Guest Article by Ray Ashmore
with Opening Commentary
I always rejoice when someone articulates something from the same well of inspiration from which I draw. Today's brief dialogue article by Ray Ashmore does just that.
Meanwhile, just a few tangential and really condensed thoughts of my own to pass on for everyone's continuing benefit.
Paying a Cost Higher than “All”
Firstly, the Lord has impressed me afresh of late with the lesson from an earlier installment of this series called The Sufficiency of Divine Love. This is the love of God that meets us at the place of faith exhaustion. It's that place where we have no more strength or natural resource to continue to pay the prices required to live by faith in certain matters.
Jesus told us to count the cost. He also said that the cost would be "all." Truth be told, the cost is really beyond "all." The cost of faith is more than the "all" we have to invest in faithful action and waiting. Once "all" has been spent, and faith demands more, it is here God's love pays the rest of the tab—emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually. It is a place I have personally come to more and more as life maintains its seemingly unbreakable state of perplexity, uncertainty and constriction against the hope of God's promises--that place which Paul called "stretched beyond measure."
And yet, we survive and even thrive internally. We are not destroyed. Because the love of God is sufficient beyond our "all." That love forms the basis of our ability to rejoice in everything. His love is more than our all to us. I encourage your re-reading of this article.
The Meaning of the Parable of the Hidden Treasure
Secondly, some thoughts on the parable of the treasure in the field. Jesus likens the kingdom to a man who discovers a treasure in a field, and, knowing its value, goes off to purchase the entire field so he may get that treasure. Usually, we take this parable to refer to our giving up of all in order to buy that which holds the treasure of eternal life. But the Lord turns this on me to remind that this parable is just as much and really more about the Lord's own purchase of the world by His blood in order to get His treasure hidden within the world, even His church.
The man in the parable is the Lord. In another parable, the field is said to be "the world." And in another place we are told that the richness of the Lord's inheritance is in the saints. That is His treasure. We are His treasure--a chosen treasure. It goes back to the "Burden for the Bride" that we wrote about earlier.
This parable offers us a glimpse into that mystery in which we rightly understand that Jesus died as a redemptive ransom for the whole world, but it is because of an Elect from within that whole that He has discovered from before earth's foundation which He is after. There is a distinction between the field and the treasure. One encompasses all mankind. But the other only the elect church, and even within that, the elect Bride. Something indeed to meditate on.
The Meaning of Spiritual Clothing
Lastly, the Lord has been speaking about the importance of spiritual clothing versus nakedness in relation to our appearing in the eternal. What we do now is what we wear then. Fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. But what we wear relates to our possession of a certain body from above. Paul tells us this in II Cor. 5.
We are clothed with a body. Therefore, righteous living here below works out to the kind of body we wear in the eternal realm. This in turn means that a certain kind of body "woven" and "knit" through righteous living is required for both brideship and entrance into the wedding of the Lamb.
The Bride is identified by her fine linen which relates to her quality of eternal body. (Jesus really has an eye for a certain Body. What a true Guy!) But those not part of the actual bride yet invited to the wedding supper must also put on some class of eternal body through righteous living that qualifies them for entrance into that exquisite supper.
We know that some will attempt to enter that feast without the kind of "body cloth" required and will be turned away. Why don't they have the garment, the "threads"? It's because their deeds failed the test here below.
This is why there is such an emphasis on the concept of "nakedness" and "shame" in the book of Revelation! Believers here who fail of adequate righteous living may still find entrance into the saving eternal realm, but with no clothing of a body fit for that realm! That is spiritual nakedness. And you don't want to find out what that looks like on the other side!
What a sadness to have to live in the eternal realm without an eternally fit body. I can't imagine this. But it will still be better than hell. We are told some will be saved so as by fire, their spirits saved though their soul garments will be extremely spotted by the flesh, unwashed in the blood. Such garments will be unwearable on the other side. They will be "lost." Such will have nothing to wear.
Hmmmm. The concept of spirit nakedness and shame goes back to the garden and the first sin. There is something to be learned there. I believe Adam and Eve were physically clothed with a certain glory in that garden, but the glory disappeared when they sinned, and that is why they awoke to nakedness and its shame. Paul says we will differ in glory in the resurrection. Some will have no glory. Thus, no clothing. They didn't suffer with Him. They didn't wash their soul garments in the blood though their spirits were saved.
Again, what we do now constitutes the fabric of the body we wear then. These are awesome thoughts on which to deliberate. (For more on heavenly body garments, please always see Bro. Earls' article Garments for Glory and Beauty.)
All for the moment. Too much to write on except for these short condensed paragraphs. Re-read as necessary. Be blessed by Ray's article below! It all fits together......
First Love Ministry
The concept of “unconditional love” is a subtle but deadly heresy.
“What? Ray, you’ve gone off the deep end again.”
No Junior, I haven’t. I’m just calling attention to a slippery evil that has infiltrated the church. Haven’t you heard multitudes of preachers, teachers, and ordinary Christians like us talk about God’s unconditional love and how it has blessed us?
“Of course. And doesn’t that convince you of its truth? Ray, this truth makes me feel so loved and accepted.”
But Junior, please, dig your head out of its resting place and think about it. Was not perfect obedience to the Old Testament Law of God a condition for redemption?
And was not animal sacrifice on the temple’s altar a condition, picturing the Lamb of God to come?
“Yes, but Christ overcame all that.”
Yes He did, but how? . . .He met the condition.
Was not Christ’s perfection in keeping the Law a condition? Was not His sacrifice on the cross as a payment for sin’s penalty a condition? Was not His bodily resurrection from the grave a condition?
And one more thing, Junior. Is not true fruitful faith leading to Christlikeness a condition for our salvation?
“Uh, yeah, I guess so. Ray. But now I don’t feel that comfy feeling anymore. You really know how to make me feel bad.”
Yes, Junior, but would you rather feel bad now. . . or later, when you stand before God and He pierces your soul with His holy eyes and asks you why you took your salvation for granted and didn't live your life in growing obedience to Him?
This doctrinal error, so subtle and easily adopted, has led to all manner of cheap and warped understandings of grace. It has led to preaching that gathers unredeemed “converts” to Christ, and polluted lifestyles being justified as acceptable to God. Many churches gather members who have a form of godliness but deny the transforming power of God, equating growth with godliness. This teaching of “unconditional love” has blinded many to the clear statements in the word of God.
And amidst the screams in hell, a chorus of tortured self-deceived souls will ring out in one accord, “God, you deceived us.” Then God’s final voice to hell’s residents will pierce their souls. And they will hear, “You thought that I would not divorce you because of your adulterous loves of the world. Now live forever separated from me because of your fleshly lusts.”
Raymond E. Ashmore
Imparting Life Ministries
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship