[ The Purposes of Discipleship, Cont. ]    


In the last article I was dealing with the quality of "humility" as the KEY to learning of (from) Jesus, as His disciple. "God resists the proud, but gives grace (to open our understanding) to the humble." (James 4:6; I Pet. 5:5).


[ Honesty: The Third Aspect of Humility ]

I indicated that I could not take the time to deal with all of the various aspects of humility, but that there were three that I wanted to emphasize with reference to our subject of "discipleship"—placing ourselves under the unconditional discipline of Jesus Christ in order to be taught of Him. The first was our willingness to be teachable. The second was the absolute necessity for us to recognize our desperate need to consistently study and meditate in the Word of God. The third, which I had not yet touched upon, is honesty The Word of God is like a like a sharp two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). It "cuts," exposes, rebukes — revealing the very depths of the thoughts and motives of our hearts. If we are going to be faithful to our Master (Teacher) then we must honestly "face" the convicting and often embarrassing truth as it penetrates our inner being. This is not always easy. The evasive, deceitfulness of the human heart is declared to us in Jer. 17:9. It takes the grace of God to enable us to fully repent, change our attitudes, ask forgiveness of those we have wronged, make restitution, change our minds about errors and wrong concepts that we have held to, and constantly make the adjustments necessary if we are honestly willing to be taught of the Lord. According to Luke 8:15, the "seed" (Word of God) which fell on the "good ground," "are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit to perfection."


[ Purpose 3: To Be Made Worthy of Jesus ]

In this section, I have been dealing with the purposes of discipleship. I have written on Nos. 1 & 2, which you can refer back to in the two preceding articles on this subject. I will now proceed to No. 3: "To be made WORTHY” of Jesus, that we may be prepared to dwell with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom." In Mark 8:34, we read these words of Jesus: "Whosoever will come AFTER me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (See also Mt. 10:38, where Jesus says: "And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not WORTHY of me."). In these scriptures, Jesus is NOT dealing with the matter of initial salvation which is a free GIFT upon faith in Jesus Christ (John 5:24; 6:40; Rom. 6: 23; Eph. 2:8-9). Those acquainted with my writings know that "eternal life" is nothing more than the restoration of what Adam lost when he sinned— deathless life on this earth. Beyond that, there are specific requirements for those who aspire to be intimately associated WITH Jesus IN His Heavenly Kingdom IN the New Jerusalem to be a part of His RULING Bride and Household. I will limit my remarks here since you can read what I have written in other writings ("The Three Comings of Jesus," "The Gift and the Prize" in Manifested Sons No. I, and "Preparation for the Lord's Coming.")

Concerning the requirements that Jesus enunciates: “denying” oneself, taking up one's cross, and following Him, I will deal with later in the section on "The Requirements of Discipleship." But I will remark briefly on Jesus' statement that those who fail to fulfill these requirements are not "worthy" of HIM. If preachers and Bible students had not been so "brainwashed" by Satanic traditions, they would know how to "rightly divide" (II Tim. 2:15) the Word of truth, and they would know when Jesus was speaking of salvation (based solely on faith in Him and "His merits" alone) and discipleship, the requirements of which are necessary to make us "worthy" to dwell in His immediate presence. The Greek word translated "worthy" in Mt. 10:38, means "deserving, comparable, or suitable," which indicates that there must be a sufficient purifying of our inner being from innate carnality, as well as partaking of and growing into the nature and character of Jesus Christ that there will be a sufficient "comparableness" or "suitableness" of our natures that we will experience a complete harmony, unity, and totality of love. This comes through His work IN us.

At times, I have been in meetings of Christians where the Spirit of God has moved in such a profound way and the presence of the Lord was so real that it was awesome. It was a thrill to me. Yet through experience, I discovered that many Christians do not like such meetings; the presence of the Lord makes them feel very uneasy and uncomfortable. Because their spiritual attunement, hunger and love for the Lord was so limited, they simply were not ready to get that close to the Lord's manifest presence. How then can we say that such Christians are ready to dwell with Christ in the New Jerusalem where the awesome holiness of His presence will be at least one thousand times as great as anyone has experienced on this earth?

One of the most abused scriptures in the New Testament is I John 3:2 "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." Most fundamentalist Christians teach that when we are translated (or "raptured" as they call it), that by some "magic button," not only will our bodies be changed to be like Jesus glorious body, but that at the same time our "inner being" will suddenly be changed into the "likeness" of Jesus in all of the perfection of His character qualities. All one has to do is to read the verse immediately following the one quoted above and such stupid fantasies can be dispatched to the pit where they belong; for I John 3:3 says: "and every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure." What need is there for us to submit ourselves to getting purified here and now, in this life, if this will be done suddenly in the instant that we are translated to be with Jesus? The expression that we at once shall be "like Him" when we shall see Him refers to the change that will take in our physical body, for we shall have a body like to His, even as Paul says in Phil. 3:21.

Both Peter and Paul liken the physical body to a "tabernacle," "building," or "house" in which our spirit and soul lives. Now tell me, if you move from one house into another one, does that act in itself suddenly change YOU (morally or spiritually)? no, beloved, if we have the HOPE of having our bodies changed into the likeness of Christ's glorious body, then the cleansing and purging, the growing and changing into the image of Christ and the testings and provings that are so necessary to prepare us, must take place here and now— in this life. We read in James 1:12: "Blessed is the man that endures temptation (trials— testings); for when he is tried (successfully), he shall receive the CROWN of life, which the Lord has promised to them that LOVE Him." This scripture obviously has both a special qualification and a special promise. The "crown of life" is certainly something more than just the "gift of eternal life" (Rom. 6:23). A "crown" is associated with a "prize" (I Cor. 9:24-27, Phil. 3:l4)—that of "winning" Christ, to become a part of His "elect" Bride or Household. The "crown of life" or "life CROWNED," could refer to the GLORIFIED BODY which all who "rule" with Christ shall receive (Phil. 3:21).

Jesus' solemn admonition that "he that takes not his cross, and follows not after me, is not worthy of me" (Mt. 10:38) is in perfect harmony with His revelation to the churches as given to John the apostle in the last book of the New Testament. In Rev. 3:4-5, He makes mention of certain ones in thechurch of Sardis: "You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white garments ." Surely there were many saved (born again) Christians in the church at Sardis, but Jesus makes it clear that only a few out of that church would "walk with Him in white; for they are worthy." And to add emphasis to this fact, He immediately follows with the added truth that such are those who "overcome." He explains that these are "worthy" because they have not "defiled" their "garments." To "defile" means to soil.


[ aside: Intro to the Concept of "Soul Garments" ]

This brings up a whole new subject which is too vast to cover in this discipleship study. “Their garments” refers to the inner soul garment which each person has. Paul makes it clear in I Thess. 5:23, that we humans are composed of spirit, soul and body. Your "spirit" is the real "you," which has been "formed" or "fathered" by God out of His own "substance," for God is SPIRIT (see Zech. 12:1; Heb. 12: 9; John 4:25). But God has provided "clothes" for us, just as you provide clothes for your children. Your physical body is your "outer" garment, and your soul is your "inner" garment. Just as when you put on your clothes, I can see your outer garments, but I cannot see your under-garments or under-wear, it is a "picture" of the way that God has made us. I can see your physical body (or garment), but I cannot see your soul body (or garment). This is because the "atomic structure" of the soul is much more "highly attenuated" in its composition— its vibrational "pitch" is on a much higher level of existence, and the "visual waves" it emanates are not within the range of the physical eyes. Because of its "highly diffused" substance, the soul occupies the same space as the physical body, and is an exact replica of the physical body.

The soul is under the same sentence of death as the physical body. God declared through the prophet Ezekiel that "the soul that sins, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:4). The people had evidence for hundreds of years that the physical body was subject to death because of sin, but they needed to know that they had a "soul" which also was subject to death because of sin. Jesus confirmed this perspective in His teaching by stating in Mt. 16:26, "what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul." And also His warning in Mt. 10:28: "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." And other scriptures are clear that the soul must be saved (from death) — see James 5:20, Heb. 10:39. To "save" means to "preserve."

[Ed. Note: This subject is covered thoroughly in Bro. Earls' instructional prophecy Garments for Glory and Beauty from his booklet The Voice of the Seventh Angel.]


[ return: Application to Worthiness ]

There is so much more that needs to be said on this subject, and I hate to leave you "dangling"—so to speak, but I don't want to get too far off of our immediate subject of "discipleship." I must however go back to Rev. 3:4-5, and clarify further the matter of our "worthiness" to be a part of the "elect" company who will "walk with Jesus in white." We have already noted that such are "worthy" because they have not "defiled their garments" (their inner "soul garments"). To grasp the significance of Jesus' words, we must understand that the Scriptures teach that the "desire nature" (with its emotions and feelings) functions through the soul. Because of the inherited fallen Adamic nature, the corrupted soul-desires become a "driving force" which dominate and "usurp" the authority and ruling power (will) of the human spirit, and use the physical body as the "instrument" to carry out and "fulfill" sinful propensities. Such soul-desires which lead to sin, rebellion, lust, covetousness, etc., then "defile" it — cause it to become "dirty" and unclean. Christ's redemptive sacrifice for us has not only made provision for the soul to be saved (preserved from death), but also for the soul to be purified (I Pet. 1:22), or cleansed. This not only means forgiveness of sins (the "fruit" of our sin nature), but also the cleansing or purging of the soul of that sin nature's dominance or "drive" towards sin. John says that God not only forgives our sins, but also cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness (I John 1:9); that is, IF we are aware of God’s provision (and submit ourselves to it) for such "freedom" through cleansing by the truth of God's Word (John 8:31-32, 36) and the fire of God's Spirit (Mt. 3:11). This does not mean "sinless perfection" in the sense that one so "cleansed" cannot sin, for God never nullifies our power of free will to choose as we please.

Jesus' words in Rev. 3:4 indicate that there were those in Sardis who had received a deep cleansing unto purity of heart and holiness of life, but afterwards "defiled their garments." "Cleansing" by the power of God's truth and His baptismal firefrom the innate "bondage" to sin does not make one suddenly a mature Christian. Much progress and growth towards maturity and perfection must still take place. Neither does it automatically remove all "faults" and "weaknesses" which are common to our strictly human nature. We must still diligently seek to "overcome" all that the Lord exposes and shows us that is not pleasing to Him. Thus it is possible for a "cleansed" one to "fall short" or fail the Lord in various ways; even to momentarily sin in thought, word, attitude or deed. But such inadvertent (not willful) failings are quickly taken to the Lord and confessed, and His forgiveness restores precious fellowship. I John 1:8-10.

 *Note: I have dealt with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in a booklet titled "A New and Living Way" (available on request), so I will not go into further detail here. But it is very important to note that the first words ever spoken about Jesus by John the Baptist, who was to prepare "the WAY" of the Lord, were: "he that comes after me is mightier than I ... he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Mt. 3:11). And the last words that Jesus Himself spoke to His disciples were: "tarry [ ] in the city of Jerusalem, until you are endued with power from on high" (Lk. 24:49, Acts 1:8).   So to be His disciples requires that we ask, seek, even "knock" if necessary until we experience this "immersion" in the "fire" of His Spirit, to purge the inner "dross" and empower for victory (Lk. 11:9-13).


[ Maintaining Clean Soul Garments ]

Jesus words in Rev. 3:4-5, however, indicate that "inner garments" which have been made "white" can once again be "defiled." Last time, in part 2 of this study, I commented on our Christian "walk" and the need to have Jesus "wash our feet" every day from the "surface" contaminations which we pickup from the inevitable "rubbing shoulders" with the people of the world in our daily activities. Thus we must continually exercise our will in seeking the Lord, abiding in His Word, and letting Him cleanse us from "surface" contaminations, for Satan has many devices and "wiles" (Ephes. 6:11) to try to entice us to once again "awaken" mental-emotional desires and attitudes which can lead to sinful actions in word and/or deed. If we are again so  "enticed" and begin to "take pleasure" in that which is displeasing to the Lord, then the "dirt" of this world (the "lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes (covetousness), and the pride of life (self-importance and self-exaltation)"— I John 2:16, can begin to pollute and "defile" our inner soul garment—and such can disqualify us from being among those who will "walk with Jesus in white." Even though saved, we would fall again into the category of a carnal Christian, and become subject to the chastening dealings of God.

Aside from avoiding unnecessary contact with the world and worldly people, the most important thing for the "purged" Christian, who wants to remain "sanctified" (wholly separated to the Lord) unto holiness (purity), is to avoid about 90% of all TELEVISION—for the majority of the programs bring the pollution and filth of the world right into your living room. You cannot "feed" your mental-emotional being on such "garbage" and not run the risk of getting seriously defiled within.


[ Worthiness in the Pursuit "After" Christ ]

I want to focus your attention again on the words of Jesus in Mt. 10:38: "and he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me." One thing to "follow after" means is to pursue. According to Webster's dictionary the definition of "pursue" is "to follow with a view to overtake; to chase; to seek; to use measures to obtain; to go in pursuit; to proceed along, with a view to some end or object." Think of this definition in terms of a young man (or woman) who has become acquainted with the one they believe is the one they want to "win" as a life companion. And with eventual marriage in mind, they go about to "pursue" that person in line with the definition of that word that I have quoted above. Read it again, and try to grasp the parallel between a young person's pursuit of the object of their affection for a life partner, and our need to pursue Christ to "win" Him if we hope to be a part of His heavenly Bride or Household to be His partner in companionship and love. We must pursue Him with all of our hearts. Does not young people who are "pursuing" the one they desire spend as much time as they can with them, find out all they can about them, seek to please them in every way they can, express their love to them, be willing to forsake all fanner family ties to be joined to them? Does Christ require any less of us if we want to be joined to Him in intimate bliss?

Even though we can receive the free gift of eternal life from Him, 'Christ Himself must be "won" as illustrated above, and this perspective is confirmed by Paul in Phil. 3:7-8: "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge (full or intimate knowledge) of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suf­fered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may WIN Christ." In vs. 14, Paul relates this "winning" of Christ with the "prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Salvation is a gift — not a prize; but certainly Christ Himself is the greatest "prize" one could give his or her ALL to WIN. [Ed Note: This distinction is covered more fully in the second half of Part 6 and the teaching The Gift and the Prize .]

Look with me again at Mt. 16:24: "If any man will come AFTER me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." To "come after" Jesus can mean to "come" (or arrive) at a later time. Notice Jesus' words in John 13:36: "Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus answered him, 'Where I go, you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow me afterwards.'" Here Jesus is using the "follow me" to indicate the actual, and eventual, personal arrival of Jesus' disciples to be where He was going. Jesus had told his disciples that He was leaving them to return to the Father, but they could not "follow Him" in that journey at that time, but they would AFTERwards (at a later time). Just a few statements later, in John 14:2-3, Jesus said: "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I AM, there you may be also." Ordinarily this promise is automatically applied to all Christians. But a careful examination of this and other scriptures that we have been considering, makes it clear that Jesus promise is applicable only to disciples; those who deny self, take up their cross, and follow Him—those who truly desire and commit themselves to "go after Him"—not only to "pursue" Him with all their hearts, but to go (or "be taken") to where Jesus is AFTER Him (at a later time). Later, when I deal with the requirements of discipleship more specifically, these truths will come into clearer focus.


[ Purpose 4: To Be Perfected in Jesus ]

Continuing this section on the purposes of discipleship, No. 4 is indicated by Jesus in Lk. 6:40: "The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master." The Amplified version reads: "A pupil is not superior to his teacher, but every one [when he is] completely trained—readjusted, restored, set to rights and perfected—will be like his teacher. Discipleship is for the purpose of "perfecting" us AS our Teacher—becoming LIKE Him. There are two Greek works translated "perfect" in the New Testament. One is teleios, which implies a goal reached, that which is complete or finished, and relating to God's goal for his children. The word can be translated "mature" or "perfect" (in the sense of the finished work God has purposed to accomplish in our lives in terms of a certain measure of growth which He had previously determined—see Phil. 1:6). This word is used by Jesus in Mt. 5:48: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect {that is, grow into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity}," (Amplified version).

The Greek word which is used in Lk. 6:40, however, is katartizo, and although it is translated "perfect" several times in the New Testament in the King James version, its meaning is more accurately defined as, "to thoroughly furnish, to equip, to adjust, to repair, to restore, to mend (it is used in medical language of setting a bone or joint); also used in classical Greek for refitting a ship." Teleios is the Greek word which points towards the ultimate goal to which God is bringing us—full maturity in Christ; whereas katartizo characterizes the means to that end or goal—that is, the day by day adjustments, changes, repairs (from the damages of sin), mendings (from hurts and offenses), restoring (in broken relationships), furnishing and equipping for battles against Satan and for service for the Lord—that we might learn by experience and thus progress in growing spiritually, etc. Praise the Lord! Only discipleship to Jesus Christ can "equip" us with the spiritual "tools" to bring about the necessary changes and adjustments in our lives that will enable Him to bring us to the ultimate goal of spiritual maturity.

A passage which relates to this matter, and which I believe has been greatly misunderstood, is Mt. 19:16-22. A young man asked Jesus: "what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Jesus answered him in accordance with that which was necessary for salvation at that time—the keeping of the Iaw. This was before Jesus had provided a "more perfect way" by His death and resurrection. Those who lived under the law were saved by acceptably (in the sight of God) keeping the law. Study Ezek., chap. 18. Any sins which were done in ignorance or inadvertently, were atoned for (covered) by the blood of the sacrificial animals (see Lev. 17:11, Lev., chaps. 4-6).

When Jesus quoted the commandments of the law as the requirement for eternal life, the young man said, "All these things have I kept from my youth up" (Mt. 19:20). He had met the requirements that Jesus enunciated (according to the law) and thus could be assured he was saved (provided he continued to keep the commandments of the law and did not turn to wickedness, as clearly explained in Ezek. chap. 18). But there was something in the young man's heart which yearned for something more. So he said to Jesus, “What lack I yet?" Jesus said to him, "IF you would be perfect, go and sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." However, Mt. 19:22 says that "when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions." When Jesus spoke these words to the young man, contrary to what some teach, He was NOT giving him further requirements for salvation. He would have been dishonest to do so. Jesus was born under the law covenant, lived un­der the law, and that law covenant was not terminated until the cross (Col. 2:14). Heb. 7:19 says that the law could make nothing (no person) perfect. God is not just interested in the salvation (preservation of our souls). He has purposed our growth to perfection (maturity). Salvation is just the beginning—as a new born babe in God's sight. When we are saved we still LACK MUCH (to put it mildly!) So when the young man said, "What lack I yet?” Jesus answered him in terms of DISCIPLESHIP—one of the purposes of which, as I have been setting before you—is to bring us to perfection (full maturity in Christ). I will develop this more fully when I discuss the requirements of discipleship.


[ Purpose 5: To Intimately Know the Person of Christ and His Kingdom Principles ]

The final purpose of discipleship that I will deal with (No. 5) is that we might come to know intimately the person of Christ, and the principles of His Kingdom. I am dealing with these together, because it is impossible to separate the person of Christ from what He taught (Kingdom principles for living—here and now). And to really know Christ and to love Him is to want to please Him and keep His commandments.

As I have repeatedly taught, just being saved is not enough to be prepared to be intimately associated with Jesus in His Heavenly Kingdom in the New Jerusalem. When Jesus said, “Take my yoke on you and learn of me," He first meant to come to know Him personally in an intimate, loving way. The word "know" was used by the Hebrews as an "idiom" to express the most intimate relationship that a man and woman could have in the marriage union (see Gen. 4:1, 17; Lk. 1:34; Mt. 1:25). So when Jesus uses such expressions as, "I know you not" (Mt. 25:12), or "I never knew you" (Mt. 7:23), I do not believe He was saying that they were not "saved." But He was indicating that either through carelessness or indifference, or through being so busy working for Him, they had neglected to take the time to develop an intimate relationship and fellowship with Him, to where loving Him and pleasing Him becomes the paramount issue of one's life.

We come into a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ when we are truly "born again". But this initial "knowing" of Him is immature and must be cultivated and developed. An increased "intimate knowing" of Jesus come through consistent study and meditation in His Word—until it becomes Spirit (activated ) and LIFE to us (see John 6:63)—that our minds might be "renewed" and our lives "transformed" (Rom. 12:2), and we become more "attuned" to His nature. Knowing Him also involves cultivating a "prayer life" whereby we commune and fellowship with Him; experiencing His "working" in our lives by His Spirit, increasingly drawing us to Himself as He "proves" His love to us over and over again.


[The Role of Testing and the Harvest Typology]  

There is just one more thing that I want to mention in these brief comments on "knowing" Him. Satan tempts us to draw us away from the Lord, but God tests or proves us in order to draw us closer to Him. So our reaction in times of trial is so important—that we might learn to TRUST Him implicitly, knowing that everything that He allows to happen to us is only for our good. And IF our heart is truly SET on increasingly knowing Him, as was the apostle Paul's (Phil. 3:8, 10), then that trial (of whatever nature it may be) can SOLIDFY our relationship with the Lord and INCREASE our "knowing" of Him.

It is clear from the Word that it is only mature grain (from which the "chaff" has been removed) is to be gathered into the "barn" of Jesus' Heavenly Kingdom (Mt. 13:30). Jesus made it clear that there are three categories of Christians—30, 60 and 100 fold (Mt. 13:8). The same three groups are indicated in a different parabolic illustration in Mark 4:26-29 by three stages of growth—the blade, the ear, and the full grain in the ear. A wheat farmer does not go out and harvest and gather into his barn green blades, or unripe, partially filled ears, but only the full ripe grain—and that only after the "chaff" has been removed by threshing. Among all the other things that our precious Lord Jesus is to us, we must realize that He is also the "Thresher." In Mt. 3:12, John the Baptist characterizes Him in the following words: "His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor,  and gather and store His wheat in His bam; but the chaff will He burn up with fire that cannot be put out" (Amplified version). The "chaff" is not a part of the wheat, but that which surrounds. Chaff is a type of the world; symbolizing the fact that the world surrounds us, but is not to be a part of us. However, for our spiritual development to maturity, it takes the temptations and tests from the world around us; that's why the Lord leaves us in the world after we are saved—it is the "crucible" in which the Lord allows the "fiery trials" to prove and strengthen our faith, and to help "purify" us as gold (see I Pet. 1:7, 4:12). Jesus prayed of His disciples, "I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil." (John 17:15; see also John I5:19). In John 16:33, Jesus gives us the assurance that we can have victory over all of the evil influences of the world: "In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." His victory is OUR victory—if we will just believe and receive it by faith—and completely submit our will to His (see I John 5:4), for "greater is he (Christ) that is in you, than he (Satan) that is in the world" (I John 4:4).

When those who are represented by the "full grain in the ear" (Mark 4:28-29) are ready to be translated into the heavenly realm, then they shall be completely removed from the "chaff" of this world. However, even now the Lord is "working" on us on His "threshing floor"— for He wants every evil influence of the world to be nulli­fied in our lives. He wants us to be totally separated ("in spirit") from the present world-system ruled by Satan (see II Cor. 6:14-7:1). Therefore, even now, He is putting us through "threshing floor" experiences of testings and provings to separate us UNTO HIMSELF, and AWAY from all "chaff" of this world.

Mt. 3:12 says that the Lord will "burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." I believe this takes place during the tribulation period—especially the final "vials of wrath." For at that time this world's system ruled by Satan will be completely destroyed. Also at that time, He will "thoroughly purge His floor" (that is, take His church through the tribulation period—all except the “firstfruits" —in order to cleanse and purify it, that it might be ready to be presented to Him "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephes. 5:27). Ordinarily, Christians think only negatively about the tribulation. But let me SHOCK you! The tribulation period will be God's great act of mercy to the church, when multitudes who have been blinded by the traditions of men will "awaken to the truth," and have the opportunity to GET READY to meet their Lord and be a part of that "elect company" who will be translated to the glorified estate at the tribulation's close.

[Ed. Note: For Bro. Earls' most thorough treatment of the harvest typology, please see his final treatise "The First and the Last."]


[ Knowing the Principles of the Kingdom ]

Now for a few final comments on this fifth purpose of discipleship: to increasingly know the person of Christ, and to understand (in order to implement in our lives—both within and without in action), the principles of His Kingdom. Jesus came as a KING, proclaiming (preaching) the "good news” of that Kingdom. He manifested the nature of that Kingdom by spending untold hours virtually every day in ministering to the needs of the people—in healings, deliverances, miracles—that He might lay a foundation for FAITH in Himself. But also, almost daily, He spent untold hours TEACHING the PRINCIPLES of His Kingdom—which cannot be separated from His PERSON—for they reflect the LIFE-STYLE that He Himself LIVED. These "principles" (of life) are the spiritual and moral TRUTH-laws that are in constant operation for our benefit and blessing IF we align our lives with them in thought, motive, word and deed. They may be expressed as immutable "cause and effect" truth as "blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Mt. 5:7) and "give, and it shall be given to you.” (Lk. 6:38), or given as a commandment such as "a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you" (John 13:34), or "as you would that men should do to you, do [  ] also to them likewise" (Lk. 6:31). But regardless of the form of expression, they are ABSOLUTES for living—eternal "verities"—as unchangeable as God Himself. If we are true disciples, we will study and meditate on every axiom for living that Jesus taught, diligently seeking to apply its every facet — that "joy-bells" may ring, as we actually experience these Truth-laws working for our blessing and ultimate good.


[ aside: More on the Soul Body ]

Before I comment further on the above, I want to include in this section a quotation that I believe helps to confirm my perspective, explained earlier, that the "soul" is actually an "inner body-covering" for the human spirit. The same life forces that develop the fetus within the mother's womb also generate within that fetus this fine spun, highly attenuated duplicate of the physical body. For the person whose soul has been saved (preserved from death), that soul serves as a functioning vehicle for the spirit in the heavenly realms after the death of the physical body, and also maintains the personal identity of that person who has lived on this earth. For the unsaved, the soul (after the death of the physical body) gradually loses its cohesiveness, causing its disintegrating (death). This process is pictured by type in the Bible by the disease of leprosy. We read in I Pet. 3:19 of "spirits in prison", because they were "denuded"— having lost both their physical and soul garments. But in Rev. 6:9 we read of "souls under the altar" in heaven— saved persons clothed in their soul garments, or bodies.


[ - The Testimony of Richard Eby ]

The following is taken from "Caught Up Into Paradise" by Richard E. Eby, D.O., physician and surgeon, published by Fleming H. Revell Co., Old Tappan, N.J. Dr. Eby had an accident and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. I don't remember how long he was dead, but God miraculously restored him to life. While his body was dead, he was taken to paradise and describes a portion of his experience as follows:

''Aside from the complete absence of pain and the total presence of peace (neither of which I had ever known on earth), I looked like me, felt like me, reacted like me. I was me. I simply suddenly had shed the old body and was now living in this fantastic cloud-like body! Being a physician, first instinct was to inspect my new body, and I instantly admired it. It was mine alright. After 60 years in the old one, it was easy to see that the new body was me. I was the same size, the same shape, as the person I had seen in the mirror for years. I was clothed in a translucent flowing gown, pure white, but transparent to my gaze. In amazement, I could see through my body and noted the gorgeously white flowers behind and beneath me. This seemed perfectly normal, yet thrillingly novel. My feet were easy to see. No bifocals needed. There were no bones or vessels or organs. No blood. I noticed the absence of genitals. The abdomen and chest were organless and transparent to my gaze, though translucent to my peripheral vision. There was no air to breath, no blood to pump, no food to digest or eliminate. This was not a carnal body of organs, mortal and temporary."

Note that he observed that the body he had in paradise was exactly like the physical body he had on earth, but without the organs necessary for a purely physical existence. Although "cloud-like" in substance, it was a real, identifiable body. Note also that this body he describes was not the glorified physical body which Christians will eventually receive— either through translation or resurrection. The glorified physical body will be a much more powerful and versatile body or "vehicle" than the soul body. A glorified body can function both in the heavenly realms and on the earth. This was demonstrated by Jesus after His resurrection, for in His glorified body He was able to remain invisible in the vicinity of the earth for 40 days (Acts 1:3); yet also "manifest" (appear) many times to individuals and groups (I Cor. I5:5-7). When causing His body to manifest in the physical realm, He could be seen, touched, and even eat food (Lk. 24:36-43). He emphasized that His manifest physical body had flesh and bones (Lk. 24:39), whereas the body that Dr. Eby had in paradise did not have any bones. A soul-body cannot manifest in the physical realm. It is only for the use and functioning (toward progress in God's plan) in the realms of paradise, until the "outer garment" (the physical body) is restored in the resurrection as the primary "functioning vehicle" for the human spirit.

I'm going to conclude for this time with this page, so have to leave this subject for now. But I will continue it in some future study for Jesus had other things to say about the distinction between spirit, soul and body, even what happens finally in the "lake of fire" (Gr.— "gehenna"), for those who are unsaved. You might read Mt. 10:28 and Mark 9:43-38 and meditate on them. In the latter scripture, what is the "worm" (figuratively speaking) that "dies not" in "hell fire"? Jesus was primarily a teacher, and He wants dedicated disciples (pupils). Are you one?


[Next: The Purposes of Discipleship, Cont. & The Priorities of Discipleship  .]