Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:19-21

To view salvation as occurring at the end of our life rather than at the beginning enables us to gain a clearer picture of the Christian life. The concept of today that once we make a profession of the Lord Jesus we are “saved,” meaning that whatever we do after that cannot prevent our entrance into the fullness of glory and authority, has produced Christian churches that are far from God and His redemption. If we would perceive salvation as a state of acceptance to God that indeed begins at a definite point of putting our faith in the Lord Jesus, and then must be pursued throughout our lifetime with all diligence, we would avoid the deadly complacency that has destroyed the spiritual life of the churches in the wealthy nations. We shall be saved if we endure to the end. Our redemption is in the future. If we would attain to the future redemption, every moment of our life on earth must be spent in the pursuit of eternal life. In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul is not speaking primarily of being saved from the wrath of God. Well then, what is Paul speaking of? When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, believing that His blood has washed away our sins, we become candidates for Paradise. We will be saved rather than lost in the great and terrible Day of the Lord if we continue throughout our lifetime placing our hope and trust in the Lord. But attaining to the first resurrection from the dead, the transformation of our body into the likeness of His glorious body; ascending the thrones of eternal life that govern the material creation; require a complete grasping of the power of Christ’s resurrection from the dead and a complete participation in the sufferings of the cross. Many are called into the Kingdom of God, but few are chosen to be members of the Bride of the Lamb. Among the members of the Kingdom of God there are some who bear Christ thirtyfold, some who bear Christ sixtyfold, some who bear Christ a hundredfold. Then there are believers who are saved as by fire, receiving no reward. Their works, their inheritance, and much of their personality is burned away in order that their spirit may be saved. We enter the gates of salvation by receiving our Lord, Christ. Then, through His grace, we press forward into the Kingdom of God. The extent to which we gain the Kingdom will determine our inheritance, our status, our opportunities for fellowship with God and for service, throughout the ages to come. Much of our inheritance will be reflected in the body of life that “swallows up” our mortal body. There is a reward for serving the Lord! We shall reap what we sow. Those who serve the Lord carelessly will be rewarded carelessly. Those who serve the Lord with their whole heart will be rewarded with the Lord’s whole heart. Those who give little to the Lord will receive little from the Lord. Those who give all that they are to the Lord will receive all that the Lord is. The first resurrection from among the dead, the “out-resurrection,” is the resurrection of God’s priests and kings. It is a high honor in the Kingdom of God to participate in the first resurrection. Those who attain to the first resurrection will be given unimaginable authority and power, just as the Spirit of God has presented to us in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. We can gain some concept of the degree of spiritual maturity that the first resurrection represents by the fact that the Apostle Paul, five or six years before his martyrdom, was still seeking to arrive at the level of closeness with God’s King, the Lord Jesus Christ, that would qualify him for participation in the first resurrection from the dead. We are qualified to escape the wrath of God by believing in Christ and being baptized in water into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We attain to the first resurrection from among the dead by forsaking all other pursuits in order to be changed into the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. For several years the writer has wrestled with the problem of who will be raised from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord in the air when He appears. The language of I Thessalonians 4:13-18 leaves the impression that all believers will be drawn to the Lord at this time. We must keep in mind, however, that Paul’s definition of a believer and what it means to “sleep in Jesus,” and the current definition and understanding, may be far apart. There are types and statements that imply only a first fruits of the believers will be found worthy of participation in the first resurrection. We finally have come to favor this point of view, that only a first Fruits of the Lord’s people (and by the expression “the Lord’s people” we mean spiritual Israel, the family of God, the entire Church, the whole Bride of the Lamb) will be part of the first resurrection from among the dead. If it is true that it is a first Fruits of God’s people who will be raised in the first resurrection, then the remainder of the Church will be raised in the general resurrection from the dead, that which will take place when the first heaven and earth pass away. If the majority of the Lord’s people are to be raised in the general resurrection from the dead, then the resurrection at the coming of the Lord will be a special out-resurrection of a holy army of “mighty men” whose purpose will be to work with the Lord in governing the nations of the saved, and perhaps to assist the younger members of the Bride in their growth to maturity. There is the story of Gideon’s army, 300 men taken from the entire camp of Israel. The account of the trumpets, and the breaking of the clay pots so that the light shone, is probably the strongest Old Testament type of the coming of the Lord. There is the separation of the Ark from the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation and its final return as part of the Temple of Solomon. The removal and return of the Ark suggest a temporary separation from the whole Church of a fighting remnant, a “Zion” company, a first Fruits to the Lord. The anointing of David as king over Judah before he was anointed king over all Israel speaks of a temporary rule of the Lord over a “Judah company.” Isaiah speaks of a godly remnant. It reads in Isaiah 4:3, And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remained in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem. Joel prophesies of a remnant who will serve the Lord in the last days. It reads in Joel 2:32, And it shall come to pass, that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. “In the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” The remnant! Jude mentions a remnant who will return to judge the Lord’s household: And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these [the ungodly in the churches], saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. as it reads in Jude 1:14-. Then there is the fact that the Wife of the Lamb (perhaps a first Fruits of the Bride, according to our view) appears at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, clothed in the white raiment of her righteous conduct: And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness {righteous deeds] of God’s holy people; Revelation 19:8} It reads in Revelation 21:9, And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. The difference in the two appearing’s of the Wife of the Lamb may indicate that a warrior-first Fruits will appear with the Lord at the onset of the thousand-year Kingdom Age; and that during the thousand-year Kingdom Age the remainder of the Church will be ministered to in the spirit realm by the warrior-first Fruits, the Zion-barley-first Fruits company, the Lord’s holy remnant. {Barley is the first grain to ripen and was employed during the Levitical feast of First Fruits.} Gideon is associated with barley. It reads in Judges 7:13, And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. The first Fruits company is revealed in the Book of Revelation, standing on Mount Zion, in the place where David kept the Ark of the Covenant when it was separated from the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. It reads in Revelation 14:1, And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. We see, then, that the concept of the first resurrection being a special, advance resurrection and ascension, an honor guard to greet the Lord Jesus when He comes to assume the government of Israel and of the other nations of the earth, has strong support in the types of the Old Testament as well as in some of the statements of the New Testament. If the first resurrection is a special, advance resurrection of the Lord’s “mighty men,” then Paul’s zeal in pursuing the out-resurrection to the end of his discipleship makes perfect sense. Otherwise, Paul’s desire to attain to the out-resurrection is difficult to understand. There are numerous people who believe in Jesus, who have, we believe, a genuine experience of sins forgiven. They truly love the Lord, and His Spirit is in them. But we cannot see all of them serving as members of the royal priesthood. Many are babies in Christ. Their pastors feed them with diluted milk; for if they presented a stronger word their congregations would choke and die.

What was Paul’s attitude of spirit and mind while he was confined in the barracks, awaiting his first trial? What is the end of those who are the enemies of the cross of Christ Destruction. What is the god of those who are the enemies of the cross of Christ? Their appetite for food. In what is the glory of those who are the enemies of the cross? Their shame. On what is their attention fixed? The things of the earth. here is the citizenship of the true saint of Christ? In Heaven. What is the true saint eagerly awaiting? The return to earth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. What will our Savior do for us when He returns? He will transform our mortal body until it is like His glorified body. By what means will Christ transform our mortal body until it conforms to His own body of glory? By the exercise of the awesome power by which He is able to bring all things under subjection to Himself.