People of The Living God

Psalms 149

 

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December 2009



XMASS IS NEAR

Randall Walton

        This is the time of the year when nearly the entire Christian believers follow the Catholic church in its celebration of the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Included in the celebrations are a host of unbelievers who also decorate a tree and follow the general pattern as laid down by the Catholic hierarchy.

        A large part of the celebration involves a Santa Claus who is an integral part of the so–called birthday of Jesus!  He, Santa Claus, is supposed to know all the secrets of every girl and boy as well as their general behavior.  And the number of their presents is to reflect their behavior, or lack of such, and to prove the existence of this spurious character.

        As servants of Jesus Christ, we are unable to go along with all the foolishness of this false holiday which was placed upon a full fledged heathen holiday called Saturnalia, a time of orgiastic revelry and drunkenness, as well as denigrating the supposed birthday of the King of glory.  All of the pageants and nativity scenes hardly pay for the unglamorous spectacle of the true birth of our Lord and Savior, and we can’t stop wondering where it will all end.

        God said His people were not to decorate trees (Jeremiah 10:1-5), and were not to practice astrology (verse 2, same Book and chapter).  We believe that God said what He meant and He meant what He said.  Don’t do as the heathen do!  Why?

        Both of these practices lead into the occult world.  There is where inspiration gets its kick.  You cannot play with evil spirits and not get burned!  Many people wonder why, after the merry making and the children have been lied to, there is a feeling of having been taken for a bad ride.  The after–effect of the bad ride is not just a game; it is real!

It is a fact that Jesus was not born in December.  It is much too cold in December for shepherds to be out watching their flocks during the cold winter months in Palestine, or even in some neighboring countries.  And, the people in the early church never practiced celebrating the Savior’s birthday; if they had, it would not have been in December – but the fact remains the same – they did not celebrate Jesus’ birth.  Why should we?

        It is so much fun, they say.  When did the Lord say we should go to church to have fun?  The main functions of any church are to worship God and draw the lost souls to Jesus Christ.  It is not to have fun and to entertain the people.

        But it is so inspiring, they say.  People need to know the difference between inspiration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  God does not anoint with the Holy Spirit any activity which He Himself has not ordered!  There may be some interest in the proceedings, but interest and anointing are not from the same source.  Remember this: if God does not bless the celebration with an anointing of the Holy Spirit, it is not of God.  He has no part in it because it has become an exercise of the flesh (Please read Romans 8:6-8, 12-13).

        It is also factual that all of the activities involved in Xmass draws no one closer to God.  There is no Holy Spirit conviction upon the proceedings; there is nothing to cause people to be under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  It is merely a show of the likely place where the Son of God lay among the many animals upon His birth.

        If you happen to be near us on December 25, you will find us working as usual on that day unless it is too cold to be outside.  In that case, we’ll be inside working, and we know that you will be welcome to visit us and enjoy the things of God.  People really do need to seek God while there is time, for there are many pressures being placed upon the people of God, and this is a great opportunity we have at the present.  Seek God; be firmly established in the truth; there are many activities which are worthwhile.  May the Lord bless and keep you.

 

 

!SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN’ TO TOWN!

Randall Walton

        Shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday, it is an annual occurrence for a man in a red suit with white trimmings to appear in most of the major stores throughout this country.  The time has arrived for the merchants to allure the people back to the counters to help fill the coffers of the entrepreneurs, and who is a better salesperson, or leader, than the chief of toys himself, Mr. St. Claus!

        It is one of the ironies of humanity that people will put forth extreme effort to observe a celebration which is absolutely unscriptural, but will not take the time to find out what the Scriptures really do require of the followers of Jesus; this is an indication that people are more attracted to fun – partying, socializing, pageantry, entertainment, and tradition – than they are to serving and worshipping and obeying the living God.  It is a strong indictment against the religion called Christian.

        There are several valid reasons why true Christians should not involve themselves in this celebration.  They are:

  1. The Scriptures are silent about such an event.
  2. Jesus was not born on December 25th.
  3. The celebration is pagan in origin and was “christianized” by the Roman Catholic church.
  4. The emphasis is upon “gifts” and not on Jesus Christ.  Millions of unbelievers observe the day by exchanging gifts, but they are not interested in Him.
  5. It is a commercial–religious holiday (making merchandise of a religious event).
  6. It breeds mythology and Christian anecdotes together to make Christianity appear as a “cheap” game at the best, and as an off–shoot of pagan idolatry at the worst.
  7. It contributes to the devaluation of the Holy Bible as the very word of God.

Why December 25?

        It is a widely known fact that December 25th was an old pagan festival called Saturnalia which was observed in honor of the sun’s lengthening of the daylight hours.  Drunken revelry was an integral aspect of the festivities, a feature which is still popular among many celebrants.

        It is also a widely known fact that it appeared in Christendom via the Roman Catholic church which considered the festival too important to abolish among the hordes of heathen over which it ruled.  After all, the Roman Catholic church claimed the right and authority to make or cancel any ritual or rite it desired, to interpret Bible doctrines, and to decide all issues of moral behavior.

        With this supposed authority, the R.C. church sanctified Easter, another pagan or heathen holiday, and claimed that it represents the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  Few Christians pause long enough to ask why eggs and rabbits are a part of the Easter tradition.  (Easter or Ashteroth was a sex goddess, hence the fertility symbols.)

        The R.C. church also exercised its supposed authority by blessing the first day of the week in preference to the seventh, the day which the Bible commands man to keep holy because it is God’s Sabbath day.

        If you are not a Roman catholic, you have no excuse whatever for observing any of those catholic holy days, for their observance is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures. The apostles and the early church never celebrated the birthday of Jesus, nor the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, nor the first day of the week.  Nowhere in the Bible is Sunday referred to as the Lord’s day.

The Christian’s Obligation

        The words of Jesus are chock full of orders for His followers to fulfill.  Isn’t it pitiful that so many people are not impressed with the teachings of the Master?  It is almost as if they believe He didn’t mean what He declared.  Or they have convinced themselves that He would never be so cruel as to hold them accountable for disregarding His rules and regulations.

        But they need to memorize John 12:48 and thoroughly digest His message in Matthew 7:24-27.  If they will seriously study these verses, they will never again be concerned about Santa Claus Comin’ To Town!

 

 

“THE SABBATH WAS MADE FOR MAN

Randall Walton

        “and not man for the Sabbath; Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27,28).

        The most nonchalant reader in the world should have no trouble at all seeing that the Sabbath was not made for the Jews, nor even for Israel, but for MAN (mankind, human beings).  From the above mentioned words of Jesus, a casual reader should also be able to deduce the fact that the only day which can correctly be called “the Lord’s day” is the Sabbath, for Jesus flatly and plainly proclaimed that He is Lord of the Sabbath!

        It is not our custom to harangue about the seventh day being the Lord’s day, but we have been rather under–whelmed by the generosity of a few insiders who informed us that the Lord changed the sanctity of Sabbath to Sunday (even though this information is dreadfully missing from the Good Book), and they felt it was their God–given duty to enlighten us on the subject.

        Let it be known that we are not now, nor have we ever been, Seventh Day Adventists, nor have we ever been affiliated with any of the many other 7th day denominations.  We are well aware of the erroneous views promulgated by the S.D.A. church, e.g., the Sabbath is the seal of God, and Sunday keeping is the mark of the beast, and the final issue of the last days will be about 7th day versus 1st day.

        There is no Biblical basis for these doctrinal beliefs: S.D.A.’s have only the word of their founder as “proof” for such teachings.  However, to use these gross errors as evidence against Sabbath observance is as gross as those errors themselves.  One wrong does not justify another!

        The charge is also made that S.D.A.’s are very conceited about their Sabbath observance and tend to “look down their noses” at everyone who does not agree with them.  Whether this accusation is true or not, we cannot say; but whether or not it is true, this is no reason to reject the truth concerning the Sabbath.  Surely, we don’t accept or reject truth on the basis of other people’s attitudes.  Shouldn’t the word of God be the only and the final basis for our beliefs?

        We wonder sometimes why it is that the seventh day Sabbath is so vehemently fought and scorned by so many millions of professing Christians.  Is it because they have such an over–powering love for truth, and they have dug deeply into the Word to find that truth, or could it be that they don’t want to be counted in with a minority, or that they don’t want to risk the rejection of friends and family, or that they feel more comfortable with “tradition”?

Truth Sanctifies (John 17:17)

        We have been on both sides of this doctrinal fence, having been raised in a major Sunday–keeping denomination.  At the time, it seemed strange that anyone would attend church services on Saturday, because that was house–cleaning day, shopping day, and bath day, all done in preparation for going to church and Sunday School on the morrow.  The very word, “Sunday,” seemed to have some aura of sanctity about it, and the words “Sunday School” were pronounced as if they might have descended from heaven itself.  No thought was given about the possibility we may be doing these on the wrong day.  Family tradition for generations dictated our activities and observances.

        But suddenly, truth became an issue: we desired truth and truth alone, at any cost or loss.  And when we searched for truth, we discovered that there were piles of rubbish of myths, fables, and traditions which had to be discarded in order to get to the truth.

        In our search, we found that there was not ONE, no not one, valid argument for the observance of Sunday, nor for attending church on Sunday.  We had been taught that the apostles regularly held meetings on Sunday, and that they did this in observance of Jesus’ resurrection, and now we call this the “Lord’s day” because John received his revelation on the Lord’s day while he was on Patmos, and that had to be on Sunday because he was in the Spirit.

        And in keeping with these “traditions of the elders,” we joined in with the Easter sunrise services, the Easter egg hunts (after having spent hours the previous day painting them), never questioning the legitimacy of such activities.  It was “church.”

        But, when truth began to set in and we “saw the light,” then the bunny rabbit, the observance of the day of the SUN (Sunday), as well as old man St. Claus, and other PAGAN traditions were abandoned, and we found ourselves sanctified (set apart) from both former friends and relatives.  “Sanctify them through thy truth; they word is truth.”

SUNday Never Observed By The Apostles

        Through the years, we have offered $1,000.00 to anyone who can produce one verse of Scripture which states that the church, the apostles, or the people of God ever met for worship during the day on the first day of the week.  Our $1,000.00 is secure and safe because such a Scripture does not exist, even though many people believe otherwise.

        Paul went so far as to tell people to work on Sunday!  Referring to the hunger of the folks in Jerusalem, Paul told the Corinthian brethren to “let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.”  This, he called “the collection for the saints.”  This, of course, was not a collection of money in a religious meeting.  This was a gathering of food or farm produce which he would send by “them” to Jerusalem (I Cor. 16:1-5).  Any way you cut it, this was work.  To construe this passage to mean a public worship is to demonstrate how far a person is willing to stretch the truth in order to fight it.

        Some people have alluded to the writings of some of the so–called church fathers who allegedly stated that they met together on the Lord’s day to worship.  It so happens that those early writings have been tampered with, copied, and translated in such a way that their authenticity is most dubious, to say the least.  For example, translators interpret the term, Lord’s day, to mean Sunday, a freedom that they do not have the liberty to take, for Jesus said He is Lord of the Sabbath.

        Furthermore, secular history is not the best place to look for truth, especially when it has been subjected to the ravages of time, interpolation, and translation through a series of different languages.

        The highest authority still remains the blessed word of God which abideth forever.  And it is a fact that Jesus prophesied that His disciples would still be keeping the Sabbath in 70 A.D.  He foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, and He commanded His disciples to “pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20).  If they were no longer going to rest on the Sabbath, why give such an order?

        Of course, He knew they would still be observing the Sabbath when Titus laid the city in the dust.  This fact is irrefutable.

        The Book of Acts confirms that Sabbath observance was a legacy in the early church.  The topic never surfaced in any of their deliberations, for there was never any question among them about the origin of the seventh day Sabbath.  It was fixed once and for all times at Creation long before there was a Jew or any Israelites upon the face of the earth, and it is inextricably attached to the creation and upon God’s having rested on that day, and blessing and hallowing it.  There is no single nor multiple episode which can alter, change, or detract from that immutable fact.

        And if God didn’t remove His blessing and hallowness from that day, who among the sons of men has the audacity, arrogance, and gall to attempt to do it?  Not I!  “The Sabbath was made for man,” and since I am a part of mankind, I’ll continue to recognize the truth that the Lord’s Day is the Sabbath.

        “There remaineth therefore a rest (or keeping of a Sabbath, margin) to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).

        If you can bow down to images, curse and blaspheme God, dishonor your parents, commit murder and adultery, steal, lie, covet your neighbors’ good, and maintain a healthy relationship with the living God, then you can also desecrate the Lord’s Sabbath and still remain in good standing with Him.  But the same God who said you were prohibited from doing all of those ungodly and obnoxious sins, also commanded you to cease from your “own labors as God did from his” on His holy day (Heb. 4:10).  Plain and simple, isn’t it?  The truth always is!

 

 

“HEAVEN AND EARTH SHALL PASS AWAY”

Randall Walton

        “but my words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).  These wise words were spoken by none other than the Lord of Glory, Jesus the Christ, who undoubtedly knew precisely what He was stating.  We are surprised that so many people do not accept these words of the Master at face value.  He could hardly have been more succinct and plain.

        We recently received word from a well–meaning reader that the earth will remain forever and that God’s people will continue to populate this planet down through the eternal ages!  This belief is based upon several Old Testament Scriptures which say, “the earth abideth forever” (Eccl. 1:4).

        The term “forever” is somewhat ambiguous and must always be read in context with the topic at hand.  If it always means eternally, then we face certain Scriptures with much difficulty, for example:

        “Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him forever” (Ex. 21:6).  It is obvious that the servant died several thousand years ago.  The “forever” referred only to the rest of his life, or for as long as he existed.

        “when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die; it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him” (Ex. 28:43).  This has to do with the garments to be worn by the priests.  It is quite obvious that the “forever” referred to the duration of the Aaronic or Levite priesthood.

        “And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’ by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering” (Ex. 29:28).  “Forever” referred to the duration of the Aaronic priesthood.

        “All this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever” (Ex. 32:13).  Again, “forever” refers to a certain period or length of time, not eternity.

        “And the priest of his sons that is anointed in his stead shall offer it: it is a statute for ever unto the Lord; it shall be wholly burnt” (Lev. 6:22).  Forever refers to the length of the duration of the statute, not eternally.

        “For the Lord thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, to stand and minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons for ever” (Deut. 18:5).  This forever didn’t last very long, did it?

        “O Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever” (Psalm 30:12).  David lived for a total of 70 years.  Sometime during his lifetime, he wrote the above words.  “Forever” for David was a fairly short period.

        These are but a brief sampling of the many instances in the Scriptures where the word forever indicates a period of unbroken time for a specific or given era.  It does not in any of these cases speak of an eternal condition or promise.

        God created the earth for a definite purpose.  When that purpose is fulfilled, it will have lost its usefulness and will be terminated.

The Temporal vs. The Eternal

        “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal: but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:18).  Paul here affirms that the visible things, the earth, the heavens, the things which we see with our physical eyes, are but temporary (temporal), and temporary certainly does not mean eternal.  We earthlings have been promised a far greater inheritance than temporal things.  At the last day we shall receive immortality and incorruptibility, both states of which are foreign to this temporal existence (I Cor. 15:50-54).

        Your attention is drawn to Genesis 8:22 where God declared: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”  Pay close attention to the phrase, “While the earth remaineth.”  There is a strong implication in these words of cessation.

        Indeed, the inclusion of the words “day and night” speak of the temporal movements of the earth and the sun which produce day and night.  John tells us in his Revelation (21:25) that there shall be no night in the new Jerusalem; this clearly places the day and night functions in this era “while the earth remaineth.”  When this earth and its environs cease to exist, the eternal things of God will continue on and there will be no more night time.

Destruction Of The Earth Foretold

        “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night IN THE WHICH the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, THE EARTH ALSO and the works that are therein SHALL BE BURNED UP.  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens BEING ON FIRE shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (II Pet. 3:10-12).  Certain theologians have said that dissolve and melt only mean a change of state but not total destruction.  James Strong says the Greek word means to “break up, destroy, unloose, put off.”

        Furthermore, Jesus said “heaven and earth shall pass away.”  Pass away has a definite sound of finality: burned up!

        Joining the chorus of finality are the following:

        “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thy hands: THEY SHALL PERISH (pass away); but thou remainest; and they shall all wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed (when anything is burned up, it certainly changes); but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Heb. 1:10-12; Psa. 102:25).

        “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against (or upon) the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (II Peter 3:7).

        “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

        “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Rev. 21:1).

“The Last Day”

        Jesus spoke clearly about events which would take place on the last day.  He was not talking about the last day of a certain era or epoch, but about the last day of this earth’s existence.  Let us recount a few of the events which both He and the apostles said would occur on THE last day.

        “No man can come to me, except the father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44; see also verses 39, 40, 54).

        “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

        NOTE: since the judgment occurs in the last day, it is evident the ungodly will be there; this means that the ungodly must also be raised on the last day!

        “for the hour is coming, in the which ALL that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28,29).

        Since the resurrection of ALL, both good and evil, will occur on the last day, when the wicked will be judged, it is appropriate to see what else will take place on that great day: “We shall not all sleep (die) but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:50-53).

        So now we have the last day and the last trumpet!  How many days can there be after the last day?  Some folks tell us there will be 365,000 days following the last day, but if this be so, then the last day is but a last day.  How ridiculous!

        Bro. Paul further links up the advent of Jesus with the day of judgment, which is, as we have seen, the last day: “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe” (II Thess. 1:7-10).  Notice, the judgment of the wicked occurs at the same time of the rewarding of the saints: when Jesus is revealed from heaven.  And all of this on THE LAST DAY!

        Yes this planet as well as the visible heavens will all pass away with a great noise.  God’s work with mankind will be consummated and celebrated, and this old globe which has served as His workshop for 6,000 years will be obliterated.  God’s people will then enter into an eternal Sabbath or rest, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Just Passing Through

        We wonder why so many modern saints want to make this earth a permanent everlasting home.  This attitude is in sharp contrast to the saints of God of whom we read in the Scriptures!

        “By faith he (Abraham) sojourned in the land of promise, AS IN A STRANGE COUNTRY, dwelling in tabernacles (tents!) with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, WHOSE BUILDER AND MAKER IS GOD” (Heb. 11:9-10).  (When and where did GOD build a city here on this earth?)

        “These all died in faith…and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).

        “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb. 13:14).

        “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26).

        “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims” (I Peter 2:11).

        “Even unto this present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place” (I Cor. 4:11).

        “as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (I Cor. 15:48-50).

        “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you (us)” (I Pet. 4:4).

“The End Of The World”

        “the harvest is the end of the world” (Matt. 13:39).  In this parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus describes the work of God among mankind.  He ends the discourse with the interpretation of the parable and shows what will take place at “the end of the world.”  A brief summary follows:

        1.  Tares: gathered and burned in the fire; wailing and gnashing of teeth

    (Judgment).

        2.  Wheat: gathered into the barn; they shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom

     of their Father.

        When does this take place?  Twice in this parable, Jesus said this would take place at “the end of this world” (vs. 39,40).  Is this finality or not?  In the last verse of the last chapter of Matthew, Jesus is quoted as having said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

        We recognize the fact that many translate the word world as “age.”  We do not object to this usage, but it must be realized that this present age will end, and the age to come will be an everlasting age, without end, eternal life with God in the glorious kingdom of the blessed heavenly Father.

        “The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again” (Isaiah 24:20).

 

 

GOD STILL SPEAKS

Randall Walton

        Many people are confused about God’s ability to communicate with mankind today.  They think that the only contact we have with the living God is the word, or the Scriptures, and that God will open up the Bible via of the Holy Spirit’s anointing.

        While it is true that there is an anointing that comes to us by means of the Holy Spirit, it is also true that just as the Holy Spirit and the angels of God conversed with mankind in the days of the early church, so does He communicate with those who have ears to hear what He has to say.

        For example, in Acts 2:4 we have the account of about 120 people who were of one accord.  As they praised and worshipped God they were overcome with the presence of the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak with other tongues “as the Spirit gave the utterance.”  Please notice that “the Spirit gave the utterance.”

        There are many who “speak in tongues” today, but sad to say, most of these utterances are not the Holy Spirit giving them “tongues.”  Just as there are false prophets and false christs (Matt. 24:11,24), there are false tongues speaking people who are adept at making certain sounds which may be mistaken for true tongues.  The “utterances” are not given by the Spirit of God, and someone needs to counsel God’s people to the falsehoods that are being presented in the name of Jesus Christ.

        The Book of Acts is full of accounts of people being led or directed by the Holy Spirit or an angel of God to do or go to a certain place and do certain things.  Today, people depend upon a Board of Directors or a Board of Elders to decide where and when people are to serve the Master.  What a disgrace!  The early church had no Board upon whom the people depended for counsel or direction.

        Consider, for example, Philip in Acts 8:26 when he was told by an angel to “go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza.”  When he arrived and beheld a certain chariot, the “Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot,” which he did.  Philip then opened up the Scripture to the Ethiopian eunuch who asked Philip to be baptized.  After the baptism, “the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more” (verse 39).

        In the ninth chapter of Acts, we have the miracle of Paul’s conversion.  In the fourth verse, he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”  Saul, confused, said, “who art thou, Lord” (verse 5).  “And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.”  Then the Lord gave him directions into the city of Damascus and said it would be told to him what he should do.

        In the meantime, God was working with another man named Ananias.  The Lord spoke with the man and told him to go and find Saul and minister unto him.  This he did, and laid his hands on Saul so that he received his sight, and arose, and was baptized.  Notice that these people were directed by the Lord to do what they did, and they obeyed the words of the Lord as He directed them.

        In the tenth chapter we have the case of Cornelius, a man who prayed “alway.”  God heard his prayers and answered him with a vision of an angel coming in to him and speaking to him.  The angel told him to send men to Joppa and find Peter who was staying with a man named Simon, a tanner.

        While this was going on, Peter was on the housetop and became quite hungry.  While the meal was being prepared, Peter fell into a trance and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him.  In the vessel were “all manner of fourfooted beasts, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.  And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat.  But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”  This was done three times and the vessel was received up again to heaven.

        This caused Peter to have some questions, and as he wondered about all the above, “the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.  Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.”  Peter obeyed the Lord and went with the three men to Caesarea, and there he met the man Cornelius, and his kinsmen and near friends.

        Peter then began preaching, and as he preached, “the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word” (chap. 10:44-48).  The people there were baptized with the Holy Ghost, for they spoke with tongues and magnified God.  God had made it plain to the man Peter: not only had He purified and cleansed the animal kingdom, He had received Gentiles into His kingdom!  Peter had no reply as he recounted his blessing to those that were of the circumcision (chap. 11:2,3).

        In the twelfth chapter of the Acts we have the account of Peter being held in prison sleeping between two soldiers and bound with two chains; the keepers before the door kept the prison.  But the angel of the Lord came upon him; and he, the angel, smote Peter on the side, raised him up and said, “Arise up quickly.”  And his chains fell off from his hands!

        And the angel said to Peter; “Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals.  And so he did.  And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.”  He went out and followed the angel not realizing that it was true, but thought he saw a vision.  When they reached an iron gate that leads into the city, it opened of its own accord.

        By this time, Peter knew that it wasn’t a vision: it was true: He had been delivered by the Lord’s angel.

        Chapter thirteen is unique because of the leading of the Holy Ghost so powerfully.  Verses 2 and 3 state that “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabus and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.  And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”  We are not told how the Holy Ghost spoke; we are only told that He said!

        Chapter sixteen is also outstanding because of the leading of the Holy Spirit.  “Now when they (Paul and Silas) had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.  And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:6-9).

        When Paul was in Tyre in chapter 21:4, he found disciples and he stayed for seven days.  They spake to Paul and said “through the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem!”  Later, he was met by a prophet named Agabus who took Paul’s girdle, “and bound his own hands and feet, and said, thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”

        Paul was determined in his own spirit to go even though he had ample reason not to go!  The saints at Tyre had “through the Spirit” said that he was not to go to Jerusalem, and Agabus had prophesied by the Holy Spirit that his ministry would be hurt if he did go.  Nevertheless, Paul was persuaded in his own mind to go, and he, therefore, missed the call of the Spirit to continue ministering to the Gentiles as God Himself determined for him to do.

        Paul had written to the Corinthian brethren some wonderful truths.  One of those truths is found in I Cor. 3:16 where Paul says, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”  God has given to every believer the Holy Spirit as another comforter to lead and direct them in the way they should go.  The Holy Spirit is faithful to minister unto those within His reach.  But it is a fact that too many people forget that the Holy Spirit is within them for a most definite reason – to lead, to guide, to direct, and to bless.  He is completely faithful to His duty: He will carry out the plan and the purpose for which He was called if we will obey His voice!

        We ask you in Jesus’ name to become obedient to the words and the “sayings” of Jesus, and to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit as He attempts to guide and direct you in the ways of the living God.  We are entering into a period of time when what we do can have permanent effect upon our general well–being.  Do not put off prayer services.  Seek the Lord diligently that He will give you a total and complete knowledge of the Holy Spirit as He is willing to show you things to come.  It is imperative to every child of God to be so attuned to His voice, that when He speaks or commands, you know Him.

        We suggest, also, that you make a study of the leading of the Spirit of God until you are fully convinced of His power, His intelligence, and His knowledge of the current events.

        God bless you, is our prayer.

 

 

AMAZING GRACE

Randall Walton

                “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

                That saved a wretch like me;”

        Thank God for the amazing, wonderful, powerful grace of God that reaches forth for lost souls.  According to Paul it is “grace through faith” which brings the lost to Jesus Christ.  This is not to say that grace is by itself ineffective in the salvation of souls, but grace alone, without faith, is truly insufficient to save anyone.  It is “grace through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).

        The gift of God then is faith which God gives to all who seek Him, for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6).  Faith is created by God and is apportioned unto men so that they will please Him who has redeemed them.

        It is truly a surprise to most of us to find that Jesus berated His twelve apostles for their great lack of faith.  Again and again, He said to them, “where is thy faith,” or words to that same effect.  He pointed out that if they had the faith of a grain of mustard seed they could say to a sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you” (Luke 17:6).

        This outstanding lack of trust, belief, and faith was evident all through the three and a half years of ministry of Jesus.  They were afraid to venture out of the ordinary.  They only believed the word of God when it appealed to them.

        When the men were by themselves on the Sea of Galilee, and the waters roared and the wind drove their little boat, they beheld Jesus coming to them walking on the water.  Peter saw Him and said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto Him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt.  And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased” (Matt. 14:22-33).

        Faith!  Belief in God’s ability to make the sea a solid foundation.  We can well understand those men’s fears of the storm, for we have probably been in similar circumstances; but Peter’s faith wasn’t what it should have been.

        They were all eyewitnesses of miracle after miracle.  They saw the sick and infirm healed; they beheld the dead restored to life, they saw lepers cleansed; they were there when the blind had their sight given to them.  In fact, Jesus gave to them POWER and AUTHORITY over all the power of the enemy, and He said, “and nothing by any means, shall hurt you” (Luke 10:19).

        It seems as if they should have had tremendous authority over every demon that was against them, but their faith was so low that they had a difficult time overcoming their doubts.  But we shouldn’t be too surprised at their behavior, for most of us have the same problems, that of believing in the supremacy and authority of Jesus Christ who is the King eternal.

        He has given us “exceeding great and precious promises” that are written in His Word, and we have a hard time claiming them and applying their meaning to a life in Jesus Christ.  God is doing a work of restoration of the power and the glory of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but that depends on whether or not we embrace, first of all, the fruits of the Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22 & 23.  The fruits of the Spirit do precede the gifts, for we are only reliable, dependable, trustworthy, and responsible as long as we practice producing the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

        Yes, we do believe in the grace and mercy of the living God, but it is only effective when it is introduced by faith.  Too many want to bask in the sunshine of divine grace without faith, but it won’t work that way.  It is only when faith drives a person to accept the forgiveness and mercy and blessing of the living God that grace is bound up in the heart and soul of a new believer in Jesus Christ.

        Thank God for grace, but even more for the gift of faith which is given to everyone who comes to our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Almighty God.

 

 

WATCH!  BE READY!

Randall Walton

        “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.  But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.  Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:42-44).

        Jesus warned us in this discourse of being at ease and allowing ourselves the luxury of having our house broken up, saying that we have no idea nor clue as to when the Lord would return.  We are well aware of many efforts to place a date (day, month, year) on His return, but He said He didn’t know the day nor the hour when He would return, so it is quite foolish for mankind to come up with a date for that glorious event to take place (Matt. 24:36).

        One thing we know for sure is that it will come on the heels of much trouble, trial, testing and tribulation, and will come as a thief in the night, or when we least expect it.  The present recession could be the beginning of the time of tribulation spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, and referred to in some of Paul’s writings.

        That that day will come to pass is as sure as sure can be.  Already, many places are reporting 16% unemployment, and it looks as if those figures will soon be melted down with unemployment exceeding that of the Great Depression during the thirties.  Those of us who lived through those years can only attest to the fact that it was difficult.

        But, according to Jesus, the only recourse to the disasters which are sure to come is that we watch.  And that word, watch, is more than just a 5 letter word, because it covers a wide area of human endeavors and includes a large segment of our population.

        In verse 44, He said we were to be ready.  What does this mean?  How can we be ready for the things which will try our souls so fully?  How can we possibly be prepared to meet the challenges which will come our way when food becomes scarce, when electricity is turned off because we no longer have money to pay for it, when the water and gas are disconnected from our homes because we can’t pay for them anymore, when men and women can’t find jobs any more, and our money runs out?  Who will pay our mortgages, or pay our rent, or keep the insurance companies paid up, and pay our taxes and keep the payments up to date on our car(s)?  What will we do?  How will we cope in those days?  Let us not be so foolish as to think, “It will never happen here.”  Friends, it is already happening, but on a fairly small scale.  But look for it to increase beyond our ability to live with it.

        During the Great Depression there were train loads (freight trains) of poor men who had left their families behind to fend for themselves while they looked for work.  Men who had jobs worked ten hours per day for a dollar.  Can you imagine living today on a dollar a day?  But even then it was most difficult to find a job of any kind.  The U.S. government did give away a few articles of food, but it wasn’t much and didn’t reach to all the needy places throughout our vast country.  What will it be when times get really rough?  Our Federal Government is presently trying to burden us down with bills which we will never be able to pay.  With an indebtedness of over 10 trillion dollars, how can we afford to pay more than we are already accountable for?  Recession is bad enough – what will it be when we are in the throes of a great depression?

        Jesus said we should watch and be ready because we do not know the day nor the hour when He will come back to judge the world in righteousness.  All we know for sure is what is written in the good Book, the Holy Bible, and therein is a sad and morbid tale.  He said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.”  How was it in Noah’s day?

        Jesus described that day quite plainly in Matt. 24:38-39, where He said, “For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away.”  Notice, it was the flood that took them all away!  Only a very small remnant was left, and they, eight souls, were in the ark.  He stated most emphatically that this will be the way it will be in these last days.  “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken (don’t forget the flood), and the other left.  Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”  Notice that there is little time left at this moment.  All the opportunities for salvation are over, for the door is shut; and there will be those who cry for the door to be opened to them.  But the Lord’s answer is: “Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (Matt. 25:12).

        In Luke 21:34-36 we find these words from the lips of Jesus Christ: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

        By what standards may we “be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass”?  What is He looking for that makes some worthy and others not worthy?  First, they (the worthy ones) are watching and are ready or prepared for God’s escape.  They are also obedient to the words of the Master, both the written words as well as the spoken words of Jesus Christ.  Their hearts are in tune with the Savior; He is Lord and ruler over them, and they are fully and completely yielded to His Holy Will in everything!

        Doing God’s will has become their only guide in this life; those who acquire the escape that He provides are fully committed to Him and His way.  It can be said of them that they have presented themselves and all that they have to Him as a living sacrifice, and they follow Him no matter where He may lead them (Romans 12:1,2).

        Friends, this is serious.  This is a matter of life or death.  We counsel you, in Jesus’ precious name, to consider this message with all seriousness, because it could mean that your decisions in the next few months may decide for you whether you are accounted worthy to escape the things which are coming, and to stand before the Son of man.

        The choice is yours – what will you do about it?

 

 

LIVING BY FAITH

Curtis Dickinson

        “Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing unto God.”  We cannot see Him nor feel Him nor hear His voice.  Yet we can have a mind–to–mind relationship with Him by faith.

        According to John, faith is the basis and strength for living.  “For whatsoever is begotten of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  And who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  Faith that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our redemption is generally called “saving faith.”  But that’s only the foundation.  To live by faith and “overcome the world” means that we are convinced that God will do everything He has promised.  If we believe that God spoke the truth regarding Jesus, His death and resurrection, then we should never doubt that He is equally true in all else He has spoken.

        In the first century – before there were any denominational organizations, before any council of bishops had written a creed, and even before there was a collection of 27 gospels and letters which we call the New Testament – when there was just the good news of Jesus, people believed that good news and had such faith that they were able to stand against tyrants like Caligula and Nero, to defy the whole Roman government, to endure horrible persecution, and yet stand fast in the faith and find peace, joy and victory to “overcome the world.”

Focus Of Self

        Today, such faith is considered a rare commodity, even in the Christian community.  And no wonder, when one of the most popular fads in the churches is the promotion of self–esteem, to encourage pride in one’s own ability and worth.  The argument is that if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, we must first love ourselves.  This emphasis on self–love generates a feeling of self–sufficiency and puts faith in the background.

        The public schools are also placing the accent on self and “self–fulfillment,” as students are taught to arrive at their own values through self–introspection and discussions with other children.  This not only negates parental values but bypasses dependency upon God.

        Self–confidence is the world’s philosophy, the boast of humanism, but it is never encouraged by Jesus and the apostles.  Rather than preaching self–esteem and self–love, they preached repentance, righteousness, self–control, and judgment.  Who would say that the modern “possibility thinking” approach has developed more Christ–like believers than the old fashioned doctrine?

        When I hear of all the “self–improvement” programs in the churches, I think of some of the great saints of past years who never heard of things such as “self–esteem” and self–image.”  How did they develop such strong Christian personalities?  The answer is: By faith.  They never concentrated on themselves but on God, what He has done through Christ, what He is doing, and what He promised to do.  It is not confidence in self but confidence in God that gives strength and boldness for one to serve Him in the face of the world’s opposition.

Focus Of The State

        Where we place our faith is demonstrated by that upon which we depend.  For salvation, most would agree that we depend upon God to save us through Christ’s death on the cross.  But in His teaching Jesus went much farther than this.  We are to depend upon our Heavenly Father for our daily bread, as well as deliverance from the pervasive evil which would destroy us.  If the birds depend on Him, so can we, as we are of much more value than they, contrary to the idea of many environmentalists.

        With the enormous growth of bureaucratic government, there has been a significant shift from dependency upon God to dependency upon the state.  Government officials are far more concerned about our faith in the state than they are about our faith in God.  We have come to depend on the state for solving all problems and providing all things, including food, clothing and shelter.  As people depend more on the state, the state assumes more power, eventually forgetting God’s laws and forging its own.  In fact, we have gone so far down this road that God’s laws are denied any place in deciding questions between the individual and the state.  Instead of living by faith in God, the populace lives by fear of the state.  Instead of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, that He might provide as He promised, people seek the approval of the state, that it might provide all things.

        One bright and encouraging light is the home schooling movement.  For over a century we have depended on the state to educate our children, resulting in the present demoralized society.  Many Christians are resisting the state, with faith to teach and train their children according to God’s precepts.

Faith Is Trust

        Surely something is wrong when 90% of the people profess to believe in God, and yet our nation is overrun with crime, corruption, greed and violence.  There is a gross misunderstanding of what it means to have faith in God.  Many claim to have such faith when all they mean is that they believe some kind of God exists.  Biblical faith embraces not only God’s existence, but His purpose, His design for our lives, His promises and warnings.

        This means that we believe that everything that God has commanded is good, and His commandments are not grievous.  Yet His commands, in our time, are considered unreasonable, as if He were only trying to see how difficult He could make it for us.  Youth are told that it is too hard for them to remain chaste.  Apparently the command against fornication must not have been a good command and is “grievous” to man.  But the fact is no one ever grieved for having kept God’s commands.  No one ever wept tears of remorse for having followed His will.  Faith is to trust Him, to believe that His commandments are good, and that obeying Him will result in the greatest blessings.

        Abraham is our example of faith.  When commanded to sacrifice his only son, the one through whom the great promise was to be brought, he readily obeyed, confident that the promise still would be kept, trusting that God could raise Isaac from the dead, if necessary.  Abraham had confidence that God is to be trusted, even in such a totally unbelievable command.  How much more should we walk by faith in the simple commands He has given.

        This is not to suggest that we are saved by how well we keep the commandments. No one is able to perform perfectly.  Our standing before God is not based on our works.  We are justified by faith, faith that Christ died for our sins, and we continue in God’s grace through this same faith.

Size Of Faith

        It is common for us to excuse ourselves with the complaint that we just don’t have enough faith.  But it is not the quantity of faith but the object of faith that makes the difference.

        The apostles once begged, “Lord, increase our faith.”  Instead of commending them for such a desire, Jesus told them that if they had any faith at all, even as small as a grain of mustard seed, they would see wondrous results.  When they had witnessed Jesus risen from the dead, they finally believed and trusted Him to the point of challenging the world and all its forces with the truth of the gospel.

        We are not to confuse faith with our self–doubts.  To doubt one’s self is not a sign of a lack of faith.  In fact, scripture emphasizes that we cannot trust in ourselves, for we are weak and fallible, and our hearts may deceive us.  But trusting God removes the need for self–trust and consequently makes self–doubt irrelevant.

        The lack of faith may mean that we do not want to deny ourselves and be committed fully to God’s direction.  This is what James called being “double–minded,” asking of God, then doubting what He gives.  If we trust God, we trust Him in everything.  That’s faith, regardless of whether much or little.

        Fear roams the earth today, screamed to us day and night by the media.  We are threatened with heart disease, cancer, AIDS, unemployment, and financial collapse, and told that we may drop dead from polluted water, polluted air, lack of ozone, an ice age or a greenhouse effect, overpopulation or too much noise.  The answer to all of this is faith.  My own answer to such fears is that I trust God and am committed to Him.  If any or all of these bad scenarios develop, God will still complete His purpose, and that can only be good.  At last He will raise me up with immortality in His image and in a glorious new creation.

        Faith that God keeps His word makes the difference between living with fear and uncertainty or living with peace, security, and a blessed and marvelous hope.