A Millennial Prodigal
by Patricia Backora
A gathering of worshippers was in full swing at Lily of the Valley Tabernacle, in the spring of 2845. They danced and clapped their hands. Tamborines rang out as they sang “The Glory Has Come Down”:
The Glory has come down
Oh, make a joyful sound
All nature’s singing songs of liberty;
All praise to Him Who’s come,
The bands of death undone
Bow down before our gracious Prince of Peace!
The Glory has come down
His kindnesses abound
His Hand of Blessing He has opened wide;
I’ve got a right to sing
For I have been redeemed
My Savior is my everlasting Light!
The Glory has come down
Our Sovereign has been crowned
The earth from Satan’s bondage has been freed;
The Son has been enthroned
He dwells among His own
Ascribe to Him Eternal Majesty!
The chorus was repeated several times, as the multitude swayed to the joyous sound:
Glory to Him Who out of Zion reigns
Our Adversary languishes in chains;
Let’s lift up holy hands
And join angelic bands
In giving praise and honor to our King!
A special guest speaker from a distant land was called upon to take the pulpit. Saul’s hair, once thick and black, was thinner and grayer now. Saul had, in his youth, been a towering hulk of a man. Now he leaned on his cane as he went forward. His dark, deep-set eyes shone with a quiet joy. Yet his dignified, lined face bore testimony to storms weathered by his soul; trials which never befell most Kingdom Age saints. A gentle humility softened Saul’s formerly impetuous countenance. He ascended the pulpit in a meek and prayerful spirit. Elderly Saul might be, but his voice rang out with conviction and clarity as he began to address the 300-strong congregation. Mentally keen, he scarcely needed his notes.
“Brother Bjorn’s message gives us food for thought,” he began. “Technically speaking, we cannot be referred to as ‘the church’, in the sense of comprising the Bridal Company of Christ which rose to meet Him in the air at His Appearing. Rather, we can more accurately be classified as the Millennial saints. And, at first glance, a lot of New Testament Scriptures do seem to be no longer applicable to saints of our generation, and Brother Bjorn specifically referred to those passages which speak of great suffering which saints of the Church Age could expect to endure in the course of a normal lifetime. True, we don’t have to worry about being persecuted by the wicked or being martyred for our faith. So long as we walk humbly with our God we live in perfect health and dwell in safety. Thank God for the unspeakable privilege of living in a Paradise Earth set free from the Bondage of Corruption. Thank God for this holy Sabbath Rest enjoyed by all of Creation. Instead of being hounded by the Antichrist we’re free to shout our love for Jesus from the roof tops. Nevertheless, Paradise is much more about the Presence of Christ our Blessed Redeemer than about the absence of evil.”
Saul lowered his eyes. “In testifying to God’s grace I have been granted permission to cite as examples two men who were converted after the Rapture. Sugar Man Shane, as he was commonly known, was a gangster who pushed hard drugs in this city just before the Tribulation Period. The biggest tragedy, I believe, was that Shane felt forced to be what he was, though I’m not making excuses for his sin, of course. Back in the Old World an adolescent boy would be scared of being the weak one singled out for bullying in high school. Schools could be very dangerous strongholds of satan, little more than babysitting centers where stressed-out parents got a break from kids they couldn’t control. Rebellious kids would prevent other pupils from being able to learn in school even if they were serious about their education. Every day after school Shane would be intimidated by hoodlums until he finally agreed to join their gang. Back then you could pay a terribly high price for resisting evil, and unconverted adolescents raised with no spiritual guidance were especially vulnerable.
“Once Shane learned some hand-to-hand combat techniques and karate kicks he no longer felt like a skinny weakling.” Saul grinned in spite of himself. “When he made friends with my ancestor Clint they looked like an odd couple. Shane was short and wiry but Clint had been picked on himself in school because he got too fat from drinking beer, and the kids knew his weight wasn’t muscle. Can you say ‘praise the Lord, everybody, because, while we enjoy the fat of the land, it doesn’t encamp round about our middles as it would have in the Old World!”
Once the laughter subsided Saul continued: “But Clint’s biggest weight problem wasn’t around his waistline, it was a horrible weight of demonic oppression no one on earth suffers from now, and those demons drove Clint and Shane to want to be richer and more powerful than the bullies who picked on them. Clint was kicked out of school because he shot a gun at some guys who harassed him in the locker room. So without a decent education, how could Clint and Shane get rich? The easiest and quickest way was to break the law, and a person dead in sin doesn’t care who gets hurt by their sin. Shane knew where to obtain the most dangerous illegal drugs, and Shane’s brother, who was a law student, showed them what legal loopholes to use to escape the clutches of earthly justice. We won’t dig up any more gory details, but we can thank God Clint was converted immediately after the Rapture. What a testimony to the unspeakable grace of God. Not long after Clint’s own conversion he won Shane to the Lord too.
“Consider how much harder it would have been for those men to receive Christ than now. Today, God’s people no longer have to fear being put to death for their faith. Even physical illness is a rarity, and that is usually caused by overindulgence in food or drink. Never do we hear of a young mother mourning over the death of her baby, or a man being given six months to live because of cancer. No longer are God’s people called upon to turn the other cheek to those who would hurt or slander them. Instead, the wicked are removed from society, and God is faithful to immediately vindicate the righteous.
“The apostle Peter exhorted Christians to rejoice whenever their faith was refined in the fire of deep trial, though the trial could cause them great heaviness of heart. But God’s people have, as a rule, been granted blessed rest from persecution and great sorrow. Centuries ago I myself passed through fiery trials, but they resulted from premeditated, deliberate sin on my part. One of my greatest sins was being ungrateful to God for the blessing of living in such a world as we now have. How unspeakably great are our privileges! But, beloved, the bedrock principles of the Word of God are eternal. Satan doesn’t harass people anymore, but we are still mortal. We can still commit sin even without the devil being here to drive us to do it. We still need to show charity and patience toward one another. A married couple can bicker over the most trivial things. A word carelessly spoken can wound. Just the other day someone told me about two men who got in a fist fight over some woman both of them wanted to date. Angels arrived on the scene and broke up the fight before much damage was done, then took the men to be dealt with by the authorities. It seems to me that people who can’t settle their differences peaceably aren’t fit to fall in love with anybody, because they don’t know the true meaning of love. And it’s high time everybody buckled down and applied themselves to getting ready for eternity. This Millennium will soon be over, and afterward it will be one endless bright day of Glory for all those who have partaken of the divine nature and allowed Christ to work mightily in their hearts. But millions will rebel and side with satan, who is soon to be loosed out of his pit for a brief time. I, who once felt the heat of divine wrath and came perilously close to eternal damnation, tremble at the thought of the horrible judgment which shall fall upon those rebels.
“Brethren, let us walk with the Lord in all humility of heart. Let us steer clear of slippery slopes. Let us guard against pride and take heed lest we fall. We are all so close to the finishing line. Let us not stumble in the final stretch. A tremendously wonderful prize is at stake: Eternity as a glorified son or daughter of God, clothed in the radiant nature of Christ Himself. Although the devil is absent our fallen flesh nature is still present with us until the day of our final glorification. It is only by the grace of God that I am standing before you here today to testify to the power of Christ to blot out transgressions. I, who enjoyed blessings Clint and Shane never dreamed of in their lives, became a far worse sinner than those two ever were. That in spite of the fact I had been born again for many decades. I failed to gain the mastery over my own fallen nature. I refused to heed the wisdom of the Word of God, or even listen to saints raised from the dead. I failed to love others with the Love of Christ. I sometimes confused love with lust,” Saul choked, “and this led to the ruination of other souls who idolized me and looked up to me because of my genius intellect. Like Nebuchadnezzar, God had to humble me in that area for a time before I truly bowed the knee and acknowledged that Jesus alone is Lord.
“Because of my sin I forfeited some of the privileges of life in Paradise Earth. I rebelled like an unruly toddler and I even abused the privilege of wealth, so the independence of an adult was taken from me. I have been permitted to resume life in the community but I remain under strict subjection to guardians who have been appointed by our rulers to look after all my needs. These many years since my spiritual restoration these wonderful glorified brethren have diligently guided me the ways of holiness. Eventually my business was passed on to my two younger children, who, thank God, grew into godly, responsible adults who married well and have beautiful families of their own.” Through tear-misted eyes Saul exchanged smiles with a huge contingent in the congregation who were silently cheering him on. His daughter Lila, still rosy-cheeked and comely for her age, blew him a kiss.
“I made shipwreck of my own soul, although we Millennial saints sail a smooth sea the saints of the Church Age could only dream of. God would have been fully justified in putting me to death for the terrible sins I committed, but He, in His unspeakable mercy, decided to salvage Saul Savage from the Pit of Hell.”
Most of those present murmured quiet praise to God for restoring Saul’s backslidden soul but someone yelled from the back of the sanctuary:”There’s no such thing as hell and you know it! Quit trying to scare us, old man!” Two youths made a face at Saul and rushed outside laughing. Seconds later terrified shouts were heard.
Saul’s face paled and he clutched the wooden pulpit for support. A young deacon rushed over to steady him when a white mist appeared before the wonderstruck eyes of the congregation, then the fully materialized form of Clint Savage, ancestor of Saul. Instead of a potbellied degenerate with drug-glazed eyes, Clint looked like a powerfully built angel in white. Clint appeared much younger than his descendant, though he was hundreds of years older. No one marvelled that a glorified saint could suddenly appear, for all the people knew these immortals possessed the same type of body as their risen Savior. Jesus could appear and disappear at will, though He had a solid body of flesh and bone. Clint had long ago reached the end of his natural life span and had been translated into immortality.
“It’s okay, Saul,” Clint said, patting him on the back. “You’re doing just fine. Don’t pay those idiots any mind. Shane’s out there right now preaching them a good sermon, and if they don’t clean up their act they’ll find out the hard way hell exists.”
“I hope they don’t have to go that route,” said Saul. “What a surprise, Grandpa Clint, that you would turn up here. I hope you didn’t take offense at anything I just said.”
Clint stared down and his stomach and chuckled. “No way, Saul, I’m in great shape now, and most importantly on the inside where it counts. Just keep on telling everybody about how wonderful Jesus is. Tell everybody what you’ve learned about what it means to love God and to love His people with His Love. You took a long hard fall, Saul, just like me and my buddy Shane did. You got hurt real bad but you didn’t die. Jesus saved some pretty bad dudes from hell, but nobody can love Jesus more than we can now, can they?”
“No they can’t, my beloved Clint,” whispered Saul. “You and I have been down in the valley, so we appreciate the mountaintop that much more. Those who’ve been forgiven much love much. And because Christ lifted me back up when I fell, I want to be His hands to hold others up when they feel weak.”
“Son,” Clint chuckled, “that’s what real love is, in a nutshell.”
To read about Saul’s slide into sin and his arduous journey back to spiritual health:
order: Tough Love in Christ’s Millennium online from: http://www.publishamerica.com
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