accomplish the mission of national defense, long absences from home are commonplace.
There is a sense in which we of the Royal Family of God do not possess a home in this life; (2Ti 2:4) our permanent dwelling place is in heaven itself. (John 14:2) We are here on TDY (Temporary duty) to fulfill an objective to seize and hold the high ground of Spiritual maturity! In the meantime, we can anticipate that wonderful future habitation. You may own a lovely house here on earth, and perhaps you have spent time and money to enhance its beauty; but never lose sight of the fact that it is temporary; your real home is in eternity! When you are away, letters from home are most welcome. So it is in the Christian life. The Bible constitutes our “letters from home.” When you discard Truth as worthless, you cut yourself off from your home as well as from the ultimate source of blessings — God! In that case, He has only one option left: to place you in the “guardhouse” until either you die the sin unto death under maximum discipline or recover from reversionism.
The second half of the definition of Truth, “the evidence of things not seen,” begins with the word ELEGCHOS. It is best translated “Guarantee and or proof.” In other words, God's Thinking is Reality and God's Thoughts and Word are GUARANTEED! (Matt 24:35)What does it guarantee? That Jesus Christ is real; that the Father exists and has a Plan; that He created all that exists and that God the Holy Spirit is the Source of our power. All Spiritual Reality is bound up in God's Thinking, not in such watered-down substitutes as campfire dedication services, so-called victorious life conferences or candlelight religious devotionals!
When Truth: Divine Reality replaces human experience and takes precedence over people, circumstances, things and self; you can live in a barracks, you can spend prolonged periods in the field, you can endure being alone and the drudgeries of life “as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2Ti 2:3) Furthermore, you will have the frame of reference to enjoy your circumstances!
“Things or matter [PRAGMA] not being seen” encompass not only the invisible realm of the angelic conflict, the unseen Members of the Trinity and all other eternal issues, (2Co 4:18) but also the perspective from Divine Thoughts. These are discernible through Truth alone! It follows, then, that the more Truth you learn, the more apparent becomes the unseen mature-grace blessings designed for us from eternity past, and the more real becomes Jesus Christ, the Plan of God and the perfect essence of God behind that Plan!
Now faith [God's Thinking] is the substance [Reality] from which we keep receiving confidence [Expected Blessings; Physical and Spiritual] the conviction [Evidence] of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)
God's Thinking is the Eternal Reality!
The entire eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews records the Divine citations for “Medal of Honor” winners in the Spiritual campaigns waged during the days of the Old Testament. In each commendation, Truth is credited with having motivated valiant deeds of obligation. (Luk 17:10)
For by IT [God's Thoughts] the men of old gained approval. [Reached Spiritual maturity; Testifying positively regarding God and negatively regarding Satan] (Heb 11:2)
The explanatory use of GAR — “for” — sets up the sequence and explains how Truth is related to believers in the Old Testament. Although there was no much written Scripture; and even when the New Testament Canon was incomplete, Truth was always available. There never has lived a generation to whom God did not reveal Himself and His will, either by means of direct Communication, angelic messengers, dreams or visions.
“For by means of IT, [God's Thinking] the elders (PRESBUTEROS — in context, ‘the men of old or ancient people’ — a reference to mature heroes of Old Testament times) obtained a good report.” [MARTUREO] MARTUREO has several meanings; but here in the passive voice it means “reached Spiritual maturity; a good witness.” (1Ti 6:13) Divine approval was obtained by the ancients through the daily exercise of God's Thoughts; just as it is today. They thirsted for Truth, and God revealed IT. They submitted to a system of discipline in order to learn that Truth by whatever means God was pleased to impart the Information.
The gaining of Divine approval occurs simultaneously with the entrance into Spiritual maturity. Then and only then do we become “THE FRIEND OF GOD!” (Jas 2:23) Thus this verse implies that if the ancients could seize and hold the high ground of Spiritual maturity on far less Truth than we possess as the Royal Family of God, then our failure to make it to the high ground of Spiritual maturity is inexcusable! Perseverance is the key!
God's Thinking (Divine Reality) (Truth) is the Orientation to His-Story (History)
Truth plays more than a paramount role in the life of individual believers as the means of reaching Spiritual maturity; it is the basis for the interpretation of history. (Heb 11:3) establishes the importance of Truth in orientation to history:
By faith [God's Revealing] we Understand that the worlds [Ages] were prepared by the [Spoken; Decreed] Word of God, so that what is seen [History] was not made out of things which are visible. (Heb 11:3)
“Faith” (PISTIS) should be translated “by means of Truth.” Perception is based upon Truth. In context, “Understand” (NOEO) assumes that you have previously learned some Truth. The Royal Family of God to whom this letter was addressed had mastered the subject of the dispensations (“Worlds”: AION — ages) and other Doctrinal categories pertaining to the interpretation of history. (Heb 11:2) notices the ancients, as having attained maturity. Like them, we must be oriented to our objective — the high ground of Spiritual maturity. (Heb 11:3) says that while we move through life we are involved in the ebb and flow of history; therefore, we must be able to define our position in regard to the Divine Plan in history. Together, these two Verses teach that it is our responsibility to adjust not only to our own personal situation but also to the larger area of our life; in relation to Divine Reality!
The recipients of this Epistle had learned that the ages or dispensations “were framed”; (Perfect passive infinitive of KATARTIZO) of the several meanings of this word, it is best rendered here “to put together” and indicates the Divine purpose: Jesus Christ controls the course of history! (Rev 1:5) Therefore, the events of history can never go haywire or get out of His hands. The rise and fall of empires is always within the boundaries of Divine guardianship. God will, however, allow the volition of both angels and members of the human race to function freely, but never at the cost of the annihilation of mankind or the cessation of time.
“Word” here is REMA rather than LOGOS, the usual term for Truth; it therefore refers to the Speaking of God in eternity past, known Theologically as the “Divine Decrees.” “What is being seen” (BLEPO) are the incidents of history. While these are interwoven into the very fabric of our lives, we are not to become enmeshed in them. (2Ti 2:4) It is only when we fix our eyes on the colors, (Staying in fellowship and Thinking with Truth) that we can move unharmed “Spiritually” through our sphere of the conflict and thus fulfill our purpose for being here. In spite of the uncertain and unstable conditions of our era, God has provided the means for our advance through the barrages of life to the high ground of Spiritual maturity.
Those who are able to discern the true situation in our nation today often wonder why we have not already surrendered completely to the demonic conspiracy, why our tottering economy has not totally collapsed. Every new day ushers in further evidence of the deterioration of our national security and freedom. Since Woodrow Wilson’s administration, with two or three exceptions, the leadership of this country has been traitorous; our presidents have actually contributed to our present state of decadence. Why, then, in spite of more than fifty years of treachery, do we continue as a free nation? The answer lies in the fact that positive volition still exists among the members of the Royal Family of God.
Historically, God has always favored the Royal Family, particularly those who are positive to Truth. As long as any country possesses a nucleus of believers who are following the colors and advancing toward Spiritual maturity, that nation will remain intact. History was designed to glorify Jesus Christ, and positive volition toward Truth on a consistent basis is the means by which He is glorified! Therefore, God never allows the affairs of history to hinder believers from reaching the goal.
The events we observe unfolding in history “have not come to pass [GINOMAI coupled with the negative ME] from what is visible.” In other words, it is not the visible which shapes the course of history but the invisible! We see disaster, catastrophe, depression, wars, disease, death or their impending possibility on every side; yet there is an invisible Hand at the helm of the universe — Divine intervention and guardianship — that safely pilots mankind past the cliffs and boulders of human lust and folly!
(Heb 11:3) additionally implies that the occurrences in history are regulated by the positive mental attitude of the members of the Royal Family of God. That is the slender thread that upholds our nation. Should that positive volition turn negative, the thread could snap and the long-expected collapse of this country would be an instant reality!
It is an arresting Thought to realize that your persistence in Truth, wherever you are, is a vital factor in maintaining this nation. If the nation depended on your positive volition and perseverance, where would we be today? Some of you would have to answer that we would be in slavery! Others, perhaps, never considered their lives to have any impact. Possibly you have never related your activities to national freedom or to the course of history. You may even think, “My presence at Bible class won’t make that much difference; missing the study of the Word one or two days will have little effect.” Yet your attitude toward Truth is a determining factor in the preservation of our country! God honors positive volition toward Truth, and the most patriotic activity you can ever pursue is to learn the Word of Truth! Such a Decision on the part of any member of the Royal Family can change the direction of history!
“The events which are seen have not come to pass from those who are visible in history!” The leaders of a country and the established system only appear to sustain the nation. In Divine Reality, Spiritually mature believers are holding up the nation. That great invisible power from positive volition actually causes the establishment to function, and its continuation is merely the tangible manifestation or result of the positive volition of the Royal Family. You are that imperceptible dynamic of history! Your positive or negative mental attitude, as the case may be, is irrevocably related to history. As goes the believer, so goes the nation! Should you make a decision to go negative, all hell cannot stop you. But remember, without Truth resident in the souls of that core of believers, the military will collapse, and then the government and this nation will go down the drain into the sewer of socialism, communism and slavery! YOUR attitude toward Truth has local, national and international repercussions!
(Heb 11:3) defines the true interpretation of history. The Doctrine of Dispensations has proved conclusively that even though the developments of history occur in the devil’s world, they are shaped by God. No catastrophe, no political maneuvering or national turmoil has ever caught God off guard; from eternity past, His omniscience foresaw every event. More important, He controls history without forcing human volition to believe in Christ or in His Word. Free will was the issue in the creation of man and continues to be paramount in this stage of the angelic conflict. Truth in the soul is the basis for correctly evaluating our own Spiritual advance and our personal relationship to present-day events.
By faith [God's Revealing] we Understand that the worlds [Ages] were prepared by the [Spoken; Decreed] Word of God, so that what is seen [History] was not made out of things which are visible. (Heb 11:3)
God has a great sense of humor! He has chosen to confound the wisdom of this world with the quintessence of insignificance itself! (1Co 1:27-29) It is His purpose to take members of the Royal Family of God, who appear to have no status in life, and to use their positive or negative volition to determine the course of their nation! In Jeremiah’s day, and despite his ceaseless warnings, the negative volition of believers caused the destruction of Judah. The same was true of Noah and his generation. When all the threads of positive volition were snapped, then the Flood came. Only Noah and those seven other souls who were positive toward his teaching were preserved. (1Pe 3:20) Thus the Word of Truth is of such consequence that we should examine IT categorically.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GOD'S THINKING!
1. By definition, God's Thinking is the content of the Canon of Scripture, with emphasis on the communication of that content by teaching and Instruction; i.e., the transfer of Bible Information by the pastor-teacher from the pages of the Word of God to the individual souls of members of the Royal Family of God. This includes the dissemination of Truth on the basis of exegesis of the original languages, or the analysis and classification of the English text. Since Truth is called the Mind of Christ, (1Co 2:16) it must be communicated by authorized personnel: prophets, Levitical priesthood; (Old Testament) apostles; (Apostolic Age) pastor-teachers. (Church Age)
2. In His dying breath, Jesus Christ bequeathed Truth to the Royal Family as its Spiritual inheritance. By comparing (Luk 23:46) with (Psa 31:5) we are able to determine the exact content of the Lord’s final words on the Cross: “Into Your hands, O Father, I deposit My spirit; for You have delivered Me, O Jehovah, God of Truth.” (Psa 31:5) By explaining the source of His own Spiritual stamina, Christ passed on to us the regimental colors of the Royal Family of God. (Spirit and Truth) He was the first to bear the completed Standard! (Exo 17:15) In His humanity, positive volition motivated Him to take in Truth until He seized and held the high ground of Spiritual maturity. (Luk 2:52) The Truth in His soul, based upon numerous acts of positive volition, shaped history and is the basis of God’s relationship with us!
3. The inheritance of Truth existed in Old Testament times.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your Truth; For You have magnified Your Word according to all Your Name. (Psa 138:2)
There was no Temple in David’s day; yet David recognized where Headquarters was — the abode of God — and worshiped in the Holy of Holies in his soul. (1Co 3:16) When David said, “I will bow down toward Your holy temple And give thanks to Your name,” he was expressing his Occupation with Christ and celebrating the Second Person of the Trinity. As a great soldier, both in the human and Spiritual realms, David possessed maximum Truth in his soul; in effect, he had on the full armor of God. His reasons for celebration indicated that he was oriented to the Plan of God and was on the high ground of Spiritual maturity: “because of your lovingkindness; [CHESED — Grace] and because of your Truth.” [EMET — Truth] Grace and Truth are the motivation for true celebration: “because you have magnified your Doctrinal teaching above your reputation.” Even more important than the reputation of God is the Thinking of God. Why? God’s character is on the line with what He Thinks. (Prov 23:7) He has revealed, utilized and centered His entire Plan for us in Truth. The Father attaches the highest importance to Truth because it expresses who and what He IS; it further provides the logistics for His Plan. Doctrinal information is therefore the basis for glorifying God and the channel to tactical victory in the angelic conflict!
4. God's Thinking is eternal and preexisted the human race. (Prov 8:1-36) Truth was the Thinking that Christ used, (1Co 2:16) to accomplish the Plan of God the Father! (Matt 24:35; John 3:34; John 6:63; John 14:10; John 14:24; John 17:8)
5. The believer’s attitude toward Truth is the basis for blessing or discipline. (Prov 8:33-36)
What happens to those who go A.W.O.L. from Truth without recovery? They can expect a quick court-martial and a firing squad!
But he who sins against me injures himself; All those who hate me love death. (Prov 8:36)
God has allotted to each of us a certain amount of “time.” The question is, how will you spend that time — in the thick of the combat or out of action? Will you remain in the guardhouse or will you mature Spiritually and enjoy the blessings God has provided for you at reaching Spiritual maturity? Point 5 calls for two implications, as defined in points 6 and 7.
6. Truth resident in the soul through the daily function of Operation Z is the basis for the distribution of mature-grace blessings. (Isa 53:12) After the victory of the Cross, the special plunder of victory, (Mature blessings) have been made available in time to mature believers in the Royal Family of God.
7. Truth is also the basis for the distribution of reward blessings, in eternity (Heb 11:9-10) compared with, (Heb 11:13; Jas 1:25; compared with. Jas 2:12-13)
8. Truth is part of the Principle of living grace for Phase Two. Under living grace, God provides temporal and Spiritual factors to keep the believer alive in time. Temporal matters include food, shelter, clothing and other necessities. Spiritual assets are in the sphere of academics: a Textbook — the Word of God; a classroom — the computer — a communicator — the pastor-teacher. (Eph 4:11-13; Col 1:25-29; Heb 13:7; Heb 13:17)
9. The Plan of God is both advanced and vindicated through the filling of God the Holy Spirit and Truth. (1Co 2:4-5)
But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, [Believers] He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. [CHRIST WILL REIGN FOREVER] (Isa 53:10)
In eternity past, God the Father commissioned Jesus Christ to provide eternal Salvation for the human race. While Christ was on the Cross bearing our sins and taking our place, that mission was accomplished. Now we need simply believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and receive Salvation. (Acts 16:31) From this point, the Plan proceeds through Truth in the souls of believers. The same Concept is amplified in the Book of Romans. The question is asked in: (Rom 3:3) “Shall unbelief cancel the faithfulness of God?” The answer continues in: (Rom 3:4)
May it never be! Rather, let God be found True, though every man be found a liar, as it stands Written in, (Psa 51:4) THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED. [Maligned]
10. God's Thinking is more real than empirical knowledge. (2Pe 1:12-21) If there is a conflict between what you see, hear, smell, taste or humanly think or what the Word of God says, the Word is always right! When you continue to take in God's Thoughts; they become more real to you than any other factor in life, and it motivates you to fulfill God’s design and purpose for time and eternity!
11. Lack of Truth and the resultant reversionism of its people destroy a nation. (Hos 4:1-7; Heb 11:3) Whenever I read this Hosea passage, written around 700 B.C., I feel as though I am reading a current newspaper, so closely does the situation in Israel parallel that in our country today. The satanic objective to undermine the foundation of our strength — our Thinking — has been achieved with unbelievable speed. This is evident in the carnal trend of our seminaries and clergy and in the mental attitude of our youth. Pornography, religion, the occult, sensuality, moral and immoral degeneracy, communism and its related thoughts of socialism has been the tools used by Satan to accomplish his goal!
12. The communication of Truth by the pastor-teacher establishes the balance of residency between the filling of God the Holy Spirit and Truth in the soul of the believer. The Holy Spirit resides in the body of every member of the Royal Family of God, but He functions in the soul. By means of the filling of God the Holy Spirit, we Understand and learn Truth as it is taught. Whereas the filling of God the Spirit comes easily — through the rebound technique — the filling up of the deficiency of Divine Thinking is more difficult; it requires continued positive volition toward Truth over a period of time! The gift of pastor-teacher and the function of Operation Z are the means which God has ordained to transfer God's Thoughts from the Canon of Scripture to your soul. When you possess maximum Divine Thinking in your soul and reach Spiritual maturity you will have a balance of Divine Thinking and Virtue which empowers your EVERY THOUGHT. (2Co 10:5)
13. The only Truth which is usable is that which has been transferred from the written page of the Bible into your soul; therefore, consistency in the function of Operation Z becomes essential.
(Heb 10:25) presents the Command to attend Bible class regularly:
Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
(Heb 10:35) issues a warning concerning the danger of negative volition, while (Heb 10:36) states the benefits of persistence.
14. There are many wonderful results of Truth resident in the soul. Truth produces confidence for living. (Job 5:24-27; (2Co 5:6-8; Heb 10:35) Truth orients the believer to the Plan of God, (Isa 26:3-4; Rom 8:28) produces stability of soul, (Jas 1:6) and the Divine Viewpoint of life in the right lobe; therefore, it is the key to mental attitude dynamics. (Isa 55:7-9; (2Co 10:5) Truth is further the basis for Divine guidance and execution of the will of God, (Rom 12:2-3) and leads to Occupation with Christ and maximum capacity to love God! (Eph 3:19; Php 3:10; Heb 12:2-3) Divine Thinking is the only way to attain and hold Spiritual maturity; (Php 3:12-14) and is the means of gaining reward blessings for eternity. (Heb 11:9-16; Jas 1:25; Jas 2:12-13)
Therefore, when the absorption and Thinking with God's Thoughts continues on a consistent daily basis, the capacities for Spiritual and temporal life is developed to the fullest; the Spiritually mature believer is thus prepared for combat!
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, If you continue in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will Know the Truth, [God's Thoughts and Reality] and the Truth [Believing and Thinking with God's Thoughts] will make you free. [From the old sin nature and Satan's false human realities of life] (John 8:31-32)
PREPARED FOR COMBAT!
A THREE-PARAGRAPH FIELD ORDER: (Heb 12:1-3)
Before any military mission, the commanding officer of a battalion issues either a three-paragraph or a five-paragraph field order to his subordinates; this follows the chain of command until everyone in the outfit is briefed. The paragraphs include (1) Situation intelligence — report regarding enemy and friendly forces; (2) Mission — a clear, concise statement of the objective; (3) Execution — the means by which the mission is to be accomplished; (4) Service Support — supply — the “beans and bullets” Concept; (5) Command and Signal — pyrotechnics, radio equipment, etc.
Upon their challenge to follow the colors in, (Heb 10:23-39) and a discussion on the importance of the Field Manual — the Bible — in, (Heb 11:1-3) the Royal Battalion of believers of the Church Age is ready to move out on the offensive. The first three verses of (Heb 12:1-3) form a three-paragraph field order for the advance of the Royal Battalion: (1) Authorization to advance; (2) Objective of the attack; (3) Description of enemy forces.
Authorization to Advance
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, [Spiritually Mature believers of the past] let us also lay aside every encumbrance [All human realities] and the sin [The old sin nature] which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race [AGON — Wrestling of the mind] that is set before us. (Heb 12:1)
The inferential particle “Therefore” (TOIGAROUN) resumes the Thought of (Heb 10:35) and recognizes as parenthetical the Verses in between. (Heb 10:35) and (Heb 10:39) The mature-grace heroes of the Old Testament portrayed in Hebrews 11 are to be a source of encouragement to the Royal Family in their advance to Spiritual maturity. These believers of the Gentile and Jewish Ages took the high ground with relatively little support when compared to that which we have today in the completed Canon of Scripture.
“For that very reason, therefore,” indicates that we of the Royal Family do not retreat. Because we have neither gone A.W.O.L. from Truth nor become indifferent to Doctrinal teaching, we follow the road to glory: saving grace to living grace; living grace to mature grace; mature grace to dying grace; dying grace to surpassing grace! “Are,” present active participle of ECHO — “to have and to hold” — is a static present and verifies a condition that perpetually exists. The permanent Old Testament roster of mature grace heroes will continue to challenge and encourage the Royal Family of God to join them on the high ground of Spiritual maturity.
From Israel's ancient battle cry, “Remember the LORD. . . great and awesome, [Mighty Warrior] and fight. . .” (Neh 4:14; cf. Deut 20:4) In modern times the challenge, “Follow me” and many meaningful challenges have stirred the hearts of fighting men before battle. Over the centuries, such calls to bravery as “Remember the Alamo!” have become synonymous with daring defiance.
Traditionally, the British are not noted for their brilliance in military strategy and tactics; but, to their credit, many of their officers have been excellent leaders of men. A custom practiced for hundreds of years by British officers perfectly demonstrates their uncanny ability to inspire unceasing loyalty and respect. Before a battle, the commanding officer would unsheathe his saber and walk up and down in front of his men. Often pointing the saber, he would shout encouragement in the irreproducible British manner: “Up there is the enemy; we must go up and get those chaps and put the bloody beggars out of business!” Suddenly, he would raise his saber and present an invitation so civilized that you might think the troops were being asked to have tea rather than to attack the enemy: “Won’t you join me? Won’t you join me? Forward march!” And up the hill they would charge undaunted, through shot and shell!
In the Spiritual sense, there is no war cry more pertinent to the Royal Family than that of the Scottish regiment, the Seaforth Highlanders: “TULACH ARD” — Gaelic for “Take (Or seize) the High Ground.” (Or the heights) If the Old Testament believers could do this, how much more should we who are “surrounded” (Literal translation of PERIKEIMAI) by that entire battalion of mature-grace heroes! The past victories of “such great” (Distinguished) believers cited in Hebrews 11, support the Royal Family of the Church Age with a barrage of firepower in its Spiritual advance.
Now, in view of this “cloud” (NEPHOS) or host of witnesses, who testify to the fact that it is possible to take the high ground even without a completed Canon of Scripture, “let US lay aside...” The aorist middle participle of APOTITHEMI, “having taken off,” could be rendered “having stripped for action.” The action is holding the line of positive volition — not just once in a while when you are in a jam — but regularly assembling in the local church, and or your classroom for Doctrinal teaching, and the exercise of Operation Z, despite all distractions or pressures.
“Stripping” is a military metaphor which depicts the soldier’s preparation for action by the removal of his rucksack and other equipment that would impede his advance up steep terrain. Two obstacles of the Christian soldier are mentioned specifically: “every encumbrance” and “the sin.” “Weight” (ORGOS) denotes a burden or impediment — any distraction that hinders us from concentrating on Truth or consistently taking it in! Among these may be involvement with human self-importance, pleasures, entertainment, personality hang-ups. Such distractions are not classed as sin in this context, though they are often sin-related.
“The sin” (HAMARTIA) incorporates the categories of sin: mental sins, sins of the tongue, overt sins and the function of the lust pattern. Although “the sin” varies for each individual, it is one that is “easily ensnaring” or entangling; (EUPERISTATOS) the current sin from the area of weakness in the old sin nature. No direct sin is specified here because areas of weakness change as the believer progresses or retrogresses in his Christian life. Whatever form of carnality constitutes the easily-ensnaring sin for the advancing believer; the solution to carnality is invariably the rebound technique. (Prov 28:13) HAMARTIA recognizes the Principle that we cannot advance apart from rebound.
The retreating believer’s area of weakness is more complex in reversionism; therefore, the solution is also more complex. It calls for repentance, (A change of mental attitude toward Truth; 2Ti 2:25-26) rebound and reversion recovery: a healing period by the intense function of Operation Z.
After all hindrances have been removed through rebound and maximum intake, we are ready to advance: “let us run.” (Present active subjunctive of the verb TRECHO) This verb follows the military analogy of advancing toward the enemy on the run. In modern military vernacular, we would say, “Let us charge the enemy!” If we are to be victorious in the Spiritual conflict, the initial attack must be followed through “with endurance” (DIA HUPOMONE) — persistent positive attitude toward Bible teaching, regardless of the circumstances of life!
The word “race” (AGON; “agony”) can refer either to a race and or wrestling in a stadium or to a battle or tactical situation. Here it is used in the military sense of a combat objective. The “conflict set before us” refers to our aim in the angelic conflict. We are commanded, therefore, to advance “on the double” with endurance to the present objective: to seize and to hold the high ground of the mature-grace life — and on to glory!
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, [Spiritually Mature believers of the past] let us also lay aside every encumbrance [All human realities] and the sin [The old sin nature] which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race [AGON — Wrestling of the mind] that is set before us. (Heb 12:1)
Objective of the Attack
The American War for Independence, mistakenly known as the Revolutionary War; was not a revolution but a fight against tyranny based on the rights of the individual to protect his life, freedom, privacy and property. Throughout history, men have entered into the hardships and inconveniences of war in order to seize and hold; and therefore to occupy a larger territory or to gain greater prosperity and freedom. Likewise in the Spiritual conflict, we are not only looking toward a better place but also seeking the freedom and happiness of Occupation with our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Heb 12:2) has this goal in view:
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, [The Spiritual life] who for the joy set before Him [His perfect happiness and new family; us!] endured the Cross, despising the shame, [Thinking very little of the shame] and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
“Looking” (APHORAO) means “to look away, to turn your eyes from one object and to fix them on another”; in other words, to set your sights on the target. After you have glanced at the supporting battalion — those who have already made it — you must move on toward the area of your objective: concentrate on Jesus Christ and His Thoughts! (Psa 1:2-3; Psa 40:8; Psa 94:19) Live on the summit of the high ground, the place of maximum love toward God and Occupation with Christ!
“Author” (ARCHEGOS) does not refer to one who writes a book; rather, it denotes a leader, a ruler or a prince in the sense of having originated a dynasty or established a kingdom. Jesus Christ is our Prince-Ruler in that He generated the Royal Family of God through His saving work on the Cross and completed it with His session at the right hand of the Father. “Finisher” (TELEIOTES) is a hapax legomenon — a word which occurs only once in the Bible. It means “perfector, completer, consummator: the one who brings through to final attainment.” Our Prince-Leader is the One who leads us to the attainment of the maturity objective. How does He accomplish this? Through “Thinking with God the Father's Thoughts.” (Ablative of means from PISTIS) The ablative is not the regular case for expressing means except when there is an implication of origin or source, as in this instance in the use of ARCHEGOS. Thus, “faith” describes that which is believed, or the Spiritual life.
The only way anyone in the Royal Family will ever reach maturity status is by means of God's Thoughts resident in his soul. “Author and Completer” emphasize both the means of obtaining Spiritual maturity as well as its goal — Occupation with Christ. Together, they indicate that once you reach the high ground, you must hold it. You secure your position in the same manner by which you arrived — through Truth! (Psa 119:24)
From eternity past, the Lord Jesus Christ, as Eternal God, possessed perfect happiness; yet He was willing to set it aside for the present objective. “For the joy [ANTI plus the ablative of CHARA] that was set before him” (PROKEIMAI) must be clarified from the Greek syntax. Without going into all its ramifications, the dative of possession is literally “happiness to him”; but since it has no exact equivalent in the English, it must be rendered as a possessive pronoun: “his happiness.” Therefore, this phrase is best translated: “who instead of His always present perfect happiness.” The prepositional phrase, together with the ablative, follows the connotation of substitution. A similar Principle is found in, (Matt 20:28) where, according to the literal translation, Jesus said, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His soul a ransom INSTEAD OF many.” (ANTI POLLON — ablative of POLLOS)
In order to fulfill the Father’s Plan for the Incarnation, Christ submitted Himself to the excruciating agony of the Cross. The judgment of our sins in His own body was the most intense suffering ever experienced by any member of the human race. Why was Jesus Christ able to endure the anguish of the Cross? What was the source of His courage? He possessed maximum Truth in His soul; therefore, no diversionary tactic of the enemy succeeded in turning His face from that objective! (Isa 50:5-9) Maximum Truth resident in His soul, coupled with maximum pressure in life, culminated in the strategic victory of the angelic conflict. Thus He set the pattern for us to endure the pressure of maintaining positive volition, to get Truth in the soul and to gain the tactical victory in the angelic conflict to seize and hold Spiritual maturity.
Jesus Christ “despised,” or literally, disregarded (KATAPHRONEO) the “shame” (AISCHUNE) of the Cross and moved right on to the pinnacle of His strategic victory His session at the right hand of the Father — the highest place of honor. Subsequently, Christ divided the plunder of His victory with us; this became the basis of our paragraph of mature-grace blessings. Even though we may fail to appropriate them, nevertheless great blessings will always be waiting for us. To obtain them, we must scale the “hill,” and that demands persistence in taking in Truth.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, [The Spiritual life] who for the joy set before Him [His perfect happiness and new family; us!] endured the Cross, despising the shame, [Thinking very little of the shame] and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2)
Description of Enemy Forces
Throughout His Incarnation, Christ encountered intense opposition from both Homo sapiens and satanic forces. Satan had intensified to the utmost his activities to prevent the Plan of God; yet not once did Jesus Christ falter or succumb to weariness or discouragement. He moved through every satanic barrage to complete the Father’s Plan for Phase One. His determination becomes our challenge!
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. [Give in to human realities] (Heb 12:3)
“Consider” (Aorist middle imperative from the verb ANALOGIZOMAI — another hapax legomenon) means: “to weigh in the mind, to deliberate, to Think something over very carefully.” The ingressive aorist adds the Concept that you begin to Think because of what you have just learned! This Command can be obeyed only when you have mastered the Principles defined in: (Heb 12:1-2) Consistency and persistence of positive volition toward learning and Thinking with God's Thoughts! (John 7:16-18) Once you seize and hold the high ground, your Perspective changes and so does your scale of values. You gain an entirely different Viewpoint of Who and or What IS important in life! (John 4:34) You become aware of Jesus Christ as the only Celebrity, and you begin to Concentrate on Him!
Your Thoughts are directed specifically in this Verse to Christ’s endurance (HUPOMENO) under heavy concentration of enemy fire. The active voice indicates that Christ produced the action of the verb by enduring both the Cross and the “hostility” or opposition (ANTILOGIA) while on the Cross. The opposition of sinners includes all His human foes — religious and political, collective and individual. (Mark 15:29-32) The perfect tense is intensive; it views the action as completed and summarizes the existing results: the efficacious sacrifice of Christ; His saving work on the Cross; His dying words in which He passed on the colors to the Royal Family; the resurrection, ascension and session that completed the strategic victory of the angelic conflict. Therefore, we are motivated to persist as He persisted; to remain positive as He was positive!
Satan has now trained his sights on the Royal Family of God. In, (Heb 12:3) his guns are leveled against the believer’s soul in an attempt to cause fainting in the soul. We must be alert to all the dangers as we press the attack toward the high ground: when victory is within your reach, pressure begins to mount; the enemy intensifies his search for chinks in your armor; to cause discouragement, depression, bitterness, self-pity, jealousy, lust, worry, vindictiveness, implacability, laziness, boredom, and loneliness; ANYTHING to keep you from learning and Thinking with the Word of God! What is more attractive or important to you than Truth? What is your breaking point? As these are discovered, Satan exploits your frailties and sins in an attempt to soften your defenses and weaken your soul.
Only as you and I Concentrate on God's Reality and our Lord's example; Who “...was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” (Heb 4:15) can we overcome these temptations and sins which so readily assault us.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. [Give in to human realties and sin] You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin. (Heb 12:3-4)
THE NEW PERSPECTIVE OF THE HIGH GROUND Philippians 3:4-8
The Concept of Human Celebrity-ship in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians presents the true perspective from the high ground: of God's Reality in contrast to the false human realities. The Apostle Paul is the example. As Saul of Tarsus, he was by human standards one of the foremost celebrities in the history of Judaism. Therefore, he could demonstrate from his own experience that there is a far more important issue in life than merely attaining the pinnacle of human success! His declaration, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [A promotion] (Php 1:21) defines the main objective for every believer! Once you become a member of the Royal Family of God, Jesus Christ must be your only Celebrity! (Mark 8:38)
The believer who neglects or becomes negative to Truth has left his “first love.” (Rev 2:4) No longer Occupied with Christ, he now values some person or some thing above His Savior and in effect; is a Spiritual adulterer. (Jer 3:8; Jer 9:2-3; Jer 23:10; Mal 3:5) This substitution is blasphemous and reversionistic and explains the reason for the Divine discipline paragraph in. (Heb 12:4-15) No one in the Royal Family has the right to dispossess Jesus Christ of honor, fame or celebrity-ship.
In portraying himself as a man whose reputation has reached the zenith of legalistic celebrity-ship, Paul refers to the rituals of Judaism as a basis for his own self-righteousness. The Judaizers had infiltrated the church at Philippi, which contained a large segment of retired military personnel from the Roman Army, and had boasted of their popularity. Along with other Gentile believers of the early church, the Philippians were impressed with and therefore influenced by Judaism. It was the antithesis of Hellenistic culture and eliminated the immorality and amorality of Hellenism. Fascinated with Judaic self-righteousness, they followed this new way of life, (Matt 6:1) without a clue to the consequences of legalism and self-righteousness of Judaism; they said that Paul had not gone far enough in his teaching — as suggested by the Judaizers themselves. Paul must correct this error:
Although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. [The power of the old sin nature] If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more. (Php 3:4)
The word “flesh” can refer to the human body or to the old sin nature; but here it also represents the vast dimensions of all human reality. When it came to earthly glory, Paul had more cause to boast, should he so desire, than any of the Judaizers who had criticized him. “Even though I myself might be having confidence in carnal standards of celebrity-ship,” — he no longer possessed confidence in any human attainment! He had long ago abandoned these apparent advantages. Now firmly established on the high ground of God's Thinking he enjoyed a new dynamic Perspective of life: GOD'S!
For we are the true circumcision, [New Spiritual Creation; Gal 6:15) who worship in the Spirit of God [In fellowship; John 4:24) and glory in Christ Jesus [Proud of Christ and His Thoughts; Mark 8:38) and put no confidence in the flesh. [Human realities and or achievements; John 6:63; Rom 7:18; Php 3:3)
Paul must construct a meritorious assumption. He does so from personal experience and under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. According to, (1Co 1:26) “not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called”; but Paul was an exception. By the cosmic index, Paul was superior in every way; yet his accomplishments are now simply biographical material!
While you are still advancing toward the summit of Spiritual maturity, you must learn that there is only one Celebrity in the Royal Family of God! This new Perspective may not yet have caught up with your actual experience; but you will fail to establish a foothold until you recognize and begin to Think about our true Celebrity. This Concept connects, (Heb 12:2-4) with our passage; and is summed up briefly in, (Php 3:10).
The conditional particle “if” (EI) coupled with the indicative mood introduces a first class condition, a supposition from the viewpoint of Reality: “if, and it is true.” While the Judaizers arrogantly presumed that they were the quintessence of Spirituality, Paul was truly humble; although he cited his factual achievements in the field of Judaism, he was totally free from pride. He merely intended to demonstrate that Divine Thinking can transform the illusion of human renown into one of genuine Virtue-humility.
Thus Paul countered the challenge of the Judaizers: “If you assume to have confidence in achievement; I more!” Were Salvation attained through adherence to Judaism, his own works would have promoted Paul to heaven. In that case, when he came to Philippi, he would have taught Salvation by the rite of circumcision. Instead, he declared to the Philippians: “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness [Self-righteousness] of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Php 3:9) Could credit have been ascribed to legalism, then Paul himself would have been a Spiritual giant by reason of his superior human morality and self-righteousness.
Although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. [Human accomplishments] If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, [Human realities] I far more. (Php 3:4)
The False Perspective
Paul had to establish a background of false criteria in order to present the true norm of Spiritual maturity. By every standard of Judaism, Saul of Tarsus possessed the highest rating. He would have easily qualified for a listing in a Pharisaical counterpart to the Marquis “Who’s Who.” Under Judaistic legalism he already had produced an impact on history as a human celebrity. The categories of Judaism in which Paul outclassed all Judaizers are described in the next two verses.
Circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness [Outward ritual] which is in the Law, found blameless. (Php 3:5-6)
(1) Confidence in ritual. (“Circumcised the eighth day”) This ritual of circumcision defined a true Israelite, but was practiced by the Judaizers without the Reality of Salvation. By the gauge of Judaism, circumcision on the eighth day indicated racial superiority. Yet even in Paul’s day, racial purity had more or less disappeared. Paul’s superiority began at the place where many of the Judaizers could not compete; for more often than not, they had been circumcised as adults!
(2) Confidence in physical birth. (“From the race of Israel”) Israel, the name given to Jacob once he had reached Spiritual maturity, became both the racial and the national designation for the Jewish descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob. If Salvation could be claimed on the basis of physical birth alone, Paul would definitely be saved! But since the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob demanded a new birth, (John 3:7) Paul could have no confidence in the flesh. All human values are eliminated by the glorious Standards of grace. When you reach Spiritual maturity, you are not impressed by the status of birth. Neither race nor birth is an issue in God’s system.
(3) Confidence in family. (“From the tribe of Benjamin”) This tribe possessed four outstanding qualities. Militarily, the Benjamites were unsurpassed; they could boast many heroes on the battlefield. The first king of Israel sprang from the tribe of Benjamin; thus they could claim royal celebrity-ship. Furthermore, they were known for their undaunted loyalty to the Davidic dynasty. As a part of the Southern Kingdom, they possessed great stability and establishment. Next to Judah, on the scale of prestige, the tribe of Benjamin was the most envied tribe. If relationship with God had been based on the family escutcheon or national prominence, Saul of Tarsus would have been automatically saved at birth! Down through the ages, ancestry has been used by the arrogant to establish themselves as superior to those within their area of influence.
(4) Confidence in nationalism or culture. (“A Hebrew from the Hebrews”) This refers to both Jewish patriotism and cultural conservatism in contrast to the liberal and licentious Hellenistic culture which had infiltrated Israel. Traditionally, Hellenistic Jews were liberal; orthodox Jews, conservative. “A Hebrew from the Hebrews; the best of the best” indicates Paul’s orthodoxy. A tremendous patriot, Saul of Tarsus had unswervingly rejected liberalism in culture and heritage.
(5) Confidence in religion. (“As touching, or with reference to the Law, a Pharisee”) The Pharisees were an ancient, exclusive Jewish sect that came into being after the Babylonian captivity. They paid excessive regard to tradition and ceremony and developed a concept of superior sanctity. While their original intentions were sound — separation from all that defiled body and soul (Ezr 6:21; Ezr 9:1) — they soon departed from Truth.
During the Maccabaean period, a sharp difference of opinion split the party into two factions: Sadducees and Pharisees. The Sadducees, who drew their members from the ranks of the priests, became the skeptics and were primarily concerned with their social position. The Pharisees, whose membership was composed of the scribes, pursued their legalistic tendencies with zealous sanctimony. (Self-righteousness) It was no wonder, therefore, that as an unbeliever, Paul persecuted the Church with great zeal! Jesus Christ strongly condemned Pharisaism; and now Paul exposed them for what they truly were: religious hypocrites whose confidence rested in human righteousness and who rejected the Thinking of God! (Rom 10:2) Had Paul placed any credence in the flesh, he would have relied on the religiosity of Pharisaism for Salvation.
(6) Confidence of function. “With reference to zeal, persecuting the church.” If the standard were zealous pursuit of his cause, then Paul was superior to all zealots of Judaism; for he persecuted without discrimination all types of Christians, whereas the Judaizers persecuted only true grace believers! Since Paul had become a believer in Christ and had taken the high ground, he constantly exposed the error of Salvation by works, sincerity and or false thinking.
(7) Confidence of self-righteousness; “With reference to self-righteousness in the Law, having become blameless.” Saul of Tarsus excelled in the ritual observance of every jot and tittle of the Mosaic Law. While he was undeniably a moral degenerate, he later realized that, in fact, his religious fanaticism established him as the worst sinner who ever lived. (A terrorist) (1Ti 1:12-15) In rejecting this triumph of self-righteousness, he declared: “Man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith in Christ Jesus...” (Gal 2:16) Truth had completely replaced the now dead ritual of Judaism. (John 10:3-4) Ritual without Reality is meaningless! There must be substance (God's Thoughts) in the soul to link the ritual, (Reading, praying, sacrifice of time, money; etc., praise and thanksgiving, self; etc.) with Reality! (Prov 11:20; Prov 21:27; Prov 28:9; Eccles 5:1)
Traditionally, all ceremonies related to the presenting of our flag hold great significance for Americans who love their country. On our military posts during the formation of reveille, (Bugle call at sunrise) the color guard carries the national standard in the form of a cocked hat as a reminder of the War for Independence when our forefathers fought for our freedom. The standard must be placed correctly onto the halyard to allow it to flow free as a symbol that we WON that war and were now a FREE nation! At the Command, “Present arms,” the colors are raised to the top of the pole to portray the fact that two hundred years later we are still a free people!
Every evening another ritual is observed at the sound of the sunset gun, when the entire post comes to a standstill from the smallest child to the highest ranking officer. Those in vehicles dismount, face in the direction of the post flag and stand at attention. If they are in uniform, they salute. As the flag is lowered, there is complete silence except for the sounds of “To the Colors!” This ritual repeatedly CAUSES THINKING and affirms the fact that the military services are the guardians of our freedom, which has been ordained by God himself. (Num 1:3)
Those of us, who understand the rituals of our freedom as they relate to the military organizations, can appreciate the dramatic flag-raising and lowering ceremonies and are inspired by them. Tragically today, they have little meaning for the majority of the young men in the service and therefore elicit neither response of patriotism nor national team-spirit! Ritual without Reality is meaningless! There must be substance (God's Thoughts) in the soul to link the ritual of, (Reading, praying, sacrifice of time, money, praise, thanksgiving, self; etc.) with Reality! (Prov 11:20; Prov 12:22; Prov 28:9; Eccles 5:1)
Before World War II, Hitler knew full well how to capitalize on the emotional impact of his famed torch-light parades that glorified the Nazi youth, who marched in loyal tribute to the Fuehrer! Today, behind the Iron Curtain, ritual is again being utilized to ignite fierce patriotism through intimidation. On May Day, as units of the Russian Army thunder through Red Square in Moscow to parade their vast military strength, they do so to impress the free world as well as to intimidate their own people and satellite nations. Yet we can possess in the soul a warhead that is mightier than any of the conventional or non-conventional weapons devised by man. Truth can halt any offensive launched against the believer by human or satanic forces. With Truth in the soul, we can celebrate not only our national heritage but also our Spiritual heritage as we learn to respect and to appreciate Christ as the true Celebrity, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
The True Perspective from the High Ground of Spiritual Maturity
While our concepts of status differ from those of Judaism, the issue of human celebrity-ship remains as provocative today as it was in Paul’s day. Therefore, Paul’s presentation of the true perspective is as pertinent now as when it was first written:
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ. (Php 3:7-8)
The adversative conjunction “but” (ALLA) sets up a contrast between the false standards of human realities and the true measure of God's Reality! “What things” comprise the false thoughts of human success and the false realities of either the unbeliever or the reversionistic believer. The word “gain” is the key to understanding Verses 7 and 8. Translated in the singular, it is actually the nominative plural of KERDOS. The singulars and plurals in this paragraph are noteworthy, for they differentiate between the use of God's Thinking by the mature believer and the human thinking of the unbeliever and the carnal believer.
The “gains” are the seven apparent advantages of Paul’s ascendancy in Judaism, which normally could lead to confidence in the flesh. “But what things were advantages to me.”(EGO) The dative of disadvantage of the personal pronoun classifies those “gains” as very real disadvantages. Grace standards prevent all faith in human attainment! Paul knew that his attainment under Judaism was never the basis of his Spiritual life.
Members of the Royal Family of God, carry-over from their lives as unbelievers certain standards for human reality. (Isa 55:8-9) These establish definite concepts of human prominence. In our society, acclaim might go to athletics, drama, music, art, business, society, politics or professional and military human celebrity-ship. I am not disparaging achievement in any field of endeavor. The point is that high status in the human sphere must never be allowed to displace Jesus Christ and or the Thinking of the Spiritual life. But only YOU can decide who or what is most important in your life! A decision in favor of human prestige and or reality can quickly turn you negative toward Truth.
A second problem occurs when a believer seeks worldly recognition and neglects Thinking with God's Declared Reality; preferring and choosing to think about self; and what the old sin nature wants; — honor, social life, emotional fulfillment, sex, food, careless ease, power, family, approval, fame and or wealth. (EVERYONE WANTS SOMETHING FOR NOTHING) That is the issue in focus here. And that something and or NOTHING — must keep us from consistency and persistence in the field of positive volition toward Truth and Thinking ONLY with God's Reality! By taking the high ground of Spiritual maturity, we avoid the human celebrity-ship pitfall.
Consistent and decisive positive volition toward Truth orients the believer to the grace perspective. Orientation to grace is essential in the consolidation of Spiritual growth. Certainly you will fail and make mistakes as you capture the glory road inch by inch. But once you gain a foothold on the lofty heights of Spiritual maturity, you will be troubled less and less by human reality and the tug-of-war between the old sin nature and the New Nature of Christ in us. (Rom 8:10-14)
The attainment of success through grace is a definite part of the Christian’s maturity package. Yet we must be careful to distinguish between human-fame and mature-grace blessings. If prosperity and success do not come from the Lord, they are not worth having! This quite possibly was the real issue underlying the bitterness and hatred of the Judaizers toward Paul. He had achieved a fame which they could never equal, and its source was the Lord!
As the holder of seven world records in the field of Judaism, Paul was an authority on that subject. True, from the aspect of Judaism, such merits were advantageous; but for the Spiritual life, they were worthless baggage. It was his expert opinion that they must be “counted” as loss! The basis for Paul’s Deduction is emphasized by the present middle indicative of HEGEOMAI, (“To Conclude as an expert”) and the seven gains of Judaism are termed ONE loss. (Accusative SINGULAR of ZEMIA) Once you become Occupied with the Person of Christ, all human worth becomes loss. (Jas 1:10-11) As Truth takes up its residency in our soul, the old thoughts are replaced by new Thoughts. On the high ground, capacity for life increases appreciation of the fantastic mature-grace blessings which God provides!
Ask yourself: Who is the source of my blessings? Am I seeking fame and fortune by my own ability, or am I content to scale the high ground first; and there await my mature-grace blessings from God? To gain Spiritual maturity glorifies God! To achieve honor apart from Spiritual growth plays into the hand of Satan, for invariably, human pride, approbation and power lust enter the picture of the self-made man!
Let me hasten to balance that statement by saying that the Divine Reality is not acquired by RENOUNCING worldly recognition or achievement. The Principle of the Christian life consists, not in giving up something, but in replacing human thinking with God's Thinking! (Rom 12:2) As you follow the colors and Operation Z it to Spiritual maturity, there will be both replacement and implementation of Truth; i.e., human reputation is automatically replaced by the celebrity-ship of Christ!
More than that, I count all things [Human thoughts and achievements] to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, (Matt 10:37-39) and count them but rubbish [SKUBALON; human excrement] so that I may gain Christ, (Php 3:8)
The closest we can come to a literal translation of the five Greek particles which form the phrase, “More than that,” would be “More emphatically, therefore.” By reiterating the phrase, “I count,” (HEGEOMAI) he emphatically asserted that he knew what he was talking about. His absolute conclusion that “ALL THINGS” (Plural) be one pile of human excrement; was not a matter of pride and or false-humility but of Knowing the Priceless Value of the Thoughts of God! (Psa 19:7-11; Prov 3:13-15; Prov 8:10-11) Because of Christ; Paul had flushed all human thinking and all the achievements of Judaism. Yet he had suffered not loss but greater gain: the benefit of “the excellencies or the surpassing greatness of the Thinking of Christ Jesus” and therefore Knowing, his Lord! (Jer 9:24)
Please notice what constitutes surpassing greatness in the Christian life: Knowledge of Truth which leads to Occupation with Christ! Paul kept on concluding human effort and advantages SKUBALON (Plural) — “human excrement.” The NASB translation; “rubbish,” is euphemistic; Paul is actually comparing all energy-of-the-flesh deeds to a pile of human excrement, the worst possible insult. Nevertheless, Paul has the true perspective of surpassing greatness. The purpose of this complete break with the past and its human viewpoint reasoning was to achieve the objective of Spiritual maturity: “that I may win [Aorist active subjunctive of the verb KERDAINO — ‘to gain’] Christ.” As a good soldier of Jesus Christ, Paul set his sight on the high ground and on Occupation with his Lord.
But whatever things were gain to me, [In the flesh] those things [Human realities] I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. [To reach Spiritual maturity; Occupation with Christ] More than that, I count all things [Human thoughts and achievements] to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, (Jer 9:24) for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, (Matt 10:37-39) and count them but rubbish [SKUBALON; HUMAN EXCREMENT] so that I may gain Christ, (Gal 2:20; Php 1:21) (Php 3:7-8)
THE PERSISTENT DECISION TO FOLLOW THE COLORS
Consolidating Your Gains
On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederates made their final assault, commonly known as “Picket’s Charge.” Spearheaded by General Lewis A. Armistead’s Brigade, the Southerners reached their objective — the clump of trees and the stone wall at the Union center, known simply as the “Angle” — but were unable to hold their position. Because they were tragically outnumbered and lacked reinforcements, only a few hundred were able to cross the wall before they were overrun by thousands of Yankees. Each break-through must be exploited; reserves must be available in order to follow through; otherwise, the offensive loses its punch and the ground cannot be held. This Principle applies to the exploits of the Christian life. Even though you have arrived at a point, unless you press on vigorously, you will be forced to retreat!
Many of you will come right up to the crest of Spiritual maturity. You will enjoy the view for awhile and bask in its splendor; but the accompanying prosperity will prove too much for you and lure you away from Truth. Then as soon as you are in trouble, back you will come. If you keep climbing up and slipping down the hill without consolidating your gains, you will never truly recognize your blessings. In fact, the blessings will turn to the cursing of discipline! The continual enjoyment of maturity's blessings is dependent upon your tenacity in the function of Operation Z, which builds maximum Truth in the soul!
The Apostle Paul had once been on the summit of Spiritual maturity but had been driven off by reversionism. Defying God’s geographical will for his life, as well as the warning from the Prophet Agabus, (Acts 21:11) Paul had returned to Jerusalem in May of A.D. 57. Paul loved Jerusalem. Here the Church had its origin, and here too his past greatness and present status were well-known. However, the Jerusalem church had been infiltrated by legalism, and Paul was considered to be highly controversial. Perhaps the congregation would give him a hearing if he consented to some overt sign of affiliation with Judaism. Paul knew better, but his emotional attachment to the “Holy City” blurred his discernment. He compromised grace and entered the Temple to take a vow. Giving in to legalism and subsequent reversionism, Paul would have died the sin unto death had it not been for the grace of God operating through the intervention of the military.
Four years of prison followed; during which time Paul recovered from reversionism and wrote the prison Epistles. By the time he penned the Book of Philippians, Paul had once more reached the high ground. Now that he had planted the colors, he must hold his position!
And may be found in Him, not having a righteousness [Human ability; self-righteousness] of my own derived from the [Ritual of the] Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, [Believing and Thinking with the Mind of Christ] the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, [Experiential-righteousness: Spiritual Maturity] that I may know Him (Jer 9:24) and the power of His resurrection [Spiritual life] and the fellowship of His sufferings, (1Pe 4:1) being conformed to His death; [Experiential death to His normal human desires] (Matt 20:27-28) in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Luk 15:24; Rom 5:17; Rom 6:4) Not that I have already obtained it [Completely and Totally] or have already become perfect, [Reached full Spiritual maturity] but I press on [Exploiting my advances] so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Php 3:9-12)
The phrase, “Not as though [OUK HOTI] I had already [HEDE — ‘before now’] attained,” [LAMBANO] but moves on to a second conclusion. The first, at the end of Verse 8, was related to capturing the high ground: “I keep on concluding them [Human systems of thinking] piles of excrement in order that I may gain Christ,” [To seize Spiritual maturity] The second conclusion in verse 12 refers to the consolidation of these gains: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect,” — i.e., “I have not before now reached the objective.” This indicates that Paul had returned to the high ground but was not as yet totally stabilized.
His position on the high ground secure, Paul would not be driven off again! This time he would exploit the breakthrough. He affirmed his determination by the statement, “I press on,” (DIOKO) or literally, “I am pursuing or pressing the attack.” The last five years of Paul’s life were extraordinary. He not only held his ground, but he advanced Spiritually beyond any other believer of his time. From that final period of his life emerged seven great Epistles that were destined to reverse the course of history for every generation after A.D. 62.
Paul’s firm resolution not to repeat the same mistake but to press on is expressed in the unusual conditional particle “if.” (EI plus the subjunctive mood) The third class condition, coupled with a first class conditional particle signifies that while the outcome of Paul’s resolution was still in question at the time of writing, there was actually no doubt in Paul’s mind. Therefore, he kept on driving: “I may lay hold of that.” (Aorist active subjunctive of KATALAMBANO — ‘to seize, to attain, to make one’s own, and to overtake’) He used LAMBANO for assaulting the hill; KATALAMBANO, for staying there. The culminative aorist recognizes that he had attained the first objective only to discover a new objective: he must remain on top until death!
“Press the attack” was one of Stonewall Jackson’s favorite battle cries. Once he had achieved a breakthrough, he would ride from one outfit to another and shout, “Press them! Press them!” When his troops were successful, he moved through the regiment exclaiming, “Good ! Very good!” After Paul had consolidated his gains and stood on the threshold of the golden bridge of dying grace, he may well have said “Good! Very good!” or, as he wrote to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight; [Against human realities] I have finished the course... [Stayed at Spiritual maturity until death] (2Ti 4:7) Of the galaxy of mature believers in history, Paul shines the brightest because he exploited to the maximum the tactical victory of Spiritual maturity!
It is God’s purpose that every believer in the Royal Family follow the colors to Spiritual maturity. Jesus Christ has “apprehended,” (Seized and held) us so that we can fulfill that objective. Everything we would need in time and in eternity was provided in eternity past before we existed. Now while God is still invisible to us, we can attain the completed resurrection Spiritual life; so that the invisible God becomes visible to us through Divine Thinking in our soul! (Heb 11:27)
Not that I have already obtained it [Completely and Totally] or have already become perfect, [Reached full Spiritual maturity] but I press on [Exploiting my advances] so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Php 3:12)
Securing Your Position
Paul learned from his past failures. Never again would he let them hinder his advance or cause him to retreat into reversionism. He demonstrated that a person who has become submerged in great failures and mistakes can still emerge a mature believer! Upon your arrival at the crest of the high ground, you are established in the status of a NORMAL royal priest. To retain that status and function to the fullest, you must exploit the break-through! Therefore, in securing your position, you must not dwell on past failures, but ignore them. Although Paul relates this Principle to his own experience, it applies to each believer.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; [Completely and totally] but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. [The completed new Divine Nature] (Eph 4:13; Php 3:13)
“Brethren” — Royal Family of God — implies that we can take Paul’s autobiographical material and apply it to our own lives. “I do not regard myself” (Present middle indicative of LOGIZOMAI) means “to evaluate” and indicates objective Thinking in regard to oneself. The negative adverb “not” (OU) should read “not yet.” His evaluation of himself is that he has not yet “apprehended” (KATALAMBANO; again) — seized and held the high ground. In the consummative perfect, it is not an existing state but a process not yet completed. However, he anticipates that the objective will be secured.
“But one thing” is an idiomatic expression in the Greek which connotes concentration: “but one thing on which I concentrate.” As long as we are alive, we should concentrate on the objective — following the colors; Staying in fellowship and Thinking with Truth! Keep pressing! Despite failure, get up and keep moving! How is this accomplished? By “forgetting” the past! (EPILANTHANOMAI) To add to your own agonizing memories, other people will remind you of your failures. You will be the victim of judging, maligning, pressure and other reactions. Consequently, you must concentrate on forgetting your past sins. Notice what this does not say: cry over your failures; defend yourself; justify your actions; try to straighten things out! All this is eliminated by the word “forget.” Part of your advance is to completely eradicate what lies behind you and or Understand that you have been forgiven! (Psa 103:12) And that our old man died with Christ! (Rom 6:11; Rom 6:13) But you cannot stop there; the advance is to be continued. “Reaching forward” (EPEKTEINO) is used for a sprinter who extends every effort as he approaches the finish line; to give every ounce of energy to win a race; to exploit a breakthrough! “Constantly stretching forward” toward that “which lies before” a completed resurrection Spiritual life! Paul stresses the importance of unflinching positive volition which results in the daily function of Operation Z — AFTER you attain Spiritual maturity. As long as you are alive — keep pressing! This is the ONLY means by which you secure your position!
Brethren, I do not Regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; [Completely and totally] but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. [The completed new Divine Nature] (Eph 4:13; Php 3:13)
The Victory Prize
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Php 3:14)
Because of his own experience and the time he wasted in reversionism, Paul could scarcely overemphasize the necessity of continued advance. Not only did he intend to proceed from Spiritual adulthood all the way to Spiritual maturity, but he hoped that all believers would follow his example!
Once you capture Spiritual adulthood, you see the panorama of the next objective, (“The goal”) maximum Spiritual maturity then dying grace and then surpassing grace in eternity. As Paul viewed the other side of the hill, he anticipated and saluted his mature blessings of time and eternity! When at last he crossed the golden bridge of dying grace, he embraced or received the surpassing-grace rewards — “the prize.” (BRABEION) Dying grace bridges the gap between Spiritual maturity and surpassing grace. By securing his position, Paul achieved his maturity blessings in time, dying grace happiness and surpassing-grace rewards in eternity. This portion of his autobiography is recorded in:
In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, [Eternal rewards] which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. [Spiritually adult believers] (2Ti 4:8)
The Lord keeps a daily ER (Efficiency rating) on all believers, (2Ch 16:9) to determine their mature-grace blessings for time and surpassing-grace rewards for eternity. These “decorations” are described in, (Php 3:14) as belonging to “the upward call,” (KLESIS) or “the upward station.” The upward station is the eternal state or Phase Three, when we receive the results of our ER. The source of our surpassing blessings is God; the recipients, the Royal Family of God — those “in Christ Jesus.” What is your daily ER as a Christian soldier? You can either go down the “gory” road of reversionism; and lose both your mature-grace and surpassing-grace rewards, or you can take the glory road of Truth and win the prize in time and in eternity!
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Php 3:14)
There is a poem, author unknown, which I have adapted, for it beautifully sums up God’s purpose for us in the angelic conflict: You cannot choose your battlefield God does that for you; but you can plant the colors where the colors never flew! Take up the challenge: FOLLOW THE COLORS!
Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner! (Exo 17:15)