I’m so thankful I’m in a place where I can experience true life and be near to my Creator. I’m thankful I was born in such a significant time when He could be found. A few days ago I got up early and took a walk. Everything was very dark, but then I saw it — the morning star. Oh, it was so beautiful! As I stood there in the quietness, looking at it, I said to myself, “I know who you are. Yahshua, my Savior, by You I have been created anew. You are the Morning Star who dawned in my heart after such a long and lonely winter night. You are the Lily of the Valley that blooms after the dark winter that my life was before I met You. You are the Son of God. I want to give You my whole life. You are worth everything. I am totally satisfied with You.”
I want our children to have what I have. It’s not material possessions or a comfortable life. Though you faithfully provided all those things for me as I grew up, I was not satisfied and had no real life and no real love. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m grateful for everything you did for me and gave me. I believe that you tried to give me the best, according to your ability and understanding. But maybe what I’m writing here can help you to understand why I have chosen a life different from the life you offered me. Even though I didn’t go in the way you wanted me to go, I do still love you and care about you.
Words really fail me to express to you how lost and alone I was before I came to the Community. I was without hope and without God in the world. I’m not saying that living in community saves anyone, for surely it doesn’t. In fact, without the Holy Spirit man is not meant to live in community. It is a torture chamber for the flesh. A good look around at all the communes and communities that have ended up in immorality and hostility, eventually dividing and falling apart, testifies to this fact. But what I was drawn to in the Community was the life and the love that was there.
This life is like the life that’s inside a bud that causes it to open. What’s working there is an incomprehensible force. It’s like what causes babies to be conceived, what causes them to breathe their first breath, what causes grass to grow, the wind to blow, the clouds to form. It’s like what holds the whole universe together, and even causes men to rise from the dead, and if I’m not connected to that force, then I’m dead. That force, that life is Yahshua, the Master of the Universe, and everyone who is not connected to that life source is just a walking dead person, because their spirit has not been made alive to Him. Their spirit is not compatible with God unless they have been reconciled, forgiven, and brought back into fellowship, total unity and oneness with their Creator through Yahshua. He is coming back to marry a bride who is compatible to Him, one who is worthy of Him.
The evil thing about Christianity is that it makes people think they are reconciled to God when they are not. The fruit of Christianity is like the hybrid vegetables you can buy now. They look so big and beautiful, but they have no life in them. The life is in the seed, and because they have no seed they cannot give true life to anyone, since they are dead. You know the old saying, “You can tell a tree by its fruit. A good tree bears good fruit, and a bad tree bears bad fruit.” Christianity is a bad tree that bears bad fruit, and though sometimes it looks good, its fruit has no life-producing seed. It’s artificial and sterile.
In the Book of Revelation, Yahshua said to the churches that unless they repented of those things He spoke to them about, their lampstand would be removed and He would not walk among them anymore. Obviously they didn’t repent, but went into apostasy. The church in Rome developed into the Roman Catholic Church. Just by looking at the Vatican and judging by the Word of God, you can tell that what the true church turned into is completely void of the true life of God, but goes on in its own “glorious” false light. And so on and on, down through the ages, the Catholic Church had many daughters through divisions, factions, and offshoots — the Lutheran Church being one of them. Probably many sincere people tried and still try to make the fruit of that bad tree seem good, but you can’t. The only thing God can say now is, “Come out of her, My people.”1
I’m not saying these things apart from my own experience. When I grew up, church had no life to offer me. And Dad, it shouldn’t be hard for you to agree with me on this, should it? I remember you falling asleep almost every Sunday, because you were bored to death. So there was nothing drawing me in church, but when I came to the Community in Chattanooga, for the first time in my life I saw an amazing thing. It’s hard for me to explain because it’s a spiritual thing, but all I know is that I was drawn. Before I came to the Community, I had come to the place where I doubted that God even existed, or much less, that He loved or cared about me. But through the life and the love that was communicated to me there, I believed for the first time that God not only existed, but that He truly loved me. Deep down I knew that what I was seeing and hearing was the truth. “If any man is willing to do the will of God, he will know whether the teaching is of God...”2 The life that I saw was fruit that had a seed in it.
I don’t know what was different about me compared with the other children of our family, but I remember that as a child I had such a longing in my heart to be connected to God. I’m so thankful that He sought after me and found me. “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.”3 That’s the only thing I could write to you when I left to come back here. When His love and His glory were revealed to me through His people, my response was to give my life to Him and to those people who bore His life — to dedicate my whole life to Him and to forsake everything to follow Him wherever He would go. That was my vow, and I’m still determined to keep my vow.
I want to share with you some things I’ve been learning about the gospel, as it is getting clearer and clearer to us. Whatever is worth having costs you something. It costs giving up something that you love in order to gain something that you love even more. This is what a ransom is4 — that which is given up to secure what is more valuable. John 3:16 describes the ultimate ransom: God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son as a ransom. This is a comparison. Of course God loved His Son — “His only begotten Son.” But the point this verse is trying to make is that God loved the world even more than He loved His only begotten Son. That’s why He gave Him up.
In the Old Covenant, a ransom meant “the price of a life,” or, “the price paid for what is redeemed.” Proverbs 13:8 says, “The ransom of a man’s life is his riches.” In Matthew 10:37-39 it explains how a man must give his own life as a ransom. He must give what he loves (his own life) in order to gain what is more valuable (eternal life), just as God gave up His own Son, whom He greatly loved, as a ransom in order to gain something that He loved even more. He gave up His one beloved Son so that He could have many beloved sons, as Hebrews 2:10 says. One Son is not enough — He needs many sons.
Why were those who were called or invited in Matthew 22:8 not found worthy? If one hangs onto his own life, and will not forsake what he must forsake in order to have Messiah, then he is not worthy to have Him or eternal life.5 Mark 8:37 asks, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” What will a man give as a ransom? What is the price? What value does eternal life have to him? It is the same exchange as in Mark 10:17-30 and Matthew 10:34-39 — a man must exchange his old life and all his possessions, including his family, his dream home, occupation, etc. But Mark 10:22 shows that the man did not really value the eternal life that he asked for in verse 17 as much as he valued his own life and possessions.6 These things were and still are the ransom price.
So when Yahshua asked, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” He did not just pose a rhetorical question, even though what He said before, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” could be thought to allude to that. Christians falsely take that verse to insinuate that there is nothing a person could give in exchange for his soul. Well, that is true in a sense, because the redemption of our soul is costly, so costly that nothing in the world can pay it.7 That’s why it says that we “were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”8 The ransom that Yahshua paid with His blood is priceless. But there is an exchange — a real exchange — that a person must make in order to be worthy to receive the salvation that Yahshua accomplished for him.
I hope you don’t mind me laboring this point, as it is an essential part of the gospel. Mark 10:29-30 shows what you must give as a ransom — your house, brothers, sisters, wife, father, mother, children, farms, etc. Is there anything less that you could offer as a ransom? Should you hold on to anything at all, if you trust the One who’s saving you? He can’t save you if you hang on to all your junk or precious possessions or loved ones who are unwilling to follow after Him with you. You simply can’t get into the Kingdom with them, as Yahshua labors the point in Mark 10:23-25.
Giving up everything we have, even our own life in this world, as John 12:25-26 says, is the only way possible to not live for yourself any longer, but for Him who paid the price for your salvation.9 He paid this great price in order for us to now participate in the will and purpose of God in the Body of Messiah, which is the Community, as Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32-35 vividly describe, in obedience to the same commandments which must always be included in the true gospel, according to the “great commission” in Matthew 28:18-20. No one can be a disciple any other way. There is no other gospel that calls one out of this abnormal, wicked, and perverse secular society, just as the apostles commanded the 3000 in Acts 2:38-41. Acts 2:40 came before and produced the results of verses 41-45. And if anyone proclaims a different gospel from that of the first apostles, Paul said, “Let him be accursed,”10 for he is actually Satan’s servant.11
Today, while the greater King is yet far off,12 we must ransom our own life, giving up our possessions in obedience to the Master’s own words in Luke 14:33 and 12:32-34. This is essential for receiving the good news. So where is your heart? Where is the heart of Christians? Yahshua was emphatic when He said, “No one can be My disciple who does not ransom his own life,”13 as Matthew 10:34-39 and Mark 10:17-30 further explain and emphasize.
Therefore one must dispossess himself to be worthy of Messiah, and then the life described in Acts 2:44-45 is not so impossible, which is the only way the church can be. Acts 2:44-45 is the result of proclaiming the complete gospel. Each denomination is the result of whichever gospel created it. In other words, if any denomination is different from how the church was in the beginning, in Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32-37, that is because a different gospel created it — not the gospel that was originally proclaimed by the apostles of Yahshua at Pentecost.
In order to obey the gospel, we must give up our entire lives, including father, mother, sister, brother, etc., as a ransom, just as God gave His own Son as a ransom for us. So again, a ransom is necessary to gain what you want more, just as John 3:16 teaches us what it cost God to have the many sons that He wanted and needed.14 In Isaiah 62:12, the church is prophetically called “sought out, a city not forsaken.” The Hebrew word for “sought out” is derusha, which means “necessary, needed, essential.” So much were we needed that it required God to offer His own Son as a ransom.15
Our response to this great love can’t be any less. It is life for life. According to Romans 6:5, our death in baptism must be just as real as His death on the cross. That means that our old life, with all its dreams, hopes, ambitions, and desires, must come to a real end, including our relationship with our own parents if they attempt to hold us back from following Him. That’s what repentance is: to surrender your life, relationships, possessions — everything — to the Son of God. If this does not happen, and if our death16 is not as real as His death, then it’s just a mental concept. And if it’s just a mental concept, it’s as if His blood that was shed to gain or rescue us didn’t really mean anything. It’s just some myth or fairy tale. But that’s not true! His death was very real.
A ransom is usually given because someone’s life is in danger. I’m thankful that I was rescued from the “strong man”17 who was taking me to death, to the sea of fire — this was also very real. Eternal death is a very real thing. Not only was I rescued from eternal death, but I was ransomed and freed from captivity, from the bondage of living for myself.18 We were redeemed from being the possession of an enemy. Our Master’s sacrifice to obtain us freed us from Satan’s grasp. Our sacrifice for Him, of our own life, possessions, and family, is our ransom to obtain Him.
So you see, Mom and Dad, it’s not that I don’t love you, but I have to love Messiah more. I had to give you up in order to obey the gospel. To be worthy of Him you have to give up your father and mother, and whatever is dear to you — even your own life. It actually says in Luke 14:26 that you have to hate your father and your mother. Of course, it’s not that “I hate you,” as if I have some kind of animosity in my heart towards you, but I had to give you up, as well as my brothers and my sister, so that I could be worthy of Messiah. We have to love Him more than anything else. Mark 10:17-30, Matthew 16:25-26, and Mark 8:35,37 is the overwhelming evidence of what I am saying — the Savior’s own words, which is the good news of salvation.
In Matthew 13:44-46, whoever wanted the pearl of great price, or the treasure hidden in the field, had to give up everything for it. The same response is required from us who are worthy of Him. What kind of phony faith could a person claim to have if he would not give up His life for Yahshua?
John 12:26 speaks of serving Him where He is. And where is that? Yahshua dwells in every place where He has caused His name (presence and authority) to dwell. These are the only places where anyone can serve Him and obey the gospel. A place means a community in a township,19 a place where one terminates his own life in this world to serve the Son of God where He dwells.20
If one has received faith, it is proven in His obedience to the gospel, for according to Acts 5:32, John 3:36, and 2 Thessalonians 1:8, the gospel is something to be obeyed. To receive the royal invitation to eternal life in the Son of God, one must capitulate as the “terms of peace” require in Luke 14:26-33. Such capitulation, which is the reality of being baptized into His Body on earth, makes a person worthy of Him and eternal life,21 being registered in the Lamb’s Book of Life and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.22
He won’t have us and we can’t have Him unless our faith is as real as His, so we must have the faith to no longer live for ourselves.23 So to do that there must be a way for us to die to our old life, and this is by the faith of Romans 10:17. Unless we have faith (which the rich man in Mark 10:17-30 did not have), we cannot truly believe in our hearts in the resurrection as Romans 10:9 requires. It is just as great a miracle to believe in our heart in the resurrection as it was for God to raise Yahshua from the dead, for we, too, are raised by the miracle of His Spirit, by whom we make the good confession.24
So it is certain that we ourselves cannot pay the ransom price for our sins. But we must pay with our own “flesh” to be crucified with Messiah. We must be baptized into His death, calling upon His name, the name above all names, confessing His absolute sovereignty25 over our life. This is the only fitting response to hearing the good news from the sent one in Romans 10:14-17, that is, someone who has the authority to proclaim the good news and to communicate faith because he himself has obeyed the gospel and is living a life of faith.
Even though I quote all these scriptures, and it might be hard for you and somewhat laborious to follow, I hope you won’t get lost, but endure until the end of my letter. I want you to know that I put a lot of time and thought into this letter. As you can see, I started in the fall and now it is winter, because I had a great burden that you would understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, so that you can see my heart. I’m sure you understand the difficulties of finding time and space as a mother, besides my other responsibilities in the community. But I did not want to let these things keep me from fulfilling my responsibility towards you, my parents, for I do love and care about you. Anyway, the reason why I am so detailed with the scriptures in this letter is so that you can see that what we are saying is not our own words, but is solidly based on the Bible. What we are saying is actually very simple: You can only receive faith if you meet someone who has faith, and you only can live out your faith in a place where that faith is being lived out.
If God had kept His Son from dying He could not have provided a ransom for us. If we hang on to our life, or hang on to our ransom, we will lose our life. If we shrink back from our own death in baptism, we will not receive His life.
When a person sinned in the Old Covenant he had to provide an atoning sacrifice, a ransom, to pay the price of his sin. But if he would not provide that ransom, or if his offering was not pure,26 there could be no forgiveness. Of course, receiving forgiveness was not like a business deal. It was based on faith. It depended upon the mercy of a forgiving God who judged each person according to his heart. He righteously forgave based on the ultimate ransom that He would provide in the future by the death of His own Son. So if a person’s heart in the Old Covenant was right, he would provide the best, purest sacrifice he could. This was the expression of his faith and of how much he desired to be forgiven. The whole sacrificial system was instituted by God so that Israel would recognize and understand the sacrifice of His Son.
It is the same with us now in the New Covenant.27 God has already provided the ransom, but we must now give our own life as a ransom in order to be worthy of His ransom. Giving our ransom is the expression of our heart and our faith. We have to give up one for the other — we can’t have both. We can’t benefit from His ransom while holding onto our ransom at the same time.28 If we hang onto our life, we will lose it. If we give up our life, we will find it. What if God had hung onto His Son and had not given Him as the price of our redemption?29 He says, “I made you and I bought you. You are Mine.”
So remember, a ransom is that which is given up to secure what is more valuable. John 3:16 says He provided the ransom for the world. So now He will entrust His very own life to those who repent and show it by their actions in response to the gospel, as Acts 2:38-41 explains. The 3000 responded to the “many other words,” having received faith to obey the gospel.30
Yahshua said, “If anyone desires to save his life, he will lose it. But whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” The word desires means prefers, or chooses, or determines, or wills to actually hold onto and refuse to let go of his life, because he loves his life in this world. But John 12:25 says you have to hate your life in this world. You have to hate your life in this present evil age and not be deceived by the “beauty” of the world — you know, the marvel of the Eiffel Tower, a nice plush home, all the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, and other things like this. You cannot love your life in this world system because 1 John 2:15-17 makes it clear that “all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life — is not from the Father,” and that this “world is passing away.”31
Mom and Dad, what Yahshua says in Luke 14:26 concerning you is explained very clearly in Matthew 10:37. So I did not want to save my own life, but to give it up, including you, Mom and Dad, as a ransom, for I wanted to be worthy of my Master and Savior Yahshua, and be prepared and ready for Him. This preparation is only possible by working for Him in the Body, helping to prepare it for Him as a Bride by the good works I was saved to accomplish.32
When I speak of “giving you up,” I mean in the sense that you would have no influence or authority over me anymore. It’s just the same as when someone gets married — a man comes out from his father’s house and authority to cleave to his wife (or a woman to her husband), to begin a new family together. It’s even more so with Messiah that we must come out from our old fatherhood, counting everything as loss to gain Messiah.
That doesn’t mean that I cannot have anything to do with you anymore. At one time, our Master’s family, including His mother, thought He had gone mad, and they wanted to take Him into custody. You can read about this in Mark 3:20,21,31-35. At that time, He made it very clear to them who His real family was: those who do the will of His Father in heaven. His mind and His heart were set to do the will of His heavenly Father. Everything else was subordinate to that, and nothing could sway Him.
I’m sure this was really hard for His family, and especially for His mother. She had been warned by Simeon when her Son was dedicated as a baby in Luke 2:34-35 that a sword would pierce even her own heart. So when that incident happened, when Yahshua made it clear to His mother and brothers who His real family was, part of that prophecy by Simeon was fulfilled. Of course, that was not the only time that a sword pierced her heart. But she was a humble woman — humble enough to receive the suffering and not resist it. She was pierced rather than offended by the words of her Son, and thus she was honored. And for this reason she was not separated from Him, but could continue in a relationship with Him, as you can see from the Scriptures. When our Master was dying, it was clear what His heart was towards His mother — that He really loved her.33
This is our heart also, that we want to love and honor our parents. And what makes them honorable is that they would respect the decision that we’ve made for our lives. And even though they might not understand us, they are certainly welcome to come and visit and continue in a relationship with us. Even though our relationship with our parents is different after we have given our life to our Master Yahshua, in that we are not under their authority anymore, that doesn’t mean that we cannot have a continuing friendship with them. Our decision doesn’t have to cut them off from us. Our decision cuts us off from being under their authority, but not from having a relationship with them. They are still our parents, and we appreciate our parents for having raised us. And of course, we understand that they still have an interest in us, which is just normal, but they cannot control and direct our lives anymore. So what cuts off our relationship with our parents is when they don’t respect our decision and try to interfere with it. In this case, the word of our Master is fulfilled — that He didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword.34
Everything will be judged by the word of God, and His word is a double-edged sword, dividing between bone and marrow, revealing the thoughts and the intentions and motives of a person’s heart. It’s all according to a person’s heart as to how he will be judged. The clearest way a person’s heart is revealed is by the way he responds to the Word of God, just as the rich young ruler’s heart was not revealed until he heard the gospel — then it became clear that he loved riches more than God.
I hope so much that you can take in what I am saying here, because I believe it would show you my heart towards you and give you the needed understanding to bring healing to our relationship. I cannot deviate from the words of our Master that are recorded for us, for we live by every word that came and comes out of His mouth. The whole emphasis our Master was getting across in Matthew 10:34-39 is what following the true Messiah as a disciple will cause. There is a difference between the true Messiah and the false one, as 1 John 5:20 says, speaking about being in the real Messiah, since there are so many false ones being propagated by Christianity.35 The whole letter of 1 John talks about what it means to be in Messiah and to have eternal life. So if a person lives out and practices what it says in this letter, he can know that he has passed out of death and into life, because the Holy Spirit in him will give him that witness.36
The gospel kills our old man so that we can live a new life. The Holy Spirit cannot do His work in us unless He can make His home in us. This is why the gospel is preached, and it is through the proclamation of the gospel that faith comes to a person.
The first church that started in Jerusalem at Pentecost developed into the twelve tribes of spiritual Israel.37 However, by the time the letter of James was written, the twelve tribes had a false faith,38 because faith without works is dead.39 No longer was the gospel they preached valid, since no sent ones were available to preach faith to anyone. In other words, they no longer lived what they preached. The narration didn’t match the play. The church died since the false gospel could not put an end to anyone’s old life that they might live a new life in Yahshua.
Do you think God would entrust His Spirit to a fool? A fool is a person who is fooled by the false gospel, or who is foolish enough to believe a lie. A fool is a person who believes that Messiah’s work alone is enough to save him apart from his sincere response by a death corresponding to His, or without true repentance in doing what is necessary to be worthy of Him, as the gospel teaches in Matthew 10:37-39.
This means that no one can be saved by Messiah’s death without faith, because without faith no one can obey the demands of the gospel. To try to do it without faith would be just legal obedience. This is the reason why Christians persecute those who do have faith, because their faith exposes the fact that Christians merely have a principle of faith, but not true self-sacrificing faith. This faith is only imparted by the Holy Spirit upon hearing the gospel from a sent one, as in John 7:17-18.
A sent one is a person who is actually sent by God Himself. He seeks the glory of God and brings a gospel that exalts Yahshua, causing those who receive that gospel to make Yahshua their Sovereign and to give up everything for His sake. Someone who is seeking his own glory is not sent by God. He is sending himself. The gospel that he brings does not exalt Yahshua and cause those who receive it to make Yahshua their Sovereign, giving up everything for His sake. But only if a person is willing to do God’s will can he know whether what he hears is actually from God or is just from the one who speaks, because one gospel is true and the other is false. One person proclaims the true gospel and is blessed; the other person proclaims another gospel and is cursed.40
Right now His true disciples are betrothed to Him, being prepared for marriage. He has so much to say — so much must be revealed to us before the end. God has not spoken one word to Christianity for about 1,900 years. Ever since the candlestick of the first-century church was blown out, He doesn’t walk among them anymore. They just live on the memory of when they once were alive. So now they just recite different creeds — the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and so on. In the liturgy it’s all planned and written out for them, even weeks in advance, including the sermon and which page in the hymnal to turn to.
Yes, there are many people in Christianity who are very sincere in wanting to love God and serve Him, and He will make sure that they will be confronted with the true gospel, just as you have been. And if they are willing, they will respond to the words of life they hear. It will actually be what they are longing for. It will not be just nice words they hear, but there will be a demonstration of life to back up the words. Yes, the life of the next age, when Yahshua will rule over the whole earth, has to be expressed as a foretaste and a witness in this age, as Matthew 24:14 says. And it will be expressed as that witness in all the places where Yahshua rules now.
So you can see what God has to do and what He’s doing now before His Son can return to the earth. God is establishing His kingdom on earth now in this age as a foretaste. The restoration of the people of God has to take place first before Messiah can come back. Acts 3:21 must happen, but first Mark 9:12 must happen. First things first. It is just as in the Old Covenant when Elijah came to bring restoration to Israel. At that time, there was hardly any difference between Israel (who were supposed to be the people of God) and the nations around them. Actually, there really wasn’t any difference. They had fallen so far that they didn’t even know who the true God was until Elijah came and brought that revelation back into Israel. However, Elijah only restored an altar of twelve stones, not a nation of twelve tribes. But it was prophetic of the restoration that would take place in the latter days, in fulfillment of Isaiah 49:6.
To those who have eyes to see, this restoration is taking place now, this nation that is being formed, and it is marvelous in their eyes. They are being called to participate in the restoration of the Body of Messiah.41 The Body, when restored, will be exactly as Ephesians 4:1-16 and Philippians 2:2-4 describes, meaning that every member of the Body is giving his full potential — all he is and all he has — to the building up of the Body of Messiah, the Community. This is what love is, and this is what it means to be led by the Spirit.
This means that every person in the Community will be functioning with the glorious power of God and His grace, having wisdom and understanding and the true knowledge of His will. This is the only way someone can walk in a manner worthy of Yahshua and please Him in all respects and bear fruit in every good work.42 This means that every person will walk just as Yahshua walked, and love as He loved.43 The result of that is the unity of faith. This unity is the expression of having received the glory of Yahshua, the love of God that has been poured out by the Holy Spirit into the heart of every true believer. As our Master prayed in John 17:21-23, love is always expressed in unity, because love is the perfect bond of unity.44
Sounds utopian? But remember, it has already happened as recorded in Acts 2 and 4, and remember, there is going to be a restoration of that according to our Master’s own promise in Mark 9:12. It’s going to startle the whole world some day. Love is what is going to startle the world. Some people can see it, and some can’t. It’s all according to a person’s heart. The world doesn’t know what love is. Luke 12:49-52 is the fire that will light up the whole world soon, which is now being kindled by such love for Messiah as shown by ransoming my own life, or sacrificing my own self-life for His life to become that fire in me.
By His grace and strength I want to endure in this precious life and pass it on to our children. It’s all that I have to offer them of any value, that they would love God and love one another at any cost. We want to teach them to do the will of their Creator, to be kind, to share, and to give — to possess these qualities that, unlike material possessions or comforts in life, can’t be taken away. These things are eternal45 — only what we build between each other and our God will remain.
Our Master said in Luke 6:24 that the only comfort some people will receive for all eternity will be what they have in this life.46 I would rather be like the poor man who, when he died, was carried away by angels to a place of comfort, than the rich man or the Christian who pretends to see when he is not doing as Abraham did47 — because those who pretend to know Him and do not keep His commandments are liars and the truth is not in them.48 It’s an awesome judgment that their guilt will remain forever and ever, according to Revelation 19:1-3. I don’t want my guilt to remain.
You know, there is something that is becoming very clear to me over time, and is now very much on my conscience, and that is how I have failed you many times in having wisdom and understanding and being filled with His love in representing this life to you.
We have been learning a lot about Exodus 20:5-6 — about the sins of the fathers being passed on to the children to the third and fourth generation. Have you ever thought about what those sins or inherited tendencies are that have been passed on to you from grandma and grandpa and the generations before? I know I have thought a lot about it. I remember writing a letter telling Grandma how sorry I was for getting so angry at her one time. She wrote back and so lovingly forgave me. She said, “You know, honey, it comes from both sides of the family.” Some of my deep besetting sins are becoming clearer to me, as community is designed to bring it out — anger, anxiety, selfishness, strife to get something when I want it, stubbornness, among other things.
Anyway I know I am responsible for all these inherited tendencies and deep moral disorders that have been passed down to me, and I see there is no way for me to be delivered from them except that Yahshua would save me, and it’s only in His Body — the Body of Messiah where true forgiveness is — that I have the hope to change.
I am thankful to live in this place where I can practically live out His commandments49 and do His will50 and be set free from all the bent ways in me, many of which I have inherited from you. You cannot honestly say that you or any of my own brothers or my sister has been set free and will not see death, being set free from these inherited iniquities in us, these evil bent ways, mannerisms, and temperaments which can only be healed by living in the healing environment of the Body, the Community.
Yes, the Community is the perfect environment to be healed, because living like this causes you to face what is in you — all your selfish ways and other manifestations of self-life. But we are not without hope, because it is possible with the help of Yahshua, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to put to death the old man with all of his iniquities and corruptions — all the things in us that hinder us from keeping the commandments of God, and to live a new life in Yahshua with the power to love.
This is not an easy life, and it was never meant to be. It is called “the narrow way.” This is what it means to pick up your cross daily, which is the only way to follow Yahshua. But there is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling than to experience fellowship with your Creator, having His love and approval because you are doing what you were created to do.
The sad story, however, is that although the first-century church started out with this life, they didn’t endure in it. Many in the church became enemies of the cross of Messiah.51 Many started pursuing their own desires, thus falling into the snares of the devil, being held captive by him to do his will.52 They eventually turned the whole church into a prison of unclean spirits, as Revelation 18:2-5 chillingly describes.
So that’s why I plead with you now to come out of her and be washed of your sins, which have piled up as high as the skies — all these inherited tendencies that will bring you to death. Come out before it’s too late, for the day will come when she will be judged for all her sins,53 because she claims to see when she really doesn’t. This judgment will happen, but it will be after you are no longer living. However, we can be those who endure to the end of this age,54 to even have our lives prolonged in order to carry out His will, His good pleasure, and be purified. We have this hope because Matthew 1:21 promises that His special people will be saved by Him from these bent ways that cause us to hurt others.
When I say “special people,” it’s not that we are so special naturally, for we are just the outcasts and misfits of society — the “not many noble” that Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. Remember? So anyone can fulfill the qualifications to become a chosen one, because God chooses the foolish and weak things, the base and despised things, the things that are nothing in the world. The point is that only the ones who see themselves as fitting this description can see their need for salvation and are desperate enough to respond to His call. The ones who respond to the call are the chosen ones. Many are called, but few are chosen. So you see, it’s not that we are so special, but it’s that our God is special. He has qualified us.55 We just obeyed the royal invitation.
So you see that the people of Yahshua, who are the ones He is going to save from their bent and crooked ways, have a hope which nobody else has ever had. This hope is to be different. Apart from this hope, people all die with their inherited tendencies. No matter how much they wanted to change and not be like their mothers and fathers, they couldn’t escape it. I am thankful that, as I come to see my sins and confess and forsake them, He is faithful to forgive me and heal me.
I want to love the way God loves. I want to be pure in heart and pure in my motives in whatever I may say to you concerning the good news that I received. For I know the words of life that I heard when I came to Chattanooga were spoken from a pure heart and a good conscience, as well as from a sincere love for the brethren.
Being with them, with the ones who are just like those described in Acts 4:32-37, is the only way I have come to know faith.56 This faith caused me to obey the demands of the gospel as in John 3:36. If I had disbelieved the gospel and rejected it by not obeying it, I would be judged already as in John 3:18.
Saints means “holy people,” and holy means “set apart.” The holy in Revelation 22:11 were made holy as God is holy. To be holy or set apart for God and His purpose, one must be ransomed. We had to set ourselves apart by obeying the gospel. The gospel tells us what God did in Messiah’s sacrifice to save us from our sins. It also tells us what we must do to make ourselves worthy of Him who is holy. The gospel tells us about Messiah and His work for us, that we can now be saved from our sins57 if we repent.
This word repent is not just a mental concept or attitude, as I said before. It means obeying the “many other words” as in Acts 2:38-41. Although these many other words are not spelled out in Acts 2:38-41, the result makes it clear what Peter told them. These many other words were the ones the Master commanded the apostles to teach them in Matthew 28:19-20, as you can very easily ascertain by the subsequent response and life of those who received his message, as described in Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-35. Up until they heard these words, they were only cut to the heart and they asked what they should do. So Peter, with the rest of the disciples, told them what they were commanded to teach — as Matthew 28:19-20 says very plainly. Unless people know what to do, they can’t do it. So the good news tells us what to do, what it takes for the repentant person to have eternal life and be entrusted with the Holy Spirit — that he must also make a corresponding sacrifice of his own life.58
They had to be tested to see whether they were now willing to do His will and be baptized, that is, to die with Messiah in His death as Romans 6:2-5 says, so as to live a new life in the Body.59 The many other words in Acts 2:39-41 told about that which Messiah had commanded them. If one does not include this in the gospel, then he is accursed. The last instruction of Yahshua to His apostles before He ascended to heaven was to “make disciples, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.”60
How else could the disciples they made confess openly that Yahshua is Sovereign and has first place in everything61 unless they knew the good news about Luke 14:26-33, especially verses 31-32 about the Sovereign King Yahshua who is coming.62 It will be only the faithful followers who are loyal to Him, who walk worthily of Him, who will be taken up to meet Him in the air.63
Only the righteous will inherit the kingdom of heaven (His reign on the earth in the next age), and yet I am not righteous in the way I am sometimes — this is the problem. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am thankful that I already have eternal life. By His blood and by His righteousness I have passed out of death and into life, because the blood of His righteous sacrifice has justified me. But in Yahshua I have the hope that one day I will be made righteous enough to enter the Kingdom in the next age with Him — that He could say of me, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.”
Ephesians 4:1-3 says how we serve in the one Body by the one Spirit, all having the same hope of our one calling, so now we must prove worthy of our calling. I desire to have wisdom and understanding, to know His will so that I could please Him in all aspects, and walk in a manner worthy of Him so that He will not have to tell me, “Depart from me; you didn’t do the will of My Father — you practiced lawlessness.” If that is being told to us, it means that we are not worthy of the Kingdom.64
He is coming back for a whole people who have made themselves ready — those who have been walking with Him in white65 — those who walked in the deeds that were prepared beforehand for them to walk in, deeds that built up the Body.66 These are not lawless deeds initiated and carried out by mere human effort, because deeds like this tear down the Body. But these are lawful deeds initiated by the Holy Spirit and carried out by His power by those who are surrendered to Him. This is the Bride that He will return for, which according to Revelation 21:9-12 is the twelve tribes of Israel. Are you part of one of these tribes now? Unless you are, then Luke 13:24-26 says that He will not know where you are from. Only if you are from one of these tribes that are being prepared for Him are you in His dwelling place, because the twelve tribes will be His dwelling place among the nations in all eternity.67
1 Timothy 2:8 commands “the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” Those who have no wrath or dissension between them are the brothers and sisters who dwell together in unity — the Community of God. “Every place” means every township or locality where He has caused His name to dwell in a people who are experientially one.68 The same is true today. The Community of the Redeemed lives in the midst of the secular community as a light to it.69 This community is a witness of His kingdom in every place. There is no division or denomination70 in this community in any of the places where He dwells on earth today as it will be through eternity when His dwelling place (according to Revelation 21:3) will be, just as now, among the nations.
So, Mom and Dad, I want to be a living sacrifice for Him as Romans 12:1-2 demands, separated from the world,71 and for His sake and for the gospel’s sake I do everything I do, as the gospel commands in Mark 8:34-36 and 10:28-30. We are to spend all of our waking moments in doing what builds up the Body and prepares the Bride.72 We must do it in a worthy manner to Messiah Himself.
As a human being — a man — He had no advantage over us to walk as He walked, otherwise the Holy Spirit could not command us in 1 John 2:6 to walk as He walked. We have the same Holy Spirit as He did, and being forgiven by His blood, we have the same access to the Father and to His grace as He did. To say anything different is in effect to deny that Yahshua came in the flesh, which is the spirit of Antichrist. Therefore we are to walk in a manner worthy of Yahshua, unless we stain our garments and commit a sin unto death, a sin that would disqualify us from ruling with Him in His kingdom in the next age.73
Not that we would lose eternal life. Yahshua gained that for us when He paid for our sins with His death, and we made ourselves worthy to receive this great gift when we obeyed the gospel and forsook everything for His sake. But if we now don’t live and continue to live our life in a manner worthy of Him by walking as He walked, we will have to spend the thousand years of the next age, when the glorious kingdom of Yahshua will fill the whole earth, in death, full of regret, weeping and gnashing our teeth.
So this is why I gave up my life to Him, as a ransom, for something of greater value than my own individual, short-lived, useless existence on this earth in this age. And this is why I give up my life for Yahshua’s and the gospel’s sake every day. And this is eternal life, to know the Father and the true Sent One from the Father.74 We cannot know the Father except through obeying the gospel of His Son.75 Just as when the rich young ruler asks in Mark 10:17, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” the answer of the Teacher is: “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 and the gospel’s shall save it. Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” That is the word of Yahshua, the Son of God Himself, as recorded in Mark 8:34-35 and 10:29-30. This is the gospel I received.
So now I have the Son, I have the life He promised,76 and not to be disrespectful, I would dare you to read the letter of First John to see whether you have eternal life or not, for you may just be a Gnostic yourself and not a true follower of Messiah. This letter by John was written to believers or supposed believers to combat Gnosticism. And so, as 1 John 5:13 says, a person can judge himself by everything that is written in this letter and thus know whether he is a true believer and whether he really has eternal life, or whether he merely has some kind of mental belief without the works that accompany true faith. Such a mental belief is the modern-day Gnosticism.
I hope that you can receive the royal invitation to participate in the eternal purpose of God by becoming one of His offspring who will faithfully carry out His will.77 It’s all a matter of being willing. “His bond servants shall serve Him, and they shall see His face, and they shall reign forever and ever.”78 This is the promise for those who accept His royal invitation and who endure by His grace and by His mercy to the end, giving their bodies as a living sacrifice.79 We are already forgiven in advance of Messiah coming to earth as a man, even before the foundation of the worlds, in eternity past — but only if we are the ones who give themselves up into His hands in the Body in baptism is His forgiveness appropriated.80 It’s only the seed of Abraham who have faith and walk as Yahshua walked.81
Well, goodbye for now. I hope that you will honestly consider these things. Although I tried to be as clear, thorough, and concise as I could, I know what I’ve written to you has still amounted to a lot, and it might raise more questions in your minds. Please feel absolutely free to ask me anything pertaining to this letter, or to clarify anything where greater clarity is needed.
It’s only out of love that I write to you. ~ Kirsten