“He that is unjust, let him
be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that
is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy
still.” (Rev. 22:11).
Four groups will comprise
humanity when Jesus returns. 1) They are those who knowingly and lustfully come
under sin; 2) those who are tempted into sin; 3) those who Jesus encourages,
cajoles, woos, intercedes for to leave and stay away from sin; and, 4) “them
that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses
exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb. 5:14).
Until the close of probation, God weighs between those who premeditatedly
dive into sin, and those who are tempted into sin. There is a difference. Adam
and Eve were tempted, but Lucifer was not. He tempted himself and deceived himself. Lucifer
knew God and who He was, yet he placed evil before himself. The highest covering cherub, who intimately knew the God
of humility and purity, gladly threw his Creator’s gift of power against his Creator. He loved the gift more than the Giver. “Yea, Mine own
familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of My bread, hath lifted up
his heel against Me.” (Ps. 41:9).
“For it was not an enemy that
reproached Me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated Me that
did magnify himself against Me; then I would have hid Myself from him:
But it was thou, a man Mine
equal, My guide, and Mine acquaintance.
We took sweet counsel
together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
Let death seize upon them,
and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and
among them.” (Ps. 55:12-15). Lucifer had no one tempt him to spread every
conceivable lie about God in order to steal from Him His throne in the hearts of His
creation. He deceived himself. He sought to usurp from God His “first dominion”
And through the manipulations
of the Godhead’s adversary, not only through the occult, but beginning with all who partake of
the goodness of God yet refuse to give Him their love, honor, and obedience in
return, eventually become His outright, avowed enemies and open, determined
lovers of every form of lust. “They set their heart on their iniquity” (Hos.
But, Eve and all her children are sinners because they
have been tempted. God therefore blends His justice upon them with mercy. “For
the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him
who hath subjected the same in hope.” (Rom. 8:20). Each child born into this
world will have 70 years of probation to find out who will come to his senses
and hope in something better than this sinful and temptation-filled world. God
has lowered them all down into the pit of this hell, yet only partially. But,
if after 70, 80, 90, 100 years, they never surrender to the fear of God and
His Law, so that He could give them to His Son (see John 6:37; Galatians 3:24),
then they have proven beyond any doubt in heaven that however politely they
turned down His righteousness, their ethics and politeness were only a thin
veneer of rebellion. When they lay down into death, their mercy ends. They will come up in the resurrection of the wicked. They were
as good and polite as King Saul, who wanted nothing to do with God and His holy
kingdom. Even if they had thoughts and desires to come to Jesus, temptations kept them buried in sin. Even if they were “not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34), they never entered into it.
The third group is comprised of
all who have surrendered to the Law of God and to the grace of His Son. But, God
cannot have them back into His pure home if they never pass the baby stage of their Christian walk. They can still die in infancy. Jesus loves to keep them in His bosom, but if they stop
growing in grace, then they have stopped being His friend and feeding from His
life. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath
not life.” (1Jn. 5:12).
And “the path of the just is
as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov.
4:18). If we are truly connected to the vine, then we will grow and eventually
produce fruit. If we don’t grow, or if we don’t produce fruit, this is sure evidence that we were not
connected to His Spirit, the soul of His life. If we examine ourselves daily,
dying to self by accepting the conviction from the Spirit of truth, then we
will keep coming back to our High Priest for grace. We become dependent on Him
like a child does its parent and we grow into the fourth group.
“Now there was leaning on
Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23). This
disciple had in Christ what Isaac had in Abraham. Love.
“And He said, Take now thy
son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest.” (Gen. 22:2).
John was the youngest
disciple of Christ, and the one who most fully understood Him. John was the
first to stand in awe of Jesus, the foremost disciple to fear Him and the first
to come under the sanctifying power of His love. But, John had had serious
defects of character that could not permit His eternal entrance into heaven.
“Even John, the beloved
disciple, the one who most fully reflected the likeness of the Saviour, did not
naturally possess that loveliness of character. He was not only self-assertive
and ambitious for honor, but impetuous, and resentful under injuries. But as
the character of the Divine One was manifested to him, he saw his own
deficiency and was humbled by the knowledge. The strength and patience, the
power and tenderness, the majesty and meekness, that he beheld in the daily
life of the Son of God, filled his soul with admiration and love. Day by day
his heart was drawn out toward Christ, until he lost sight of self in love for
his Master. His resentful, ambitious temper was yielded to the molding power of
Christ. The regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit renewed his heart. The
power of the love of Christ wrought a transformation of character.” Steps to Christ, p. 73.
“God takes men as they are,
with the human elements in their character, and trains them for His service, if they will be disciplined and learn of Him.
They are not chosen because they are perfect, but notwithstanding their
imperfections, that through the knowledge and practice of the truth, through
the grace of Christ, they may become transformed into His image. Judas had the
same opportunities as had the other disciples. He listened to the same precious
lessons. But the practice of the truth, which Christ required, was at variance
with the desires and purposes of Judas, and he would not yield his ideas in
order to receive wisdom from Heaven.” Desire
of Ages, p. 294.
Eventually though, we see John
cuddled next to Jesus, as the twelve lay inclined on cushions on the floor,
forming a circle around the supper table. This customary arrangement caused one’s
neighbor to his right to be placed such that his neighbor’s head came up to his
belly or chest, and his head did the same to the neighbor on his left. Thus, John’s
head was on (in) Jesus’ bosom, and Jesus’ head was on (in) Judas’ bosom. There
was nothing impure or sexual about this ancient, middle-eastern custom, any
more than dancing hand-in-hand in a circle of people holds anything illicit.
Homosexuality was horrifically disdained by the Hebrew people. The social eating
and dancing circles were a time of fellowship and brotherly love, especially
with the God of love among them. The same tightly knit friendship between John
and Jesus was a replica of the tight bond between Jesus and His heavenly
Father. Jesus’ apostles never lost the tight bond of pure love that they gained
from their discipleship, sealed in the bosom of Jesus and in the righteousness
of God. But, eventually Judas’ first love for Jesus would ebb away as he fell
behind in the training to overcome self. The fullest love for Jesus faded
before Judas became a full-fledged apostle.
“Thou lovest righteousness,
and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil
of gladness above Thy fellows.” (Ps. 45:7). “They joy before Thee according to
the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” (Isa. 9:3).
Jesus’ disciples, His fellows, joyed before Him as He joyed before His Father. It
was from the context of His dwelling in His Father’s bosom that Jesus made the
“I proceeded forth and came
from God” (John 8:42).
“For the Father Himself loveth
you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God. I
came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the
world, and go to the Father.” (John 16:27, 28).
“And now, O Father, glorify Thou
Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world
was…. For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have
received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have
believed that Thou didst send Me.” (John 17:5,8).
“I and My Father are one.” (John
While Jesus remained on earth
in His weakened, human nature, He was all in all to John, just as a mother is
to her young. But when Jesus left and was exalted in heaven, John matured into
an adult follower of Christ, an apostle. He then joined the fourth group. When
Jesus was glorified, He became the authoritative voice of a father to John, and
under that powerful authority was His disciple sealed. “I beheld, and, lo, in
the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders,
stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are
the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” (Rev. 5:6). The Spirit,
which was the power radiating from the glorified Son of God which was no longer
being hidden in a fallen Adam’s finite body, spoke to the apostles throughout
the book of Acts in the same strong authority that the Son had spoken to the
Old Testament prophets. His infinite, pre-incarnate Spirit (see Revelation 4:5)
restored, the Son was the same yesterday, today, and forever. No longer in the third group, His disciples
graduated into apostleship, the fourth group.
While John loved to abide in
Jesus’ bosom, under His loving view, and although the close bond entered into
by Jesus and John turned John into the truest representative of Christ, formed
perfectly in His image, the days were coming when all the joy of this fellow of
Christ would be put to the test. “And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of
the bridechamber mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? but the days
will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they
fast.” (Matt. 9:15).
Visible separation from
Jesus, persecution, trial, suffering would harden into his character the loving memories of
his discipleship. Although John was the last of the original
twelve to die, the seal, which he had set to his heart that God was true,
remained in his forehead to keep the commandments of God and the testimony of
“Because he hath set his love
upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath
known My name.” (Ps. 91:14). The love that existed between the Prince of princes
and this favorite of His favorites, kept John protected in the bosom of Jesus,
as Jesus Himself “the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14), “the only
begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18) had been
protected by all the hosts of heaven. “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to
My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?”
(Matt. 26:53). “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His
hand.” (John 3:35).
In those days the fourth
group, the children of Jesus would become of full age, and “as arrows are in
the hand of a mighty man…they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with
the enemies in the gate.” (Ps. 127:3-5).
“Out of the mouth of babes
and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, that Thou
mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” (Ps. 8:2). While the apostles would
speak and think like men, their hearts would forever retain the childlike love
from their Mother of all living, their Parent now passed into the heavens to
live in the bosom of the Father.
Fearlessly they spoke “with
the enemies” of God. Fearlessly they dealt with the invasion of Satan’s
infiltrators, “them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue
of Satan”, “them which say they are apostles, and…found them liars.” (Rev. 2:9;
No longer a disciple cuddled
by the Saviour, each must carry the burden that their Master had carried for them. “Greater
works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.” (John 14:12). Each
must stand alone in God, averse from temptation, as “the soul that is yielded
to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He
intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in
possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan.” Desire of Ages, p. 324. They are made to
fly without a mother eagle carrying them. They must sink or swim, drown under
the storms or walk on water. This is what the Spirit of Christ did with King
Hezekiah. “God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his
heart.” (2Chron. 32:31).
“Those who are living upon
the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above
are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be
spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of
sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be
conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going
forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from
the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away
of sin, among God’s people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in
the messages of Revelation 14.” Great Controversy,
They are no longer tempted
because Jesus has sealed them into righteousness. They are “in Him” (Eph.
1:10), strong to fear the Lord; and the “the angel of the LORD encampeth round
about them…and delivereth them.” (Ps. 34:7). They are lost in His love,
surrounded by His arms of infinite love, “to the praise of the glory of His
grace, wherein He hath made [them] accepted in the beloved.” (Eph. 1:6). Therefore
He “is able to keep [them] from falling, and to present [them] faultless before
the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24).
They are the full-fledged
“children of God” (Matt. 5:9), “the children of the living God” (Rom. 9:26),
“the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26). “And if children,
then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Rom. 8:17). They are
the purified “sons of Levi, …as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the
LORD an offering in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:3). They abide forever in Their
bosom, joint-heirs with the Heir of God “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (1Tim. 6:16). They
are the earthly complement of the angelic armies, and they love the holy
rivalry with the angels, and their godly saber-rattling and jousting with the sword of the
Spirit keeps each other and the whole redeemed race wholly loyal to the Law and
love of God. They are the 144,000 army of the living God, mature in Christ, able-bodied
and ever ready to defend His kingdom. “From twenty years old and upward, all
that are able to go forth to war in Israel.” (Num. 1:3).
Jesus is their commander,
“the God of the armies of Israel” (1Sam. 17:45), “captain of the host of the
LORD” (Josh. 5:14) to thwart any possibility of another Goliath adversary to
defy the God of Law and love. They are His special guard contingent to never
again lose “the first dominion”. (Mic. 4:8). “Therefore are they before the
throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth
on the throne shall dwell among them” (Rev. 7:15), finally at peace in His kingdom that is strong again.