— Brother Phil Enlow: Well, it’s kind of typical. I’ve had some thoughts around a certain line and I’m just trusting the Lord to make sense of them. And one of the areas of truth that we have mentioned from time to time, is simply the fact that this world is getting darker and darker, and before it’s over we’re gonna see the climax of evil.
And I just…I don’t know, something in my spirit…I’ve felt like that needed to be balanced, because you could almost look at that and say, well, it’s like defeat. And there are people out there, theologians out there that actually would put it this way…it’s almost like there’s a contest between God and the Devil for the souls of men, and it looks like the Devil wins. The great majority wind up going his way.
But, I don’t know, something has risen up in me that wants to counter any of the negativity or the fear that we would tend to have looking at where things are going. What is our place? What is God’s purpose in all of this?
And the idea of…I’ve mentioned those that think it’s defeat: there are actually teachers out there who have come to the conclusion of universalism. Do you know what universalism is? Everybody’s gonna be eventually saved, some way or some other…somehow. They’re all gonna be saved. And thus, love wins or God wins.
But defining how God wins depends greatly on how you define victory. If victory means Christ wins and takes over the world and governs it in righteousness and everybody gets turned to Him, then, yeah, what we’ve talked about sounds a whole lot like defeat.
But…what victory consists of is something entirely different than what people think of. People think in such earthly terms, as though it’s a contest over this planet and the world of men. But I’ll tell you, God has a purpose that goes way beyond this…that absolutely harmonizes with what the Lord says that Peter was expecting.
What was Peter expecting? He was expecting the Lord to come but he was expecting the Lord to come with fire that would literally destroy this world, lay it bare, or destroy it. Anyway, there wouldn’t be anything left on the surface…under the most optimistic of the interpretations and understandings of that passage. There is going to be a judgment upon this world system. As Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (NIV). Thank God!
But, I sense the Lord wanting to encourage us and give us a deeper sense of what He has planned for us, ‘cause it’s one thing to see where the world’s going, but what about us? One of the things that I see in scripture very plainly is that, yes, there is a harvest of evil. Yes, there is a climax. Yes, we’re gonna see the greatest manifestation of Satan’s power that the world has ever seen.
But, that’s only one side of the equation. We are also going to see the greatest manifestation of the kingdom of God that the world has ever seen. And it will be there with God’s power to manifest His kingdom and to finish the work that He has begun in this world. If His vision was to take over the world, that would be one thing, but it isn’t.
And, then you see that picture in a couple of places in the scriptures. I’ll just refer to scriptures that you know. What about the parable in Matthew chapter 13, where the sower goes out…this is not the parable of the sower, but there is another field which Jesus says is the world. And there’s a seed that’s sown in that. And then, the crop begins to come up.
And the workers go out and say, what’s going on here? We see the crop coming up, but we see weeds coming up, too. And, the answer is, an enemy has done this. And so, they said, well, what do you want us to do? Do you want us to go ahead and pull up the weeds? He said, no, lest you root up the wheat also. “Let both grow together until the harvest.” (NIV).
And later on, we find out that the good seed, the wheat, as it were, in this particular parable, were the children of the kingdom. I’ll tell you, we have a God who is calling a people, and He is sowing His very life in the hearts of human beings, imparting to us a life that we were not born with into this world. It is His own life. Praise God!
That’s why the whole thing is about being truly born from above. You know, the ‘born again’ expression has almost become trite and misunderstood. But I’ll tell you, born from above…there is a literal transaction that occurs when a heart is surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ and He becomes the King. We leave the kingdom of this world. We take our allegiance from it and transfer it to Jesus Christ and we become strangers and pilgrims in this world. Praise God! This world is not my home. I’m just passing through.
But anyway, and He goes on to say, the tares…or, anyway the weeds, whatever you call them, they are the children of the evil one. And He said, what’s going to happen at the end of the age, there are going to be angels that’ll come forth and they’ll go to reaping. And they will gather out of His Kingdom everything that offends, all of these that are tares, they’re gathering out because Jesus is over all. So they’re gathering them out, they’re preparing them, and what’s the end result of all of that? Where do they head? They are bundled up and thrown into the fire, so it’s not a good end.
But the others are gathered into His barn and what does He say about the end result of that? “Then shall the righteous shine forth…in the kingdom of their Father.” (KJV). They’ll “…shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (NIV). So I’ll tell you, it’s a glorious future and God is going to produce the very…the end of this harvest is gonna be produced during this very time of the greatest darkness the world has ever known.
What about…just look up the end of Revelation chapter 14. You see two harvests there. And they said, go forth…the first message…I’m gonna turn over there. Revelation chapter 14. I have this bad habit of just referring to them and not looking at them. Verse 14, of chapter 14…a lot of symbolic language here, of course, in Revelation.
“I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.” Now, who is he talking about there? That’s a picture of Christ. That’s a picture of Him having done the work that the Father called Him to do and now it’s time to bring it home.
He says, “Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Does that sound like defeat to anybody? This is a mature harvest. This is God having done exactly what He has promised in the beginning. He’s got His children ready for a new world and a new kingdom, and He’s called us out of all of this. He’s finished all the work that He’s gonna do…that’s necessary in this world. And so, that’s the first harvest.
“Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe. The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.”
A lot of symbolic language, but you see what’s happening there. What I see…that I sense, what the Lord wants to emphasize is simply that while the darkness is coming to a climax, God’s kingdom will also come to a climax. Everything that is necessary for you and me to stand there in glory beside our Lord Jesus Christ is going to be enacted in and through us. Boy, I want to be a part of that, don’t you?
( congregational response ).
Thank God! Lord, we need to be encouraged, don’t we?
( congregational response ).
And, you know, a lot of different scriptures came to my mind. I feel a special weakness this morning, which, thank God, for His promise that His, “…strength is made perfect in weakness.” (KJV). So, we’ll hope that His strength comes through this a little bit. But, thank God!
Turn to Romans chapter 8. Like I say, there are so many scriptures that you could use, but this is one. Paul has been unlocking the Gospel…our helpless state to eliminate our debt of sin, the justice of God that absolutely found a way to remain just to punish sin, and yet to be able to forgive us because He punished a substitute. Thank God! But also, the simple truth that we cannot live for God!
One of His main messages leading up to the part where I want to consider is this question of law, because we absolutely cannot live up to anything that God requires. God gives people the Law about how…the kind of people we ought to be for one purpose. That’s to show us what sinners we are.
You know, I used this illustration one time, and it came back to me. Suppose that the Law of God came down and demanded, thou shalt fly or die? Now we see—we readily see the problem, don’t we? Because there is a law that keeps me on the ground. I don’t care how sincerely I might agree with that commandment, I ain’t gonna fly. And the problem is, the power that holds me to the ground is stronger than any desire or any effort that I could put forth that would enable me to fly.
It’s no different with the moral law of God. You and I have a law that was born in us that makes it totally impossible for you and me to live up to the law of God and to be righteous in His eyes. Man, I need Somebody else to come in here that has a greater power than this. And its only as I learn to believe, to trust, to yield, to express that life instead of the old one that I have any power to please God or to live up to what He wants. So that’s where he’s going with this.
You know, he ends chapter 7 with this terrible cry, “O wretched man that I am!” And then he comes to where the answer lies. It lies, not in seeing God as a Lawgiver and as a Judge, but rather as One who offered, who gives us the power of His own Spirit to live within us. We become His children, rather than simply His subjects waiting on judgment. And, oh, my God, I can’t measure up.
Thank God! What a promise that He gives to us! And how evident it is throughout the presentation of the Gospel that we play no part in the sense of deserving, or earning. We simply have to come to the end of any of that sort of effort and cast ourselves upon the promise of God who alone can grant life, and who alone can save us from the condition in which we were born.
That’s what men resist! They will not humble themselves before God. But I’ll tell you, for those who will, those who hear His voice and respond to that call, there is a brand new life imparted that alone gives us that power. Thank God! So that’s kind of where he leads into this.
And toward the…toward the middle of the passage of Romans chapter 8, verse 15, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear…” (NIV). Now he’s talking about that spirit of law, that I’ve got to measure up and I can’t. “…That makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father.”
Praise God! I’ll tell you, if God has changed your heart and He has come in to stay, he goes on to say…yes, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” So that’s the relationship.
I’ll tell you, we come to a place where there is a spirit of rest, there is a union between us and God that sets our heart at rest, that deals with the guilt of sin and the sense of separation. But once He comes in, and there’s that surrender, then all of a sudden there is another world that opens up to one’s spiritual eyes.
Suddenly the kingdom of God becomes a reality. It’s something we’ve sensed, we’ve heard about, but all of a sudden, we’re able to see it. Remember how Jesus said, unless you are born again…or born from above, you cannot see the kingdom of God, let alone enter it. All right, so this now has become the relationship.
And I’ll emphasize again the fact that everything necessary for the fulfillment of God’s plan is something that God has provided that we yield to, that we trust in, that we believe in. That’s the dynamic of everything! I thank God, because if it was any other way, I would have no reason to be up here today. I would have no hope. We stand on the same ground before a holy God, unable to meet His requirements, if God does not step in and do what we could never do. To Him be the glory, forever and ever! Praise God! Praise God!
All right, “Now if we are children…” So, he’s taking off on that fact. This is the relationship. We are children! Okay, now if we’re children, “…then we are heirs…” You know, who is it that inherits something from a parent?
( congregational response ).
Yeah, it’s the children, isn’t it? Okay, so that’s where he’s going with this. “…We are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” Think about that! You know, what has He inherited? Everything! Praise God! And He entered into it after…when He left, when He rose in the view of the disciples, He went to heaven.
And we saw the evidence on the Day of Pentecost that He had ascended to a place of power and authority and a throne. He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (KJV). Before He went up there. So I’ll tell you, that’s where He’s at. And that is the same position before a holy God that we, every one, have become heir to. Just think about that! Meditate on that.
Where do you see yourself? If we listen to the voices of the wicked one, we will constantly see ourselves as mess-ups, as coming short, as all that could not possibly qualify for any of this. But I didn’t qualify myself.
( congregational amens ).
He qualified me, “…to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” That’s Colossians 1. Praise God! So, we’re, “…heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” We share…now, of course, God’s not gonna die, but there’s an inheritance that He has for us.
Can you imagine the reading of that will? We’d say, oh yeah, He deserves it. But we receive the same inheritance! That’s the glory of the Gospel. Praise God! He came down to where are, so that we could be raised up to where He is. That’s the love that is behind all of this. Thank God! It’s not religion, is it? It’s coming into a knowledge of who He is and knowing Him.
All right, now, listen to what he says here, though. We’re, “…co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Oh, wait! I don’t know about that. But you see, in the purpose of God, the pathway to that inheritance, the pathway to the glory that He has destined for every one of us, lies through a pathway of suffering. What in the world is that about? What does he mean?
If I am going to live out a life like that, something is gonna have to die. Something is going to have to experience denial. I’m gonna have to experience things that cause me to reach out to God and make choices in life.
How many of you know what I’m talking about? God is constantly allowing us to come into circumstances where we have to choose to serve God in the face of some form of adversity. And when we do, something grows stronger, something else grows weaker every time. And God is absolutely bringing us down a pathway to glory, but there is no way except to say, no, to this. We’re gonna have to die.
Jesus’ pathway to glory was through the grave, wasn’t it? In fact, when He died…the scripture says back in Romans 6, He died ‘to’ sin. It represented a rejection in Christ of everything that this world stands for, the very life that animates this world system and the system itself. He said, I am giving that up willingly! I am laying it down. There is no value in it.
See, where Paul later said, it’s a bunch of garbage. Yeah. He said, I don’t see any value in any of this. In fact, Jesus said, I see so little value in it, I am laying down my life, but I’m doing it because I know that there’s a promise of God that when I do, I’m gonna have something that’s so much better.
I’m laying down…as Jim Elliot said, the missionary, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Praise God! There’s nothing we can keep, there’s nothing permanent about anything down here. But I’ll tell you, when you’re called to His kingdom, it means we are absolutely casting our lot, hook, line and sinker with Jesus Christ as Lord of a kingdom that will last forever.
That means the rest of this is gonna have to die. All of our inclinations, all of our…everything that would bind us, everything that would hinder us here, God is going to be administering strokes, that if we will receive them, will put this to death. But as it happens, it’s going to set us free to serve Him better.
So the pathway to this glory that He has called us to is one of suffering. Sometimes it might mean physical suffering. That’s immediately the thing that we think of. But there are all kinds of suffering. It could be persecution. It could be simply that we have battles in the spirit with oppression, with depression, all of those kinds of things are battles. And there is suffering that goes on with these things. Anybody know what I’m talking about?
( congregational response ).
Yeah, we all do, don’t we? That’s why Timothy was told to, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” (KJV). There’s gonna be a fight. There’s gonna be a conflict. Everything that we lay hold of that’s part of the kingdom of God is gonna be pushing through, fighting against something that wants to go another way, and being willing by God’s power alone—God’s power…only way it happens. But being willing to let this go and to say, no, to this because I see this is what I must have. I must have it.
This is what we’ve been called to, folks. And God is gonna give us…God is gonna give His church an opportunity to experience Him in ways that are amazing in the days to come. And, yes, the circumstances of earth are gonna get worse and worse. But I’ll tell you, God’s power will take His people through. Okay? All right, so we share in His sufferings in order, the result of that is, “…that we may also share in his glory.” (NIV). All right?
So now, he says…but now, he has a value system here. He’s talking about where somebody might say, oh my God, that’s too high a price to pay. But Paul says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” How do you make a comparison? Is it not worth everything to know Him?
I mean, suppose somebody comes in and shoots you, and you have all these plans and they just…forget about it, they’re all dead. You’re dead. But if you know Jesus, that’s not defeat! That is ultimate victory and deliverance! That means you don’t have to live here anymore! Praise God! That becomes a graduation instead of a defeat.
So, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Boy, it’s gonna be shown. “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”
That’s the key event that God is leading up to. When Jesus Christ comes, God’s program for this world will be over. Everything He has ever intended to happen out of this present creation will have occurred because His people will…the harvest will be ripe, it will be reaped, and there will be a glory that will be revealed.
Right now, you and I don’t look very glorious. But I’ll tell you, there is going to be a glory that will burst forth that we cannot even imagine. Like I said, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” It’s kind of hard to imagine, isn’t it? Praise God!
You know, John had a little bit of a picture of this when they saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain. They went up, and all of sudden, He began to glow. What in the world is going on there? And then Moses and Elijah appeared to them and, boy, they’re just blown away.
And yet, that same John saw Jesus at the beginning of Revelation and he saw Him in a glory that caused him to fall down like he was dead. The overpowering sense of the power and the glory and the purity and the beauty of God was just radiating from Jesus. That is what God has purposed for every single one who puts their trust in Him!