Beloved Family… If you watched the movie (Twelve O’clock High) that I recommended to you in my recent article (Unexpected, Spontaneous, Experiential Disciple Training, parts 1,2,&3), I’d like to draw your attention to an important scene that took place soon after the new general arrived on the air base. He had been ordered to assume command of a ‘hard luck’ bomber squadron that had been misfiring and failing to fulfill its missions over Nazi Germany. And this is what he said to that group the first time he officially addressed them:
“There will be a briefing for a practice mission at 1100 this morning… that’s right, practice! I’ve been sent here to take over what has come to be known as a ‘hard luck group’. Well I don’t believe in ‘hard luck’ so we’re going to find out what the trouble is. Maybe part of it is your flying. So… we’re going back to fundamentals.
“But I can tell you right now one reason why I think you’ve been having ‘hard luck… I saw it in your faces last night. I can see it there now. You’ve been looking at a lot of air lately, and you think you ought to have a rest. In short, you’re sorry for yourselves… Now I don’t have a lot of patience for this ‘What are we fighting for’ stuff. We’re in a war… a shooting war… we’ve got to fight… and some of us have got to die.
I’m not trying to tell you not to be afraid. Fear is normal. But stop worrying about it, and about yourselves. Stop making plans. Forget about going home. Consider yourselves already dead. Once you accept that idea, it won’t be so tough!
Now if any man here can’t buy that… if he rates himself as something special, with a special kind of hide to be saved, he’d better make up his mind about it right now. Because I don’t want him in this group! I’ll be in my office in five minutes. You can see me there!” (Emphasis added.)
Dear ones… After the general finished his statement, he marched out of that briefing room and went to his office to wait for all those that would be requesting transfers to some other outfit. So… I quoted the introductory speech he delivered to his new charges for a specific reason: I ask you to compare his remarks with what you’ll see in chapter 10 of Matthew’s Gospel, which records a set of the Lord’s teachings that I consider to be a major disciple training text. Go over the two… and see if the message that the general gave to the men he was sent to lead and retrain is similar in its meaning to what our Lord said to His first century disciples-in-training.
When you compare the two, I believe you’ll agree that both discourses are cut out of the same bolt of ‘warrior cloth’. A wartime mentality and its accompanying life or death priorities permeate both discourses. So… keeping this in mind… ponder what the Lord said at the pre-mission briefing He gave His men, before sending them out on one of their first preaching missions:
“As you go, proclaim, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven has come near!’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with tzara’at (leprosy), DRIVE OUT DEMONS! Freely you received, freely give.
“Do not get gold or silver or copper for your money belts, or a bag for the journey, or two shirts, or sandals, or a walking stick; for the worker is entitled to his food. (That is, remember that you are part of My Kingdom. The Spirit of My Father is with you. Trust Him! Your Covenant God won’t forsake or leave you stranded without provision! I want you to focus on fulfilling your mission and trust Father to take care of the logistics that concern your needs.)
“Whatever town or village you shall enter, find out who in it is worthy and stay there until you leave. As you come into the house, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your shalom come upon it. But if it’s not worthy, let your shalom return to you. And whoever will not receive you or listen to your words, as you leave that house or that town, shake the dust off your feet. Amen, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town!
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings because of Me, as a witness to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you should say, for it shall be given to you in that hour what you should say. For it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you!
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all because of My Name, BUT THE ONE WHO ENDURES TO THE END SHALL BE SAVED! Whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next. Amen, I tell you, you will never finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
“SO DO NOT FEAR THEM, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed and nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear in your ear, proclaim from the housetops! AND DO NOT FEAR THOSE WHO KILL THE BODY BUT CANNOT KILL THE SOUL. Instead, fear the One who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna!
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them shall fall to the ground apart from your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Father’s Holy Spirit will be covering you at all times. So focus on completing your missions and don’t allow anyone or anything to blow you off course and prevent you from fulfilling your assignments.)
“Therefore whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father who is in Heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in Heaven. (You’ll have to live with the results of the attitude and the way in which you’ve responded to My commands.)
“Do not think that I came to bring Shalom on the earth; I did not come to bring Shalom, BUT A SWORD! (We’re in a war, and we have to fight! And some of us will most certainly be casualties. But don’t worry about It. I’ve got you covered even in that! Not even death will be able to maintain its hold on you! You belong to Me forever!)
“For I have come to set ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.’
“He who loves father or mother more than Me isn’t worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me isn’t worthy of Me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow after Me isn’t worthy of Me. (I do not want such a man in my Invasion Force! So understand this: if you’re going to go with Me, I require you to trust and obey Me at all times.) He who finds his (independent self-asserting) life will lose it, and he who loses his (Self-asserting) life for My sake will find it!” (Matthew 10:7-39 TLV, Amplification and emphasis added)
The Bible is Our Warrior’s Manual
Dear ones… do you grasp what I’m saying? Can you see what a ‘Warrior’s Manual’ God’s written Word actually is? Can you see that God’s Living Word, our Commander, is abiding within us to finish off this War once and for all, and deal with every last trace of resistance to His Dominion? First he must purify us. Then He orders us to follow Him into the fray in which He is taking back every bit of His Creation that is still in enemy hands! So realize this: He’s here to lead you, and the others who are His, all the way across the ‘Finish Line’ of your earthly calling. Only then will we finally be free to become part of His Eternal Victory Celebration and enjoy it with Him!
“Adonai is a warrior—Adonai is His Name! Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has hurled into the sea, and his chosen captains have sunk into the Sea of Reeds.” (Exodus 15:2-4 TLV)
“But Adonai is with me LIKE A DREADFUL WARRIOR! Therefore my persecutors will stumble and will not prevail. Since they are not insightful and not wise, they will be utterly shamed—an everlasting disgrace, never to be forgotten.” (Jeremiah 20:11 TLV)
“The great day of Adonai is near—near and coming very quickly! The sound of the day of Adonai is bitter— the shouting of the warrior is there!” (Zephaniah 1:14 TLV, Emphasis added)
“Then one of the elders tells me, “Stop weeping! BEHOLD THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH, THE LION OF JUDAH HAS TRIUMPHED—He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
(Revelation 5:5 TLV, Emphasis added)
This “Follow Me” call that He issues to those who are His own summons us to join Him in the Final determining Showdown between Him and His enemies. And that fierce and deadly confrontation is the main theme to which all the rest of Scripture is leading! God is here on Earth to lead His Invasion Force into enemy territory. He has chosen us to serve Him as He confronts, shames, and strips His enemies naked… on the field of battle!
“This favor was given to me, the very least of His kedoshim, to proclaim to the Gentiles the endless riches of the Messiah and to bring to light the Plan of the Mystery—which for ages was hidden in God, who created all things. The purpose is that through Messiah’s Community the multi-faceted Wisdom of God might be made known to (His demonic enemies and His own celestial hosts) the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, which is in keeping with the eternal purpose that He carried out in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:8-11 TLV, Emphasis added)
Every human generation is born into the midst of this terrible cosmic conflict! This is a central message of the entire Bible! And yet, tragically, many people throughout human history fail to grasp the urgency of this and take to heart.
“In that day Adonai will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent with His fierce, great, strong sword, Leviathan the twisted serpent! He will slay the dragon in the sea. In that day sing to her, ‘A vineyard of delight!’ I, Adonai, watch over it, I water it every moment. I guard it day and night, so that no one may harm it. It is not that I have wrath. Who would give me thorns and thistles? Into battle I would march against them! I would burn them up altogether! Rather let them rely on My strength. Let them make peace with Me—MAKE PEACE WITH ME!” (Isaiah 27:1-5 TLV, Emphasis added)
“On your walls, Jerusalem, I have set watchmen. All day and all night, they will never hold their peace. You who remind Adonai, take no rest for yourselves, and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth!” (Isaiah 62:6-7 TLV, Emphasis added)
We Must Discern the True Gospel from the World’s Counterfeit Version
Beloved… there has been much deception throughout Christendom in previous generations. Many leaders and teachers have disobediently transformed the Gospel of God’s Kingdom into a sleep-inducing ‘lullaby of false peace’. They do it to make the ‘message of Jesus’ more appealing and ‘easier to swallow’. So they devise ways to make their foam-padded, air conditioned, casual, ‘come as you are’ meeting places into ‘seeker friendly’, non-invasive, non-confrontational assembly halls that offer false, comfort-giving, ease-inducing welcoming invitations. They promise a life of peaceful ‘co-existence’, and all-inclusive unity, and universal, tolerant ‘brotherhood’, where anything goes, and the atmosphere is devoid of confrontation and conflict. So the Lord’s dire warning that He is here in our midst to separate those who are His, from those who refuse to submit to His Authority, is never clearly and unmistakably given.
The Lord’s Warrior Appearance is concealed. Instead He is morphed into an all-accepting, meek and mild Enabler of wickedness! And that false façade deflects unwitting people far away from God’s true ‘narrow path’. It sidetracks them onto the broad highway that will take them in the opposite direction which leads to death, and opens the way for the Antichrist… and his ‘One World Religion’… and brutal economical Control System to enter the picture. But of course he will be working to totally destroy the Peace, Order, Beauty, Symmetry and Righteousness that God originally imparted to His Creation. So we must remember that before Man fell into the fatal deformity and mangling disfigurement of Sin, God was perfectly pleased with all that He had originally created:
“So God saw everything that He made, and behold it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31 TLV, Emphasis added)
“So the heavens and the earth were completed along with their entire array. God completed—on the seventh day—His work that He made, and He ceased—on the seventh day—from all His work that He made. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on it He ceased from all His work that God created for the purpose of preparing.” (Genesis 2:1-3 TLV, Emphasis added)
“Then Adonai Elohim took the man and gave him Rest in the Garden of Eden in order to cultivate and watch over it. Then Adonai Elohim commanded the man saying, “From all the trees of the garden you are most welcome to eat. But of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you must not eat. For when you eat from it, you most assuredly will die!” (Genesis 2:15-17 TLV, Emphasis added)
When our first parents chose to reject, defy, and rebel against the Truth and Authority of God’s Living Word, they did irreparable harm and terminal damage to their own human nature, and to the rest of Creation. And, unfortunately, those of us who are their offspring inherited the same miserable state and the dismal future prospects to which their rebellion subjected them! So, even from our conception, Death is already at work within the makeup of the entire human family! And that death is directly opposed to the nature of God, who is Eternal LIFE!
Don’t be Fooled by False Gospels
So, regardless of what the false gospels men devise for themselves may try to imply… we are not okay! We’re not perfectly good and acceptable just the way we are! And we most certainly are not any longer God’s perfectly acceptable image and likeness! Instead, Sin has reduced us to a state of utter spiritual bankruptcy and neediness! We desperately need to be completely cut free and purified of every trace of Sin! And we must also be totally regenerated, or made to be brand new… spiritually, mentally, and physically. God must make brand new utterly pure creations of us before He is able to impart His Eternal Life to us!
So God sends His Living Word and Holy Spirit to seek us out for this purpose. He hunts us down… to pierce, penetrate, and impregnate our innermost being with His Truth and Reality. He shouts into our innermost being… to awaken us from our Serpent-induced trance so that we can return to our senses and come back to Him! He must make us aware of the terrible and lethal spiritual and physical doom to which Sin has condemned us. He must draw us into a state of conviction and repentance, so that we can be wholeheartedly restored to Him, and receive the forgiveness, salvation, and total regeneration that only He has the Authority and Power to impart!
God did everything necessary to reconcile us to Himself. So we must willingly receive the restoration of our original ‘image and likeness of God’ blueprint specifications from His hands. God’s Word made flesh has made it legally possible for us to be cut free from the Death-inflicting coils of the Serpent! So, if we believe, and embrace, and submit to the Authority of His Word, He will restore us to union and fellowship with our Creator, Sustainer, and Shepherd!
This is the True Good News Gospel of Salvation! But to make it attainable, The Word must lead His own back under His Absolute Authority! Then He will lead them into His Last Days Invasion of the domain that still lies under the control of the Serpent’s rebellious deceptions and delusions. Together they will work to separate and liberate the rest of the humans that will agree to embrace and follow Him out from under the pall of the malevolent satanic hatred that devastated us all!
So, at unspeakable cost to Himself, God sent His Word to invade the Serpent’s domain and fight to set us free. And He succeeded in breaking and devastating all of Satan’s ability to resist Him! So now it’s possible for us to escape from his domain, and receive total freedom, by coming into that blessed state of total reconciliation and restoration to God’s fellowship and Covenant Love and total personal Union.
But if we fall short of that, there’s no such thing as God’s Justice, Reality, Truth, and Righteousness loving and accepting us ‘just the way we are’. God must make us to be brand new! We must complete our exodus from death-to-resurrection in order to be saved!
“Now great crowds were traveling with Yeshua; and He turned and said to them,“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—and yes, even his own (formerly independent Self-) life—he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.
“For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and figure out the cost, to see if he has enough to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and isn’t able to finish everything, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and wasn’t able to finish!’
“Or what king, going to make war against another king, won’t first sit down to consider whether he is able with ten thousand to confront the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If not, while the other is still far away, he sends an ambassador and asks for peace. So in the same way, whoever does not renounce all that he has (become as a result of Sin and Death, he) cannot be My disciple!” (Luke 14:25-33TLV)
Beloved… our God had to fight to the death to free us from what we formerly became in ourselves! The cost He paid was Infinite! And He paid it gladly to restore and redeem us! So do not dare to take what He had to do lightly! Don’t dismiss and treat it as if it were some kind of religious trifle that you can blithely dismiss! God forbid that we should demean and trivialize the true issues that are at stake in this deadly War for our souls! The ‘new birth’ leading to Eternal Life is what the New Covenant that God made with Israel is all about! And we are commissioned to announce and proclaim this all around the world, so that everyone may know and experience the Love and Glory of God!
The demonic powers of Darkness still cling to a desperate hope that they may still have a chance of escaping the Eternal Doom to which their rebellion against God has condemned them. They think they might still manage to get away with what they’ve done if they can only find a way of preventing God from fulfilling His Plan. They know that He intends to fulfill everything by working in union with and through the obedient cooperation of the disciples who answer the call of His Son to serve Him. This is why they hate us so much! They can’t hurt God, but if they manage to derail and destroy us, God won’t be able to fulfill His Plan and impose the eternal punishment He promised to inflict upon them!
So they keep doing whatever is in their power to destroy and prevent us from doing His bidding! They must destroy our trust in Him in order to prevent the fulfillment of what God has said He will accomplish on the earth… to us… in us… and through us… to completely fulfill His New Covenant promises to Israel, and the rest of the world. So they’re trying to escape their own inevitable doom! This is why they are so relentless in trying to wipe out every Jewish and non-Jewish disciple of Israel’s Messiah! And this is why we must be trained and thoroughly equipped and prepared to become fully combat-ready!
Beloved, we must be ever mindful that we are at war! We have to fight! So we must also always be on full alert! And this is why God has equipped us with the Gift of His own Precious Holy Spirit! It is by the Spirit’s Omnipotent Power and the Infinite Eternal Authority of God’s Living Word made flesh living in us… that God equips us to fulfill our commissions and usher in the Total Fulfillment of our Heavenly Father’s will and plan! We aren’t the ones who have to accomplish this titanic cosmic Work. The Work has already been done by God’s Word! But the Word abides within us – to reveal the Glory of what He has done in eternity, and apply it throughout all of His Creation in the dimension of physical time and space – through the obedience of our faith!
This is why we disciples are called to follow Him onto the Last Days battlefields. Our job is to embody, release, and display the Glory of His Perfect indwelling Presence so that He may reveal and establish in this dimension, His Already-Finished Works of Creation, Redemption, and Full Restoration… to His Father’s Eternal Glory… and to the consternation of His demonic enemies… and for our best and highest eternal Good!
“For through law I died to law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Messiah; and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me! And the life I now live in the body, I live by trusting in(and drawing everything I need from the Life of) Ben-Elohim (the Son of God)—who loved me and gave Himself up for me!” (Galatians 2:19-20 TLV, Amplification and emphasis added)
“What then shall we say in view of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? It is Messiah who died, and moreover was raised, and is now at the right hand of God and who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”
“But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39 TLV, Emphasis added)