On Earth As It Is In Heaven Redux
Part Five Final
By Fred Pruitt
To listen to an audio of this, click here: On Earth As It Is in Heaven P5 Audio
Continued from Part Four
Finally, let me comment more specifically on the term, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How do we see that?
Is that prayer a commission to “Christianize” the world? Are we to attempt to remake this present world according to how we believe things are ordered in Heaven?
I believed a version of that viewpoint as a non-believer. I came up in the 1960s, the era of the “Age of Aquarius,” which put a little meat on the bones of what I had already come to believe. It was the spirit of the age, i.e., the idea of the upward progression of mankind so that one day we would have peace on earth because we would finally all learn to love one another and get along. Star Trek, which came out in the last half of the decade and I loved, depicted a united Earth in the 23rd Century, with all races and ethnicities represented in the crew.
I wasn’t consciously anti-God, because I thought He fit nicely into that picture somewhere, though I didn’t know Him personally at the time. I simply had no understanding of the gospel then. I even wrote a speech for our graduation ceremony in June of 1969 (50 years ago – Yikes!). It ended with a rousing inspirational high-schoolie message something like, “As we embark out into the world to take our places in society, let us be encouraged by the spirit of our time, the beginning of the Age of Aquarius and the dawn of a new day for humanity, an age of peace, love and understanding.” (Something like that anyway. I don’t have a copy – wish I did.) Unfortunately, though the speech coach tried to get me in there, the principal, Mr. Bryce, nixed it. I don’t think he was that inspired. The thing is, I really believed that at the time!
I believed in a political answer and that mankind will one day work it all out. If we could just get through this (back then) time without having total thermo-nuclear war. And if everybody would just love everybody. That’s all! Simple! Wishful thinking!
Then the Father revealed His Son in me. I didn’t know it in those terms in the beginning, though it was true nonetheless. Everything changed in my thinking and understanding. For more than five months after my conversion it was mostly just the Holy Spirit and me. He was my only Teacher. During that time He reoriented my vision to Christ in the Spirit, taught me that faith was the key, opened heaven and poured out the baptism in the Holy Spirit with glossolalia, poured Light out of the pages of Scripture overwhelming me, and sent little bits of new understandings on this and that every day.
One day He opened my vision to see “who” had been my teachers in the eastern philosophies I had looked into. It must have been similar to the devil showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world at one time. The Spirit showed me, visually in my mind’s eye, the true nature of those who had been teaching and guiding me. It was like He withdrew a filter from the scene, and without the filter blocking the true sight, those who had appeared to me previously as friendly, kind, mellow, spiritual, full of light and love, now were seen to be full of self-pride, darkness and deceit. They were human but inwardly were monsters.
I knew He had shown me the Truth, but it puzzled me for some time. They didn’t seem to be “out to get me.” Yet that seemed to be what the Spirit showed me. Even during my “hippie years” prior to my conversion, I had had at least three instances of being touched or trapped by a consciousness of the presence of Satan, who I did not believe existed. I looked into a mirror while tripping on LSD, and my face morphed into Satan scaring the you-know-what out of me. Another instance occurred the night a bunch of us moved into a new home, New Year’s Eve, 1971. I had a vivid dream that I was unknowingly in a satanic cult. There were a couple of other instances that were eerie and similar.
Most people would blame the drugs for the things I saw and felt. But I don’t believe that, and I was there. Most of the other thoughts, feelings and events of those days are dim at best in my memory. I didn’t give them much thought at the time. They were just things that occurred. I really didn’t put it together until many years later, after many years in Christ.
However, after the first night at the new place, I didn’t have that sense anymore (though lots of things happened there that should have been some big clues), and forgot about it. The net result, for me, of moving into that house with 6 other people, was that it was the place I first realized I needed to find a more complete answer to life, than the perpetual party I was trying to live at the time. It is also where I read a book that essentially started me on that road, Paramahansa Yogananda’s, Autobiography of a Yogi, in early 1972. That book blew me out of the water. It made me want to “know God.” My problem with the Christianity I “knew,” was that it had no power. (I was an ignoramus, but also sensing something needful in the Body as well.)
The “Christians” I knew, didn’t seem to be spiritual or holy people in any way that I could observe. The reason why Yogananda’s book impacted me so much, is that he talked of an experience with the Living God. He didn’t directly refer to Krishna or Rama or any other Hindu deity. He just talked about God Who was substantial to him. It was an experience he outlined in his book that intrigued me. It’s been a LONG time since I read it, but as I remember he decided to go to a nearby town, and to go without any means of food or transportation, but to depend solely upon God to provide for him and bring him back safely. It “worked!” He had the provisions he needed, everything just turned up! That really spoke to me!
I know it’s a strange beginning, but I can draw a direct line from reading that book, to my conversion day on December 25th of that same year. The Spirit knows just the right things to bring us in. Hallelujah!
Therefore, that is why as I grew in understanding, eventually I saw that it wasn’t necessarily intentional on the part of my former teachers and influences, because they didn’t know it themselves, just as it had been for me. I was also deceiving and being deceived, unknowingly. The thing about being deceived is that we don’t “know” we are deceived. To know we are deceived, breaks the spell! They had bought into the persona presented to them from the Angel of Darkness, a pseudo-persona of love, kindness, friendliness, calm, spiritual, full of light and love. The trickster had tricked them into believing they were that. For a time I bought into the same pretend persona. I tried to develop all those characteristics and even fooled a few people that I had become a spiritual person. I didn’t know I was faking it. At the time I thought “trying” to be nice and “trying” to be mellow was the same as actually being those things.
Then I fully understood Paul’s word that had puzzled me before my conversion: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Cor 11:13-15).
It was a revelation from the Spirit to see that, and then a further revelation of the Spirit that we are no longer are that. We are in the world, but we are no longer of the world.
Another major truth the Spirit hammered into me in those beginning days, was through a total reorientation in my mind. The Spirit was transitioning me out from my previous beliefs about humanity’s future. As I said before, that had been solidly focused on humanity, human society and our need to progress and evolve into better people down the line. The Spirit gave me my new and permanent viewpoint based first on Jesus’ many Words in the subject, as well as Paul and others.
Matt 6:19-21 – “ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth … For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Heb 11:8-10 – “ By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Heb 11:26-27 – “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.”
Heb 11:36-38 – “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
Col 3:1-3 – “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
II Tim 2:3-4 – “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
(Note. This is Paul addressing his assistant in the ministry, Timothy. He uses the term “soldier” in a spiritual sense only. Timothy was not a soldier in Caesar’s army. He was a soldier in Christ’s army. In Caesar’s army they carry swords, spears and other weaponry, with an intent to kill all enemies that resist them. In Christ’s army the enemy is ONLY the spirit of error, not even the people who do his bidding. Our weapons are the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and Spirit-supplied unwavering faith. We don’t seek to kill those who are blinded by Satan’s delusions, but to be light to them so that we might bring them into the light also. We are even called to die for them, if necessary, whether they love us or not.)
There is no such thing as a “Christian army” that fights Christ’s battles over earthly things. I do not mean to say that Christians are not to be in the military. But let’s not mistake Caesar’s business for God’s. Whatever issues they are fighting over in the world, they are at best second priority issues for those who are Christ’s. I realize to the people of the world, and it still is that world, these are very important issues. And because we love the people in our world whether they are Christians or not, simply as human beings with other human beings, all equal in that regard, then we can’t help but be supportive for and seeking the common good of all. But as the Body of Christ, our true issues aren’t immigration, health insurance, sexuality issues, gun control, social security, defense spending, foreign policy, etc.
In the terms of the Sermon on the Mount, those are the things the “Gentiles” or “the Nations” seek. Those things are their priority.
But in Christ we have a security and safety net far exceeding anything any government might supply. His answer to the situation is still the same: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” It is not just a song. It is the way we live in Christ.
Getting back to the first question raised above, whether it is our commission to Christianize the world. How would one make a nation to be “Christian?” According to what tradition or what doctrinal flavor would it have? Would it be Methodist or Charismatic or Episcopal or Baptist or Roman Catholic or the “accumulation of wealth” folks?
When Europe was called “Christendom,” for a thousand years after the fall of Rome, the Roman Catholic Church was thoroughly entwined with all the western European monarchies. Even when the Reformation had broken up their religious monopoly, there was still no “freedom of religion.” Each country’s leadership had to choose either Protestantism or Catholicism and the citizens were forced to follow suit. There were no other choices. Of course Protestants splintered into many different flavors, whereas the Roman Catholics hunkered down and pulled out all stops with their Counter Reformation. They brought back into full function the Inquisition, about which I have no qualms saying it was an instrument of the devil! But the Protestants often did the same as well!
Then these fine “Christian” nations went to war with each other over all these things. Catholics fighting Protestants, Protestants warring with Protestants. In England the Protestant Church of England (C of E) warred with the “Roundheads,” Puritan religious dissenters according to the Crown. Religious dissent was just as dangerous in the early Protestant days as it was under Rome. The Roundheads were more Presbyterian than any other flavor although many were independent.
The civil war between the Roundheads under Oliver Cromwell, and the Royalists under King Charles I, was over things like whether the ministers wore vestments and were called priests versus no vestments and no recognition of a priesthood based on apostolic succession, something which the “Protestant” C of E kept from its Catholic days, with the exception of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). The Roundheads didn’t recognize apostolic succession – which claims to be an unbroken line of bishops by the laying on of hands, beginning with the first Bishop of Rome, Simon Peter. It is how Roman Catholicism established and maintained its legitimacy over the centuries.
Other issues involved how to hold Holy Communion, whether fancy and “churchy” like the C of E, with an altar for Communion and the Priest’s lectern to the side, or plain as dishwater with only a pulpit for preaching up front in the middle. C of E emphasized sacramental ministry far above preaching. They taught that grace was in the sacraments. The Roundheads didn’t believe in sacraments. The way God demonstrated “grace” in their eyes was through the preaching of the Word. They considered the C of E too “Popish.”
And they killed each other, burned each other, over that stuff. Finally the Roundheads defeated the Royalist forces, which enabled them to capture and eventually execute Charles I in 1649. Oliver Cromwell, the commander of the Roundhead army, took over as head of government as “Lord Protector” not long after, It was supposed to be a “Theocracy” (a government run by God), but it was actually a dictatorship run by one man, Cromwell. He even dissolved most of Parliament for years until his death in 1658. There was talk of his son, Richard, succeeding him, but the populace wanted their King back. Therefore they called for Charles II to return from the Netherlands where he had been in exile, and restore the monarchy as King.
We could look into history and see time and time again the abuses that ALWAYS happen when political power is one with religion power.* The day the Roman Empire established “Christianity” as the only approved religion was almost death to the true Church. For nearly 300 years after Christ, sporadic persecutions had broken out many times until the day the faith was first legalized by Constantine in 313. In those years of hiding and persecution, there were many stories of believers being killed in various ways because they were of the faith of Jesus. Many went to their deaths in prayer and thanksgiving, often rejoicing, praising and giving God glory. When about 50 years later the faith became the only legitimate “religion” in the Roman Empire, the wholesale persecution of pagans began, which lasted for centuries all over the Roman Empire and for long after during the Dark and Middle Ages! Those who had been persecuted had now become the persecutors. They had abandoned Jesus for worldly power and worldly wealth. *(I did not say, “Spiritual power.” The Church of Rome ceased from being a spiritual power the moment they united with political power. With the fall of Rome, the Pope became the new Caesar. It became a religion, which had the force and power of the State behind it. Or a State, with the approval of God as its mandate. Religious and Political Power uniting, always create a monster. Always!)
Jesus and Caesar do not mix. A person may serve one or the other. Not both. A person may have only one master.
There was even a “Holy Roman Empire” that began with Charlemagne in 800 AD, in France, and lasted into the 19th Century. Though it pretended to be both, it was neither Roman nor holy. Though solidly Roman Catholic, it was often at odds with the various Popes, always over money or territory. We could write a library of books that tell this tale over and over through various attempts over the centuries of establishing “Christian government.”
Christian brothers and sisters – please hear me! This is not our “time” yet. It is not our time to “run” the world. Christians cannot even get along with each other! Doesn’t anyone understand this: “The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8 RSV)?
It is still the time of the nations. Jesus prophesied that after the destruction of Jerusalem (which happened in 70 AD), “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” The Temple was destroyed and the Jews scattered in 70 AD, but it was only the beginning of the “times of the Gentiles.” We may be at, or close to that juncture.
But either way, there is no admonition in Scripture exhorting us to politically take over the world. Christ cannot be legislated into legitimacy. The only thing that makes a Christian a Christian, is being born of the Spirit of God through Christ Jesus. No power of man can cause or prevent that. It is not a religion, certainly NOT a set of rules and laws about what and how to live, but LIFE itself, or Life HIMSELF, Who has taken up residence within us. We walk in His Spirit, speak His Words, love with His Love. That’s why that cannot be administrated nor even required by worldly governments.
Paul exhorted us to pray for the leaders in our governments, but never a word about trying to take over those governments. And the governmental power Paul exhorted his flocks to pray for, was as corrupt and cruel as any government has ever been, from the top down, from Caesar to lowly Publicans (tax collectors), a million times more corrupt and capable of cruelty than anything we have today in the USA and western Europe. One didn’t choose one’s leaders back then. The Greeks tried it briefly (for primarily the wealthy) in Athens for a couple of centuries, and even the early Romans deposed their king and established a Republic that lasted for a few hundred years until – Julius Caesar!
Hear what the Hebrews writer wrote: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? … Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. … But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Heb 2:6-9).
Jesus never commissioned us to take over the world in that manner. He only sends us out to preach the Good News, to make disciples (of Christ), and to edify and equip the saints to do what we are called to do. Paul has outlined God’s general commission to the whole Body of Christ in the world. Our true business is not with this present world. Our primary issues are only things of the Spirit. It has been taught since the beginning that the Church’s main job is to seek out the people of the Lord and participate in the gathering in of His people. That commission has never changed.
These two passages from Paul sum up the commission of the Church of Christ until the final consummation:
“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” (Gal 6:14-16).
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men …. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Eph 4:7, 12-15).
The final issue I want to mention, I’ve heard some who say they are Christians doing the will of God, are also believing it to be a good thing that war might be stirred up in the Middle East and other places in the world. The thought has been tossed into that mix that such a war would trigger the Rapture.
Really? Since when does the Living God act according to the cues of man? One cannot manipulate the fulfillment of prophecy. It’s like my first pastor said, who came from old-time Pentecostalism, “You can’t crowbar God.” Those who do such a presumptuous thing, seem to be saying, “Let us do evil, that good may come.” If so, woe to them!
To consider intentionally stirring up the sufferings of war thereby bringing widespread death and destruction to countless little ones of the Lord, in order to engineer the fulfilling of prophecy, is not righteousness at all but a presumptuous and abominable offence. They will rain destruction onto their own heads and all those with them. This is Jesus’ word on the topic: “It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1,2).
Ours is a spiritual commission. We can patch up the world but we cannot essentially change it. Only God can do that. However, it is our commission that we always bear about in our bodies the Lord Jesus only, for the salvation of the world. Let us return to our “first love,” when we couldn’t help but to share Jesus Christ and His love everywhere we went. Let the people rejoice to see us coming instead of fearing us, because we don’t bring death and destruction but instead bring glad tidings of peace and refreshings from the Lord. Nothing else saves.
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom 10:12-15).
“On earth as it is in heaven,” is the “Word made flesh,” in you and me in the here and now.
And think of it. This is only the beginning. We are only standing in the threshold.