Qualifications in Approaching God
Issue No. 229
The Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon each had an outer court, a Holy Place, and a Most Holy Place. The citizens of the Kingdom were allowed to approach God as far as the outer court. The priests were allowed to approach God in the Holy Place. The High Priest was allowed to approach God in the Most Holy Place once a year.
One’s nearness to God was determined by these three positions in the Kingdom. To these were added a fourth distinction in later years, when they erected a dividing wall in the outer court to make a distinction between Israelites and non-Israelites.
This dividing wall was based upon the traditions of men, rather than according to the pattern which either Moses or David saw by revelation when they built their sanctuaries. In doing so, they declared that Israelites were first-class citizens, and non-Israelites were second-class citizens in the Kingdom.
This dividing wall has been erected again in the ranks of Christian Zionism and will be torn down again in the second coming of Christ, even as in the first.
When a person experiences Passover, having faith in the blood of the Lamb, he or she obtains citizenship in the Kingdom. Without faith in Christ, no one is a citizen, regardless of their genealogy.
When a person experiences Pentecost, hearing God’s voice, he or she is initiated into the priesthood in the Kingdom. This is the basic qualification for intercession and spiritual warfare. Num. 4:23 says that the priests were to “perform the service” (KJV). This literally reads, “war the warfare,” as Dr. Bullinger tells us.
When a person experiences Tabernacles, it qualifies him or her to be part of the Body of the High Priest. This goes beyond mere priesthood, for it bestows a greater authority to speak with God through no veils. The New Testament, written under the Pentecostal anointing, does not make a clear distinction between the Church and the overcomers. It presumes that all believers are aspiring overcomers—and indeed, at first, most of them were. So Heb. 4:16 says,
16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
This verse speaks of our approach to God, but admittedly, it does not explain the three veils through which men must pass in their approach. Later, the book of Hebrews simply lets us know that the veil into the Holiest has been taken away, allowing all to approach Him directly. While this is certainly true, it is also a fact that some Christians remain in the outer court, others come into a greater experience of Pentecost in the Holy Place, while only a few actually aspire to entering the Most Holy Place as overcomers.
Another way of expressing it is by the story of Israel’s wilderness journey. All came out of Egypt after being justified by the Passover Lamb (Christ). Fewer could hear His voice at Sinai on Pentecost, and even fewer were ready to enter the Promised Land at Tabernacles (Num. 14).
Thus, the Bible does make a distinction between the various types of believers. This distinction is not racial, however. It has everything to do with how far a person desires to go in approaching God—and this is expressed in the revelation of the Feast days.
Evidences of Pentecost
In writing about these distinctions, it is not my purpose to destabilize anyone’s faith or make them question their position in Christ. Some who lack solid confidence of their place in Christ can easily be affected by guilt and fear and withdraw from God, feeling unworthy. To such people, let me encourage you to continue pressing in and drawing near to Him. We are all imperfect. Even Paul himself did not presume to say that He had “apprehended” (Phil. 3:13), yet he pressed on toward the high calling of God (vs. 14).
There are many who are not sure they are justified. Guilt holds them back, for they do not feel they are worthy or perfect enough to be saved. I overcame this problem when I was thirteen, after the Father revealed to me that even the preachers and missionaries were yet imperfect.
I don’t mean to assert that a sin shared is half right, but the fact is that I did not question their salvation, even when I knew they were yet imperfect. This revelation put me on a solid footing in the outer court as a Passover believer. I found I had been there already, but now I knew for sure where I was. It was life changing for me at the time.
The next great challenge was to come into Pentecost—and know for sure that I was a priest in the Holy Place. When I first began to learn of Pentecost in 1971, I was given the impression that only the gift of tongues could prove that I was a true Pentecostal. I found that this rather legalistic approach was not true at all.
Tongues is useful as an evidence of Pentecost, just as works is evidence of one’s faith. But the evidence is not the same as the experience itself. The evidence is only an outward sign of the inward experience.
And there are many evidences. All of the gifts of the Spirit and all of the fruit of the Spirit are evidence of the Holy Spirit. Paul asked in 1 Cor. 12:30, “Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” These were rhetorical questions. The answers are as obvious as the previous questions: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?”
Of course not. God has given various gifts and callings to all as He wills.
So I am not one who demands that all must speak in tongues to be a genuine Pentecostal. When I look at the origin of Pentecost at Mount Sinai, I see that the primary purpose of the feast is not for us to speak (in tongues), but for us to HEAR God. To hear is to obey (same word in both Hebrew and Greek). Pentecost is about hearing and obeying. Tongues may be evidence of this, presuming of course that what is spoken is by the unction of the Spirit.
The faith of some are overthrown when they are told that they are not true Pentecostals unless they have an ecstatic experience and break forth in tongues. Let me say that Smith Wigglesworth, that illiterate plumber-turned-miracle worker, testified that he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit a few months before he spoke in tongues. He said that God did this to show him that men were wrong in thinking that one must speak in tongues to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost comes to people in different ways. To some it comes silently, while it overwhelms others. With my wife, Pentecost came with overwhelming power, and she rode that “high” for three days in 1971. With me, however, it came more silently. I felt nothing, but the revelation of God began to build a Temple within me that has made me who I am today.
Because of the silent manner of Pentecost in me, I struggled with it for some years, wondering if I had missed out on something. But as I had time to observe the work of God in me, I came to recognize the Holy Spirit’s presence.
From 1971-1981, I could speak in tongues whenever I felt the need. Usually, this was when I did not know how to pray or what to pray about.
Then from 1981-1991, I broke through on a new level and began to hear more clearly in English. I gave my testimony of this in my book, Hearing God’s Voice.
From 1991-2001 the Father began to speak in a new way. It is like His words became concentrated—or maybe I simply came to understand His words in a deeper way. But He would often drop a single word or phrase into my heart, and it would take months to search it out in order to understand it.
In 2001 the Father became more specific, which allowed us to engage in the type of spiritual warfare that was required in that year.
God has obviously been working in ten-year cycles with me, with new directions and changes in each of the midpoints. Each enhancement of “hearing” has been further proof to me of my own Pentecostal experience.
I also discovered in the 1980’s that there were many Pentecostals and Charismatics who did not have the ability to hear God’s voice, and that there were many Baptists and Presbyterians who did. This was a mystery to me at first, for I discovered that blindness and deafness was near universal in all denominations, and that even an overwhelming Pentecostal experience with signs, wonders, and tongues did not necessarily open one’s eyes and ears.
Now, mind you, I am not against these things. I am merely saying that even an overwhelming Pentecostal experience is not the full answer. True Pentecost has to do with hearing God and having the Holy Spirit write the law upon our hearts through hearing His voice. I find very little evidence of such a thing in mainstream Pentecost. In fact, I find that God seems to have called about the same percentage of people out of every denomination. Those who call themselves Pentecostal do not seem to have any particular advantage over those who do not. That fact took me very much by surprise.
I had to make some adjustments in my thinking because of this. I discovered that God had opened people’s ears in the oddest of places, and had closed the ears of people in the places where one would think everyone would have ears to hear. I could no longer think that if I could just reach Charismatics and Pentecostals, they would hear and respond to the Word. No, I found that I had to wait on God and be watchful, for He would lead me to meet people with open ears that I would never have thought would be able to “hear” the word.
So the question is, Who is a true Pentecostal? One who subscribes to that denomination or name? Or is it a matter of the heart? I finally came to the conclusion that I don’t care what you call them—I am looking for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. These are my brethren.
And I believe that I have the mind of Christ in this, for I believe that this is how Jesus discerns people as well.
The Melchizedek Priesthood
Under the Old Covenant, a person had to be descended from Aaron to qualify as a priest. In the New Testament, one has to be “descended” from Jesus Christ to qualify as a priest. It is no longer a matter of physical descent, for Jesus had no children—even if the Merovingian cult says differently in The DaVinci Code.
We are of a greater order of priesthood known as the Melchizedek Priesthood. One does not become a priest of that order by joining a cult, religion, or denomination. One does not become a priest of that Order by virtue of a man ordaining a person and proclaiming him/her to be a priest of that Order.
It has nothing to do with your genealogy or with men’s ordinations. Only Jesus Himself can ordain someone to that Order, for it has everything to do with a relationship with Him. And that relationship must be Pentecostal in nature, for that is the realm of priesthood in the Holy Place. It must go beyond Passover, which is the realm of the outer court.
In classic Protestantism, before much was known about Pentecost, they taught the principle of “the priesthood of the believer.” I differ in that I believe in the citizenship of the believer and the priesthood of the true Pentecostal.
Without some ability to hear the voice of the Spirit, no one can possibly have the faith to enter the Holy Place. It requires greater faith than is required for justification. As Paul says, we go from faith to faith (Rom. 1:17). There is more than one level of faith.
In fact, there are three levels of faith, one for each of the three main feasts. And since faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17), each person’s level of faith depends upon what he hears (and obeys, which is the same word).
Furthermore, what we hear depends also upon what God says. We cannot hear anything that God does not say, and this makes us totally dependent upon the sovereignty of God. If God does not initiate the action, we cannot respond. And since God Himself must open our eyes in order that we may respond, it is plain that not everyone at this time is a citizen of the Kingdom, even fewer are priests of God, and fewer yet aspire to the high priesthood in Christ as overcomers.
I do not fault people for what God does by His own sovereign will, but I do find that I have to work with the divine plan. So as far as I am concerned, I look for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, for this tells me where they are in their journey to the Most Holy Place, or to the Promised Land.
Pentecost: A Transitional Feast
Even as Passover speaks of Israel’s exodus from Egypt on that first day of Passover, so also does Pentecost speak of their time in the wilderness learning obedience. God did not bring Israel directly from Egypt to the Promised Land. He brought them by way of Sinai (Pentecost), because Pentecost is the means by which our hearts are prepared and trained in a higher level of faith to enter the Promised Land.
Israel did not have such faith at first (in Numbers 13, 14). It took 40 years of wilderness training to bring that next generation into the Promised Land. So also it is with us. In the past 40 Jubilees of our own Pentecostal Age, God has been training His people to enter the Promised Land. Those who have learned to be led by the Spirit (i.e., learned obedience) will rule and reign in the Age to come.
Those who have not learned obedience, but have been afflicted with the disease of anomia, will remain mortal at the time of the first resurrection and, like Israel, will die in the wilderness without receiving the promises. They will have to wait until the beginning of the next Age to receive their reward along with the unbelievers (Luke 12:46)—that is, at the same time that the unbelievers are judged.
It is not necessary to have a working knowledge of the feast days and their meaning. Many in past ages have learned obedience without even having a Bible. Biblical knowledge is certainly helpful, for it speeds the process by giving us an understanding of the revelation that others have received in the past. But the important factor is that a person is faithful to live according to the knowledge that he is given.
For example, Martin Luther probably did not have a good knowledge of Pentecost, but he was faithful to the revelation of justification by faith which he was given.
“Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48).
Yet now at the end of the Pentecostal Age, God has chosen to reveal Himself further. He dispenses revelation to many different people in order that all may share with their brethren and thereby obtain a clearer picture of the divine plan. As teachers, it is our responsibility to share what we have heard with those that have ears to hear.
How to Be an Overcomer
I have a book giving Four Lessons on How to Be an Overcomer. It is now also translated into Spanish. There is no great mystery to being an overcomer. The basic principles are taught everywhere in the Churches—love, forgiveness, obedience, and being in agreement with God.
The problem is NOT that we have never heard these things. The problem is that we have not done so well in putting these things into practice. We know these things in theory or as doctrinal teachings, but when it comes to actually practicing them, we stumble almost as much as unbelievers do.
Too often we love only the lovable. We forgive only those who deserve it, and these are usually those who have trespassed against others. We are obedient, as long as we are allowed to remain lawless when our opinions differ from God’s standard. We agree with God only when He agrees with us, and when we differ, we storm the gates of heaven until He submits to our will.
These are not the marks of an overcomer. These are the evidences of hardened hearts that are portrayed as types in the majority of the Israelites under Moses.
Even true Pentecostals have not yet attained perfection, but they are being trained by the Holy Spirit daily, so that they might come into spiritual maturity. Those who have enrolled in this divine Bible school, with the Holy Spirit as their Master Teacher, will be led into all truth, as Jesus said in John 16:13.
They may not understand all truth this side of the glorified body, but this is the direction in which they are heading.
Qualifications for Priesthood
Leviticus 21:17-23 gives us the lawful qualifications of priesthood. Under the Old Covenant, the Aaronic priesthood had to qualify by physical perfection. Under the New Covenant, the Melchizedek priesthood qualifies by spiritual perfection. The law is the same, but it is applied differently.
17 Speak to Aaron, saying, “No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb; 19 or a man who has a broken foot or a broken hand, 20 or hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles.”
Through the first work of Christ, our spiritual defects were covered, and perfection has been imputed to us. God is calling what is NOT as though it were (Rom. 4:17). In Christ we are declared perfect before the law, even though we are “NOT.” It is a legal declaration.
In the second work of Christ, our spiritual defects are actually cured, and we become what God has previously declared us to be legally.
In the interim, we find ourselves on a journey between “Egypt” and the “Promised Land.” This is the realm of Pentecost. In our justification, we have a legal perfection, and in Tabernacles we will actually attain perfection. But in Pentecost, we are being trained in obedience.
The above law says that the spiritually blind and lame are not qualified for the priesthood. So when Paul says that the elect are qualified and “the rest were blinded” (Rom. 11:7), he is essentially telling us that the majority of believers are disqualified, not as citizens, but as priests of God.
Being “lame” speaks of our Christian “walk,” as does the “broken foot.” Having a disfigured “face” has to do with the whole idea of the face of God being manifested in our own face. In other words, we need His face, or presence, even as Moses’ face shined when he came down off the mount (Ex. 34:29). Each of these have spiritual significance and application to the Melchizedek priests, and these determine who is actually qualified for priesthood in this New Order in Christ.