People of The Living God

Hebrews 11

 

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July 2010



 

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 wanted 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 others 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 MILLENNIUM, YES OR NO?

Randall Walton

        A reader of the Testimony of Truth recently wrote and stated that it is unbelievable that we would teach that there will be no millennial reign.  “It is so plain in the Scriptures,” he asserted.

        We haven’t found it to be plain in the Scriptures at all.  In fact, the plain word convinces us that a future millennium is not a Scriptural doctrine, but is based upon an interpretation or interpolation of the word of God without taking all of the word into account.

        For example, this Brother states that “when Jesus returns at the end of the tribulation He will take His people up to meet Him in the sky.  At that same moment He will send fire and consume all the wicked and ungodly, and consume all the works of men, and He shall make the earth like new.  One hundred and forty–four thousand Jews will be saved plus a remnant of Gentiles to populate the earth.  At the moment of the rapture, Satan will be bound for one thousand years.”

        I must have missed this somehow in my studies.  Having gone through the Bible several times, I must have overlooked these very important events.  I was sure that Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” and I’ve always thought that “pass away” means to be consumed or destroyed.  If it means to be renewed, renovated or rebuilt, then I must apologize for my ignorance.

        I thought the situation would be similar to Jesus’ words in Matt. 5:18: “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.”  Or as Peter said, “The day of the Lord shall 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”  (II Peter 3:10).  It’s too bad that Peter didn’t make it plainer so we would have no room for conjecture about these important matters.  I just sincerely believed (and still do) that when he said such things as “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise” that he meant the heavens would be obliterated, decimated, reduced to a gaseous state.  And when he said the  “earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up,” I really thought it would be the same as when anything else “burns up.”  I had not considered the possibility that “burned up” might be the same as “make like new.”

        I have searched diligently for a reference to 144,000 Jews who will be saved and who will, with a remnant of Gentiles, populate the earth.  The nearest thing I found was in Rev. 7:2–8 where 12,000 people from each tribe of Israel would be sealed in their foreheads.  Of course, only one of those tribes is made up of Jews.  The rest are members of their respective tribes (and are not Jews).

        But, search as I could, I could find no mention of 1,000 years in this account, nor was there any suggestion that these “servants of God” would populate the earth!  It is only said of them that they must receive a seal in their foreheads before an angel hurts the earth, the sea and the trees.

        Excuse me, but I’m still trying to find the remnant of Gentiles who are to populate the earth.  It isn’t plain at all!  Am I asking too much if I ask for “book, chapter and verse”?

        The part about satan being bound for a thousand years at the moment of the rapture has really left me in a quandary, because I have always been led to believe that the catching away of the church was future, and yet it seems to be so plain that Jesus bound satan when He was nailed to the Cross.  (Excuse me for not capitalizing the word satan.  I don’t think he deserves the honor.)  If those two events are linked together, then why was not the church raptured (caught up) when satan was bound?

        Still, I admit that I may be guilty of believing that the word means what it says and says what it means, but I don’t know of any other way to approach it than that.

        In my simplicity I accepted at face value what the scribe of “Hebrews” stated in 2:14 and 15.  In essence, he said that Jesus became a partaker of flesh and blood so He could die, so that through, or by means of, His death He would make the devil’s work impotent.  Check it out and see if I am mistaken or not.  No matter how many times I read those two verses, or how thoroughly I scramble and analyze them, they always come out the same: Jesus dealt with satan through His D E A T H!  And that, of course, is in the past.

        If this one reference were the only one in existence which speaks of satan being bound, we would have some justification for questioning this belief, but after all, the Scriptures leave us little room to question the present state or condition of satan and his gang.

        It begins all the way back in Genesis 3:15!  Here, God denounces satan (the serpent) for having deceived mother Eve, and He said He would “put enmity between thy seed and her seed; it (the woman’s seed) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

        When Jesus, who was truly the woman’s seed, shed His precious blood on Calvary, He bruised, or crushed, the serpent’s head.  He didn’t totally annihilate him, but he disempowered him by limiting his ability to do what he would like to do.  The devil does not control mankind nor the entire world.  If he did, conditions would be far worse than they are now.

        While it is true that he inspires and encourages wickedness, it is also true that he does not and cannot force people to be wicked against their own will.  People choose wickedness; they desire to do abominable acts — the devil does not make them do it!

        So, if the Bible means what it says, we have to admit that Jesus dealt a death–blow to satan, a blow which we read will be healed (Rev. 13:12), and he will be loosed for a short season.  His ultimate end will be in the lake of fire which is prepared for him and his angels.

        To substantiate the above assertions, consider the following:

        “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).

        “Of judgment because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:11).

        “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God then the kingdom of God is come unto you.  Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house” (Matt. 12:28,29).

        “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

        “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom RESIST steadfast in the faith” (I Pet. 5:8,9).

        “I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one” (I John 2:13b).

        “he that is begotten of God keepeth himself and that wicked one toucheth him not” (I John 3:18b).

        “Neither give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:27).

        “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).

        “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16).

        “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15).

        “Lest satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (II Cor. 2:11).

        “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:18).

        “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).

        “For 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).

        “Lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (I Tim. 3:7).

        The overwhelming evidence of the sum of these witnesses is that Jesus Christ now reigns, satan is bound, mankind is a free moral agent who possesses the power of choice to serve God, or the devil, or self.  If satan had great power, it would be useless to resist him.  As a spirit he could easily overthrow anyone he wanted to, but he doesn’t have that privilege, nor power.

        The truth is, satan will take advantage of anyone who will allow it.  If you open the door of your heart and invite him in, he won’t hesitate.  And this is exactly what many people are doing.  But that doesn’t mean he’s loose and doing whatever he wants to do.  Not so!

        He cannot break down the door of your heart and force his way in — not without your consent.  Jesus said that, “in my name shall they cast out devils” (Mark 16:17).  This would be impossible if satan had the authority that most people think he has.  Man’s biggest problem seems to be in believing what the Scriptures state as truth.

A Future Rule?

        The reader we referred to at the start of this made one more statement which should be addressed.  He said, “Christ and his church shall sit upon 12 thrones ruling the 12 tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28).

        It may not make a lot of difference, but that isn’t really what Jesus said.  Here it is, exactly as it appears in the Book: “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  Well, now, it does make some difference, doesn’t it?  “Christ and his church” is certainly not the same as “ye which have followed me” is it?

        But, please notice that not a word is mentioned about “one thousand years.”  For the sake of truth, let’s not insert the idea of a millennium.  Jesus didn’t do it: why should we?  The only hint of a time element is the use of the word “regeneration,” and the clause, “when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory.”  Interesting, isn’t it?

        The word “regeneration” is used but twice in the New Testament, but several synonyms appear rather profusely, such as “born again,” or a spiritual rebirth; renewal (“a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things are become new,” II Cor. 5:17); reconciliation (“we were reconciled to God by the death of His son,” Rom. 5:10).

        In Paul’s letter to Titus he declared: “according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).  This looks as if the “regeneration” Jesus spoke of is the same time known as the “day of salvation,” or the “accepted time,” the time when God accepts mankind (II Cor. 6:1,2).  We who have been born again (or born from above) have been regenerated in this time of regeneration.  Whatever applies to the regeneration period is applicable right now, and has been ever since He purchased our salvation with His own blood.

        But what about the Son of man on the throne of His glory?  Believe it or not, that is exactly where He is right now!  Observe the following Scriptures most carefully:

        “as I also overcame and am set with my Father in his throne” (Rev. 3:21) (This is Jesus speaking.  Is there any greater glory than this?)

        “when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3).

        “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69).

        “therefore being by the right hand of God exalted” (Acts 2:33).

        “But we see Jesus…crowned with glory and honour” (Heb. 2:9).

        “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince (ruler) and Saviour” (Acts 5:31).

        “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).

        “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (I Peter 3:22).

        “We have such an high priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1).

        We could keep building on this same theme, but we have presented enough evidence to convince most skeptics that Jesus now occupies a position of mighty power, authority, glory and honour.  In addition, we have shown that He sits in the throne of His glory in the regeneration, which is the time now current!

Material versus Spiritual

The biggest problem which faces students of the word in regard to this topic is the belief that God’s kingdom must be a visible, earthly, political affair set up to rule over the nations of this earth.  One of the biggest shocks to hit people comes with the realization and revelation that the Scriptures nowhere teach that the kingdom is, ever has been, or ever shall be an earthly, worldly, visible kingdom headquartered in earthly Jerusalem, “which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8).

        “Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26), not that city of abominations which condemned our Lord to die the death of a vile criminal.  Our loyalties are to God’s glorious, matchless, Majestic, eternal kingdom of light which does not need the sun for its light, and where death, nor sin, nor sorrow, nor sickness ever can enter.

        Thank God that the kingdom of God does not come with observation, or visible sight.  It is not of this world.  It is not temporal (a mere 1,000 years) but is eternal.  It is a kingdom of vast power and authority over all the kingdoms of this world and the realms of darkness; it already “ruleth over all.”  It is righteousness, it is peace, and it is joy in the Holy Ghost.  And we who are saved are already translated into it! (Luke 17:20; John 18:36; Psalm 145:13; Luke 1:33; I Cor. 4:20; Psalm 103:19; Rom. 14:17; Col. 1:13; Eph. 1:20–22)

        “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2).

 

 

THE LAST DAYS

Randall Walton

        “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, 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).

        The term in that day is a phrase which has its beginning in chapter two, verse two: “And it shall come to pass in the last days” etc.  It is evident that the message of Isaiah Four refers to the time period known as the last days, or the days which precede the end of time.  The setting of the events described in chapter four are relevant specifically to the last days, or, that day!

        Consider verse one for a vivid example.  The number “seven” is the number of perfection or completion: it is an all–inclusive quantity which indicates that “all” the women are involved in the activity which is described, not a mere seven.

        The use of the word “women” denotes that the author was speaking of religious bodies, and not female characters.  Throughout the Scriptures the woman is used as a symbol of religious agglomeration.  (The true church is the bride of Christ; Eph. 5:25–32.)

        Thus, we have a picture of religious organizations who want to be called by the name of one man (Jesus Christ), but insist on eating their own bread and wearing their own clothing.

        It is truly amazing that nearly all “Christian” institutions now reject the bread (or teachings) of Jesus.  They want to be called Christian so as not to be reproached, but they refuse to obey and follow His commands.  Fundamentalists and evangelicals alike have by–passed, ignored, repudiated the bread of Life, i.e., the pure, unleavened words of the Master.

        In their place, they have substituted another gospel, another message, another way of life – their own.  We see fulfilled before us the words of Jesus in Matt. 15:8,9: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”!

        Compare the message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5,6,7) with the so–called gospel of grace which has captivated the Christian religion.  While most people ignore it in toto, a vast number are outright hostile and belligerent toward it.  That great mastermind of theological confusion, C.I. Scofield, has convinced millions that the “Sermon On The Mount gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the church”!

        So we find ourselves in that day when, instead of Christ, theology rules the average church — oh yes, they want His name and His salvation; they just do not want His words and commands.

        Neither do they want His apparel.  He demanded that we be clothed with the garments of righteousness and purity of heart.  This old–fashioned idea is clearly out of style and out of date.  The modern vogue is to “come as you are,” “dress as you please,” “do your own thing.”

        “God is a good God,” we are told, and He really doesn’t care if we wear robes of righteousness or not.  After all, we are only human and we’ll all get a second chance to live right when the great utopia arrives.  In the meantime, wear your own clothes: be yourself, set your own non–standards of behaviour; He accepts you just as you are.  He really didn’t mean it when He said, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Pet. 1:16).  What He probably meant was it will be imputed unto you, which is another way of saying sin isn’t really sin; it only appears to be that way.

        Yes, this is truly that day.  But we are thankful that the chapter doesn’t stop here, because the picture is not totally bleak.  There is a tremendous message contained in the next 5 verses which apply to the true church, the followers of Jesus Christ, His body.

A Message For Israel, Zion, And Jerusalem

        These terms are generally applied to the wrong people.  The message is not for that physical, 12–tribed family of descendants of Jacob (Israel), nor for that mount Zion in Palestine, nor for that unholy city which “spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt where our Lord was crucified.”  This refers to the S P I R I T U A L  I S R A E L, the house of God, the people of faith: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar (purchased) people; that ye should shew forth the praises (virtues) of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God (I Pet. 2:9,10).

        “But ye are come unto mount Sion, unto the city of the Living God, the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn,” etc. (Heb. 12:22–24)

        “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter” (Rom. 2:28,29).

        In these last days, then, God is working with and for the true Israel, not the carnal man of the flesh, but the one who is a new creature in Jesus, who has been grafted into the spiritual vine and has been adopted into the spiritual divine family of the living God.

        Isaiah was given a panoramic view of God’s masterpiece of creativity which He is presently striving to bring to completion.  It is only proper that He should call this handiwork Israel (a prince of God; Gen. 32:28), and Zion (the mountain of the Lord which typifies His governing power), and Jerusalem (the city of peace).  These spiritual terms have great significance for the true church today.

        Notice verse two of Isaiah four: “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.”

        In order to get a clearer view of this phenomenal verse, we will refer to the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament.  “And in that day God shall shine gloriously in counsel on the earth, to exalt and glorify the remnant of Israel.”

        The context of these two references is essentially the same, i.e., (1) the glorifying of God upon the earth, and (2) the glorifying of the remnant of Israel!  Notice that this takes place in the same time frame as the events in verse one: “in that day.”

        For the sake of continuity it would be well at this point to consider verses three and four, since they are inseparably joined to verse two: “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.”

        We have purposely underlined several words in the above texts: remnant, left, remaineth, living.  The use of these words suggests some sort of drastic action or activity, the results of which leave a remnant of survivors.  Whatever this action or activity is, it decimates the number of people who are involved in it.

Washing And Purging

        The Lord has promised that the “fruit of the earth” would be “beautiful and glorious,” but only after Israel, Zion, and Jerusalem have been washed and purged by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning.  The result of this activity would be the production of a remainder: a remnant, those who are left, and those who remain!  It looks as if the process of washing and purging is also a process of elimination, or as Jesus stated, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

        Paul reiterated this message to the Ephesians when he said that “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25–27).

        The terms Israel, Zion, and Jerusalem are merely symbols for the church, or the people of God.  The Lord is busy cleaning and sanctifying His body, the church, to bring it up to His holy standards: without spot or wrinkle or blemish.  He will subject it to whatever means are necessary to bring this condition about, for this is the objective of creation: the production of the precious fruit of the earth – His divine family.

Judgment and Burning

        These two spiritual qualities are the means by which the church will be sanctified and cleansed.  While neither of these is pleasant nor easy, they are absolutely necessary and effectual.

        The “spirit of judgment” is the working of the Holy Spirit in revealing to the body and individuals their needs and weaknesses.  The “eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zech. 4:10).  He is measuring His house, His people, and is revealing His standards unto them while showing them how far short they fall in fulfilling His requirements.  The work of sanctification involves JUDGMENT of those acts and deeds which are contrary to the will of God and His standards.

        To be sanctified is to be set apart unto God and God alone.  Time is involved in this process, for this is not an instantaneous work of grace.  It is a daily activity (“let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me;” Luke 9:23), which produces positive results.  Too many of God’s people make excuses for their condition, but the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.

        The “spirit of burning” is the Holy Spirit’s work of cleansing through the process of consummation.  John Baptist said it this way: “He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”  The fire of the Holy Ghost is the heat which is applied to consume all the unclean traits of human nature.  It is neither exciting nor fun; but it is very necessary!

        But be assured of this one thing: the Holy Spirit will not ignite the fire of consummation without our permission and consent.  And therein lies the greatest problem: most Christians are opposed to change.  They are satisfied with themselves as they are: selfish, greedy, carnal, hateful, worldly, cold, indifferent to the demands and commands of the Word.

        It is most evident that a change must occur among God’s people.  It is also evident that change will only come about as the result of some extraordinary crisis or calamity which will shake people out of their smugness and lukewarm condition.  And this brings us to verses 5 and 6.

Heat, Storm and Rain

        In addition to the “spirit of judgment and burning” for the cleansing of the church, there will be a “time of trouble” such as the world has never known.  This period of tribulation is described as HEAT, STORM AND RAIN (verse 6).

        These three elements contain all the ingredients of TROUBLE: warfare, bloodshed, famine and starvation, drought, physical and terrestrial devastation (earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions), rioting, violence, evil spirit activity, persecution, immorality, worldwide cataclysm in the form of racial tension and hatred.  Every evil condition which can be imagined is embodied in these three terms: heat, storm and rain.

        These awful circumstances will be a part of the means of awakening the church (Zion, Jerusalem, Israel) and causing it to turn to God whole–heartedly, with loyal obedience to its founder and Master, the Lord Jesus.  God’s love, mercy and grace have not accomplished this great task, not because they were insufficient in themselves, but because the religious leaders within the church have abused those divine qualities beyond recognition.

        They have portrayed the love of God as a cloak for unrighteousness; they have used mercy as an excuse for lawlessness; they have turned grace into license for sin and iniquity.  They have rocked the church to sleep with their lullabies of sensuality, materialism, and greed.  Only a mammoth catastrophe will be able to produce the desired result.

        But the prophet assures us that victory is sure, for “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 defense” (verse 5).  The glory which once overshadowed the church will be restored, and “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:9).

A Place Of Refuge

        “And there shall be a tabernacle (a tent, or a temporary lodging) for a shadow in the daytime from the HEAT, and for a PLACE OF REFUGE, and for a covert from STORM and from RAIN.”

        God has not promised a rapid exit for the church from the calamities which shall soon sweep across the nations as a vile storm.  The very idea of a secret, pre–tribulation rapture is foreign to the plain teachings of Jesus and the apostles.

        “A place of refuge” as it was in the days of Noah is the only provision for God’s people in these last days, or “in that day.”  Notice in verse 5 that the Lord promised that He would send a protective cloud upon “every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her ASSEMBLIES” (Note the use of the plural).  God will prepare places of protection (refuge) for His people during this time of great conflict and terror.

        But first there must be an awakening in Zion; the inhabitants of Jerusalem (the true church) must become serious concerning their relationship with the Almighty.  The “bride” must return to her “groom” with her first love!

        Then there must be a gathering together of those that are left, those who remain, the remnant of Israel.  The Lord will gather His loyal and loving people into the “assemblies” which He has prepared for them, there to finish up the work of judging and burning, and to protect His own from the time when satan is loosed for a “little season.”  Consider the following Scriptures with great care:

        “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Psalm 50:5).

        “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” (Isa. 26:20,21).

        “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” (Zeph. 2:3).

        “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” (Luke 21:36).

        “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, 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” (Rev. 3:10).

        “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (Rev. 12:14).

        “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).

        “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15).

God – Still Working, Still In Control

        God’s plan and purpose will surely prevail.  Isaiah four gives us an insight into the multi–faceted purposes of the Almighty.  He shows us the spiritual tragedy of this day, as well as the work of God to purify and separate His people from the world and ungodliness.  He makes it clear that God will thoroughly purge and cleanse His people and that He will care for them no matter what the circumstances may be.

        He also has declared that glory will rest upon God’s house as a defense against all enemies.  Pray earnestly that God will lead YOU to one of His assemblies, that you may be kept from the heat, the storm and the rain of these last days.  May the Lord bless you.

 

 

GOD’S PROVISION

Randall Walton

        It should come as no surprise that this is no longer a Christian nation.  With the rise of the muslims in our midst, and with many new mosques showing their colors throughout this country, and their making a great showing across the length and breadth of this nation, it is no wonder that our Islamic president feels secure in his role as a disciple of Islamic securities and has sponsored a medical bill which is anti–constitutional in its coverage while it eliminates a great portion of our population!

        It is no secret that in the past twenty–five years, the Islamists have made great inroads into our basic society without giving a salute nor a slight recognition to our Constitution nor the government selected by the citizens of this nation.  They offer no explanation nor reason for their obvious resolution to live separately from the rest of the people while hoping to eventually overpopulate the citizens and take over complete control of the people.

        It is the avowed purpose of the Islamists to eventually control every means of authority and power and to eliminate Christians which they believe are the disciples of unrighteousness.  Do not believe that the wars of the past have been terminated, nor have they been forgotten!  We are living in a time of much trouble and persecution when true, born again believers are being targeted by certain ungodly aspects who will show no mercy on Christians.

        It may surprise you that the Islamists plan to build a large mosque in New York City, as close to the site of the destroyed twin towers as they can get.  We remember that it was Islamists who flew the two airplanes into the twin towers and killed over 3,000 U.S. citizens who were innocent in respect of other human beings.  Now they wish to place a heroic remembrance of their “bravery” by building a gigantic mosque as near to their “victory” as they can place it.

        It is time now for every true Christian to “draw nigh to God” for “He will draw nigh to you.”  We expect to see a time (or a period of time) when God’s people will look for places of security and rest where they will be cared for and watched over by the angels of God who will be their protectors.

        There are a number of places in the U.S. where preparation is being made for God’s people to be cared for.  Our advice to you is to seek out and find such a place to be cared for during the time of tribulation, which is coming to all who do not know and serve the living God (Matt. 24:21).  There is a great deal of unemployment and hunger in our land already, and it will become even more so as the days go by.

        While it is true that there exists certain areas which are being blessed with apparent labor and other employment, it is also true that there are literally thousands of people who have no employment; they are without housing, food, clothing, or other valuable commodities, and who are forced to live a subversive existence.  There is widespread hunger throughout the land; where people once lived in luxury, they now are dispossessed and spend their days looking for work.  It is one sad situation and is getting steadily worse!

And to make the matters even worse, our southern borders are being run over by gangs of people trying to get into this “land of the free, and the home of the brave.”  Even with many of the large corporations moving to Mexico, there are countless numbers of people attempting to gain access to the few jobs that are still open at below the normal standard of pay.

        Too many people do not understand the problems we face in this country.  There is a growing discontent building up, and eventually must be dealt with.  The attempt of the government to mollify the public with a small handout has met with hostility and disbelief as people cashed in their tiny checks which accomplished so very little.  We hope to be able to feed and house a percentage of homeless people, but money is short and materials are high, and by the grace and mercy of God, we will provide a measure of help to many of God’s people in these crucial, last days.  God is able, and He will provide!

        May He ever be our portion.

 

 

WHAT IS A CULT?

Randall Walton

        The answer to the above question depends upon who does the answering.  Different people have different ideas about what constitutes a cult or a cultic condition.

        The dictionary definition is somewhat vague by current standards.  It says: “1. a system of religious worship or ritual; 2. devoted attachment to, or extravagant admiration for, a person, principle, etc., especially when regarded as a fad (the cult of nudism); 3. a group of followers; sect.”

        According to these qualification, every church and religious organization everywhere is a cult!  Every church has a system of religious worship; in fact, their sole purpose for gathering together is to participate in their worship service.

        And every true Christian is devotedly attached to his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and has an outstanding admiration for Him.  (The word “extravagant” needs to be qualified.)  This is a rather accurate description of the early church.  The admiration of Jesus and the devotion of those saints to Him remains unmatched to this day.

        The part about a principle being regarded as a fad would not fit most churches, but it would apply to many.

        And the third definition would most certainly be applicable to all, or nearly all, denominations; “a group of followers; sect.”  At least 99% of all Christian organizations are sects, or sectarian.  They adhere to certain recognized and established doctrines which are held exclusively by each respective denomination, and most require their members to accept or embrace those tenets of their own faith as a test for membership.  Whether the belief is correct or is in error is beside the point.  The matter which counts is that a person accept it in order to “belong” to that church.

        This is sectarianism and is one of the marks of a cult.  The only true non–sectarian organization is one which does not require certain doctrinal beliefs as a basis for fellowship. (Note: non–sectarian and non–denominational are NOT the same.)  According to the dictionary definition, then, there are very, very few churches which are not cults!

But Not My Church!

        The modern usage of the word cult applies to any fanatical, off–beat, bizarre, weird group of people who are not a part of mainstream churchanity.  Thrown into this classification are the Jim Joneses, the Branch Davidians, the many “communes,” and others who claim “the Bible only” as their sole guide in doctrinal belief and practice.  The media seems to promote the idea that if any group of believers is not affiliated with one of the major denominations, it must be a cult.

        But this viewpoint is so far from the truth that it’s not even related.  When the true definition of the word is applied, hardly anyone is left out.  Of course, most people will cry out, “But not MY church!  We are not a cult!”  Let’s take a look at the three definitions of the word.

1.  A System of Religious Worship or Ritual.

        Is there a group of worshippers anywhere which is so totally disorganized and confused that it has not the slightest hint of order and respectability?  Even the least amount of systematic order classifies a group as a cult or cultic.

2.  Devoted Attachment to, or Extravagant Admiration for, a Person, Principle, etc., especially when regarded as a fad.

        It’s plain to see that most religious bodies can fit comfortably into this category.  The largest cult of all, by this definition, is none other than the Roman Catholic church which has extremely extravagant attachment to and admiration for the Pope, and for Mary the mother of Jesus.  The high veneration which is held for the Pope is akin to idolatry.  Wherever he appears in public, people bow down before him and kiss his ring or his toe.

        And if someone starts a rumor that Mary visited some site somewhere, people flock by the million to touch the place she was supposed to have touched.  This is cultic in the first degree.  Yet the media never refer to the great Roman Catholic Cult.  I wonder why?

        There are many Protestants also who show extravagant admiration for the leaders of their own denominations.  Many of these leaders are celebrities, as much as the secular and worldly entertainers are.  Their word is considered infallible.  They can say or do nothing wrong, in the opinion of their admirers.  These are the true marks of a cult.

        Many popular evangelists have enjoyed the fame and acclaim of their admiring clientele until they were summarily “caught” in some unscrupulous activity.  Even then, many of their devotees overlooked their waywardness and clung to them as if bound or mesmerized.  A sure sign of a cult.

3.  A Group of Followers: Sect.

        This classification may include religious as well as secular groups.  A “group of followers” could refer to a political party, a club or fraternal organization, a labor union or a church, especially if the church were a sect or a sectarian organization.

        As a consequence of these facts, nearly every person is a member of some kind of a cult, a truth which is not recognized by most people.  The reason for this is the modern misuse of the word.  To most people, the word cult has a bad connotation.

        Actually, there may be good as well as bad cults, depending on their structure and behavior.  And by whose standards are we to evaluate these many cults?

The Word Of God, The True Standard

        The standards which many “cult watchers” have adopted for determining bad cults are certainly not the standards of the Bible.  For example, it is generally regarded as a fact that all communes, or communities of people are bad, evil, gross, immoral, and irresponsible.  But that evaluation is based upon a false premise, the idea that people who live in close proximity and who renounce private and individual ownership of goods are basically shiftless, reckless, and lustful.

        That is certainly an unjust and inaccurate evaluation of those who choose to have “all things common,” as did the early church.  There were no less than 8,120 (maybe more) saints who were totally dedicated to Jesus Christ and each other, who renounced their personal possessions and shared together the resources of all (Acts 1:15; 2:41; 4:4).  They were neither bad, evil, gross, immoral, nor irresponsible.  When those folks gathered together for a prayer meeting, the very building was shaken, and they were ALL filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31–35).  The world could use a whole lot more of that kind of a “commune” today.  In fact, we know of no traditional assembly anywhere which duplicates the glory of that early, pristine community of believers!

        Furthermore, there are many good communities throughout the world today which are fully committed to Jesus and the Word of God, whose members believe that they are fulfilling the words and commands of Jesus and are living their lives above reproach and suspicion.

        It is gross ignorance to classify all Christian communities as evil, or their members as having been “brain–washed,” or their overseers as tyrants and slave drivers.  If those conditions do exist in a communal group, it is certainly not Christian, but we know of many Christian communities where the people are happy and contented, and the presence of God dwells therein.

The Purpose Is The Issue

        In appraising any group or assembly, it’s necessary to consider the reason or the purpose for its existence.  While it may not always be easy to ascertain the true purpose for a structure to exist, it is possible to deduce a general overview by the actions, activities and behaviour of the group.  For example, any organization which espouses the hoarding of firearms and weaponry is most certainly not Christian! (What is the purpose for the collection of weapons?)

        It is not only easy, it is proper to classify such a system as ungodly, warlike, belligerent, dangerous, and untrustworthy.  Notice, it is not because said organization may have “all things common.”  That is not THE issue, even though most people think it is.  (Remember the early church.)

        The real issue is that they are in total rebellion against the words of Jesus.  He did not advise, recommend nor command His followers to bear arms.  His disciples are to be peacemakers, meek, merciful, kind, gentle and good.  “Let your light (not your weapons) so shine before men that they may SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Immorality Is Unchristian

        Any organization which condones, allows, or excuses immorality (sexual promiscuity, perversion, and/or abuse) is ungodly, whether it is a communal group or a traditional church.  Evil is evil, no matter where you find it.

        The Word of God flatly condemns all forms of sexual sin: “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9,10; NKJV).

        The so–called “cult–watchers” seem to assume that the above list of sins only occurs in communal groups.  There are plenty of communities which do not tolerate any of those ungodly acts.  But we do know of instances in traditional churches where attempts have been made to cover–up or sugar coat such sinful activities.  And some of the most popular TV preachers say it is negative–thinking to speak out against sin.  We are told to be positive by only talking about love — never about sin.

        But the Bible has a great deal to say about and against sin, e.g., “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law”!  How can an organization claim to be Christian when it endorses sin by claiming the law has been abolished?  And if there is no law, then logically, there is no sin and there are no sinners and everyone is automatically saved!

        And if this is the case, God is unjust if He sends anyone to hell as a sinner, because there is no law to sin against.  Right?  Wrong!  God’s eternal moral standards have never been abrogated, abolished, nor abridged.

        On the basis of this logic, it is safe to say that all religious bodies which promote lawlessness are bad and dangerous cults, because they are placing their constituent’s salvation in jeopardy.  The broad way and the wide gate have never led to eternal life, and they still do not.  Adherence to the law of God does not put a person under bondage, but rather frees him from the load of guilt as a rebel against a just and loving God.  The “glorious liberty of the Sons of God” (Rom. 8:21) is that God–given ability to obey and please Him according to His word, His will, and His law.  And that is real positive living.

The Real Culprits

        We humbly suggest that the “cult–watchers” apprise themselves of the true meaning of cultism, then measure each one by the true standard of measurement, the Holy Bible.  Those whose practices and teachings do not agree with the Scriptures should be so classified.  They are not good cults.  On the other hand, those who do obey the word and teach others to do the same are known as “great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19), and that is really all that matters: to have God’s approval.

        It is now time for all of us to examine ourselves “whether we be in THE FAITH” (II Cor. 13:5).  Belonging to a religious organization is not synonymous with “being in the faith.”  A person may belong to a hundred denominations and still not be “in the faith.”  To be in the faith is to follow and obey Jesus Christ who is the Lord.  Anything short of this is foolhardy and reckless, for “every soul which will not hear that prophet (Jesus) shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:23).  And that is positively positive!

 

 

ECONOMIC CRISIS

Randall Walton

        Larry Burkett has written an outstanding book entitled, The Coming Economic Earthquake, a book which looks into the economic chaos of the U.S. and analyzes the causes and effects of the debacle in which we presently find ourselves.  He examines the structure and foundation of the economy and lays bare the pernicious practices of the federal government in handling the fiscal affairs of the nation.

        His conclusions agree with the warnings which we have been giving for several years: there is an economic collapse coming which will dwarf the Great Depression of the thirties!  The policies which our legislators have followed for the past 60 years have created a mammoth machine of total destruction from which few people will be able to escape.

        Millions of our people live from day to day, wholly dependent upon the handouts from Uncle Sam, and he is borrowing the money in order to continue the handouts.  How long the government can pursue this reckless habit is anyone’s guess, but with a debt load of over 3½ trillion dollars it is impossible to keep up with the interest payments alone.  Mr. Burkett points out that the government is not only borrowing more principal, but is also borrowing to pay the interest!

        But the point we are making is that trouble is coming on a large scale, and people are totally unprepared to face it.  The Scriptures state emphatically that the day will come when humanity will be faced with a dreadful dilemma: they must choose between receiving the mark of the beast, or of losing their right to buy and sell (Rev. 13:16,17).

        Christians need to face this issue now and decide which choice they will make.  To choose the former means separation from God and loss of one’s soul.  Choosing the latter could mean the loss of one’s life but the salvation of the soul.

        The only apparent solution is for God’s people to so disentangle themselves from the world system that they are not dependent upon it for their livelihood.  This means that they must learn to live off the land, to separate themselves from the system and become self–supporting.  How this is to be done is difficult to determine, but it is possible.  Undoubtedly, many people will have to learn how to get along without many of the amenities of life which they have become accustomed to and which they look upon as necessities.

        We believe we have a few years’ grace in which to prepare for this time of trouble and anxiety which will be worldwide in its scope and coverage, but we have no time to waste on unimportant issues.

        The saddest thing is that so many Christians expect to be raptured out before calamity strikes, and therefore they do nothing, either spiritually or physically.  With their eyes and ears closed to truth and warning, they remain in their stupor of insensibility to the word of the Lord, playing religious games while the music roars on, as if today is forever and tomorrow will never come.

        So very few regard the words of Jesus as of supreme importance.  His commands are rejected by most denominations; few preachers emphasize the necessity of obeying the words and commands of the King of glory.  The very unpopularity of such a message dissuades the average minister from such a course of teaching.  Large congregations are not built by telling people they must conform to the teachings of Jesus, yet He stated this as an absolute requirement for any would–be follower of Himself: “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:”  “If a man love me, he will keep my words:” “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” ((John 13:21,23,24).

        Where does this place the average churchgoer of this present day?  When the majority of them berate the commandments, the words and the sayings of Jesus, this is glaring evidence they do not love Him, and if they don’t love Him, they most certainly are lost.  No one is saved who does not love God!  They may belong to a denomination, attend religious services, pay their dues, go to the prayer meetings and serve on various church boards, etc., but if they do not love God, they have no part with Him.

        And their love is demonstrated by their obedience to His commands.

        For too long the “church” has neglected the words of the Master.  And let us not think that this rebellious spirit has escaped the gaze of the Almighty.  The rampant sicknesses and diseases which pervade every nation under the sun is proof enough that God is highly displeased with the status quo.  Despite the many recent breakthroughs in the treatment of certain diseases, people are increasingly afflicted by debilitating illnesses.

        All of these are merely symptoms of a greater and more serious problem: the forsaking of the words of Jesus the Christ.  There is no real solution for this problem; it is pure folly to think the “church” can be turned around, for it has passed the point of no return.  The only hope for mankind is that individuals will heed the warnings of the Lord by turning back to Jesus and His words.

        “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any MAN (not the church) hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him…” (Rev. 3:20).  The call, then, is to those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit says.  There will be but a remnant who will respond to the voice of the Saviour and will seek to do His will.

A Sad Day Coming

        We cannot say how soon the judgments of the Lord will fall upon the earth: we only know they will.  But there are these bold indications that the time is very near when unprecedented trouble, and terror will stalk the land.  It is already most dangerous for people to venture out upon the streets at night in the large cities of this nation.  What will it be when unemployment reaches much higher levels than it presently is, when food becomes scarce and expensive, and when law enforcement becomes a thing of the past?  How will people cope then?  The time to ask these questions is now…then begin preparing to endure the worst calamities and catastrophes mankind has ever witnessed.

How To Prepare

        The first and most logical thing to do is to start spending more time in seeking God and drawing closer to Him.  Personal devotion in prayer and study of the Word are not very popular pursuits of the average Christian, but it is most essential that people put forth great effort to improve their relationship with the Lord.  This can only be done through diligence and determination to have a greater personal communication with the Almighty.

        This will mean, of course, that other things (television, recreation, socials, frivolity, etc.) will have to be laid aside in deference to prayer, fasting, and repentance for a lukewarm condition.  If this is not done, everything else a person may do will be meaningless.  Our standing with the Lord is of the utmost importance.  Neglect it, and you will surely pay a terrific price.

        No matter how religious you are, nor how well you manage your finances, if you are not walking close to God in obedience to His Word, your religiosity will serve only to blind you concerning your true condition before God: it is a smoke screen, a cover up which has no benefit for the present nor the future.  Make your home a holy sanctuary where the Holy Spirit and the angels of the Lord are pleased to dwell, that the Lord will find opportunity to speak to you and lead you in His ways.

        Next, if you are in debt, rid yourself of the debt as quickly as possible.  It is urgent that you “owe no man anything but to love one another” (Rom. 13:8).  There are sound ways to move your finances so as to become debt–free.

        Also, refuse to buy anything you cannot afford to pay cash for.  If you cannot pay for it in full, the chances are you do not need it.  If you have credit cards, dispose of them.  They are surely a dread detriment to any child of God.  It is nearly impossible to run an efficient budget via credit cards.  The federal government has tried this for the past nearly sixty years and has totally failed.  You cannot do it either.  It is far better to live frugally than to become a slave to a monetary master.

        These are but two measures which are very practicable and important.  Our prayer is that God’s people will awaken to the crucial needs of this hour and begin making preparation while there is still a little time left.

 

 

 

SEEKING THE THINGS ABOVE

Charles Woodard

        “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”  Col. 3:1

        Complete salvation is not a one–time experience!  The new birth, as a natural birth, is a one–time experience.  However, complete salvation is a process of continuance from justification to redemption to sanctification by persistent perseverance.

        The perpetuity of a believers salvation rests in continuation in His Word, the Holy Bible.

        “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in my Word then are ye my disciples indeed.”  (John 8:31)

        This is introduced by the conditional preposition “If.”  If believers continue in His word, they are true disciples.  Christians must “keep seeking the things above.”

        Beware of those who would lead you into carnal activities.  Healing and deliverance ministries founded on emotion and excitement come from below, not above!  Fun and games, silly skits and party atmosphere are not the environment for “seeking the things above.”

        In the next verse of Colossians, chapter 3, we are told how to seek the things above:

        “Set your affection (mind) on things above, not on things on the earth.”  (Col. 3:2)

        The “mind” is the intellect of the brain.  Our mental faculties control our actions.  Believers who devote themselves to God and His Word will continue to seek things above.

        Carnal Christians look to earthly things to satisfy their desires.  Whole Ministries and Fellowships are built on material concepts. 

        Counterfeit Christianity wants to be healthy, happy, and hilarious, hence the impediment of the “laughing revival” and such nonsense!

        Now we have seen the “How” to seek things above.  Let us look at the “Way” of seeking things above:

        “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”  (Col. 3:3)

        Why seek things above?  Because we are dead to worldly things.  In Gal. 6:14 Paul makes it plain that he was crucified with Christ.  The resurrection of Jesus is a type of our resurrection.  In type, we must die with Him to rise with Him.

        Again, this is not a one–tome experience.  In I Cor. 15:31 Paul said, “I die daily.”  We too must die daily by continuing to seek those spiritual things above.

        “Self” must be crucified daily!  I Cor. 15:44 tells us, There is a natural body and a spiritual body.  The psychological food for the natural body is “me, myself, and I.”  God’s Word, the Holy Bible, is food for the spiritual body!

        Christian fellowship and testimonies do not replace the Word of God.  Church programs and telecommunication cannot supersede personal, individual reading and study of Scripture.  WHY?  Because the Holy Spirit, not men, is the author of the Book.

        The Spirit of God can only nourish the spiritual body!  This happens as we continue to seek those things above and abandon, renounce, and forsake the things below.