Joseph Herrin (04-10-2011)
My soul was greatly encouraged this day as I considered that there are only a few being saved at this time. You may well ask, “How is such a thought encouraging?” It is encouraging in the sense that I need not conclude that something is wrong with the message of the disciple’s cross, and the afflicted path that leads to life, simply because so few will receive it. Christ used the word “few” when He described how many there would be who would find the path to life.
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and afflicted is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
I was led to look up the Greek word that is translated into English as “few.” Following is what I discovered in Strong’s Concordance.
oligos (ol-ee'-gos); of uncertain affinity; puny (in extent, degree, number, duration or value).
“Puny in extend, degree, and number.” This is the word the Bible uses to describe how many find the way which leads to life. This is borne out in a dialog Christ had with one of His disciples.
Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are being saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
Christ did not deny that only a few are being saved. If we were to conclude, as much of the church does today, that salvation is acquired by confession of certain beliefs relating to Christ, then we would certainly object. There are more than a billion people in the world today who profess faith in Christ. In contrast, it is a mere remnant who have taken up their cross to follow Christ. It is a little flock who have found the afflicted path through the wilderness and are patiently following its course.
One of the things I am observing at this hour is that our Father is making a division among His people. He is setting forth the invitation to all His sons and daughters to stir themselves up beyond the norm of what passes for Christianity in this hour. Without question, the devotion, surrender, and obedience of many of God's people is at low ebb. The influence of a self-focused prosperity gospel, and the de-emphasis of the disciple's cross has brought the spiritual condition of the body of Christ to a very low state.
Nevertheless, we are told that Yahweh always reserves a remnant unto Himself.
But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
I want to set forth before you the examples of two different men as an illustration of what God is preparing a remnant of His people for in this hour, and what is required of them. Few will answer the call of the Spirit of Christ to make themselves ready, for there is a great cost involved. The two men I would set before you are Joseph, the son of Jacob, and the rich, young ruler who came to inquire of Christ.
Joseph was the 11th son born to Jacob. Joseph had a heart toward his father that was unlike that of his brothers. We see Joseph's great zeal for his father when as a youth he brings back an evil report of the manner in which his brothers are treating their father's sheep. Later in life, we read of Joseph inquiring diligently of his brothers, when they come to Egypt and have not yet recognized him, as to the health of his father. His heart yearns for his father. When Jacob comes to Egypt, Joseph falls on his neck and weeps for a long time.
This aspect of Joseph's life is a very important part of the message the Spirit is conveying through his life. Those who are greatly devoted to their heavenly Father will be subjected to greater trials, confinement, and restriction of liberty than their brethren. This is to prepare them for promotion above their brothers, even as was prophesied in Joseph's dreams.
Sometime after Joseph's 17th birthday, his father sent him to check on the welfare of his brothers. Jacob was dwelling in Hebron at the time, whose name means "place of association." Jacob, as Joseph's father, was acting out a profound parable. The son who was to be promoted must be sent away from the place of association and live a life separate from his brothers. Because of the high call on his life, Joseph's experiences were to be more severe, involving a greater degree of suffering and restriction than his brothers experienced.
Joseph's brothers knew his devotion to his father, and his father's delight in him. Out of envy they sold him as a slave, rejecting their brother while he was pleading with them with vehement cries and many tears. Joseph was carried down to Egypt where he lived a life of slavery. In Potipher's house he remained faithful, never giving in to unbelief or rebellion toward God because of his harsh circumstances. As head servant of Potipher's house Joseph still had some freedom, but not to the degree of his brothers. They were all living as the free sons of a wealthy father, doing whatever their soul desired to do.
Joseph, at God's design, was then subjected to even greater suffering and restriction. Being falsely accused of sexual overtures toward Potipher's wife, Joseph was cast into Pharaoh's prison. Now he was doubly restricted. He was a slave and a prisoner. All liberty was removed from his life. He was kept in the prison, and did only that which he was commanded.
This is a pattern for all God's sons who would receive promotion and be judged worthy to rule and reign with Christ in the coming age. While their brothers are experiencing much liberty and freedom, pursuing many things their soul desires, there will be a remnant who hear the Father say to them, "I have somewhere to send you," and they will respond, "I will go" (Genesis 37:12-13). These who willingly submit to the Father's will must experience many things that their brothers are not experiencing. Those who will be promoted must embrace a surrender of personal liberty, coming under a submission to the Spirit of Christ that is quite severe in comparison to their brothers. What their brothers can do, they cannot. There is a qualifying through submission and suffering that is required of all who would stand as overcomers.
Although all your brothers and sisters in Christ may live life according to their soul's choosing, if you would attain to all God's desire for you, you must embrace a greater surrender of your will. Others may make decisions according to the desire of their own soul, but those who would walk as the overcoming disciples of Christ must embrace the same selfless devotion to the Father that He exhibited.
I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
Christ testified, "I can do nothing of My own initiative. I only do what the Father commands me to do." This is the pattern we see in Joseph's life, for he entered into a life of great personal restriction while his brothers were living as free men. Because Joseph submitted to these experiences while remaining faithful to God, the day came when the Father was able to promote him. He was taken from the prison and ascended to the throne in one day. After experiencing suffering, he spent the rest of his days bearing great authority, glory and honor. This is the pattern we see everywhere in God’s word. Suffering must precede glorification.
And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Some are willfully deceiving themselves in embracing a doctrine that says Christ suffered so they would not have to. This is great error, and can only end in immeasurable loss. Christ was the pattern man. He had a cross to bear, and He said ALL who would be His disciples must take up “THEIR CROSS” and follow Him. The apostles all affirmed this afflicted path.
I Peter 4:12-13
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
I Thessalonians 3:3-4
No one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation...
To bring this experience observed in the life of Joseph forward into the experience of the New Testament I would next make mention of Christ's encounter with the rich, young ruler. Here was a godly young man who had a sincere love and devotion to God. He wanted to receive eternal life. He approached Christ and asked him what was required. The Son of God cited a number of commandments from the Law of Moses. The young man affirmed that he had kept these from his youth on up.
Here was truly a young man who would be judged as righteous by the vast majority of people who viewed his life. Most men today, or in any age, could comprehend nothing deficient or lacking in the life of this man. Yet, when this ruler told Christ he had kept the commands, and asked what more he lacked, Christ declared that there was something further required of him. It was not enough to lead a moral life, confessing faith and devotion to God, while keeping the Law.
Yahshua said to him, "One thing you lack. If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up your cross and follow Me." But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful...
(Matthew 19:21-22, Mark 10:21 Combined)
The word translated as "perfect" above is the Greek word "teleios." It means "perfect, entire, lacking in nothing, mature." In effect, Christ was telling this young man that he had done well in the eyes of man, but he had not yet attained to the will of God. To arrive at the fulness of the stature that belongs to Christ, a man or woman must yield the direction of their life to Christ and experience an afflicted path. The sons of God are made perfect, and mature, through suffering and surrender.
Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
When Christ was presented with the cost of being a perfect Son, He embraced the cross and accepted the cost. In contrast, the rich young ruler balked at the cost. His attraction to the comforts and possessions of this world hindered him from becoming everything God wanted him to be. A love of ease, and a distaste for suffering turned him away from that narrow afflicted path that leads to life.
Woe to you who are at ease in Zion...
At this time, our heavenly Father is making a division between those who are willing to pay the cost of being "perfect" and those who are not. Even as Joseph was the only one of his many brothers who paid the cost required to achieve promotion, so too we will see that only a few Christians today will accept Christ's invitation to sell all, take up the cross, and follow Him.
It was required of the rich, young ruler that he turn his back on the world and the things in it. He had to eschew the passing pleasures of this world and choose willingly to share the reproaches of Christ. Only by embracing this path could he be assured that he would be lacking nothing when his journey though this earth was done. He had to empty himself of possessions, surrender his self-direction, and yield to follow Christ wherever He would lead Him. Christ informed him that there would be a cross for him to bear.
One thing that is assured to those who would follow Christ is that there will be few who walk the same path with them.
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and afflicted is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."
Those who yield their lives to be led of the Spirit of Christ will find that they have few companions along the way. The rich young ruler, though moral, a true believer in God, and a keeper of the Law, found that his path was separated from Christ's because he was unwilling to embrace self-denial and suffering to the same degree as the firstborn Son of God.
It is my prayer, that we might each one avail ourselves of the grace of God to accept Christ's invitation to take up the cross and follow Him. There is sufficient grace given to us that we might be as Christ who did not live to please Himself, but lived to please the Father. We can arrive at that place where we say with Christ, "I never do anything of My own initiative. I only do the will of the Father."
This is the message and burden Christ has placed upon my heart.
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