Steps to Glory:
An Essay on Sonship
I wrote this essay in 1969, long before I ever heard of the glorious truths of the restoration. My lovely bride and I were living in a little town, Bentley, Louisiana--just east of Alexandria. Even then the Lord was preparing me for the blessed truths of the restoration. I was pastoring a fundamentalist Baptist church in West Monroe, La. at the time.
STEPS TO GLORY
An Essay on Sonship
by Lynn Ridenhour
"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." --Colossians 1:27
Picture this: mortal and immortal humans walking this earth, and you're one of them. Your name is Bill Moore and you live in Ohio. You're married and have three children, two boys and a girl.
Earth-shattering events have just shaken the globe.
Christ in you is no longer your "hope" of glory; he's now glorified in you! He's become your glory. And suddenly know what it means to receive your inheritance. The time of the first-fruits has ended in your life-just like the Bible said. It's harvest time.
The day has arrived when God has come after his inheritance and brought ours. It is the Day of the Lord. And Christ-within the last twenty-four hours-has just brought many sons unto glory. And you're one of them.
There is plenty work to do. Nations have to be healed. The ten tribes need gathering. Glory must fill the Church, and mortals need ministry, even healing.
The earth is groaning for redemption, longing to go back to Eden, to return to the Garden of God. And you're a son of God with an assignment, the King's assignment. You've been awarded a nation. "Go. Take his glory to the nations," was the order. Governments must topple. The battle is begun. Armies need conquering. A new world order-a king-is on the scene.
To think, when you were a lad back in Ohio-not much going on there, not much different from all other lads on your street, busy watching your folks survive the recession, hearing your grandparents talk often of depression days, and your having to sacrifice 'till it hurt to put your sister, Sarah, through college-you never dreamed it would come to this.
You only knew, the Spirit was guiding like a breeze, sending those soft messages, ".lay down your deadly traditions. They're no good for you." And you believed. You believed the Spirit. And obeyed.
That was twenty years ago.
You never knew for sure, but you always hoped (hope was your anchor) to be alive on this earth when the Day of the Lord arrived. And you are!
You were snatched away the other day at 9 a.m. with a mighty force, caught up in the air to meet him with the rest, never to return to this earth the same. O, you returned to earth alright-breezes blowing against your face and over your mind. None of you was in the air that long that morning. But you were not the same when your foot touched the earth. Neither were they. You had just had a "welcome meeting" with the Lord in the lower atmosphere; and masses of saints, having the appearance of clouds, joined you.
When you returned to earth, buildings were brighter, babies were beautiful, and walls were barriers only to mortals-you walked through them. When you spoke, people now worshipped God. Something was different; everything was different.
Your old Adamic nature that morning had been "snatched away," raptured, and you had been "caught up" with the Lord into his life. Into his immortality. Mortality had put on immortality in the twinkling of an eye before your feet came back to earth.
The beginning of the Tribulation had hit.
It was no effort for those who were caught up to travel. Essentially just "think"-and you were there.
The King that morning gave instructions to gather at Mount Zion and Jerusalem. It seemed like a flash and masses of saints like a cloud of witnesses appeared. You were among them.
The King began his instructions. First, the Law. Restoration of his government on this earth was to begin in Zion and the Word of the Lord, evangelism, was to be sent out from old Jerusalem. He divided up the glorified saints that morning with their assignments.
Some were assigned the transfer of wealth into his kingdom. Others were assigned armies to conquer. One group was instructed to finish redeeming creation, for the spilling of his blood had cleansed even the earth's soil and removed all effects of the curse. His atonement reached that deep.
Still others were given assignments to preach the gospel of the kingdom to the ten lost tribes and to gather the lost sheep of Israel back into the fold.
Bill Moore was told to help the bride, the Church, make herself ready for the bridegroom. The bridegroom was expecting a bride adorned, prepared for his glory.
The King's last instruction that morning had to do with God's wrath being poured out-but for us not to fear. His wrath wouldn't come near his people. Christ's presence was like an ark. So the assembly, caught up in the glory of his presence, left Mount Zion and Jerusalem to begin its endtime ministry.
The glorified saints were to periodically check back with the King, who seemed like a lamb, but was really a lion. He lived in the new city, the new Jerusalem. The city had come down out of heaven. He wanted updates. He also wanted everyone to attend a meal he was preparing. --End of scene.
* * * * * * * *
Can you picture yourself in the scene?
Neither could Bill Moore until one day, when years ago the Spirit began unraveling the marvelous plan of the ages. Here's a glimpse of what he saw:
.God's purpose is the glory of his presence forever dwelling among his people, a people he has prepared for himself from the foundation of the world.
.Salvation means much more than escape from hell; the Lord's plan is to prepare a people for the glory to come.
.Salvation is a free gift but the High Calling is a prize.
.What transpires with our lives down here is the glory we begin with in the future.
It's the high calling of Christ, a preparation for glory, that excites Bill. There is a City of God, the Bride of Christ, that New Jerusalem come down from heaven, Zion, having the glory of God resting upon her. And for us Christians, everything that transpires between cradle and grave, between redemption and restoration, is but a preparation for that glory. That city.
And there are STEPS TO GLORY.
Let's look at these steps.
First Step: Christ formed in you (Gal.4:19).
Second Step: Christ living in you (Gal.2:20).
Third Step: Christ dwelling in you (Eph.3:17).
Fourth Step: Christ glorified in you (II Thess.1:12).
FIRST STEP: CHRIST FORMED IN YOU
As Christians, we sometimes overlook the obvious-the Christ child must be formed in us. Growth and travail and pain and giving birth-each describes the Christian experience. Paul said an interesting thing to the churches in Galatia:
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" (Gal.4:19).
Paul is speaking of travail and birth and Christ "being formed" in the Christian. What is the New Birth anyway? Our Master tells us in that classic interchange between two Rabbis-himself and Nicodemus.
John Chapter Three:
What was Jesus, the heavenly Rabbi, really getting at?
What's the theme of John chapter three? The kingdom! Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about entering the kingdom-not heaven.
As Christians, we're to be "born again" in order to see the kingdom, according to Jesus. And if we're not born again, we won't see it. We'll be living right in the middle of it and miss the mystery. Miss the revelation of the kingdom, and its King. The Master was tossing hints right and left to Nicodemus.
And he's tossing hints to all of Christendom today, as well. For the most part, we've missed it. Though one of the most read passages in the Bible, John chapter three is still one of the least understood. Too often we've narrowed the new birth experience far beyond what Jesus intended. We link being "born again" as a prerequisite for ".going to heaven." Jesus linked the new birth as a prerequisite for ".seeing the kingdom.." That's different from what we preach.
Travail, Birth, and Entering:
Again, what's the topic, really, between Rabbi Jesus and Nicodemus? Travail and birth and entering. All painful experiences. There must be travail and birth if we're to enter the kingdom. Through birth pangs a Christian sees kingdom truth and traditions die. It's always painful for traditions to die.
The new birth has to do with seeing kingdom truth. Let's look at.
The Two Births:
Jesus talks about two births: 1) water, and 2) Spirit. He tells Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit." It takes both births to enter the kingdom.
We've got it backwards. The "Spirit birth" is the natural birth and the "water birth" is the supernatural birth. Nicodemus didn't catch that. And for the most part, neither have we.
The Spirit Birth:
If the kingdom is going to be set up here on this earth, question: how does God get us here to enjoy it and to partake of its fruits? Through Spirit birth.
First, God must breathe our human spirit into our lifeless body.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says:
"As you know not what is the way of the wind or how the [human] spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God." (Eccl.11:5 [Amplified]).
God is telling us-He sends the human spirit into the womb of a pregnant woman, and both the wind blowing and the human spirit sent into a woman's womb are equally, mysteriously, the work of God.
What a marvelous description of the "Spirit birth." How mysterious.
The Psalmist/Poet waxed brilliant with these words:
".thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!"--Psalm 139:13-19
O, saints, the Spirit of God sends forth the human spirit and conception occurs. A physical birth is a result of God sending the human spirit into a womb. The seed of man and the egg of woman uniting do not cause conception. Only God can bring life. And he brings it mysteriously every time.
He brings life and he returns life. The writer of Ecclesiastes also says:
"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the Spirit [of man] shall return unto God who gave it." --Eccl.12:7
Our human spirits will "return unto God" who gave them. You and I existed before we entered the womb, but like Nebuchadnezzar, whose heart was turned into a beast's heart, living for a season with the lower animals and not remembering the glory of his former life, we too are unaware of when our spirits sang together with the morning stars and shouted for joy with the rest of God's creation (Job 38:70.
There's coming a day, saints, when we shall remember. Nebuchadnezzar returned to his former glory and shall we. We're destined in glory to again shout for joy as the sons of God! It's the plan of the ages that Jesus, the firstborn, bring many sons unto glory.
The glory of the human spirit, through spiritual travail and the new birth, begins to return to the Father at the moment of physical birth. It's His way of our entering back into his presence and seeing the kingdom while living here on this earth. Truly, a remarkable plan of the ages.
The Water Birth:
If the Spirit birth is our natural birth, then the water birth is our supernatural birth. And both births prepare a person to enter the kingdom.
What is the water birth?.
The water birth is the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. The Christian cannot see the kingdom without this baptism. And it's rightfully likened unto a "birth." Much travail takes place. The travail is the struggle a Christian fights to see the revelations of the kingdom. I would say, this is one of the most difficult struggles a Christian faces. For traditions are against him. His Church is against him. Preachers, deacons, bishops, and elders are against him. Relatives and friends are against him. The Devil is against him. His carnal mind is against him.
This ever-present, inward struggle is what "forms Christ" in us.
Tensions in the Spirit world are real. Travail is dynamic. Being with child (especially the Christ child) is uncomfortable. It is never easy to give up one's traditions and to embrace the kingdom. By the way, what is water? Tension. The tension and travail of two gases intermingling. Coexisting. Water is made up of a fire gas (hydrogen) and an air gas (oxygen). Water is--fire and air mixed. H2O. And God at best is a consuming fire. And wind mixed.
The fire is the baptism of fire and the wind is the movement of the Holy Ghost in the believer. It's water baptism, the tension of supernatural fire and wind mixing with the natural, burning the dross and consuming the flesh of the believer-that "births" the Christ child within us.
O, saints, in this eleventh hour, God is raising up a people who are experiencing his fire and wind; his cleansing and moving within. We're experiencing both baptisms.
God is raising up a people who are entering and seeing the kingdom through the new birth experience. Through much travail, Christ is being formed in us.
And that's the first step to glory.
In our previous post, I made mention that this essay was written back in 1969-long before I ever heard of the glorious restoration gospel. The Lord was preparing me even then. You recall, there are STEPS TO GLORY.
First Step: Christ formed in you (Gal.4:19).
Second Step: Christ living in you (Gal.2:20).
Third Step: Christ dwelling in you (Eph.3:17).
Fourth Step: Christ glorified in you (II Thess.1:12).
THE SECOND STEP
"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me." (Gal.2:20)
Christ now LIVES in us. Christ is not living in many of his children.
Christ can be forming in us but not alive; not living. The birth has yet to occur. Many of God's children are still pregnant with His son. They are yet to become truly kingdom-centered.
In the first step to glory, the Christ child is formed in us. We, through much travail, become kingdom-focused, which brings about the new birth. Then we may enter the kingdom. In the second step to glory, Christ has come alive. As Paul put it, Christ now ".lives in me.."
We've not mentioned abortions. You can't have a birth without the possibility of an abortion. Abortions occur in the Spirit world too. There are so many abortions today-in both worlds, physical and spiritual. In fact, scripture teaches, "If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual" (I Cor.15:44,46).
Physical abortions are a sign of spiritual abortions (the two worlds are never completely separated) taking place in the kingdom, in the Body of Christ. So many of God's children are aborting the message of the new birth-the kingdom message. It's offensive to them, distasteful. Physical abortions are a sign, a distasteful sign, of what's happening in the Spirit world.
The message of God's kingdom in our midst is a sign of life among us. Christ is living among us. In us. Am I that radical? Do I want the government of God among us? Can you see yourself happier on this earth living under His rule? Happier than social security? Your pension? Or GM's retirement? As Christ lives in his people, His rule replaces all other. His allegiance becomes our bond. We no longer serve two Masters.
What about it? Are you on the way to glory? Have you taken the second step? Longing for his kingdom to be manifested in the earth. That's the second step.
THE THIRD STEP
"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;.being rooted and grounded in love.." (Eph.3:17)
Christ now dwells in us.
Not living. Dwelling. If Christ living in us is our opening up to kingdom truth; Christ dwelling in us is our opening up to endtime truth. The Bible is a prophetic book. There's no dodging it. Christianity's Geiger counter is prophecy. Take the Messianic prophecies alone. There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament fulfilled in Christ. I'll say it again, the Bible is a prophetic book. We're to be a prophetic people, walking on the edge of current events.
As Christ begins to dwell, "settle down, abide, make his permanent home in our hearts," the prophetic ministry will be to the saints a most "settling" of all ministries." On the eve of this new millennium, God's people will begin to turn to prophecy. The Song of Solomon is an "endtime" book. It's a love book filled with passion. The book is about two lovers attracted to one another. It really speaks of the fruit of the Spirit ripening in the believer's life. The language is metaphoric, filled with sentiment and deep feeling.
It's a love story turning sensuality in upon our own spiritual senses. It's the passionate love Christ has for a maturing believer. (That's the theme of the book more so than God's love for Israel.) And the only appropriate language that can possibly describe his love is: lover's language filled with passion.
"My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the bed of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's and my beloved in mine; he feedeth among lilies. Thou art beautiful, O my love." --Solomon's Song 6:2,3
It's the believer experiencing Christ as Lover. Not Lord.
It's Christ making his permanent home in our hearts, settling down, and becoming married to his bride. Married to Christ! Spiritual adultery has been cleansed and removed. We are no longer married to the Church, to our sectarian views. Christians now "know the Lord" like never before. It's the third step to glory.
THE FOURTH STEP
"That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you." (II Thess.1:12)
Christ is now glorified...in us.
Notice, we've come from Christ, the hope of glory, to Christ glorified in you. The hope has become a reality. Let's review the steps to glory...
The first step to glory focuses the kingdom message in our hearts; the second step causes Christ to come alive; the third step to glory focuses the endtime message in love; and the fourth step manifests the Sons of God. It's the...
Message of Sonship:
God, the Father, adopts his own children. The spirit of adoption is promised to the saints, and expected to be released by the end of this present age.
"For the Spirit which you have received is.the Spirit of adoption.the Spirit producing sonship." --Romans 8:15
Here's something to think about-in this world we only adopt those outside our immediate family. God, however, only adopts those inside his immediate family, his own children. Adoption, to the Hebrew, means "placing as sons."
The Jews had a beautiful ceremony for males reaching thirty years of age. Accompanied with fanfare, festivity, music, dancing, and ceremony, the priest in his garb stood before the young Jewish male. The father in his best robe stood behind his son. Neighbors, relatives, and townsmen watched. The young man knelt before the priest. Prayers were offered. Songs were sung. And young Jewish girls danced in circles, their banners flying in the wind. Yahweh was near by.
Then the pronouncement, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased." The father placed his hands upon his son's shoulders and kissed him. The child had become a son, thirty years of age, adopted by the father-now with the same privileges and responsibilities. The son had taken on his father's name, could wear and use his ring. He no longer had to get permission to use the family name for transactions, purchases, or major decisions.
The father trusted him. His child had entered sonship. He had just been adopted and "placed as a son." After the ceremony had broken up, there was music in the air.even into the night.
Jesus too was adopted.
Jesus is standing in river Jordan, one of the most popular scenes in all of scripture. He's about to be baptized by John:
"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And lo, a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." --Mt.3:16,17
God, the Father, had just adopted Jesus.
At thirty years of age, Jesus enters Jewish maturity, and enters his ministry with an unlimited anointing. John says he saw the Spirit descend from heaven and remain on Jesus (1:33). He also said that God gave the Spirit to Jesus "...without measure" (3:34).
That's Sonship: ministering with an unlimited anointing, without measure, and having the Spirit remain on you. Saints, the day is coming.
After that day in Jordan, Jesus began a three-year ministry among his people, a ministry unparalleled in history. He was the firstborn among many sons-adopted by the Father. He is the Pattern Son, entering behind the veil as our forerunner (Heb.6:20). And we're to follow.
And follow we shall. Into Sonship.
What is Sonship?...
A divine breakthrough into the unlimited. A manifestation of God's Sons.
.power to transcend gravity
.all nature obeying
.Christ glorified in the saints.
Finally, the Bible speaks of a woman [the Church] with child, travailing in birth, "and pained to be delivered" (Rev. 12:2).
"And she brought forth a manchild, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron." (Rev.12:5).
The woman gives birth to a mighty warrior, a full-grown child, a "manchild." Not a babe. Then she "fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God." (verse 6).
God will not "rapture" the Church, but will protect His Church, during the tribulation. There was war in the heavenlies. "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ." (verse 10).
Good news: the "manchild" are the Sons of God who come forth in the endtime to cast down Satan and his demons one final time in the battle of the ages. The Sons of God win the battle. The accuser of the brethren is cast down, and the blood of the Lamb, with the word of the Sons' testimony, brings great victory to the woman, the Church in the wilderness. And great defeat to our enemy.
It's what the whole creation is waiting for, says Paul.
"For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the Sons of God." --Romans 8:19
It's the final step to glory.