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By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude--innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:7-16, NKJV).

These great saints realized and accepted their true status on the earth. They were pilgrims, strangers and exiles who did not consider the earth their home. Instead they diligently pursued a better country, a heavenly country, a country that was not of this world. Even the thoughts or memories of the country they came from were put out of mind so they would not be tempted to return. Instead they turned their backs on the many pleasures and trappings of this world in order to stay on the nobler journey of apprehending God and manifesting His purposes in the earth. They were pressing on to lay hold of that for which they were laid hold of by Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12). These saints stayed true to the course even though the promise eluded their grasp. Please note that to walk by faith is to go out and walk upon this earth as Abraham did. It is a life of seeking a heavenly city that God has prepared, a city that has foundations, even Jesus Christ. (See Isaiah 28:16, 1 Corinthians 3:11)

Now we have entered the same race and the purpose of this race is to finish! We have been mobilized. All believers ought to be mobile--migrating from glory to glory in diligent pursuit of the fulfillment of Godís global purpose. We are compelled to once again live as resident aliens on the earth.

God used the death of Stephen to start the church on its outward trek once again. Until then things were getting pretty cozy in Jerusalem. Even the temple priests were beginning to believe in the faith (Acts 6:7). There was no sign that the apostles were taking to heart the command of Jesus to take His gospel to the uttermost ends of the earth. Stephen spoke of a continuous exodus of God's faithful, and his death brought it to pass for this infant church.

We are not called to be city builders, denomination builders, or church builders We are called to be pilgrims in this earth as we follow the upward call. The early church knew this. They did not build a single church building for almost 300 years. They met in homes and kept moving outward with the Good News. They constantly referred to themselves as sojourners and pilgrims in the earth.

The opening words of the first Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, supposedly written during the lifetime of John, gives us an indication of the mindset of the churches at the close of the first century. Clement begins as follows. "The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." Polycarpís letter to the Philippians was addressed to "the Church of God sojourning at Philippi." By this we see the mindset of the late first and early second century believers. They saw themselves as pilgrims and sojourners in a strange land. (See1Peter 2:11) They saw themselves as tent dwellers, not city builders. The ambition to settle and build cities for God came later with the full-blown apostasy of the church, which led to the present disorder.

The church is rife with denominations founded by and on the visions of mere men, each one claiming his handiwork to be the true city that we should give our money and devotion to. Instead of answering that upward call, they end up playing the harlot with the world and giving birth to spiritual mutations that must be attended to like any deformed and disabled child. These offspring have no innate mobility and lack the ability to thoroughly mature without a release of miraculous power to reactivate their dead limbs. The cry of God's Spirit is for the church to once again arise and walk!

We are called forth to take up membership in ONE heavenly city and let our whole hearts be anchored there and there alone. This causes us to not seek His blessing on OUR city or movement, but draws us onward to His.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command.
By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. (Hebrews 11:23-29, NKJV).

Those who walk by faith cut themselves off from the success the world and its church system offers. They are single of focus like Moses, not content until they have seen the Living God face to face (Exodus 33:11). Sometimes this involves laying aside legitimate blessings. God will most assuredly demand that you put a knife to whatever has come between you and that heavenly city for your own sake.

Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented-- of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 11:35-12:2, NKJV).

If we are going to walk by faith, we must expect to be rejected by the inhabitants of this world and its systems, religious or otherwise. In modern churches today, time and attention is given to making the church palatable to the world. They attempt to remove the offense of the cross.

We must be ready for the long haul and keep focused on Jesus. He has not only called us to a life separate from the world, but to a life of suffering and rejection as well. From a worldly standpoint, this is not a selling point. Jesus came to His own and His own received him not, and we must expect to have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings. Jesus not only called us out of the world, but has promised to see to it that those who endure to the end get that heavenly reward.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven."
Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:18-29, NKJV).

The writer of Hebrews draws our attention to the heavenly Jerusalem where Jesus sits as the Mediator of this present new covenant. As Paul wrote the Colossian believers, "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Be mindful of things above, not on things on the earth." (Colossians 3:1-2 MKJV)

We are called to listen to His voice in order to escape the wrath of our God, who is a consuming fire. He warns us that all these created things that so easily distract us in this life will be removed and all that will remain is God's kingdom, which cannot be shaken.

We don't need another church growth seminar. We need a migration to the place where God is now. We need to be faithful to press on towards the ultimate finish, and to bring the purpose of God for this age to completion. We must return to the journey, to apprehending God and manifesting His purpose as a living organism. We are called to follow Jesus outside the camp of established religion, bearing His reproach.

Paul had a vision that was instilled in Him by the Lord like no other apostle. This vision went beyond any earthly institution. His vision was "in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," among that great cloud of witnesses. He wrote to the Ephesian church,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6, NASB).

Here we see that Paul had something further in mind when he spoke of us as being in Christ. He first points out that EVERY spiritual blessing is in heavenly places in Christ. What? Doesn't God want to bless us here on earth? Doesn't He want us to live like a King's kids with all the riches that the world has to offer? No, I think that Paul has greater riches and blessings in mind than the things of this world that perish (Matthew 6:25).

Paul continues, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him." Here he reveals that we were in Him before the foundation of the world! Wow! Paul, do you really mean that? Could it be that God has made a body of spiritual cells, a body that pre-dates the universe as we know it? Were those same cells in that body fore-ordained to be manifest on this earth as His body, the body that shows Him to a lost and dying world? Are you still with us? It gets even better.

Paul taught, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20, KJV). Here we see that we were in Jesus' physical body on that cross outside the gates of Jerusalem. We also see that we walk out our spiritual lives by His faith, not ours. I find that very liberating. It is ALL JESUS! It is His faith, His death, His life and His love in us.

God is now calling for a new exodus from this weak and unworthy mixture. Those who embrace Christ's sacrifice are called to bear His reproach by going forth unto Him outside the camp. The word camp indicates an encampment, a mass gathering, and in this context refers to the city of Jerusalem, which was once a place of God's habitation. This city was once known as the city of the great King, but had become steeped in traditions that make void the commandments of God and had stopped living for His glory. They had stopped progressing with Him. When they discovered that Jesus would not fortify their existing institutions, the inhabitants of this city cried, "Crucify him, crucify him." It is the same today. Those who cling to the old wineskin, crucify Christ "afresh, putting Him to open shame." They make void the bidding of the Holy Spirit by clinging to their traditions. In an attempt to avoid His reproach, many have turned back in their hearts to the traditions of the past. They deny that Christ's sacrifice was intended to accomplish a continuing exodus from the things of this world and an ever-growing love for what is heavenly.

Jesus did not come to endorse the old temple order. Instead, He prophesied its end. (See Matthew 24:1-2) In 70 AD, Titus the Roman conqueror laid it in utter ruin. It had already outlived its usefulness by about 35 years. Just as Jesus had said, not one stone was left upon another--a testimony of its temporary Nature.

In that moment atop Calvary's hill, when Jesus uttered the words, "IT IS FINISHED," a great shift in heaven and earth occurred. The TIME that Jesus spoke of when true worshippers will worship God in Spirit and in truth had come. The Father can no longer be worshipped in this mountain nor in Jerusalem. From that time on, there is a new altar that those serving the earthly tabernacle have no right to eat from. Those who worship in Spirit and in truth are those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. (Revelation 14:4) They are the true Pilgrim Church. They have no continuing city here but look for one to come.

Paul also teaches us that we were resurrected with Christ. "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection." (Romans 6:4,5, NASB). Yes, our bodies will be raised just like His, but in the spiritual sense, we are already there at the right hand of the Father dwelling in His resurrected power.

"We Have an Altar"

The book of Hebrews is an appeal to Jewish believers to exit the old order. Its author gives powerful witness to the fact that the old order has been made obsolete by a new and better Covenant. In God's economy the old system of temple worship has vanished away. In the closing chapter of Hebrews is an exhortation that can never make sense to those who cling to the old order, who have stopped journeying and have camped along the way, who lay stress upon earthly tabernacles.

We have an altar of which those serving the tabernacle have no authority to eat. For of the animals whose blood is brought by the high priest into the Holy of Holies concerning sins, of these the bodies are burned outside the camp. (See Leviticus 16:2, 27) Indeed, because of this, in order that He might sanctify the people by His own blood, Jesus suffered outside the gate. So let us go forth to Him outside the camp bearing His reproach. For we do not have here a continuing city, but we seek the city coming. Then through Him let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God always, that is, the fruit of the lips, confessing to His name. (Hebrews 13: 10-15 LITV)

Allegorically there are two altars today. One altar is of the earthly sanctuary or old order where worship is chiefly attached to observable places and events. The other is the heavenly tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man (Hebrews 8:2), where worship is in Spirit and in truth. Those who cling to the former order have no right to eat of the heavenly altar. Only those who go out to Him, leaving the old religious forms behind, may truly eat of it. Only those who suffer the reproach of Him who bore our sicknesses, carried our sorrows, was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities may eat of it. Those who go outside the camp unto Jesus can also expect to bear the same rejection and reproach that He did at the hands of the religious leaders, for this altar is often found in the presence of our enemies (Psalms 23:5).

By attempting to store new wine in old wineskins, Christianity today has become exactly what Christ warned against--a powerless mixture of the old and the new, unable to contain or sustain God's glory.

In Luke 5:36-39 Jesus explains the dire consequences of this mixture.

No one puts a piece of a new garment on an old garment; otherwise both the new will tear, and the old does not match the piece from the new. And no one puts new wine into old skins; otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be poured out, and the skins will perish. But new wine is to be put into new skins, and both are preserved together. And no one drinking old wine immediately desires new; for he says, The old is better. (LITV)

How often has the Father poured the New Wine of His Spirit upon His children but the old wineskin couldn't contain it and the glory was short-lived? How often have we heard the stories of great revivals where God poured out His Spirit upon certain groups of people, but, in the end, things were worst off than before? Why is this? It is simple. Old wineskins cannot contain new wine. New wine will always burst old wineskins and the wine will spill out. I believe this is why sustained revival is so rare. The old obsolete religious system is too fixed and frail to contain the glory of the New Covenant. Contrary to Christ's advice, religious man is determined to mix the two.

Chapter 1 | Table of Contents | Chapter 5

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