Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Wilderness Survival for Christians - Part 4

Joseph Herrin (04-09-2010)


I have learned much from my own wilderness walk. I desire to share these things that I might lessen some of the agony that comes to people when they do not understand what is happening to them. Oftentimes perplexity can lead people to despair for they may believe they have somehow gotten out of God’s will and are on their own. To think such a thing will rob the saint of peace and make it very difficult to continue on their way.

I have shared that in 1999 the Father brought me to a place of surrender to follow Him wherever He would lead. This was actually my moment of counting the cost of being a disciple of Christ and accepting it. I was immediately led into a wilderness walk. The narrow gate opened before me and the afflicted path to life greeted me.

The Father instructed me to quit my job as a computer professional and to begin a ministry of writing. He said He would supply all of our needs. My way was made very difficult because I had false expectations of what that would mean. Yahshua has promised all His people that if they seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, His Father will supply all our needs (Matthew 6:33).

The immediate context of this passage in Matthew finds the Lord speaking of the birds of the air being fed daily by the Father, and the lilies of the field being clothed in raiment. These are the necessities of life, food and covering. The apostle Paul echoed this sentiment to Timothy, declaring that with these things we should be content.

I Timothy 6:7-8
For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

When the Father led me through the narrow gate in 1999, I found that it was so narrow that I could not carry all of my worldly possessions with me. I have written elsewhere about the meaning of Christ’s words concerning a camel going through the eye of a needle, but I believe it is appropriate to share it again here.

Matthew 19:23-24
"Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Many have misunderstood the message of Christ in these words, for they have mistakenly equated “the eye of a needle” with a sewing needle. Camels do not go through the eye of a sewing needle, so this makes little sense. In the days of Christ cities were surrounded by walls for protection against invading enemies. Gates were set in the walls to allow people and materials to come and go. These gates were closed at night and in times of danger, but it was still necessary to allow a limited flow of people in and out. Therefore, built into the large gates was a small door which could be opened to let a man in or out. This small door was called “the eye of the needle.”

Camels at the time were used for transport of goods. They would be piled high with merchandise and goods to be traded. If a man came to the gates after they had been closed and needed to enter, it was possible to go through and take his camel along, but it was very difficult. The master of the camel would have to take all the merchandise off of the camel, and the camel would have to go through the gate on his knees.

This is a picture of how a rich man must enter the kingdom of heaven. Getting on one’s knees speaks of humility, and removing all the goods from the camel’s back speaks of the necessity of Christians being unburdened from their possessions.

Matthew 19:21-22
Yahshua said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.

The word rendered as “perfect” in this Scripture is the Greek word teleios. This Greek word means “perfect, mature, of full age.” What Yahshua was telling this rich young ruler of the Jews is that if he wanted to come to maturity as a son of God, then he needed to free himself from his possessions which were making his life very comfortable and easy. He would then be free to follow Christ. Christ would lead this young man down an afflicted path, but it would lead to spiritual maturity. Holding onto his possessions, and clinging to his comfortable lifestyle, would hinder this man from coming to a perfect conformity to the image of Christ.

Most Christians think that the Lord’s words to this young ruler were exceptional. They have been convinced by preachers of prosperity that this young man had an inordinate affection for the world’s goods and therefore he was required to give them up. They are told that this example does not apply to them. What the saints have not understood is that the Lord is revealing a very general principle through these words, a principle with application to all of the lives of Yahweh’s sons and daughters. A life of material ease and comfort will hinder all men from coming to maturity in Christ. “The way is afflicted” which leads to life. Comfort and affliction are opposites. We cannot choose to live comfortable lives and expect to find the life of Christ revealed in us at the end of our journey. It will not happen.

I did not understand this in 1999. According to the Biblical definition of wealth, I was wealthy. So too are many who are reading this. Paul contrasts the person who is content with food and covering with the one who desires to get rich. This then must be our standard to understand what an inordinate desire for material things is. If we cannot be content with food and covering, but must have many other material things, then we are those who desire to be rich, and we risk falling into a snare and many hurtful desires.

Now, I am not saying that a Christian cannot have more than their daily bread and the clothes on their back. What the Scriptures teach is that if this is what the Father chooses for us, we must be content.

When I was directing my way I naturally accumulated a great amount of the world’s goods. I had a house, multiple vehicles, many furnishings, closets full of material goods, and a garage filled with the same. Many of the things I had were for entertainment, comfort, or ease. I anticipated that in following the Father that He would continue to supply me with the financial means to keep this mass of worldly goods.

Soon after quitting my job and entering a full-time ministry of writing, my money began to run out. I knew I had heard Yahweh correctly, for He had given me an abundance of affirmations that I was walking the path He had chosen for me. Yet my expectations were not met, and this led me to much inner wrestling. Perhaps the word terror would more accurately describe this period of my life. I did not understand what was happening, and great doubts began to assail my mind, as well as fears of being out on the street homeless with my wife and kids.

It became necessary to begin selling some of our accumulated possessions to have money for food and to pay the bills. So we had a garage sale.

The money would last us for a time, and then I would find that it was necessary to lighten the load some more. In God’s sight I was still carrying way too much worldly baggage with me.

I found that I could not get past the narrow gate with all of these goods. The first thing the Father did upon my surrendering to Him was to begin stripping me of the baggage of this world. I believe this to be the pattern for a great many people who are brought to a place of counting the cost of following Christ. Christ traveled very lightly through this world. His focus was not upon material acquisition, or personal comfort, but upon doing the will of His Father.

When we read of the story of the rich young ruler, many Christians automatically think that the story does not describe them. They do not consider themselves rich in this world’s goods. The Bible describes this young man as one who “owned much property.” Does this not describe a majority of Christians today? Property is not merely real estate. It is every item that we purchase. It is all the things that fill our homes, our attics, our garages, and our storage rental buildings.

The reaction of this young man who came to Christ is the same as a great many Christians. If Christians today heard Yahshua speak to them, telling them to sell all they had and to them come and follow Him, most would go away greatly saddened. What the church has done instead is to change her doctrines. The church promotes the accumulation of goods. They have made the gate very wide and the path broad, but they are leading men and women to destruction.

Christ’s first disciples testified that they had left all behind to follow Christ (Mark 10:28). They are not an exception. We find in the book of Acts that the Christians of that first church in Jerusalem began selling possessions and lands and bringing the money and depositing it at the apostles feet to be distributed to those in need. They did what Christ urged the rich young ruler to do. We see then that Christ’s words were not an exception to be applied to one man who was inordinately wealthy. The entire church began to practice this disengagement from the world and its possessions.

Acts 4:32-35
And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them...For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles' feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.

Notice the highlighted words. They reveal that what was done by the first Christians was a general work, not an exceptional one. Upon surrendering to Christ, I too found this to be an immediate work of the Father. I believe the reason we see so little of this occurring today is that there have been very few saints who have yet counted the cost of following Christ. There are hardly any who have accepted the invitation of the Spirit to follow wherever He would lead and do whatever He would say. Men and women who are directed by their own souls are not naturally led to do those things that Christ directs His disciples to do.

People of God, my purpose in sharing these things is to prepare your heart to have correct expectations of what you will meet with when you surrender to be led of the Spirit. I was tremendously distressed, for I did not understand these things. My heart was filled with anxiety, but I submitted to the stripping of my worldly goods nonetheless. Each time I had a sale the Father cut deeper into those things I thought I needed to have, or desired to have. At the end of a year my wife and children and I found ourselves with a 28 foot motorhome and a small car in tow. We had clothes, and a few possessions which would fit into the motorhome. We also had freedom. We had no debt and no attachments to a specific place. We could go wherever the Father directed.


The Israelites who left Egypt to enter the wilderness had to leave many things behind. They could take only what they could carry, or what their few wagons could hold. They left homes in Goshen, and furnishings, and a great many things. Necessity dictated it. For forty years they dwelt in tents. The day came, however, when they took possession of Canaan. They received houses they did not build, and vineyards they did not plant. They became possessors of a land flowing with milk and honey.

We too are seeking to enter into the land of our inheritance. Our Savior has promised us that He goes to prepare a place for us. We will one day receive many glorious things, but on our journey to that destination we should travel very lightly through this world. We are aliens and strangers here. This is not our home.

These things I write are for that remnant of Yahweh’s people who will surrender the direction of their lives to Him. I desire that you would not be tormented by the perplexity I was met with when I began this journey. I am now accustomed to traveling light through this world, but the initial adjustment came as a shock. I would now have it no other way. What I once possessed actually possessed me. I had been in bondage to the material things I owned. Now my burden is light, for I am yoked to Christ and I am walking as He walked, and continues to walk.

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Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, May 24, 2021

Wilderness Survival for Christians - Part 3

Joseph Herrin (04-06-2010)

Wilderness Entry Point

If you were about to enter into a wilderness experience that a vast number of people had attempted before, an experience in which only a remnant survived, would you not want to study the lives of those who perished, and those who survived, that you might be prepared?

There are a great multitude of Christians who will perish in the wilderness. They will not enter into God’s rest. They will fall short of possessing the glorious inheritance that could have been theirs.

In the Old Testament record of Israel’s journey through the wilderness. We are told that out of a group of 600,000 men above the age of twenty, there were only two who made it through the wilderness and entered into the promised land. These two were Joshua and Caleb.

It should be sobering to all Christians to consider that the events that occurred in that generation of Israelites who departed from bondage in Egypt is a parable of the experience all the saints of God are to pass through. We too have been purchased by the blood of a Lamb while living in Egypt (the world). We too are to depart in haste, having removed all leaven (sin) from our households. We are to be led of the Spirit in all our journeys, even as they were led by the pillar of fire and the cloud.

The apostle Paul declares to the church that they too should fear lest they fall short of entering into God’s rest.

Hebrews 4:1-3
Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, "As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest."

I do not observe among Christians today any fear of being disqualified by God from entering into their inheritance. The church has been lulled to sleep by the monotonous drone of endless preachers who proclaim a gospel of ease and comfort. Neglected is the message of the disciple’s cross. Scorned is the doctrine of suffering, perseverance, and self-sacrifice. And like the ten virgins who were sleeping when the bridegroom returned, so too will the majority of the church be fast asleep at an hour when they should be watchful and alert.

Let me remind you of that which I have shared already. Even as the Israelites on the night of the first Passover were led immediately out of Egypt into a wilderness journey, there is such an experience appointed to everyone who comes to Christ for salvation. If you are to be numbered among the overcomers in Christ and have not surrendered to be led of His Spirit wherever He would lead, then you will soon be brought to this place of complete abandonment to the will of God.

Luke 14:27
"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

Our cross is simply a surrender of our will to God. He will lead all His obedient sons and daughters on a path of His choosing. All are required to surrender their will, their dreams, and their plans, for they have been bought with a price and are no longer their own. It is the Father’s will to lead all through a wilderness experience.

This wilderness experience has been depicted in various ways. Christ called it the “narrow path.”

Matthew 7:14
“For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

I have written elsewhere that the word translated as “narrow” is in many other places throughout the New Testament rendered as “afflicted.” This is what the word means. The path to life is an afflicted way. The Israelites found the path to the promised land to be an afflicted way. Yahweh tested them in many ways before they arrived at their destination. He wanted to prove what was in their hearts.

Deuteronomy 8:2-4
And you shall remember all the way which Yahweh your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh.

The apostle Paul declared that everything that the Israelites experienced serve as examples of the things Christians will also face. We also must be tested, and a great many will fail the test.

I Corinthians 10:1-12
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved. And do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play." Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

This message of testing is nowhere found in the church houses of prosperity today. It has been replaced with a message of self-indulgence. Christians are told to pursue their best life now. They are told to pursue both God and mammon. The shepherds, and the flocks they feed, love it to be this way. Who wants to hear a message of enduring difficulties when there is another gospel being proclaimed? Yet only one of these paths leads to life. The vast majority have chosen the broad way that leads to destruction.

The patterns of the Old Testament agree with the plainly spoken words of Christ. Only a remnant are at this time being saved. The vast majority of those who name the name of Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah are following a path to destruction.

Matthew 22:11-14
"But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him,' Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."

Over half a million men received the call to leave Egypt and enter into the land flowing with milk and honey. Yet only two men of that generation did so. Are the percentages much different today? It is necessary that YOU look to the examples given in Scriptures to determine why so many failed, and so few succeeded. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.

You will most assuredly be required to pass through a wilderness experience. It is your choice whether you end up a corpse there, or pass through it to enter into your inheritance. Look at the following Scripture with an eye open to discern what the difference was between the overcomers and the corpses.

Numbers 14:22-32
Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it... And Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. Say to them, 'As I live,' says Yahweh, 'just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses shall fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey - I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this wilderness.”

What did Israel do to incur this judgment from Yahweh? We read that they grumbled against God; they tested God’s patience; they did not listen to His voice; they spurned Yahweh; and they spoke words of unbelief.

In order to learn from their example we must be very practical. What is it that Yahweh is calling His people to do today? He is calling them to cease from their own works that they might ever live to do His will. This is Sabbath rest, ceasing from our own works.

Hebrews 4:9-12
There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience.

Do you not want to fall in the wilderness? If you do not, then you must cease from your own works as God rested from His. This was the pattern of Christ. Six times in John’s gospel Yahshua testified, “I never do anything of My own initiative. I only do the will of the Father.” Yahshua is our pattern man. Did He not begin His ministry by being led into the wilderness by the Spirit? This was a parable of that which all who would follow Him must do. We must be led of the Spirit through our own wilderness experience. In this place we too will be led to buffet our bodies and rule over our appetites. In this wilderness place we too will be tempted by the devil. Christ was victorious, and so too may all be who have been born again of His Spirit.

This then is the entry point into your own wilderness experience. You must surrender to be led of the Spirit.

Luke 4:1-2
And Yahshua, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

We do not choose our own wilderness experiences. Nor will everyone experience identical circumstances. Yet the common experience of all is that they are being led of the Spirit wherever they go.

It should seem incredible that there could be so many Christians today who have never faced this moment of decision. The churches and preachers have not told them what is required to be a disciple of Christ. There is never any warning from the pulpits today to count the cost before confessing Christ as Savior AND LORD. Consequently, the path to life is seldom ever attained. The afflicted path is not considered. The way to life has been hidden by generations of neglect.

Matthew 16:24-26
Then Yahshua said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”

Look at the message of these words that are seldom proclaimed today. To arrive at the destination that Christ has arrived at, to stand with the overcomers upon Mount Zion, a man must deny himself; he must take up his cross; he must be willing to lose his life. This is the only way to follow Christ, for these are the things He did.

Here then is the great point of entrance to the wilderness. Will you surrender to the will of another, even the will of the One who gave His life for you? Will you trust Him with your life, not shrinking back from anything He would ask of you? You may have many fears. You may experience perplexity, and suffer the loss of many things. Can you do so without complaint? Will you follow when others are shrinking back?

We have a Savior who knows our frame and our weaknesses. He took upon Himself the form of sinful man. He was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin. He knew all the emotions of this flesh. He was rejected by His people. He was misunderstood by those closest to Him. Though He walked among multitudes He was alone with His Father.

We have a sympathetic High Priest who will stand with us in all things. Nothing can separate us from His love. He is inviting you to cast your life over into His hands without any reservation. He has promised you an afflicted path, but He has said He will walk it with you.

There is truly a fellowship in His sufferings. All He is asking is that you trust Him, and follow Him freely. This is where the journey begins.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Friday, May 21, 2021

Wilderness Survival for Christians - Part 2

Joseph Herrin (04-02-2010)

Though None Go With Me, Still I Will Follow

The first post in this series spoke of the necessity of lightening one’s load to begin a journey into the wilderness. Knowing what to take, and what to leave behind is a critical matter. It is also necessary that those going into the wilderness make decisions concerning WHO to take, and WHO to leave behind.

When Christ declared what was required to be a disciple, He spoke of personal relationships. Even as He said that no man could be a disciple who did not give up all his possessions, He also said no man could be a disciple who did not give up all his relations.

Luke 14:26-27
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

Unless you are an orphan, an only child, unmarried, and without offspring, there is some relative of yours named in the list above. Christ declared that a disciple must subjugate all worldly relationships to one’s relationship to God the Father. Christ is our pattern man. He ever lived to do the Father’s will. Where the Father said go, He went. What the Father said to do, He did. He spoke only the words the Father gave Him to speak. He lived to do the will of the Father.

You can well imagine that such a complete commitment to doing the Father’s will is a very rare thing in the earth today. Should a man or woman make such a commitment, presenting themselves to God with complete abandonment, they will find that they have few traveling companions. Those who are closest in relation, even father and mother, brother, sister, wife, and son, and daughter will rarely ever have the same commitment. This lack of agreement will lead to separation.

Amos 3:3
Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

The disciple of Christ must follow God the Father as Christ did, or they are not truly a disciple of Christ.

Matthew 10:24-26
"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the servant as his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!”

What I want you to understand is that going into the wilderness is a physical metaphor for following Christ. God has spoken through means of this parable throughout the Scriptures.

In the Old Testament we see the Israelites departing from centuries of bondage in Egypt on the night of the first Passover. Having applied the blood of a lamb to the doorposts and lintel of their home, they were passed over by the death angel. That same night they departed from Egypt. Guess where they went? The people of God went into the wilderness where they spent the next forty years.

Look at the pattern here. Passover and the blood of the lamb are types and shadows of salvation through the blood of Christ. When we apply the blood of Christ to our lives we are then expected to surrender to be led of God’s Spirit IMMEDIATELY. The Israelites were commanded to eat the Passover meal with their loins girded, sandals on their feet, and their bags packed. They were to be ready to depart from Egypt immediately.

Few Christians in this generation have ever entered into this immediate surrender, for it is not taught today. Most Christians are fed falsehood that says they can continue to be directed by their own soul, and to seek things for self. They receive a twisted gospel that presents God as someone at their beckon call, rather than the Christian being completely surrendered to Yahweh’s will.

Our Father will not allow this condition to go on forever. As He did in my life, He hemmed me in, and brought me to a place of decision. He revealed to me that I had not ever come to a full surrender to be led of His Spirit. He told me that I could not go any further with Him, and would instead begin to regress spiritually, unless I made a full surrender to be led of His Spirit in all things.

To me, this was like staring at the face of my own death. I knew if I made such a radical, total commitment, that my heavenly Father could require anything and everything of me. He could lead me anywhere, and ask me to do anything. My mind imagined many things that were terrifying.

It should strike a discerning Christian as a travesty that a professing believer in Christ could spend decades of his life avoiding this moment of “counting the cost” of discipleship. It is to be our starting point, but many never give it consideration. Some spend their entire lives evading the issue, engaging in denial that there is anything further required of them as a Christian. Such ones end their lives in spiritual barrenness, bereft of the inheritance that belongs to the overcomers who die daily, and take up the cross. They live a life of strange delusion where they are persuaded that they will have the same reward as those who gave all in their pursuit of the Father’s will.

Galatians 6:7-8
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Between the time I was baptized at the age of ten, and the year 1999, a span of 28 years, I gave obeisance to Yahweh only in part. Much of my attention, indeed the majority of it, was focused upon pursuing things that originated in my soul. It was a merciful thing that the Father did not leave me in this condition, for I would have suffered great loss on that day when I stand before Him.

Self-direction is the condition of all men until they surrender to be led of God. As soon as we surrender, our Father is sure to lead us into a wilderness experience, for this is the path to be trod by all who would arrive at the promised land of their spiritual inheritance. As the Israelites embarked on a wilderness journey on the same night that they applied the blood of the lamb to their doorways, just as surely will the Father lead all who will be led of His Spirit into a wilderness experience.

Because there are so few who have made a full surrender, all true disciples are confronted with a lonely walk.

It is a rare thing for more than one member of a household to commit fully to following Christ. Such a statement seems unreasonable to many professing believers, for they can name a great many families in which all, or most, of the members express belief in, and devotion to, Christ. I am not speaking of a confession of Christ, or even a sincere devotion. I am speaking of discipleship, which is a complete surrender. Remember, Christ is the pattern man. How many Christians do you know who are following God into places their soul detests, and which cause their flesh to recoil in terror?

I have shared in numerous writings that there are divisions among the saints. The people of God are compared to a temple built of living stones. The Temple had three sections, the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. Christ spoke of disciples who brought forth 30, 60 and 100 fold. There were three feasts, each associated with a harvest, these being types and shadows of the three resurrections of mankind. I have written of these things in many places, particularly in the books The Remnant Bride, and Christ in You - The Hope of Glory. I encourage you to read them if you do not understand these matters.

Even as a professing believer will find himself divided from the world when He comes to Christ, so too will the saints find themselves being divided from one another. The 30 fold will accept a certain level of commitment, and bear fruit accordingly. The 60 fold will embrace a further more costly obedience which the 30 fold will shrink back from. The 100 fold will cast all over into the hands of the Father. They will be the grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies and bears much fruit. These will find that the 30 and 60 fold believers will not walk with them into the fiery furnace.

These things are foreshadowed in the layout of the Tabernacle of Moses. The entire nation of Israel, the redeemed of the Lord, had access to the Outer Court. Only one tribe, the Levites, could enter the Holy Place. Only one man, the High Priest, could enter the Holy of Holies.

The Levites could walk among the other tribes of Israel in the Outer Court, but eleven tribes could not follow them into the Holy Place. There was a turning back, for the cost of admission was much higher. The High Priest could walk among the entire nation in the Outer Court, and among the tribe of Levi in the Holy Place, but he walked alone when he entered the Holy of Holies.

How far do you want to go with the Father? If you require a lot of companions you will not proceed very far as a disciple of Christ. When you demonstrate a willingness to follow Christ into a complete surrender, to let go of all worldly possessions, to walk through any experience no matter how painful, you will find that mother and father and wife and brother and sister and son and daughter and friends will shrink back. If you agree to go only if they go then you will not go far at all.

There is a reason that Yahweh required Abraham, the patriarch and forerunner of His called out people, to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him on an altar unto Him. Abraham is the father of faith. He is a type of those who are pleasing to the Yahweh. All are called to lay their most beloved relatives on an altar. Sometimes God will give them back to us in this lifetime, but not always. We must be content to accept the will of the Father.

People of God, those who embark upon a wilderness journey must take consideration at the start concerning what they will take with them. It is not possible to carry too much of the world’s goods with us. It is just as necessary to consider WHO will walk with us.

The fully surrendered saint need not initiate any division between himself and others. They need only commit to following Christ wherever He leads. It will soon become apparent who is willing to follow. Some will turn back quickly. Some will go along for a time before halting. Only the smallest remnant will go all the way to stand with the overcomers on Mount Zion.

Jeremiah 3:14
And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

This pattern is once more seen among the Israelites who departed from Egypt. Egypt is a symbol of the world. Out from the world God calls a people. The entire nation went into the wilderness. Yet only two men above the age of twenty entered the promised land. Why? They alone were willing to follow Yahweh when He showed them the giants they would have to face.

This story is very telling. Yahweh was displeased at the complaints of the people. True, there were giants in the land. True, these giants were stronger than the people of God. But God promised the Israelites that He would fight for them, and Yahweh is bigger by far than the greatest giant. Only two men reckoned on Yahweh fighting for them.

Joshua and Caleb were not disqualified by the unbelief and complaint of the rest of the nation. Their entry into the land was delayed, but God spared their lives when all others from their generation perished. No wilderness survival manual could be complete without pointing out the reason for their continuance. Their experiences were written for the benefit of today’s saints, upon whom the end of the ages have come (I Corinthians 10:11).

Joshua and Caleb were willing to follow Yahweh where others refused to follow. They spoke words of faith where others spoke words of unbelief and complaint against God. Joshua and Caleb honored Yahweh by their obedience and their words. They did not shrink back from the challenges to which Yahweh led them. These two men survived the wilderness because they loved not their lives even unto the death, and they considered Yahweh faithful who had given them the promise.

If you would survive your own wilderness experience you must be committed to following God even if no others go with you. You must not falter in obedience to God because others are unwilling to face the giants in the land. Though all others should refuse to go with you, you must set your face as flint to do all the will of Yahweh.

Those who died in the wilderness had lots of companions. Those who made it through did not.

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Joseph Herrin
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Montezuma, GA 31063

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Wilderness Survival For Christians - Part 1

Wilderness Survival for Christians - Part 1
Joseph Herrin (04-01-2010)

Note: This multi-piece article was written eleven years ago. It is as true today, even more so, than it was when first written. May you be blessed and instructed as you read it.

There stands between you and Yahweh’s intended destination for you a journey that must be experienced. The path to your inheritance in Christ leads through a wilderness. Although this wilderness may include time spent in a natural wilderness area, and trials of a physical nature, such as finding food and shelter, the wilderness is primarily spiritual. The pattern with God is “first the natural, then the spiritual.”

I Corinthians 15:46
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.

In the Old Testament we read of Yahweh leading His people through a natural wilderness. This journey was recorded by Moses. The physical wilderness that the Israelites journeyed through as they left behind centuries of slavery in Egypt touched their bodies and their souls. The souls of the Israelites found their journey as barren and desolate as the Wilderness around them. Yahweh ever uses the natural experiences of life to impact the soul of man as He labors to promote the development of spiritual men and women.

Deuteronomy 8:2-5
And you shall remember all the way which Yahweh your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that Yahweh your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.

I can say with confidence that a very real wilderness experience lies ahead of the people of God. It has always been God’s method to perfect His sons through trials and testing, but the present generation has largely spurned such things. They have fed on lies, deceiving and being deceived by one another. Today’s Christians have been told that Yahweh wants to bless them materially, to make them fat on all the things of Egypt (the world). They have been encouraged to live their best life now by preachers of prosperity and ease.

Yahweh is about to vomit many of these lukewarm Christians out of His mouth. A remnant, however, will accept His invitation to follow Him through a difficult wilderness way. Many who begin the trek will not finish it. Some will die spiritually in the wilderness, their hearts having turned back to Egypt.

For the past eleven years the Father has been leading me through a wilderness experience. I have written of this journey in the book Evidence of Things Unseen.

In 1999 the Father spoke through a young woman in the church of which I was both a member and a minister. He said, “I am about to lead some of you through some very difficult experiences. These experiences are to prepare you for the days that follow after them.” I have walked in the fulfillment of these words. I have been led through wilderness ways, often without companion or friend. I have been very much like Moses when he fled Egypt at the age of forty to spend four decades tending the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro.

Like Moses, these experiences were intended for my development as a son. They served to humble me, and to teach me Yahweh’s ways. Many things that were once a large part of my life fell by the wayside. Some things simply cannot be carried in the wilderness. They are burdensome and make the journey too difficult. This was a lesson the pioneers learned as they traveled west across America in the 1800s.

When God calls a people to surrender all, and to follow wherever He would lead them, they must begin to make decisions about what must be kept, and what must be left behind. In my case, these decisions were thrust upon me. If I followed the leading of Christ I had to leave home, vehicles, furnishings, and many years of accumulated possessions behind. Yahweh provided no means for me to continue to hold onto these things.

Many pioneers heading to the American West started off with too heavy a load. This placed a strain on the wagon, and on the animals pulling it. In soft, wet, or rough ground, the wagon would become stuck. Many goods were abandoned along the way. Some cast away pianos, china cabinets, and other things they considered inseparable. When their forward progress was brought to a standstill they had to evaluate what things were truly essential. Things that were not absolute necessities were thrown to the wayside.

I am reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy as he instructed him about the proper attitude towards the goods of this world.

I Timothy 6:7-8
For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

People of God, eleven years ago I had a large house on nearly an acre of land in town. I had a household of goods. Our closets were full, as was our garage. We were overloaded with the goods of the world. This encumbrance prevented us from following the Father wherever He would lead.

The Father led me to a radical departure from the life I had been living. He instructed me to quit my job as a computer professional and to follow Him. I anticipated keeping most of my worldly goods, but the Father had other plans. He began to strip us of many things accumulated through years of indulgent living. Christians in America have little concept of how materialistic their lives are.

As God begins to lead a greater number down wilderness pathways they will quickly learn that they are able to do with much less. Some will try to carry the maximum amount possible.

About a year after the Father directed my family to follow Him wherever He would lead us, He had brought us to a place where everything our family of four owned would fit into a 28-1/2 foot long motorhome. There was tremendous liberty in this. We could go wherever the Father directed. We were not held back by our possessions.

Many have criticized me for leading my family to such an experience. In the mindset of American culture, including the American church, such Spartan living strikes many as cause for reproach. I am persuaded, however, that a great many in the days ahead will be brought by the Father to choose whether they will follow Him and leave the world behind, or cling to the things of the world.

Luke 14:33
"So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”

If you are to survive your wilderness experience you need to let go of the things of this world. Some will make foolish decisions as they seek some way to hold onto possessions that have taken hold on their hearts. Their journey will be far more laborious because they started off trying to carry too much with them.

Covetousness is not the only motive for clinging to the things of this world. Fear also plays a part. It is very difficult to willingly make ourselves vulnerable. Despite the fact that practically every Christian has recited the Lord’s prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread...,” there are few who relish the thought of looking to God to provide for them day by day. The natural man feels insecure when he does not have a large supply of food and material goods laid aside to help him meet the needs of the future.

Yahweh had to deal with this lack of trust among His people when He led them into the wilderness. He promised them that every day He would provide their necessary food to eat. Yahweh sent His people the manna of heaven. The Israelites would find it on the ground every morning. Yahweh, knowing well the fears resident in the soul of man, assured them that the manna would be there every day. He told them to only gather enough for one day.

Exodus 16:4
Then Yahweh said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.”

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church and told them that all the things that the Israelites experienced in the wilderness were written for their instruction (I Corinthians 10:11). Paul said that the Israelites were types of the church. Yahweh must test His people today, and perfect them through similar methods. Without faith it is impossible to please God, yet this faith is not natural to the Adamic man.

The wilderness is designed to take a people who are carnal (fleshly) and transform them into spiritual beings. Let us not think too lightly of the tests that the Israelites faced. What would your response be to God sending you forth into a wilderness place where there were no stores, no growing grain, and no animals to eat? What if He did so with only one day’s supply of food? Would you go forth boldly? If you are like me, you would experience great anxiety, and have to battle daily with worries and unbelief.

This was certainly my experience in 1999 when the Father led me to quit my job and I had a wife and two children for which to care. We were soon brought to extremities. Our money ran out and our stored food was consumed. When the cupboards were bare I experienced great fear. I knew the Father had directed my path to this walk, and I could not turn back. How potent were my fears. I was tormented by them.

At the time I was encouraged by a message I heard preached where the speaker said that sometimes we have to “do it afraid.” I knew that if I turned back that the Father would be greatly displeased.

Hebrews 10:38-39
But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

I do not know that I would have responded much different than the Israelites when they first began to receive the manna. They disobeyed Yahweh by gathering more than one day’s supply. That which was left over bred worms and became rancid (Exodus 16:19-21). For forty years He would give them only one day’s supply of food at a time. He was teaching them to trust in Him.

Exodus 16:35-36
And the sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

People of God, one of the first things you will have to deal with as the Father leads you to your own wilderness experience is this matter of letting go of the things of this world. You will discover precisely how much covetousness and fear is a part of this fallen flesh in which we dwell. To survive the wilderness you will need to buffet your body and keep it in subjection. The greater the faith you manifest in Yahweh, the easier the way will be before you.

Those who seek to hold onto the things of the world will hesitate in following the Father’s leading and suffer for it. Others will encumber themselves with too many things, and their way will be made burdensome. It is those who will freely lay aside all, and commit their lives to the Lord, that will find the way made much easier. Those who enter the wilderness must not make emotional decisions predicated upon either lust or fear. They must quiet their souls that they might hear clearly the voice of the Spirit of Christ. They must do precisely what He instructs them to do.

Psalms 131:2
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.

I am observing the lives of some who at this very season are having the goods of the world stripped from their hands. They would in no way freely depart from these things. Their unwillingness to obey has led God to deal with them through very stern measures, even to bringing them to homelessness and imprisonment. It is not necessary for the Father to deal with His people so forcefully if they will attend to the still, small voice of his Spirit.

Psalms 32:9
Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.

If we will attend to the voice of God, He will not have to jerk our heads around to get us to comply with His desire for us. If we prove stubborn and unresponsive, it is truly a merciful thing that He would not abandon us, no matter how harshly He must deal with us to bring us to a divine correction.

It was not necessary for Lot to enter Sodom as a wealthy man and leave with only the clothes on his back. He hesitated. He would not depart even when his soul was vexed day after day by the sin he saw all around him (II Peter 2:7). When Yahweh sent angels to bring him out Lot hesitated again. The angels had to grab Lot and his family by the hands and lead them outside the city. Lot’s family lost everything. Their way was made much harsher due to their hesitation. Lot and his daughters ended up sleeping in a cave. Had he departed earlier he could have had his tent and some things that would have made his experience less painful.

What was it that kept Lot in Sodom when the time came to depart? Lot was attracted to ease and worldly abundance. When Abraham asked Lot to depart from him for their possessions had become to great to abide together, he invited Lot to choose for himself which way to go.

Genesis 13:10-11
And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere - this was before Yahweh destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah - like the garden of Yahweh, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan...

People of God, our natural tendency is to choose a path of ease, to select for ourselves the way that is the most comfortable and appealing to the flesh. It is easy to grow dependent upon such comforts, and it is with great difficulty that we will let them go. Lot should have gotten the message when Sodom and Gomorrah were conquered by foreign kings, and he and all his possessions were taken captive. Abraham had to raise an army to deliver his kinsman, yet Lot returned to Sodom for it was comfortable to him.

Are you able to heed the voice of God when He speaks to you to come out of Sodom? Or does natural affection for the things of the world keep you rooted? Will you get up quickly and depart when the Spirit says to do so? Will you lay aside all the things of this world that you have accumulated and take with you only what the Spirit directs you to carry? Or will you hold onto as much of the world as possible?

Beginnings are very important. If you know that a wilderness experience is coming to the people of God (the Spirit testifies that it is coming quickly), would you not want to be as prepared as you might possibly be? Some have been hearing the Lord instruct them to get ready for years now. They have accepted willingly the reduction of their worldly goods. They have moved to smaller homes, or given up homes altogether to dwell wherever the Father has directed them. Many have simplified their lifestyles. They have learned to eat less food and healthier foods. Some have been riding bicycles, or walking, instead of driving everywhere.

By accepting these things now from the Father, they have been acclimating themselves to those radical changes that the Spirit is testifying are to come to America and many other places.

People of God, lighten your load now while you can. Reduce your dependence upon that which you have stored up in the bank, or in your pantry. Be willing to look to the Father for your daily bread. Where He leads, follow. What He says, do. In the coming days, you will be very glad that you did.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, May 17, 2021

Why Does the Bible NOT Condemn Slavery?

Joseph Herrin (04-19-2010)

The following was written in response to a man in jail who has been writing to me to express sincere objections he has to the Bible and Christianity. He asked why Christ and the Bible did not condemn slavery, for he views it as a great evil. The answer leads one back to the purpose of this age, and reveals the misconception that many men, including Christians, are harboring in their minds.

The answer leads one back to the disciple's cross and the afflicted way. I thought it was therefore appropriate to share it at this time when I have been writing concerning the wilderness and the afflicted way that leads to life.

Dear (Name Withheld),

You asked me why the Bible, and Jesus, did not condemn slavery. That is an excellent question, and the answer is one that provides much insight into the purpose of this present life that we are living.

So many people (Christians included) have the perspective that this present life is of paramount importance. It is the only life that many people know about. With this attitude, you can well understand why so many people are seeking to attain to the fullest, most satisfying life now. One of the most popular Christian books in recent years is Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now.

Such books and teachings reveal the apostasy (falling away from the truth) of the church. The church is doing the very thing that Christ and His apostles condemned. They are seeking to accumulate material possessions, and are pursuing a life of ease and comfort. They do so because they have adopted the false mindset that this present life and age was designed by God to be enjoyed by man.

It may seem bizarre to hear someone say that this present life and age was not designed to be enjoyed by man, but this is actually the case. This present age serves the purpose of developing sons of God who will share His character and image. This character can only be attained through suffering.

Hebrews 5:7-8
In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

This is the method by which ALL sons of God must be perfected (brought to spiritual maturity) and learn obedience.

Philippians 1:29
For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake...

The prophet Isaiah describes Christ as “a man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief.” This is the experience that is required of all men in order to lead them to spiritual maturity. As we are faced with difficulties, distresses, suffering, and sorrow we are provided opportunities for the Spirit of Christ to form within mankind the image of God.

Consider those things that are described as fruits of God’s Spirit.

Galatians 5:22
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...

When do people have the opportunity to exercise the peace of God? It is not proven, or developed, when their outer environment is one of peace. The kingdom of God must be established IN man. Divine peace is developed when our outer world is one of great distress, and unrest. This is what Christ demonstrated when He was sleeping in the boat while the storm raged all around Him. His disciples which were also in the boat became full of fear and awoke Christ saying, “Do you not care that we perish?”

Christ had found the place of rest. He knew that He was not going to perish for His Father was not done with Him yet. Despite the outer circumstances He was able to maintain calm in His soul and abide in perfect peace.

When do we have opportunity to develop gentleness? Is it not when we are provoked? It is when people mistreat us, or speak unkindly to us. The natural reaction of the Adamic man is to respond in like manner, to fight fire with fire. Yet Christ instructed those who would be perfect (spiritually mature) to speak a blessing when cursed; when slapped on the right cheek, to present to the person the left cheek as well.

Christ demonstrated this as He went to the cross. Peter tells us that Christ “while being reviled, did not revile in return. While suffering, He uttered no threats.” Christ was as a lamb led to the slaughter. There was no other way for Him to demonstrate spiritual maturity than to be put into very unpleasant situations.

The same is true of patience. We only can develop God’s patience when we are put in situations that our natural mind screams out to be released from. It is therefore necessary for God to subject His sons to experiences that they do not find comfortable or easy. As they come to a place of rest in the midst of what may be very difficult circumstances, the nature of God, revealed in the character of peace, is formed in them.

The same is true of self-control, perseverance, and meekness. We only can develop these things when we are tested, sometimes severely.

Seeing that God has determined that this present time is for the perfecting of His sons, He must choose to subject them to many difficult things. Comfort and ease and pleasure do not promote the fruit of the Spirit.

The Bible has testified that the church would fall away from the truth. They would equate material prosperity and worldly blessing with spirituality. This is what a host of prosperity ministers have done. Seeking a comfortable and pleasant life is the predominant mindset of the church today. What they do not understand is that as they set their focus upon a life that is pleasant to them they are avoiding the experiences that are needed to develop spiritually mature sons and daughters.

In God’s sight, this present life is but a moment. There are long ages to come in which His sons are destined to share in His glory and to exercise His power and authority. Yet, many will receive very little of any of these things because they have not labored to qualify themselves. They have avoided the difficult path that alone could mold them into God’s nature and character.

When you read the Bible you find that the very ones that God loved the most, He subjected to very difficult experiences. He did this for their good, including His own Son.

David knew years of difficulty, living in wilderness places, being persecuted by Saul, knowing reproach and sorrow. Yet it was as he responded in a godly manner to these experiences that the nature of God was formed in David. Yahweh was therefore able to make David ruler of His people.

The same is seen in the life of Joseph. Joseph was given dreams of promotion, of ruling and reigning. Yet the path to this advancement and honor was exceedingly difficult. While his brothers were living as free men, doing whatever they chose to do, Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt. Later Joseph was falsely accused by his master’s wife of sexual transgression and he was put in prison. His life was one of slavery and servitude. It was very difficult.

We read that every place Joseph was put, whether as a slave or a prisoner, he was faithful. He did not wallow in self-pity, or grow angry with God. He did not abandon his faith. He continued to pursue behavior that Yahweh found pleasing and the day came when he was spiritually mature enough for God to promote him. God made Joseph ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. He was given honor and power and authority.

The process of Joseph’s preparation serves as a parable for all mankind. God is seeking sons that He can promote. He is looking for those that He can bestow His honor and authority upon. These sons must be matured spiritually first. They must all walk a very difficult path so that patience, gentleness humility, self-control, perseverance, peace, and such things as these might be formed in them.

This is the reason God has not condemned slavery. God takes a much larger view of things than man does. He knows that the experiences of Joseph as a slave and a prisoner were used to bring about godly character. So too will godly character be formed in all who can experience such things while yielding to the leading of the Spirit of God. Those who can bear up under difficulty with patience and grace, rather than responding according to the natural man’s fallen nature, will prove themselves to be fit for God to bestow honor upon.

Of course, it does not benefit a man at all to experience hardships, distresses, difficulties and injustice if he will not choose to respond with peace, forgiveness, and those other traits which are the nature of God. Such a man will merely be hardened in his fallen nature, and will become bitter, angry, vengeful, depressed, or self-pitying.

This is why Christians are called to fight the good fight of faith. Responding in a godly manner to adversity is not the natural man’s normal response. It is a position that must be fought to attain unto.

God takes a much larger view of things than most men do. He knows that a man can develop spiritually while a slave as well as a free man. It is all about attitude. Indeed, being free can be a great hindrance to a man unless he becomes a willing slave to God.

I Corinthians 7:20-22
Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave.

Do you see what is proclaimed here? To be acceptable in God’s sight a man who is free must surrender his freedom to Christ. Man must choose to not live for his own will and desires, but rather for the will and desires of God. He must make himself God’s bondservant, a willing slave.

Philippians 2:5-7
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant...

Christ was the perfect example of this principle. He freely subjected Himself to the will of His Father. He never sought to please Himself. He always sought to please God. Even when His Father revealed that it was His will for Him to die a death on the cross, He said, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” This is true submission to the will of another.

The apostles and church leaders manifested this same attitude.

Romans 1:1
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God...

James 1:1
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ...

II Peter 1:1
Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ...

Jude 1
Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ...

These men had freedom, but they gave up their freedom to become slaves of Christ. It is no more difficult for a slave to enter into a free and willing subjection to God than for a freeman. All can be conformed to the nature of Christ if they will surrender their own will to do the will of another.

Slavery in the eyes of God is therefore not harmful to a man’s spiritual development. In truth, it may be quite helpful. This is why God chose to subject Joseph to a life of slavery while his brothers lived as freemen. This experience, as hard as it was, served to develop in Joseph the godly character necessary to not be corrupted by the honor he was to receive.

If our mind is upon pleasing ourselves, then slavery will certainly appear as a great evil. If we think this life is all there is, then it will seem unjust for any man to be deprived of liberty and a pursuit of happiness. However, if we have the mind of Christ we will understand that we are not called to please ourselves and this life is far from all there is.

I Timothy 5:6
But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

God has testified that His thoughts are not man’s thoughts, nor are His ways man’s ways. He considers the one who is living for pleasure to be dead already. They will forfeit long ages of ruling with Christ, sharing in His glory, power and authority.

You are on my heart and in my prayers.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Friday, May 14, 2021

When Sheep Fight Back

Joseph Herrin (05-09-2011)

Artwork by Douglas Alves Ferreira

Several people have written to me asking about various Scriptures that could be viewed as supporting a Christian’s right to defend themselves against those who attack them. The two main examples they have given are Stephen when he gave a defense before the Jewish leaders, and Paul as he was repeatedly brought before the Jews and the Romans and charged with various transgressions.

As Christians we are charged to “study to show ourselves approved unto God... rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). To find God’s approval, we must arrive at His mind. Without question, man has various biases. These biases become evident when he seeks to arrive at an understanding and application of Scriptures. The saint who approaches this subject of suffering needs to be cognizant of the fact that the flesh in which he/she dwells has a strong aversion to suffering. The flesh will look for an interpretation of Scriptures that will provide a way to avoid pain, loss, humiliation and everything else that is a part of taking up the cross and following Christ. The flesh will not willingly embrace an afflicted path. It is always casting about for some way to walk on that broad and easy path while having some hope that it too will lead to life.

To arrive at truth as we study the word of God we must quiet our soul, and arrive at a place of contentment where we simply want to apprehend the mind of God. We must be satisfied with whatever the Father might reveal to us. It is clearly the will of God that His sons and daughters suffer many things in order that they might arrive at spiritual maturity. The fruit of the Spirit is developed in the face of adversity. When else does a man need longsuffering other than during extended seasons of suffering? When does man need gentleness? Is it not when his flesh is provoked to respond with harshness? The experiences of this present age are designed to provoke a response of the flesh that the spirit man might rise up and put the flesh to death.

The trials God puts His sons and daughters through are often described as “fiery.” We are like precious metal, gold or silver. When taken out of the earth these metals have impurities in them. A refiner will heat the metal to a very high temperature until it enters a liquid state. When this happens, the impurities inside are released and come to the surface where they can be removed. This is the same process the Father subjects His children unto time and again. He desires that we come forth in complete purity before His eyes.

The role of suffering in bringing forth mature sons was revealed from the first book of the Bible. There is a profound parable contained in the curse that befell the woman when she sinned. God does everything by design. He could have chosen anything He desired as the consequence of sin. What He chose was intended to reveal a deep truth. Eve, the wife of the first Adam, is a type of the Church, which is the bride of the last Adam (Christ). This is brought out in numerous passages.

Ephesians 5:31-32
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

What God spoke to the woman in the Garden is intended as a natural picture of spiritual truth. The physical world reveals deep truths of the unseen Kingdom of God. Consider the following words as a parable.

Genesis 3:16
To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

The woman is the church. She can only bring forth children through sorrow and pain. Even though this is the manner of bringing forth children, the church’s desire will remain toward her husband, Christ. He shall rule over her. As the church submits to her Head, she must obey His call. Yahshua has said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” This is an invitation to embrace pain and suffering. It is the only manner in which children can be brought forth.

You may recognize that there is a problem with this parable. Most of the people in the body of Christ today are NOT submitting to Christ for Him to rule over them. They are NOT heeding the desire of the Husband. It should be kept in mind that Eve was formed from a remnant portion taken from Adam’s body. Christ too has a body. The bride of Christ is not the entire body, but a choice portion. There is a remnant that is taken from the body of Christ to become His bride, even as there was a remnant taken from Adam’s body to fashion Eve. If you would be part of the bride of Christ, your desire must remain toward Him. You must submit to Christ ruling over you, even when His pleasure in your life leads to pain and sorrow.

If Christians approached the study of the Scriptures with these things in mind, understanding the necessity of suffering, they would be less apt to misinterpret passages such as those relating to Stephen and Paul. Let us look carefully to what is revealed in these encounters.

The word “defense” is often used in relation to the acts of these men as they stood before their accusers. This is an appropriate word. Paul used a Greek word that is correctly translated as defense when he spoke of standing before his accusers.

II Timothy 4:16
At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me.

The Greek word translated as defense in this verse is “apologia.” It is the same root word from which we get our English words “apology” and “apologetics.” Apologetics is a fancy word one often finds in association with seminary studies. The World English Dictionary defines apologetics in the following manner.

•    The branch of theology concerned with the defense and rational justification of Christianity
•    A defensive method of argument

Our English word “apology” has greatly changed in meaning over the years. It originally meant “a defense, excuse, or justification in speech or writing, as for a cause or doctrine.” This word is still used in this manner today, but more often it is used to denote a person asking for forgiveness, demonstrating contriteness for some action, or words. This was not Paul’s meaning, however. He was giving a defense using rational justification. What must be determined is “what was Paul defending?” Was Paul defending himself, or defending the message he was preaching?

Let us begin by looking at Stephen’s “defense” before the Jewish leaders. Stephen gave a lengthy speech. The entire event is found between Acts 6:8 - 7:60. In Acts 7:2 Stephen begins his defense. He starts by speaking of Abraham, then speaks of Jacob and Joseph before ending with a long section on Moses. It is evident from this entire passage that Stephen is not defending himself. He is defending Christ as the one that all the prophets and patriarchs looked forward to. Stephen ends his defense with the following words:

Acts 7:51-53
"You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it."

If Stephen were motivated by a desire to deliver himself from suffering, this was not the way to do it. It is quite evident that self-protection was not Stephen’s motive. The reaction to Stephen’s words was intense and violent hatred. Those present gnashed their teeth at him, drove him outside, and stoned him to death while Stephen prayed that God would not lay these things to their charge. Among those in violent opposition to Stephen was Paul, for he had not yet been converted.

Soon afterwards we read of Paul’s conversion experience as he was on the road to Damascus where he intended to arrest and persecute Christians. He had a dramatic encounter with Christ that left him blinded for a season, and he was led into Damascus by the hand. God sent Ananias to speak to Paul.

Acts 9:15-16
The Lord said to [Ananias], "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

Undoubtedly, if Paul had set his mind to avoid suffering, he would have been working against the will of Yahweh. Those who would suggest that this was Paul’s motive when he gave a defense before the Jews and Romans have misjudged the man. Consider the following testimony from Paul’s own lips.

Colossians 1:24
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church...

Acts 21:13
Then Paul answered, "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Yahshua."

These words were not a mere idle boast. At this time Paul had already experienced most of the following:

II Corinthians 11:23-28
Are they ministers of Christ? - I speak as a fool - I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness - besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

Paul was not focused on self-preservation. His focus was upon fulfilling the ministry entrusted to him, and finishing the course set before him. Paul was striving for the prize, and did not count his own life precious, so that he might be able to finish his course with joy.

Acts 20:22-24
And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Yahshua, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

In these words we find Paul’s true motive. This must be ever kept in mind as the saints look at the various encounters Paul had with the Jews and the Romans. There were occasions when Paul spoke a word that delivered him from suffering. Following is one example.

Acts 22:24-29
The commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?" When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, "Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman."  Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?" He said, "Yes."  The commander answered, "With a large sum I obtained this citizenship." And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen." Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

There may also come occasions in the life of the saints where speaking up may deliver them from unnecessary suffering. It is evident from the pattern of Paul’s life that he was not consumed with a desire to escape suffering. Five times he received 39 lashes. It is recorded that Paul submitted to such lashing at the hand of the Romans on another occasion, only revealing that he was a Roman citizen after the fact.

Acts 16:37-40
But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out." And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

What was Paul’s motive in revealing this information AFTER he had already been beaten? Undoubtedly, Paul had concern for the other Christians who remained in this city. It would greatly temper the attitude of these officials to know that they stood in some peril for an illegal act, leading them to pursue no further harassment against the Christians Paul left behind.

The Christian must guard against developing a theology of avoiding all suffering. There are times when Christ will deliver His people from the mouth of the lions, but there are also times when He would have them to embrace suffering. We must be content with whatever Christ chooses for us. There is no virtue in suffering when it is not the will of God. There are few today who err in this direction, however. The vast majority of the saints are erring by seeking to avoid all suffering. The doctrines of the church today have led many to conclude that Christ suffered so that they need not do so.

Christ said that ALL who would be His disciples must take up their cross and follow Him. Yahshua warned His disciples often that men would persecute them. Paul manifested a proper balance in his life to suffering. He did not go out of his way to avoid it, yet when the Spirit directed him to speak a word that would alleviate unnecessary suffering he spoke it. We too must be led of the Spirit in all things. I have stressed so much this subject of suffering as it is almost completely rejected, avoided, or misunderstood by the saints today.

A brother in Christ wrote to me yesterday the following:

Paul in many ways defended himself with wisdom the Holy Spirit gave him.  He used logic and divine wisdom AND the power of government to extricate himself away from probable death at the hands of the Jewish authorities, or being crucified by the Romans.  He also appealed to his own citizenship rights as a roman to get himself out of prison and a fairer trial at the hands of Caesar...

What this brother is referring to is Paul’s defense before the Roman Governor Festus. When Festus asked Paul if he were willing to return back to Jerusalem to be tried before the Jews, Paul answered in the following manner.

Acts 25:9-11
But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?" So Paul said, "I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar."

Was this an act of self-preservation, as the brother suggested? Was Paul simply seeking to get a hearing before Caesar, because he thought he would get a fairer trial? If we study the word of God as workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God, we will find that Paul had previously been told by God that he must go to Rome. Paul was not seeking to escape suffering, but rather to accomplish the will of God, and to finish his course and ministry. Prior to this encounter with Festus in chapter 25 of Acts, we read the following in chapter 19.

Acts 19:21-22
When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome."

Note the highlighted words. This determination to go to Rome was not something Paul cooked up in his soul. He had no intent to go there to escape from the Jews. The Spirit had revealed to Paul that he must go to Rome. Yahweh affirmed this to Paul again, a short time later.

Acts 27:21-26
Paul stood in the midst of them and said..., “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.' Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.”

In examining the various “defenses” that Paul gave, there is great evidence that Paul was not defending himself, but rather he was defending the message Christ had entrusted to him. Perhaps the greatest example of Paul’s focus is found in his words to King Agrippa, Bernice and Festus. This great defense is found in Acts chapter 26, comprising the entire chapter. Paul testified of his early life as a persecutor of the Christians. He speaks of his conversion and the ministry appointed to him by Christ. The effect of Paul’s words are revealed in King Agrippa’s response:

Acts 26:28
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian."

Truly, this was Paul’s heart. He was giving a defense of Christ. There are some who would point to Paul’s various encounters with the Jews and Romans to support a contention that it is the will of God for Christians to take up a defense of self. Some are even advocating an armed defense. I have Christians who have written to me who are creating fortress like structures, and have prepared themselves by acquiring guns and bullets. People of God, such actions are not the will of the Father. Such a mindset is contrary to the pattern we see in the suffering of Christ and His disciples. How will the saints ever fulfill the following words penned by Paul and John if they set their focus on fighting evil men through physical force?

Romans 8:35-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Yahshua our Lord.

Revelation 12:11
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

It is not coincidental that sheep are mentioned in both of these passages. Christ has given to His disciples the parable of sheep as they encounter evil men and women in this world. He demonstrated by His own life and death what the behavior of His disciples should be.

Isaiah 53:7
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.

Christ was perfected as a son through the things He suffered. So too must we be brought to spiritual maturity through similar means.

Philippians 1:29
“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake...”

Acts 14:22
"We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."

As yesterday’s post testified, we are to be as sheep in the midst of wolves. The disciples of Christ are to conduct themselves wisely as serpents, they are to beware of men, while at the same time being “harmless as doves.”

Paul was not always perfect in this. On one occasion as he faced the Jews, he was ordered to be struck by the High Priest. Paul responded with reviling words:

Acts 23:1-5
Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?" And those who stood by said, "Do you revile God's high priest?" Then Paul said, "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'"

People of God, it is truly wresting an interpretation from the Scripture to conclude that this passage supports adopting a combative attitude towards one’s accusers. Paul admitted his error.

Do you really want to rely upon your own cunning and strength to deliver you from the hands of evil men? There is no peace in such a course. You will always find someone more cunning, or more powerful and determined than you. Let us entrust our lives as Christ did to the One who judges righteously. Yahweh will not deliver us from all suffering, which is why many choose rather to lean upon their own abilities. Yet He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Isaiah 43:2-3
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...”

Yahweh has determined that His people must be perfected through suffering. This message is found from Genesis to Revelation. Let us entrust our lives to Him, setting our eyes on the finish line. Let us adopt the attitude of Paul, not counting our lives as precious that we might finish our race with joy. Let us leave room for God to defend us. We are sheep. He is the Shepherd. His rod and His staff will protect us. Don’t take up the responsibility for your own defense. Admit your weakness in this area. When we are weak, He is strong.

I am confident that God will put every man and woman to the test in this area. He will prove to them whether they have acted wisely in that which they have chosen to look to for their deliverance and protection. If you are setting your confidence in the arm of the flesh, your confidence will be tested. Let the saints of God place their confidence in Yahweh.

How easy it is to begin to take up one’s own defense, only to see that the fruits of the flesh begin to manifest.

Galatians 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are... hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders... and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

When we begin to enter into strife with other men, it is difficult to keep our flesh out of it. When delivering ourselves becomes the focus, we lose sight of our call to be conformed to the image of Christ.

It requires faith in God to look to Him to deliver us, while at the same time asking Yahweh to be merciful to our adversaries. We are not apt to “speak a blessing when reviled,” or “bless those who curse you” when we have set our minds to contend with others. The fruit of the Spirit is revealed as we do not count our own lives precious to us. Then we are able to perfect the manifestation of patience, peace, gentleness, humility, longsuffering, and self-control.

Have you never been in a conversation where you began to defend yourself, only to find yourself losing patience, becoming angry, your voice rising, and speaking things you later regret? The surest way to avoid falling into a manifestation of the flesh is to not seek to defend it. Accept the blows of others with patience. Entrust your life to the Father.

I Peter 2:19-20
For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

If you want to find in Scripture some justification to defend yourself, and contend with your adversaries, you will no doubt find it. Ask yourself, however, “Will following such a course  lead to a greater death to the flesh?” On the other hand, will choosing to not resist an evil person lead you to a greater humility and conformity to Christ? Yahshua said, “Whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn to them the left also.” For the sake of conscience, this is the course I must choose.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

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Joseph Herrin
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