In our last message we saw that the appearing of the sign of the Son of Man is the presence of Christ Himself coming as a corporate expression in His sons. This sign speaks of a hidden agenda ordained from before the ages. An agenda that will be revealed at the appointed time to all of the Lord’s people who dwell in the earth realm. This agenda is the manifestation of Christ in His body – the many-membered Christ personified in a first-fruit company of elect sons.
We resume today’s message by continuing to reflect on the prophetic words of Jesus and the events that follow the appearing of the sign of the Son of Man. We read: “…and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they WILL SEE THE SON OF MAN coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mat. 24:29-30). Following the appearing of Christ, we notice that those who dwell in the earth realm enter into a state of repentance and consequently SEE the Son of Man.
Spiritually, repentance and seeing are synonymous experiences. Repentance is a change of mind. Every son who has put on the mind of God sees all things. Seeing signifies the ability to discern. Abraham by faith “saw Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). That is to say, Abraham was able to discern and perceive the Spirit of God. We can only discern God by the mind of the spirit. Jesus said: “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me” (Joh. 14:19). Unlike the world, only those who are endowed by the Holy Spirit have the spiritual capacity to discern Him. But, there are degrees of spiritual seeing. For, not all see or discern alike.
In Matthew 24, the fact that those people who dwell in the earth realm begin to mourn and see the Son of Man indicates that there were aspects of the Son of Man that was not revealed to them. Keep in mind that the realm of the earth is the realm of the soul and where soulish Christians dwell. It is a realm of mixture where we find duality, a fragmentary expression of the life of Christ mixed with the flesh. Today, you will find this lukewarm condition in the carnal church system.
It may be a surprise to some that the appearing of the Son of Man would be hidden from the millions today who profess Christ in the institutionalized religious system. Throughout scripture we see that God often conceals His truths, only revealing it to a few stewards of His mystery. The bible declares: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (Prov. 25:2). Paul; a great steward of this mystery, declares: “that I should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God” (Eph. 3:8-9). The fellowship of the mystery hid in God – what a fellowship that is!
At the epicenter of God’s mystery, you will find Christ, whether it be the mystery of His will (Eph. 1:9), the mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16), the mystery of our change (1 Cor. 15:51), the mystery of reconciliation… and as we have been seeing, the mystery of His coming. But in order to be enlightened to understand these mysteries, we need to have our senses exercised to discern. Discernment is the ability to “separate, make a distinction, discriminate”. Strong’s also defines it as to “withdraw from or oppose” and “separate thoroughly”. Therefore, in the spiritual sense, discernment entails the capacity to separate, make a distinction and discriminate between spirit and flesh, light and darkness, righteousness and unrighteousness, the mind of Christ and the carnal mind, truth and error, the true church and Mystery Babylon, the world system and the kingdom of God, and Christ and Adam.
I had an interesting experience as a young boy which is relevant to what I share here. One summer, a few of us decided to wonder around the Akaki River area in Addis Ababa which was not far from our neighborhood. One particular day, we happened to pass by a brewery which had filled the area with an awful smell. The smell was so unbearable that some of us began to gag and nearly vomited. As we grappled with the unpleasant aroma, our reaction drew the attention of the residents passing by who looked at us in amusement. For them, the smell was normal. They were accustomed to it. But, how was it that the same aroma could be discerned differently by different people?
This question has spiritual significance. We see it exemplified during Jesus’ earthly ministry. For the Pharisees, Jesus Christ was not a pleasant aroma. To them, He was the aroma of death leading to death (2 Cor. 2:16). His words of peace, instead of liberating them, bound them to the lifeless religious order they had been accustomed to and defended fervently. The Pharisees failed to discern Him. Meanwhile, the Jews were looking for a king to liberate them from Roman occupation. They too failed to discern the Christ. However, to the disciples, our Lord Jesus Christ was a sweet fragrance whose ministry imparted divine life. As Simon Peter affirmed: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
The Pharisees’ and Jews’ capacity to discern spiritual things was eroded by the stench of religion and traditions they had been immersed in their lifetime. They wouldn’t let it go. Indeed, they couldn’t for they were not drawn by God to partake in the new dispensation. Yet, this is true even today among my fellow brothers and sisters who profess Christ in the contemporary church system of our day. Like the Jews they too have been steeped in the church system’s orders, forms, traditions and doctrines. Gradually, that system has sapped the life and moving of the Spirit diminishing their spiritual capacity to discern the truths of God’s kingdom and the new dispensation that God is ushering in.
Today, the “words of eternal life” which resounded in the heart of the disciples no longer resonates in the hearts of countless professing Christians whose theology denies the sovereign and infinite grace of God. Like the Laodiceans, they claim: “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:17). They have arrived at all they need to know about the plan of God and have shut their ears and hearts satisfied with their in-part revelation not knowing that many are poor and famished. Like their forefathers, they wait for a literal king to appear through the sky failing to discern Christ’s present and ongoing coming. How ironic then that those in whom Christ is now revealing Himself are being rejected and being branded as heretics. But, the time will come when the entire realm of professing Christendom will mourn and see the Son of Man coming with clouds.
So, why are the senses of many saints dull today? In the natural, we know that the nose is a discerner. We often smell food to inspect whether it is spoiled. We smell clothe to check if it’s dirty. We enjoy good food not just by its taste but also by its smell. However, our capacity to smell can sometimes fail us. As relayed in my childhood experience of the locals who lived by the brewery, the nose can be accustomed to a specific smell as a result of continued exposure to the point that a stench no longer becomes a stench. It becomes normal. Likewise, the stench of the religious church system and her doctrines have become normal to many. In fact, that foul odor has become a pleasant aroma to those who have acclimatized to its soulish teachings and man-made dogmas. This is the sad reality of religion’s subtlety. Its elusiveness, half-truths, mixtures of truth and error, and the muddling of the spiritual and fleshy keep many oblivious and indifferent not having their senses exercised to discern both good (truth) and evil (error).
These things I write are a reflection from my own journey. Having grown up in the church system, I was accustomed to her teachings, her doctrines, her ceremonies and every soulish agenda she promoted. Since childhood I was indoctrinated in her ways. However, as God began to reveal the truth of the full gospel of the Kingdom, His plan of the ages for mankind, the reconciliation of all things in Christ and the many other mysteries relayed in His word, it wasn’t long before my spiritual senses began to discern the smell of confusion and error I was drowning in. It wasn’t pleasant. Its doctrines were fortified with the vilest set of lies that could only be conjured in the dark recesses of man’s heart. It was a cruel fabrication of carnal man that had so deeply infiltrated my belief system and my very perspective of God. It was a foul odor!
I couldn’t sit there any longer for I was repulsed by the carnality and the spirit of self that was being propagated by that system. It was seemingly well intentioned and sincere on the façade, but beneath it was a grotesque beast – defiantly opposing the very word of God. It had the form of godliness but denied its powers. It professed one thing but believed another. It acknowledged the sovereignty of God but by its beliefs opposed it. It paid lip service to the supremacy of God but in practice elevated the desire of man above God’s. It confessed the rulership of Christ but denied His Lordship. It was a system driven by prominence, greed, and control of the Lord’s people. In fact, I was surprised that in all those years I sat in the pews, I had not recognized it.
Surely, the natural man is incapable of discerning spiritual things. For, “the natural (soulish) man receives not the things of the Spirit of God… nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). We were all first natural beings in that we were all men who lived by what we understood with our natural minds and sensed with our natural faculties. Paul states: “the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual” (2 Cor. 15:46). We were all at some point like those people who lived by the brewery. We continually lived under the dictates of the natural man under the bondage of religion. Certainly, some of us are still in this state, so habituated to the error and humanism of our own Adamic nature that we never discern how foul it is.
So, how would it be possible to enable those people who live by the brewery to discern the foul smell? Well, their noses would have to be reprogrammed. And this can only be done by removing the people from that area. Over time their noses would be awakened to distinguish the clean air from the foul. This is precisely what God is doing among His elect sons today. Therefore, He instructs us “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). He is summoning us to come up higher out of the realm of the church to the throne (Rev. 4:1), out of this corruptibility, out of the natural man, into the superior realm of spirit, into the realm of the glory of God where we discern and emit the pure fragrance of Christ.
May God make these truths real to your heart and complete this work in all of us. Amen!