People of The Living God

Matthew 24

 

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June 2010



 

THE AWAKENING

H.R. Miller

        “Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat” (Joel 3:12).  Friends, we are living in the day of the greatest awakening in the history of the human race.  Every individual upon the face of the earth is being made aware of the imminent coming of the Lord.  The Spirit of God is pulling off the “veil,” or covering, that has kept human beings in ignorance of their horrible state of rebellion and sin.

        Reports of new conquests of the Word of God in many lands have been pouring into our office.  Untold thousands of the “heathen” are “finding Christ” in countries scattered about the earth.  Many regions untouched by the efforts of foreign missionaries are suddenly made to “see the light.”  Here in our own country a very unusual and strange phenomenon is taking place: Sectarian ministers, and many whole congregations, have begun to seek God for His Holy Spirit and miracle working power.

        The Church of England has accepted the truths of divine healing!  Numbers of these ministers of the state church have received the Pentecostal baptism with the speaking in tongues!  Numbers in Southern Baptist churches, and their ministers, are being filled with the Holy Spirit as it happened on the day of Pentecost.  These are not idle tales, neither are they dreams – they are facts.  Nominal professing Christians are being awakened.

        Have you ever taken note of this fact revealed by the parable of the ten virgins: All were awakened at midnight when the cry was made that the bridegroom cometh?  All had “slumbered and slept” until this crucial hour.  ALL: both the “wise” and the “foolish.”

        The prophet Isaiah also speaks to God’s people in this way: “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city” (Isa. 52:1).  This message, of course, is to the elect, the very chosen of God.  It appears from these Scriptures that all humanity has been asleep.  The powers of darkness have dulled the senses of all, and men have failed to accept the words of the Creator.  Not only have God’s warnings been spurned by the rebellious, but even His good gifts and promised blessings have been rejected for the carnal life.

        What does all this awakening mean?  Does this mean that we are in the midst of a worldwide revival?  Starry eyed, glamour-energized Pentecostal altar workers shout, “THIS IS IT,” with glee.

        Pentecostalism has made emotional demonstration an end.  The fanatics on the shadier side of the Pentecostal house are addicts of spirit antics: the dance, the jerks, so-called prophecy, tongues, prostrations under “the power.”  To such people a religious service devoted to instruction in Christian love and virtues is a waste of time.  They want only demonstration.  This awakening and so-called revival, to the fanatics, is IT: the very thing their hearts long for, the fruition of their dreams.

        But, to you who are sober minded, we ask that you read on in the book of Joel and see what this spirit-filled prophet gave as the reason for the awakening: “Come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat.”  Of course, we understand that this sort of talk is “dark speech” (prophetic utterance by symbol, metaphor, allegory), and being such it must be interpreted.  This “valley” is called the valley of “threshing” (marginal reading): it is here that the prophet said the Lord will “sit to judge all the heathen.”

        Bible scholars of the highly intellectual type usually fail to understand the imagery of the prophets.  It is folly to place the final judgment of the rebels in some insignificant geographical spot in the little country of Palestine, yet this is the conclusion of all of the so-called “great” Bible scholars of our day.  Surely this Scripture is fulfilled in our day: “It is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (I Cor. 1:19).

        In order to comprehend the full significance of these Scriptures and the import of this hour in which we live, it is necessary to recognize the fact that the reason men are “awakened” is for the purpose of judgment.

        The word “judgment” may sound lethal (deadly) to many, but here we must distinguish between the “judgment” of God and the “vengeance” of God.  The Lord in His great love has always extended infinite mercy to sinning humanity, but justice demands a day of reckoning.  Sin dare not be permitted to swallow up the whole human race; so, before complete corruption takes over, the Creator is forced to bring a halt to the downward trend.  Providence steps in and the means for the separation of the sheep and the goats is set in motion.  This act of separation is called the judgment.

        To the incorrigible, this “day of the Lord” will mean destruction; to the saint, “the day” will bring forth instruments of purification.  We have an “example” of the operation of the mechanics of “the day of the Lord” in ancient Israel in the land of Egypt.  The ten plagues brought upon the Egyptians were lessons of faith to the people of God, and even some of the natives of that foreign land learned the fear of the Lord.  However, Pharaoh and others of his countrymen hardened their hearts against the revelation of “the arm of the Lord,” and with the hardness of heart they became incensed against God, and in a fanatical frenzy they finally went out to destroy the people who obeyed Him.  This is a rather hazy, and very limited, prophetic picture of what will happen in our day, but its essential points are very accurate.

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Pet. 4:17).  The forces of purging and cleansing are already at work: the “lamps” are being trimmed (set in order).  The “lamps” are words of prophetic imagery.  The significance of this divine symbol is found in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.”  In this last day, this end of the “latter times,” men are being awakened to the infinite significance of God’s WORDS.

        Millions of professing Christians have toyed with God’s words.  His words have been used in all manner of ways for the entertainment of the religiously inclined.  Few have feared the Lord enough to obey His words.

        To ancient Israel, the Lord conveyed His message through angels to His servant Moses and other anointed prophets, but to the Church of Christ He has spoken “by His Son.”  “We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard…For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:1-3)

        It should be an accepted fact among all professing Christians that the commands of Christ are the most important statements in the Bible.  Has the man who shed His blood for humanity been honored by His subjects?  Have they treasured the words from His lips, and counted them more precious than gold?  For a few the answer is YES, but to the mass of professing Christians the answer is NO.  To the shame of this host of professors, their works testify that they neither believe Him nor obey Him: “they profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him” (Titus 1:16).

        All Christians are under divine order to love one another, and lest any man doubt the extent of that love, the Saviour said it was to be “As I have loved you” (Jno. 13:34).  He served them, He provided food for them (never took an “offering” from them), He quieted their fears, washed their feet, and finally died for them.  The divine charge is, go ye and do likewise.  Where does such love exist in the so-called Christian church?

        Let us not come to the conclusion that the principles upon which apostolic Christianity operated cannot be applied successfully to the people of our generation, and that this is the reason why the love is not evident.  No, friends, the reason for the appalling lack of love in the professing Christian church is that they have forsaken the words of their Lord.  The Laodiceans have “need of nothing,” so they have said to Him: “We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach” (Isa. 4:1).  Of this class of professors Christ has said: “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Rev. 3:1).

        The words of Jesus, as they are set forth in the four gospels, are the saints’ divine manifesto.  Those who will not accept His commands as He gave them in His Sermon on the Mount, are spiritually deaf, dumb and blind.

        That these are hard words, I am well aware.  But if this writer is to be honest with you, you must know the truth: it is time to obey God’s Son.  “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” (Jno. 12:48).

        The command to love one another is but one of over seventy heaven-sent mandates.  Very few of these orders, sent from the throne of the Father, are counted worthy of attention by modern professing Christendom.

        To multitudes of professors, the name Jesus Christ is but a symbol; it represents a religion diverse from that of the heathen.  Mystery Babylon and her adulterous daughters have taken the name of Jesus Christ by fraud, and simulating the blessing that belongs to the true church of Christ, they have plundered His house.  The tragedy of this monstrous impersonation is that, with few exceptions, the whole world has accepted her testimony and millions are irretrievably lost to the genuine cause of Christ.

        It is a common belief today that a smattering of true religion is better than no religion at all: this is a great error.  The Saviour taught us that it had been better never to know the way of life than after knowing it, to depart from it.  Apostate Christianity teaches just enough of the truth to condemn its constituents.  Half truths are most damning, for they are a mixture of light and darkness.  Many so-called Christian teachers read the truth from the Scriptures and then attempt to teach their followers how to escape the penalties of breaking the laws of God.

        Yes, friends, an unprepared, religiously drunken, pleasure-mad world is being awakened to face realism.  Like men awakened from a drunken stupor, the people stagger in bewilderment, and find it impossible to properly evaluate the significance of the hour.  Like the “foolish virgins,” after they discovered that their lamps had gone out, they try to secure “oil” (that upon which the flame is kindled) too late in the day of preparation.

        Let us face this fact: the object of the awakening is threefold.  (1) It is a vindication of the faithfulness and justice of God.  So that every mouth may be stopped, and every accusing tongue may be silenced, justice has required that men be fully informed concerning their peril.  (2) With knowledge, comes obligation; “to him to whom much is given, much is required.”  The “refuge of lies” is swept away, so that men may see clearly; this makes every man liable before God.  (3) Humanity is thus fully prepared for the grand finale: the supreme test of discipleship.

        After the awakening, the human race will face the naked sword of the Lord on the plains of the “valley of Jehoshaphat.”

 

 

THE DRAMA OF THE KOSMOS

Lorraine Scullin

        The Apostle Paul declared, “We are made a spectacle (theater, in the margin) unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (I Cor. 4:9).  Do you mean to say that we are actors on a stage?  Exactly, although we have never previously rehearsed our parts!  Nor are we aware of the scenes yet to come, the unfolding of the complicated plot, and the final curtain that shall terminate this vast and complex drama in all of its myriad details since the veil of obscurity covers all future events!  But you may be sure that these actors are delivering a very special message to an immense host of spectators; for the writer of Hebrews stated that we are “compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1).  The balconies of the invisible world are filled with observers who follow the events of earth with the keenest interest and the most intense concern because of the implications these earth scenes carry for them.

        God is using this stage of earth (Kosmos) as a gigantic schoolroom in which He is educating an invisible body of students in certain vital object lessons.  Ephesians 3:10 states that “Now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.”  Supernatural beings who are greatly superior to men in intelligence and ability are beholding the infinite wisdom of God as He works among creatures, made of dust, whose natures are fallen, stubborn, and at enmity with Him.  Yet out of this kind of clay, God is bringing forth a demonstration through a certain class of people.  They are the actors; His word is the catalyst that will produce the reactions, and the action.

        In the ages before the world was created, mighty personages in the realm of spirit being had questioned the wisdom of God as it was revealed through the moral laws supporting His government and His throne.  These individuals had seen the sublime majesty of the Divine Father and had been witnesses of the effulgence of His glory and the beauty of His Person.  To look upon the absolute perfection of moral character and the complete Personification of love could only create in those beholding this Perfect One an intense desire to attain to a similar state.

        The Father had stated how this could be accomplished.  However, these great princes and entities of the Invisible would not accept His declaration that love working by faith was the only power that could remold or change the nature of being, whether it were human or spirit.  These individuals, on the other hand, argued that might was the means by which one is changed from a mortal to an immortal (divine) state of being.  In short, they contended that divinity was attained only by force.

        They had agreed upon what the goal should be; but the controversy centered upon the method by which this supreme objective could be reached.  The Father, then, with certain purposes in view, permitted these beings to demonstrate their contentions and theories as to the means of attaining the divine state.  In His marvelous wisdom He deemed it of greater value to His Kingdom to allow these spirits to put their ideas into effect.  The Great Sovereign, too, would eventually make His demonstration, but – on the stage of earth.

So great was this controversy in the heavenly realm that these individuals determined to show that they could secure this high estate by their own wisdom and ability.  Lucifer, the leader in this great contention, desired to be like the Most High, but he chose the means of force.  “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:…I will be like the most high” (Isa. 14:13,14).  To be like the God of Glory is the highest of moral aspirations, but the manner by which this goal is attained must be according to law.  Rising up in self-will, Lucifer and these contenders defied the laws of heaven and seized certain powers and authority by unlawful means, thereby becoming the “principalities and powers” mentioned in Ephesians 3:10.  This rebellion was described in Revelation 12:7-10 as “the war in heaven,” whose outcome was forever settled by the Mighty Lord Jesus through His work on the cross where the devil was made powerless (the marginal translation of the word “destroyed” in Hebrews 2:14,15).

        The Scriptures declare that even today “The kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12).  Many present-day miracle workers and healers have grasped heavenly treasures and supernatural power illegally, only to be destroyed later by the very powers they had seized.

        God could have instantly annihilated these rebellious spirits who opposed Him, thus putting them down forever; but to have destroyed these rulers of spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12) who dared to controvert His words would have thwarted God’s purposes, for He will work only by law and by righteous principles, He will not use His omnipotence to force any issue.

        Because of these laws regarding moral nature, God will not overpower anyone by force in order to convince or compel one to make decisions against his own will.  The individual must decide for himself, as he is the sole arbiter of his eternal state.  God could draw back the veil that hides His Glorious Person and immediately all men would be convinced that HE IS GOD.  However, God will not stoop to the use of force.  His creatures must believe that HE IS by the faith that operates by love; they must not be pressured into believing by sight.  Though one rose from the dead, they will not believe (Luke 16:31).  God will persuade only by the power of love.  Therefore, He murdered His Son to demonstrate that He would go to the most extreme bounds of devotion to secure man’s return from his lost estate.  Divinity died for man!  Deity deliberately took sinful man’s place, where the penalty for sin is death (Ezek. 18:4).  If that sacrifice will not melt the stony heart of man, then no other power in heaven or earth can ever reach him.

        In the meantime, God planned in His manifold wisdom to use the situation created by this controversy in the heavenlies by bringing forth a counter demonstration through His people – His church – here on this stage of earth, where all created beings could see the drama unfold and receive the lessons that He wanted every moral being to understand, namely:

        1.  That He is the God of law

        2.  That every individual who obeys moral law must do so from the motive of love, not from force

        3.  That divinity is secured by obedience to moral law, and by no other means.

        When Abraham, on the lonely height of Mount Moriah, raised his arm to slay his only son, all heaven knew that he was acting by faith and obedience to the words God had spoken to him, not by anything that he had seen.  He was demonstrating that he loved God supremely and was willing to be ruled by His word alone.  By such acts, he became righteous, and put on divine stature.

        “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, prepared an ark,” demonstrating that it is imperative to obey the word of the Lord.  This obedience prompted by love for God was the only means of saving this man and his household in a time of universal judgment – a very solemn warning to those who live in these closing days of judgment.

        Moses obeyed the Lord, when told to return to Egypt to deliver the people of Israel.  There in Pharaoh’s court before the magicians and sorcerers, he sanctified the Lord in the eyes of the heathen (principalities and powers), as he demonstrated his obedience to the words of the Lord.

        Each servant who walks daily in conformity to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ is declaring a message to all who watch these earthly scenes.  These acts of faith and love speak to an unseen host of spectators; they sanctify the Lord of Glory before these rebel spirits.  It is a demonstration that God is just and righteous in all of His ways; it is a vindication of the words of the Most High that obedience to moral law will produce the very qualities that form the divine nature.  It is also the high privilege of every son of God who is devoted to Him to be a vindicator, today, of the words of the Lord, as he demonstrates his love for His Lord here on this stage of earth by his obedience to all of the commands of the Lord.

 

 

GOD’S STANDARDS – OBEDIENCE

Randall Walton

        “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink” (Num. 20:7,8).

        This directive was given to Moses during the journey of the Israelites from Egypt.  They had arrived at Kadesh, a dry, barren wilderness in the desert of Zin, where water was only a mirage.  Immediately the Israelites sent up a howl of complaint against Moses, accusing him of bringing the people into this wilderness to die of thirst; it was upon this note that Moses and Aaron called upon the Lord, and He commanded them to do according to the above quotation.

        Moses was no novice in the working of miraculous acts, neither were the people unacquainted with God’s power to perform the seemingly impossible.  Having seen the Red Sea dry up at the command of God’s servant, and the waters of Marah sweetened by the casting in of a tree, in addition to a host of other miracles, it seems unlikely that Moses, or the children of Israel considered God’s command an extraordinary one.

        And in the light of the behavior of these people, as God led them through the wilderness (nearly every miracle was preceded by an act of complaining, rebellion, or outright lawlessness), it seems only natural that Moses would be greatly angered and his patience worn very thin.

        From the human standpoint, it seems perfectly reasonable that he would say to them, “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?  And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly…” (Num. 20:10,11).

        Is there among us who would not have acted similarly, or perhaps have been even more demonstrative under the same circumstance?  By current standards it is quite safe to assume that we would excuse an even greater show of disdain and animosity by one so besieged as Moses was.  But not so with God!

        “And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because you believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (verse 12).  What!  Because he smote the rock?  Yes!  God had given explicit command to “take the rod and speak to the rock,” and obedience to those words was the only way God could be sanctified in the eyes of the people.  For his failure to follow implicitly God’s orders this one time, this meekest man on the face of the earth (Num. 12:3) forfeited his right to take the Israelites into the promised land!

        Such swift judgment is somewhat difficult for our finite minds to grasp.  However, an examination of the records reveals that disobedience in close proximity to the power of God brought judgment both swift and severe.  Ananias and Sapphira, for example, would no doubt have survived their telling of the lie they agreed upon, had not the power of the Holy Ghost been so evident in the early church (Acts 5:1-10).

        Compliance to the standards of the Almighty has been the greatest difficulty of mankind from the beginning of creation.  Actually, the problem lies with man’s desire to exert and express his own will rather than yield to the will of the Lord.  Perhaps there is no better example of this than the nomadic tribes of Israel on their return from Egypt to Canaan.

        So impressive are the sacred writings of these episodes, that Paul was moved to warn the Christians in Corinth that “all these things happened unto them for ensamples (examples): and they are written for our admonition” (I Cor. 10:6,11).

        Utter disregard of and disdain for God’s commands seemed to be an integral part of the lives of these migrating people.  So ingrained had this pattern of behavior become in their daily lives, that by the time they reached the Land of Promise, the practice of lawlessness was nearly habitual with many of them.  It is true that there were periods during which individuals strove to raise a standard of righteousness and return to the laws of God, but generally these were short-lived and abortive.

        The highest point of rebellion was reached when they demanded that God give them a king like unto the nations (I Sam. 8:4-22).  God’s government had become obnoxious to them, so that they wished to have a human authority over them.  Even after Samuel warned of the consequences of rejecting God’s rule, they chose to have a man with whom they could bargain, whose governing wouldn’t be so severe and demanding as God’s.

        In spite of this rejection of God’s order, the Lord in His great mercy promised His blessing on the kingdom of Israel on condition that the people would walk according to all the commandments and statutes of the Most High.  But if they refused and rebelled, then His hand would be against them (I Sam. 12:13-15).  The testimony is very clear that they repeatedly walked in their own ways and the ways of the nations.

        Conditions among them deteriorated to the extent where the prophet Amos finally referred to Israel as “the sinful kingdom” (Amos 9:8), and at last they reached the point of no return – “till there was no remedy” (II Chron. 36:16).  Heaven had exhausted its benevolent efforts to reclaim and rehabilitate this “rebellious house,” and there was no just cause for extending mercy any longer.

        There are vital lessons for us in these accounts, for a close parallel can be drawn of ancient and modern Israel, i.e., the body of Christian believers.  Like Israel of old, the professors of God’s heritage have rejected Him from ruling over them.  They have renounced Him as their Leader and have chosen men to go out and fight their battles for them.  They have set up their religious institutions, not at all unlike the institutions of the “nations” – on a commercial, economic basis and a democratic form of governing.

        Denominational constitutions and by-laws have been substituted for the laws and commands of God.  Not only is lawlessness condoned (tacitly, of course), it is excused and justified by the teaching of such diabolic doctrines as the so-called “gospel of grace,” and adherence to the postponement theory – the delusive idea of the future millennial reign of Jesus Christ.

        Willfully sinning is bad enough, but to justify one’s sinning by clinging to doctrines of license is much worse; rebellion and anarchy are the natural results of such teachings.

        The breakdown in the moral structure of our society has received a great deal of impetus from the decadent professing Christian church.  For if that which claims to be the very citadel and protector of godliness is grossly corrupt, it can’t but help have a profound effect upon those whose trust is in the institution, but who walk completely apart from God.  Or, as Jesus said, “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:23).  The church fell into darkness when it refused to obey God, and the light (candlestick) was removed out of his place (Rev. 2:5).

        The cup of iniquity is about full, and the church has come to the place where there is no remedy.  Already God’s hand of judgment is upon this “sinful kingdom” and its days are surely numbered.

        But God has mercifully promised to restore His order and rule among those people who love Him and desire to do His will, and there are many signs that suggest that this day is close at hand (Acts 3:19-21; Rev. 11:15).

        It is well for us to remember that when the power of God is manifest in a mighty way, there is little or no tolerance for carelessness or disobedience to God’s word.  Remember, Moses “was faithful in all his house, as a servant” (Heb. 3:5), yet he suffered for his one infraction of God’s command.  In these last days God will again speak to His people as He did during the time of ancient Israel.

        We can be prepared for that event by now practicing daily obedience to the WRITTEN words of the Lord.  If we refuse to obey those commands which have been available to mankind down through the centuries, how shall we ever hearken to an order issued by one of God’s servants?

        Our salvation in these last days will depend to a great degree on how we have responded to God’s words, for “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).

 

 

NOW!

Randall Walton

        A recent religious publication carried an article entitled, “The kingdom of God,” with this statement: “In time, God will set up His literal kingdom on earth – His physical kingdom – a literal government both physical and spiritual.”

        For several decades, would-be scholars and teachers have been touting this doctrine; as with all untruths that are repeated often and loudly enough, it has been nearly universally accepted and propagated.

        The Great Lie has become the cornerstone of many of the denominations of our day.  Volumes have been written in support of this “world of tomorrow” when God will purportedly force all men to be happy!  The foundation of this wild dream may be found in the notes of the Scofield Reference Bible, a genuine Anti-Christ work.  Oddly, scholars and laymen have clung to Dr. Scofield’s notes as if they were an integral part of the Holy Writ.  This work of fiction may rightly be labeled the POSTPONEMENT THEORY.  Stated briefly, this theory embraces the following ideas: Jesus came to His own and presented Himself as their king.  When it was evident that the Jews would reject Him as king, He changed His message to one that embraced the CHURCH and postponed the kingdom, its government and its laws, to a future age called the millennium, or one thousand years, during which time He is to receive a crown, set up His kingdom and sit upon David’s throne in Jerusalem!  (This is called the Davidic covenant.)  In the interim, the church would carry out its evangelical role of converting and baptizing men who are then eligible to rule and reign with Christ during the one thousand years!

        It sounds nearly plausible enough to be credible, and professing millions have paid a dear price for their acceptance of this mess of pottage cooked in the kitchen of hell, with the purpose of choking the people of God, or at least stunting their spiritual growth.

        Observe in closer detail the implications of this utopian reverie:

  1. It denies the existence of the kingdom of God in any but an ethereal or vague form.
  2. It disclaims the kingship of Jesus, relegating His ascension to the throne to a future dispensation.
  3. It rejects the power of the kingdom as a present potential force among God’s people.
  4. It nullifies all law and commandments for this age except the basic requirements to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
  5. It reduces salvation to a shallow experience of believism, thus making the Blood of Christ virtually inefficacious.
  6. It brings confusion to the doctrines relative to the second coming of Christ.
  7. Its concept encourages apathy, complacency, and unpreparedness in the hearts of God’s people, and excuses the apostasy in the present professing church.

In order to substantiate these statements, we will now consider each by itself.

        1.  The postponement idea assumes that Jesus’ mission was to restore to national Israel an earthly kingdom with Himself on the throne of David.  This, we are told, is what He meant when He declared, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Since He was rejected, there is no kingdom at present, other than that of the Father, which is essentially a spiritual affair quite beyond the reaches of mankind.

        Actually, however, God was not the author of the earthly Davidic kingdom of Israel!  His displeasure lay heavily on that system of government: “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath” (Hosea 13:11).

        Until that time, God had been their king, ruling through judges.  When Israel asked Samuel for a king, God told Samuel, “they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (I Sam. 8:7).  Later, the Lord called it the SINFUL KINGDOM and said He would destroy it from off the face of the earth (Amos 9:8).

        The plain words of Jesus and the apostles should be ample to show that God will never lower His standards to the limitations and bounds of an earthly material kingdom.

        Jesus taught:

        “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

        “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation” – it “is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).

        “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:14-15).

        “The kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matt. 12:28).

        “Yours is the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 6:20; Matt. 5:3,10).

        “Seek ye the kingdom of God…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:31-32).

        Paul taught:

        “The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Cor. 4:20).

        “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).

        “Flesh and blood CANNOT inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 15:50).

        From the above we can deduce the following: the kingdom of God is a present, potential power demonstrated in the life of the believer by the Holy Spirit, superior in every aspect to this present evil world and bringing righteousness, peace, and joy to the individual.  Since physical man (flesh and blood) cannot inherit this kingdom, it is evident that it is not now, nor ever will be, a material kingdom.  Jesus said it was impossible to see or enter the kingdom unless a man were born again, which, He said, is a spiritual birth (John 3:3-6).  And, it is at hand, within the reach of man.

        2.  The defenders of the millennial myth, while allowing Jesus to appear briefly as an aspiring king, claim His rejection by the Jews was a virtual abdication of His throne.  He now shares the Father’s throne, and will sit upon David’s throne, at a future time, we are told.

        This is in direct contradiction to the prophecies concerning Him in Luke 1:31-33: “The Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His KINGDOM THERE SHALL BE NO END.”

        There are two obvious questions posed here:  1.  Is this throne of David the actual, literal, material throne upon which David sat?  2.  When would God give this throne to Jesus?

        For the answer to question number one, we refer to 2-Samual 7:11-16, where Nathan prophesied to David, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son” (v. 14).  This certainly was not in reference to Solomon.  This promise was to David’s seed and was fulfilled in Jesus, God’s Son.  In verse 16 he states: “thine house and thy kingdom shall be established FOREVER before thee: thy throne shall be established forever.”  Now, if he were speaking of David’s earthly throne and kingdom, the prophecy was an abysmal failure, for GOD destroyed that kingdom from off the face of the earth (Amos 9:8).  Also, we are told that this earth and all the works that are therein are to be destroyed by fire (II Pet. 3:10-12; Matt. 24:35).  Any throne or kingdom will likewise perish with it.  It is evident, then, that God did not promise everlasting longevity or perpetuity to David’s material throne nor to the earthly kingdom of Israel.  Daniel, speaking of this same situation, said it was a “kingdom…which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14).

        A king’s throne is the symbol of his authority, power, and rule.  It is more than a mere seat for the potentate to rest himself upon.  It speaks of the ruler’s might and right.  It is ridiculous for us to suppose God is subject to or can be confined to a physical position: sitting upon a material chair, or throne.  Jesus, Himself, rejected such an idea as this when the people would have forced Him to be a king (John 6:15).  The throne and kingdom promised to Jesus were not of this world, nor ever shall be.

        The second question raised here, may be answered by reading Mark 1:14-15.  Nearly 2,000 years ago Jesus declared that the time was fulfilled and that the kingdom was at hand.  Just prior to His ascension He stated further, “ALL POWER (authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).  Peter, at Pentecost, hailed Him as “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:29-36).  How tragic that most Christians consider Jesus as a COMING king, yet to receive a crown, a throne, and a kingdom (all in the future).  They accept Him as Christ, but reject Him as Lord.

        Consider these additional references, also:

        “Thy throne…is (present tense) forever and ever: a sceptere of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom” (Heb. 1:8).

        “Crowned with glory and honour” (Heb. 2:9).

        “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and…name…and hath put all things under his feet; and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:21-22).

        “All things are delivered unto me of my Father” (Matt. 11:27).

        “He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:25-26).

        “through death He might destroy (make powerless) him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).

        “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” (I Tim. 1:17).

        “We…were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (II Pet. 1:16-18).

        “I…have the keys of hell and of death’ (Rev. 1:18).

        “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion, and power, both now and ever” (Jude 25).

        “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18).

        “the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8).

        “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan…was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ”: etc. (Rev. 12:7-10).

        The only reasonable conclusion we can draw from these Scriptures is that Jesus dealt a deadly blow to Satan, and concurrent with that was the establishing of salvation, strength, the kingdom and power.  He, Jesus, is now King of Kings, and He exercises the power and authority that was signified by David’s throne.

        3.  The next point is one of the big bones of contention with the proponents of futurism.  Dr. Scofield considers the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and any other commands of Jesus as belonging to the “future kingdom.”  He goes to great lengths in his attempt to show that Paul preached a different gospel from that of Christ, and that we, as members of the church (not subjects of the kingdom), have no greater obligation than to believe that Jesus died for our sins.

        If we disregard Jesus’ admonition concerning His words and commandments (John 14:15,21,23,24; 15:14; Matt. 7:21-27), we still have the words of the apostles, who agree that Christians must be DOERS of the word, not hearers only (James 1:22).

        Study these passages offered as substantiation for this statement:

        “Him shall ye hear” (Acts 3:22-23).

        “Obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

        “Holy Ghost” is “given to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:32).

        “What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (I Pet. 4:17)

        “Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth” (I Pet. 1:22).

        “them that walk after the flesh…and despise government.  Presumptuous are they, self-willed” (II Pet. 2:10).

        He is “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).

        “Render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6).

        “Do we then make void the law (of God) through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31).

        Ye are servants “to whom ye yield yourselves…to obey” (Rom. 6:16).

        “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God” (I Cor. 7:19).

        “As ye have always obeyed…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

        “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to…the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,…he is proud, knowing nothing,” etc. (I Tim. 6:3-5).

        “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).

        “We do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (I John 2:3-5).

        “He that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him” (1 John 3:24).

        “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments” (I John 3:22).

        “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

        “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead” (James 2:17).

        There is no contradiction between the words of Jesus and those of the apostles.  All make explicitly clear that every child of God is under divine order to obey the commands of God.  Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, has issued many commandments to the subjects of His kingdom.  Only those who heed His voice and do what He has commanded may have right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city (Rev. 22:14).

        4.  There are many religious groups today which claim some form of spiritual power, such as faith healing, etc., but most of them disclaim these as being manifestations of the kingdom of God.  They agree in doctrine with the futurist school of thought.

        Jesus demonstrated the power He claimed (All power, Matt. 28:18); “having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15).  There were no sicknesses, diseases nor demons that He was unable to conquer.  Furthermore, He said to His disciples, “I give unto you power…over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:17-19).  When He sent out the twelve disciples He commanded them, “Preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:7-8).

        Now it may be argued that since this commission was given specifically to the twelve it has no meaning for us today.  Therefore, we turn to another witness.

        Just before His ascension, Jesus told His disciples, “tarry ye in…Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:3-5).  The results of this supernatural enduement are shown throughout the book of Acts and the epistles: the sick were healed; dead were raised; devils were cast out; some were transported supernormally; there were dreams, visions, trances; some evil men were delivered over to Satan; sin and sinners were judged; prison doors were opened.  All these demonstrated the presence and operation of the kingdom among the people of God.  Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told that these manifestations were given temporarily.

        To the contrary, we are instructed that, “God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (I Cor. 12:28).  In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul reiterated these ministries, adding that they were given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith…unto a perfect man,” etc. (Eph. 4:8-13).  The church has not reached this standard yet, but where are these ministries which God set there?  The goal can never be reached without the instruments required to accomplish the task.

        Observe further the legal position of the citizens of the kingdom of God in this age.

        He “hath translated us into the kingdom of His (God’s) dear Son” (Col. 1:13).

        “Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

        “Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom?” (James 2:5)

        “Hath…made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

        “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation,” etc. (I Pet. 2:9).

        “HATH made us kings and priests unto God” (Rev. 1:6).

        God vested His body with power over every enemy, but man has been content with an ugly caricature of the genuine – happy to enjoy the pleasures of this present evil world rather than pay the price required for a consecrated walk with God.  Paul aptly describes this condition as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (II Tim. 3:5).  The consequences are all about us: a spiritually bankrupt organization that calls itself the church; human suffering from disease, plagues, demon possession; mental and psychic torment; these and other ills cause one to wonder that when the church lost its power it didn’t close its doors.

        5.  The purpose of salvation is to initiate the believer to a new life, and new way of life.  To believe on Jesus as a historical figure, or even as the Christ, is no great boon in itself.  This is merely one of the essentials in the total life of the saved.

        The popular account used to bolster the idea of believism as the sum and substance of Christian duty, is found in Acts 16:31, where Paul and Silas instructed the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”  However, this was not the END of their discourse.  The next verse says, “And they spake unto him the WORD OF THE LORD, and to all that were in his house.”  We aren’t told what else Paul and Silas said, but we can be sure that they didn’t stop with “BELIEVE”!

        Paul’s epistles are proof that he taught progress, growth, development, bearing of fruit, works: evidences of a walk with God.

        To the saints at Philippi he wrote: “he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it (margin: finish it) until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).  “I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended” (Phil. 3:12).

        To Timothy he admonished: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (I Tim. 6:12).  Now, if eternal life were irrevocably doled out to Timothy at the time of his conversion, why bother fighting?  Why lay hold of it?

        To the church of Corinth, Paul divulged a most wonderful doctrine of progress and development (II Cor. 3:18).  This is made possible through the Blood of Jesus.  His Blood is efficacious for ALL sin, not only past and recurring sins, but the very TENDENCY toward sin!  Through His Blood we can overcome all the weaknesses of the flesh, crucify the desires of the carnal man, and enter into the holy place of the Most High (Heb. 10:16-20).  This is the reason we have been apprehended, as Paul stated (Col. 2:6-7; 3:1-3; Eph. 4:21-25; Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6; 8:3,4,13; Phil. 1:29; II Tim. 2:11-12; Heb. 3:6,14; I Pet. 4:1-2; II Pet. 1:3-8).

        6.  There are nearly as many different doctrines concerning the second coming of Jesus as there are denominations, for hardly any two of them agree on this subject.  Ideas run all the way from (1) no literal second coming, to (2) His imminent appearing at any moment, to (3) that He has already come!  Nearly every one of these positions is based on the assumption of a future earthly kingdom of one thousand years’ duration.

        The only mention in the Bible of a one thousand year period of time is found in the twentieth chapter of Revelation.  Now the book of Revelation is a book of signs, symbols, allegories, dark speeches (Rev. 1:1).  Very little that is written in this marvelous book can be viewed as having a literal meaning.  Numbers are highly significant: seven churches, seven stars, one hundred forty-four thousand redeemed, etc.  Also, there is a woman pictured as being “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev. 12:1).  It is obvious that these are symbols which need to be interpreted in order to understand their meaning.  This makes a very shaky foundation, since the human mind is capable of producing such a variety of ideas and views.  For the basis of any and all doctrines, therefore, it is absolutely necessary that we search the PLAIN words of Christ and the apostles.  Any interpretation of the dark speeches that does not agree with those plain words is erroneous.  And a literal interpretation, or application, of Revelation 20 certainly does violence to the plain words of the gospels and the epistles.

        A thorough, unbiased analysis of the prophetic scriptures discounts any possibility of a secret advent of the Lord, called The Rapture, and of a future one thousand year period when Jesus will reign on earth.  For more information on this subject, send for our free tract, “The Rapture Theory.”

        7.  The millennium teaching is responsible for a great amount of the apathetic condition prevalent among almost all professing groups today.  One of the reasons for this is the “second chance” philosophy that it espouses: There is no point (so they say) in putting forth great effort to attain a high spiritual standing now, because in the millennium it will be easy!  All enemies will be cast down, and Jesus, Himself, will be here on earth to assist and make the utopian dream come true!  If this supposition were fact, it certainly would be useless to strive to enter in at the strait gate, but since the whole idea is a fantasy, it behooves us to make ourselves ready.  Few people are prepared, or are preparing, for some most fearsome terrors that are to come forth in the earth.

        This is one of the saddest tragedies of the hour.  People are not ready because they are looking for a false hope based upon the devilish doctrine of dispensationism, as delivered by Dr. Scofield!

        Friends, there are many indications that the time of the end of the world is close at hand (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).  For nearly two thousand years the Spirit of God has striven with the church, to lead them into the kingdom of God.  Man has rejected both the king and the kingdom, tacitly declaring, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14).

        Is it any wonder then, that Jesus said that that day will come upon the whole earth as a snare?  It is time NOW for the virgins to arise, trim their lamps, and make themselves ready, before the door is shut (Matt. 25:7).

        The laws and commandments of the kingdom are therapeutic in nature.  Each is a remedy for an ill of the soul.  But, as with any medicine, they are no benefit unless taken as directed.  With divine assistance, and an application of the divine laws, each saint can be ready when the King comes in “flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 1:8).

 

 

AMERICA’S FOUNDING FATHERS

Haven Bradford Gow

        In his new work American Heroes (W.W. Norton), eminent historian Edmund S. Morgan provides insights into the minds and characters of such American heroes as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin; both leaders, as Mr. Morgan points out, possessed nobility of mind, spirit and character and a fervent desire to be justifiably known as men of honor and integrity: “Both (Washington and Franklin) cared enormously about their reputations, about their honor.  Their deliberate refusals to do things, employed to great advantage in serving their country, originated in a personal ambition to gain honor and a reputation of a higher order than most people aspired to…Washington was highly conscious of how his actions and inactions would color his reputation.”

        Franklin also displayed nobility of mind, spirit and character and a commitment to honor and integrity.  Mr. Morgan notes that “whenever (Franklin) wanted to propose some civic scheme, like a public library, he contrived to keep himself in the background, giving credit to a number of anonymous friends.”

        As the eminent literary critic Peter Shaw pointed out in The Character of John Adams (University of North Carolina Press), John Adams, like Franklin and Washington, rejected vanity and self-glorification and, instead, pursued nobility of mind, spirit and character; Adams want to do the virtuous thing, for virtue’s own sake.  And like Washington and Franklin, Adams knew that only a virtuous people can truly be free; and that is why these and other of our Founding Fathers wanted government to champion and defend religion and religious freedom.

        Please consider these quotes from our Founding Fathers:

        John Adams: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”  He also stated: “It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.”

        John Quincy Adams: “the first and almost the only Book deserving of universal attention is the Bible.”

        Samuel Adams: “Impress the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls…in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.”

        John Jay (the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court): “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

        James Madison: “We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

        George Washington: “It is impossible to rightly govern…without God and the Bible.”

        Abraham Lincoln: “The only assurance of our nation’s safety is to lay our foundation in morality and religion.”

        Daniel Webster: “Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.”

        The founding Fathers intended the First Amendment not to insulate society and the state from the influence of religion but, rather, to preserve and protect religion and religious freedom from transgressions by the state; they believed that a society’s public morality depends upon a religious foundation, and that the wholesome influence of religion on private and public morality is essential to the survival of a free and civilized society; consequently, they wanted government to champion and defend religion and religious freedom.

 

 

A PLACE IN GOD

Randall Walton

        The promises of God for a place of refuge in these last days is found in both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.  It is found in many places in the Bible, and while it is sure and certain, it is only meant to be believed by the true servants of Jesus Christ who are walking according to God in the Holy Spirit and who abide in Him!  The Scriptures are most plain concerning place(s) of safety and security which God Himself will oversee and provide a way of escape for those who are true servants of Jesus Christ, and who walk not after the flesh but according to the mind of the Holy Spirit.

        In the course of this study, we will first give the accounts in the Old Testament that God had in mind for the condition of His holy people.

        The fourth chapter of Isaiah is written in both plain and dark speech, and will be recognized as such when it is approached with the eye of the blessed of God.  The prophet is looking for the time when God’s people need a place of comfort and rest from the rigors of this life.  He speaks of those who are “left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem,” “when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion,” and shall have used “the spirit of judgment, and the spirit of burning” to cleanse His people from their own ways.

        The above is followed by verses 5 and 6 which state that “the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon ALL the glory shall be a defence.  And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain” (Isaiah 4:2-6).

        This promise is given to a select group of people who love God with all their minds, their souls, and their hearts, and who are under the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.  This glorious gift of God is granted to those whose lives conform to the image of Jesus Christ and who have put Him and His words first in their daily lives.

        In Isaiah 26:20,21, we have another wonderful promise to God’s people: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.  For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.”

        In Zephaniah 2:1-3, we find a conditional promise to God’s people: “Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you.  Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment: seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.”  Notice the stern warning here: “it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.”  Security is a real promise, but it is not for everyone!  “It may be” puts a conditional provision on the verses before it.  Preparation is an absolute requisite for this verse to be followed!

        Joel was also given an insight into the provision made by the Lord Himself.  In Joel 2:32 we read, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”  Notice here that there is deliverance provided, but only for the “remnant whom the Lord shall call.”  God has certain undeniable standards which He uses to make certain that no one is provided security and safety unworthily.  This brings salvation and a secure environment into a new and different relationship than the average “Christian” has at the present time.  In order to have and to receive this divine call to a close relationship with the saints and the people of God, one must adhere closely to what the Spirit says to the church and the body of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament

        In Matthew 24:16-21, Jesus spoke of a “flight” which would be necessary for people to make eventually: “then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.”  We may ask, “Why into the mountains?  Is there more security in the mountains?”  Are there places there where accessibility is not conducive to an invading enemy?  Notice that this is not a “rapture,” for He says, “Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house.  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.  And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days.  But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

        Pay close attention to what the Master has to say about the future.  There is deliverance for the people of God, but only if they flee (or make flight) from the wrath of Almighty God.  Tribulation is sure, irrevocable, inevitable.  It is on God’s program and will surely come.  Millions of people are now unemployed worldwide, with employment a far off hope.  As the conditions surrounding employee hiring continue going down, tribulation and hard times loom in the future.  Already, there are many homeless people sleeping under bridges, fighting off hunger, begging for help!  And we have no reason to believe that the crisis is over.  With an indebtedness of over three trillion dollars and our ability to merely keep up the interest payments, how can we be expected to pay off this unreal and persistent debt?

        Luke 21:34-36 has a warning to God’s people of impending trouble to come.  “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.”

        We are well aware of the plight of people from other places on this globe who are now suffering the pains and miseries of an economic downturn.  We have gone from $22.00 per hundred weight on our milk pay to $10.00 as of March 2009, and have as yet to recover from this disaster which is a World Wide Crisis.  We are not alone in this battle.  Every country in the world which has been in the milk producing business is hurting badly, and there is yet no answer from the processor.  Every two weeks we get a check for $13.00 to $14.00; the following two weeks we get a check for $16.00 for the past two weeks.  It is a see-saw situation with not much to go on, but we notice that milk is still 3½ to 5 dollars in the grocery bill.

        Yes, there is a terrible situation on nearly every front.  We are now on the verge of a national crisis which is larger and more serious than we can imagine, and it is going to become worse as time continues on.  We have not seen this calamity at a distance – we are right in it.  God is moving in an effort to awaken people to the seriousness of this hour, for it continues to be a gross situation with no hope in sight.

        There are several other scriptures which we can refer to about this condition.  Consider, for example, Luke 13:24-28: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.  When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.  But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.”

        We can only surmise the bitter disappointment of those whose only claim to Jesus Christ was that He “taught in their streets,” as if to say that that gave them a special license to claim Him as their Savior and Lord.  Friends, it is possible to know God personally, to be on speaking terms with Him, to understand Him, to follow Him, to obey His divine words, to recognize His authority, power and grace, and to Serve Him.  Only in so doing will one ever have and hold a position of trust and faithfulness to the living God.

        To be religious, to be a church member, to go to Bible studies, to attend all the meetings which are held, has no real value unless and until he knows the loving, living God on a personal relationship which borders on loving God with all one’s heart, one’s soul, and one’s mind.  It is absolutely necessary to love God so fiercely that every demonic power, and satan, recognize that he belongs only to God.

        Revelation 3:10 puts it this way: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience (endurance, holding on), I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”  We are about to face an issue which is greater by far than anything we have faced in the past.  God has already promised that He would keep us from facing that issue because we have “kept the word of his patience.”  But that involves being faithful to the call of God to endure, to overcome, to remain, to abide in Him, to be faithful to the very end!

        It is no secret that, generally speaking, we choose the path of least resistance.  We don’t wish to be known as radical, nor that we don’t want to be considered as odd, or nonsensical, or brainwashed.  We prefer to be known as those who are part of the crowd, just good old boys and girls who love life and want to get along with everybody else.  But God is looking for those who take His words seriously, those whose lives are lived totally for Jesus Christ and His words, and whose lives are well pleasing to the living God, no matter the cost to himself personally.  Are you that kind of person; is it of great concern to you that your life be lived according to the words and commands of Jesus, that He be sanctified within your heart, that doing His will is the number One issue of your life.

        If not, I beg of you to redo your account to Him; bring it up to date; make Jesus the very heart and soul of your being that you may serve Him with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength.  Then, and only then, will you become so dedicated to the Lord and His ways that you will fear ever doubting Him, or questioning Him, or failing Him.

        “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, and few there be that find it.”