Chrsitian Maturity web site Book: Test of Responses
by John Robert Lucas

Chapter 10
Test of Responses : Prophetic Teachings for God's people

Deut 30:15-20
15    See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.
16    For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17    But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them,
18    I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19    This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
20    and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (NIV)

It's your will! Your life is a series of the decisions that you have made. With every decision you chose life or death, blessing or cursing, obedience or rebellion - "the Lord" or "flesh". The Christian maturity you have obtained is the outcome of these decisions. You have either crossed the Jordan entering into the "land" or you still remain in the wilderness. In this overlapping of truth, parts of your life may have entered into the land of promise and other parts are in a dry desert. Your "will" is defined as "appetite that is acted upon" or "desires that are obeyed". If, as the Psalmist of Psalm 119 you also can say, "I have hid your word in my heart that I may not sin against You", the result is that you are eating from the tree of Life in the Paradise of God. Choosing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden is "appetite apart from relationship with God".

Ps 139:11-12
If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike {to Thee.} (NAS)

As a Christian, When you encounter opposition or affliction, it is a test of responses; your response is the indicator of what you have chosen. When all is well, circumstances are as the day to us. When all is turmoil, circumstances can be the darkest of nights. Neither touch God - but we respond to both. Most find God when circumstances are dark even though the same God is just as present when all is light. Jesus is Light in both, but for us there is the difference of CONTRAST. In good times, we allow the day of our circumstances to drown out the light of His presence. God in knowing our nature has allowed us to experience night and darkness for a reason; to see the contrast of Him Who is Light compared to the darkness of the night. There is no mixture when man experiences the dark of nights, for all that is seen is Jesus our Lord; that is if we will respond "to Him" and respond "like Him" in every circumstance.

God sends the scouts into the land

Num 13:17-20
17    And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain:
18    (1) And see the land, what it is; and (2) the people that dwelleth therein, (3) whether they be strong or weak, (4) few or many;
19    (5) And what the land is that they dwell in, (6) whether it be good or bad; and (7) what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds;
20    And what the land is, (8) whether it be fat or lean, (9) whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and (10) bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes.

God commanded Moses to search the land that God was promising. When reading this passage for the umpteenth time one day it occurred to me, "why did God want to send spies into the land? God already knew what was there, and He had already established it can be taken NOW". "Now" was the season to take the land. After asking the question, I heard a resounding voice of the Holy Spirit our teacher say, "it is a test of responses". The application of this passage in our daily life is endless. God gives us many promises in His Son, and then sends servants that will bear witness to the promise. God also sends false witnesses that have been told the promise, they will bring us a report as well - but one that places the promise out of reach. The majority of reports make the promises of God - UN-ATTAINABLE. Whether you wish to apply this principle to issues such as the Y2K fear of 1999, or to the "doctrines of truth" that many Christians do not believe, such as the doctrine concerning a "church without spot, blemish, or wrinkle"; this is a principle that is applicable with most issues that we face. Instead of dealing with these issues as a whole, we will single out "God's promise" that "He will have a people that possess" the SAME UNITY that He and the Father possess. We will look at reports we have heard, also, how we view the giants that stand in the way. We will also examine what God's two witnesses say about the promise and especially how they describe the "giants that block the promise" - from being fulfilled.

Moses sent 12 witnesses or spies into the land. Each witness was the head of their respective tribe. This is God's way of saying, "each witness represents the people whom they are an ambassador". Nine is the number of fullness and they are given nine commands to report for their journey. They are also given a "command of the action they are to take" to conclude their report. This command was to "bring back the fruit"; it is the substance or evidence of the report. This last command was the tenth requirement of God to the twelve witnesses. Ten is the number of the law. The law's command is to bring back the fruit. Bringing back the fruit is the activity that pleases God. Fruit will always fulfill the law's demands.

The witnesses spent forty days in the land. Forty is also the number of testing - signifying a probationary period.

40 days - worldwide flood with those in Ark as a remnant

40 days - of Goliath taunting Israel (defeated by 1 stone from the pack of 5 stones)

40 days - Jesus' wilderness then came the test of responses

40 years - wilderness journey for the people of God who rebelled.

These are just a few examples of how God relates this number to testing and trial. The number that God chooses to use in every situation, is a teaching of His purpose. Joshua and Caleb come back from the land and gave their response; their report based on what they have witnessed. This is their FIRST RESPONSE.

Num 13:27
Thus they told him, and said, "We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. (NAS)
It is not the positive-ness that is important here; it is the fact that they agreed with what God had said! These two witnesses then show the proof - FRUIT. One will say, "you can't ignore the bad circumstance".

Num 13:28-30
28    "Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified {and} very large; and moreover, we saw the giants there.
30    Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it." (NAS)

The spokesman was Caleb and though his physical eyes he saw the giants, the obstacles - BUT HE SAW THEM AS DEFEATED. "Caleb" and the "land" are a type and shadow that must be observed to understand what has taken place here. God gives Caleb a promise; "But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring him into the land which he entered, and his seed shall take possession of it." (NAS) Caleb is a type of the "Seed - Jesus" that shall come, and "in Him" there will be a people that possess the land. They are a people that see the obstacles and the giants - AS DEFEATED. They are a people that go i nto the land to witness with eyes of faith looking for th e fulfillment of the promise. The ten spies or witnesses had a different view of the land. In the same land they saw:

Num 13:31-33
31    But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us."
32    So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of {great} size.
33    "There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (NAS)

"In our own sight" is the emphasis here. Jesus spoke in parables because "seeing they cannot see". The land of promise was but a parable to the ten spies. Those that do not have eyes to see and ears to hear, perceive not what "any" scriptures say; scripture is simply one big parable to them. However all of us do the same thing in different verses and areas of circumstances. We see ourselves as a grasshopper in overcoming a particular sin. We see ourselves as weak in possessing God's more excellent way of an "abiding in Christ lifestyle". We see the enemy in the lives of our fellow Christians as being too strong for them to be set free or delivered. We say, "I guess my fellow Christian will remain deceived" or "my brother in Christ is simply to stubborn to change". When we view our brethren in Christ, all we can see is the giants in their life, we even see them as the enemy - instead of the promise. We say, "surely the promise of unity will be a land without these divisionary giants". God is revealing in this day, that we have responded to our brethren in Christ who have had giants and fortified walls - as the ten false witnesses instead of the two witnesses that have eyes beholding the promise. We have seen ourselves as small and powerless compared to the giants of disunity. We have not seen divisions in our congregations as DEFEATED GIANTS. We have seen their false doctrines as unconquerable leaven. We continue to see their "self preserving" lifestyles as fortified cities that cannot be penetrated. Surely we must see these truths in our own lives as well, but let us focus on Jesus' promise of unity in this chapter. It is in this promise of unity that we must forget about our self, and prefer our brethren as more important than our self.

Here is another type and shadow; spiritually, the promise land is not a geographical area. If we think the "land" in Israel is what God is most interested in, we should start reading the Bible all over again - it is a redemption story for PEOPLE! The promise land is the place where God desires His people to reside. You are sent as a witness, a spy - to observe the land and give a report. You are commanded to "not forsake the assembling of yourselves together" for the purpose of entering the land of God. YOU ARE THE LAND OF GOD - God's people are the land; when you fellowship with the "land", what is your response? It is a test of responses and our report is the evidence of what we witnessed and what we see. Do you see the giants in others as "overcome"? Do you see God possessing the people? Do you see your congregation as a place where milk and honey shall flow? DID YOU GET THE FRUIT! Did you get the fruit when you left your Sunday service?

Isa 11:1-3
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD--   and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; NIV

Isa 53:7-8
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

God sent 12 men into the land, and prophetically, they acted out the plan of God. Caleb and Joshua represent a people that look with the eyes of God. They do not see with the physical eyes nor hear with their physical ears for they have spiritual eyes to see, and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. They see what God sees! These two witnesses search for what God is searching for. God goes into the land (people of God) and He is searching for FRUIT. God is looking for God, God is looking for Himself - in the land. God finds the fruit and it is acceptable. God finds the fruit attached to a branch. God finds the promise He made and must now seal it. The fruit that God finds is His Son. The branch God finds is His Son - His Son is the promise. What does God do when He finds the Son in the land (His people)? "HE WAS CUT OFF!", as Isaiah declares.

Num 13:23
Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two {men,} with some of the pomegranates and the figs. (NAS)

God finds His Son in the land, in the land of Israel that He descended from. Born of promise, born to be the Branch of Isaiah 11:1; 60:21, Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15, and Zechariah 3:8; 6:12. "The Righteous Branch". Jesus is also the Branch of the Lampstand in the Tabernacle; this branch contained three stages of the lifecycle of the Almond fruit Exodus 25:33; 37:19. These verses bear witness of the Branch of God.

The Branch will grow out of the temple of God, but first the Father must cut down His Son - from the land of the living. Redemption in the scriptures will always come from life in the blood, instead of vegetation from the ground. It is Abel's sacrifice of blood that was acceptable - it prophetically spilled unto the ground, which stands as the witness of God towards redemption forever. As Caleb cut down the Branch and hung Him on a pole between two men - Caleb prophetically acted out the cross of redemption. Caleb took the sacrifice of the land, went back to the people, and said, "here is the proof of the promise" - AND THEY REJECTED HIM.

Num 14:9-11
"Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they shall be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them." But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? (NAS)

The people then went to stone the messenger - Caleb. There are so many powerful pictures taking place that are applicable to our daily lives in this passage. Let us focus on this; the messenger that agrees with God is subject to get stoned. Stephen fulfilled this as He preached the crucified Jesus and they stoned him, even as He saw the glory of God revealed. There is a stoning that comes from total unbelievers and there is a stoning that comes from partial unbelievers - both hurt.

The focus is our response; when you enter the land, when you enter your fellowship - do you look for the fruit? If they are followers of Jesus - there is a branch with fruit in there. When you talk with others about your Christian Brother or Sister, do you show them the "fruit" or the do you show the "giants that are too strong"? The testimony of Christ is the branch that you cut down to show to others - the Crucified One.

We must see in others, the Christ that was born in their hearts, and we must agree with God when He said, "He that began a good work in you will complete it". It is a land that we are ridding of giants with the grace of God upon our lives. WE CHOOSE TO SEE THEM AS DEFEATED. We choose to see ourselves dwelling together, because we abide in the Branch that was cut off. We choose to allow our own lives to follow His example and we become cut off as well - from this land of the living, that we may be a testimony of fruit. Our response to every situation is the response of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We must attend the local fellowship that God has set us in - instead of Sunday morning conscious soothing centers. In our attending, we are entering into the land of Promise, the people of God. If we see the giants and respond in the spirit of the ten witnesses - we shall suffer their consequences. If we see other church members that possess giants, and share their "giant-ness" to other church members - WE ARE WRONG EVERY TIME! We must repent. If we have left a church that possessed giants, then entered the land (God's people) and told them about the "giant-ness"; if we spoke derogatory remarks - WE ARE WRONG EVERY TIME! If we think we are spiritual and we speak derogatory about the land, we are only as spiritual as the "ten" instead of the "two". We are not acting like Caleb or the Seed; we have failed the test of responses and we must repent lest we die in the wilderness. The immaturity of others is not open game for us to target, to expose - to others that know these people. Instead we must obtain NEW EYES and SEE WHAT GOD SEES IN THEM. At times we justify our derogatory comments about others that possess giants, with a flavor of spirituality - yet our comments become a giant in our own life. Jesus called this type of "giant" a board in our eye. We can call it maturity, prophetic, or discerning, but in reality, we are blind men trying to lead others.

I have witnessed Christians that deemed themselves spiritual, commenting on the personal lives of other Christians that do not measure up, personal lives that possess giants. Their eyes are just like the ten spies, and their eyes spread like wildfire in the congregation of the Lord. They see the problem, the giants in others, but they lack God's life in them to do anything about it. Therefore they have no faith to see the problems and false doctrines in other believers as conquered. They do not look for the Branch in others, they do not see milk and honey flowing, as evident by their testimony. It is only the problem that they see and confess. When they leave a church, they bring as many people to this corrupt view, as they can, and many times with the intention of warning. No matter what church disputes occur, we are NEVER permitted to preach giants. Our testimony can disrupt those that are set into a local fellowship. Our "giant" focus can cause others to leave a church that God set them in. We scatter instead of gather. Surely giants are seen, but they are seen as conquered, and then by God's grace they are dealt with.

We must focus on our eyes first. If our vision of the people in the land is one with unconquerable giants, then our mouth will simply follow our eyes. When you see your pastor making what you think is a "giant" decision, simply see it as a defeated giant that cannot hold back the milk and honey from flowing throughout God's people. If we witness carnality, false doctrines, or deception in the congregation that God has set us in - we must exchange our "natural eyes" for the spiritual eyes of Jesus. Carnality, false doctrines, and deception in the congregation - EXIST TO TEST YOUR RESPONSE. What you spoke about, concerning what you witnessed - will indicate if you passed.

God is bringing the church into the unity of the faith. Right now the "giant" exists in the land, God's people. Most Christians cannot see the land ridded of these giants. They see disunity now, and they envision disunity for our future, until Christ returns. Because they witness the stubbornness to change in other men and women, that is all they see. They do not possess the eyes of Caleb - the Seed. However, some of them may possess eyes for a small remnant, but usually a very small remnant. This view is still not Jesus' view. LACK OF UNITY IN THE FAITH IS A DEFEATED GIANT. We must see this or our unbelief of this promise will cause a life of wildernesses.

Surely there will be controversies where we may be the center of attention, surely it may cause disunity, but it must be the other party that God is testing, concerning responses, instead of us. We must be dead to these issues we see so frequently in the church. If we see these giants as conquered, in our heart they are dead issues though they appear to live. If this is true then when attacked we are not defensive. When we are talked about and judged, we love not our life, having learned to be a doormat for all humanity. When others trample on us, we instantly respond with blessing, envisioning them as ones that have temporarily been misled by giants, yet these giants are without power and dead. Having the hope that they have in them the Branch, and after finding the Branch we return to the people (who we left back in the wilderness) who are awaiting our response - and show them Proof of the Promise of our God. If all we see is a broken down church that cannot possibly live without giants in the midst - we are not the children of faith God desires. If we see the present church with the inability to function like the early apostles in pure doctrine, unity, and love - we are not the prophesied two witnesses from this story.

God's more excellent way brings us to a place where we have faith for others as well as faith for our own lives. 

John Robert Lucas

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