People of The Living God

Psalms 23

 

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October 2010



 

CHEAP GRACE

George Scullin

        Ephesians 2:8, “By grace are ye saved through faith.”  Grace is often defined as God’s undeserved favor to man.  It is certainly true that man has not and cannot do anything to merit God’s favor, but grace has a much deeper meaning than this.  Strong’s Concordance defines grace as “the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.”  Take notice that it is not just the divine influence upon the heart.  That is not the complete definition of grace.  Without the “reflection in the life” this force within becomes impotent.  This means that the blessing of God’s influence in the life is of little value for salvation unless it produces certain definite results.  Grace that produces nothing that God demands has been called cheap grace.

        Millions today are staking their hope for eternal life on cheap grace.  This costless grace is a poor counterfeit being sold at the altars of thousands of churches.  They would have us believe that grace takes care of everything so nothing really has to change.  The grace recipient may continue to buy and sell for big bucks, the pro athlete continues to win adulation by his performance; the movie or T.V. actress may continue to dispense violence and romance, the politician can continue to make speeches and promises…grace covers it all.  We are to believe that we may continue to feed on the immoral filth of T.V. for we are saved by grace.  We can dress like the world, we can look like the world, we can talk like the world because grace covers it all.  Cheap grace encourages us to get involved in religious activities that are fun.  Some of the most popular gimcrack practices are seminars and big fellowship meetings where famous entertainers can tickle our ears with witty speeches; or beat out rock rhythms on their instruments; or take part in marches or protests; or even get involved with political movements.  These trifling substitutes for true grace are recreational but not spiritually productive and have no scriptural basis.  This is the sop that satisfies worldly–minded Christians.  This soul soothing fiction of pseudo grace includes a “life assurance policy” at no cost other than believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died to pay for their sins.  Of course, they must also join the church of their choice.

        Cheap grace offers forgiveness without repentance.  It doesn’t require discipleship; it doesn’t require bearing our cross; it doesn’t require anything but believing that Jesus died to save us from hell.

        Our sins may have been forgiven, and we may have received the Spirit of grace within our hearts; but that presence within must be manifested by bearing fruit, and above all, it must bring obedience to the teachings of Jesus (Luke 6:46) or it is worthless.  Friend, we are not going to be judged by that which God has done for us.  We are going to be judged by OUR WORKS (Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; Rev. 20:12,13).

        A bottle may be filled with choice wine, but unless that wine is poured out and drunk, it might as well be muddy water.  Likewise, grace is not grace unless it is manifested in doing the will of God.  The purpose of grace is to produce a godly life.  The lamp that is put under a bushel is worthless.  So is the person that has received the Spirit of grace but continues to life as the world lives.

        The call of God is to die to the world, and to the world life – to the desires of self.  That is what water baptism signifies.  In the four gospels we read at least a dozen times that Jesus said, “Follow me.”  Follow Him how?  He didn’t do His own will; He only came to do the will of the Father.  So must we if we want life (Matt. 7:21).  He forsook all.  This applies to us if we want to be His disciples (Luke 14:33).  He came as a servant.  That call is to us, also (Matt. 20:27,28).  We, too, must die to the world and its way of living (John 12:26; Luke 9:24).

        Following Jesus has nothing to do with church attendance or being involved in a lot of popular religious activity.  Following Jesus is a way of life.  One’s life must show that he is fully committed to doing what the Lord commanded him to do, to live as He commanded him to live, to be separate from the world.

        Genuine grace is a costly thing.  It cost the Father the sacrifice of His only begotten Son.  It cost Jesus the repudiation of His own people including His brothers.  It cost Him a horrible death on the cross.  Jesus brought us grace.  Grace did not come by Paul.  “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).  This costly grace demands our complete surrender to the call of God.  Consider these scriptures: Rom. 13:14, “make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof;”  Romans 12:1, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service;”  Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me;”  I John 2:15, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him.”  Those holding to cheap grace will not receive these truths and will perish in their sins.  Christian, whom do you love?

 

 

LAW VERSUS GRACE

Harry R. Miller

        When the Scriptures refer to “The law of God” they may mean all of God’s commandments in general; however, when the Word speaks of the Ten Commandments it is definitely referring to the law written “by the finger of God.”  The laws that are not obligatory to Christians are all of those ordinances and commands related to sacrifice (as given to Cain and Abel), to circumcision (as given to Abraham), and those related to the Levitical priesthood (as given to Moses).  All of these ordinances were figurative, pointing forward to the coming of Christ.  The performance of these obligations by the people of God acted as God’s Bible in a day when there was very little of the written word.  All of these “carnal ordinances” were figurative in nature, having been designed by the Creator to denote His promises of “better things to come.”  The prophetic nature of any “carnal ordinance” indicates that the life of the ordinance ends when its prophetic message is fulfilled.

        There were many prophecies which were fulfilled at the coming of Christ; thus terminating the necessity for their continued observance, since their prophetic significance no longer belonged to some epochal future.  For example, Isaiah fifty–three has been fulfilled.  No one short of an anti–christ would accept this chapter as a prophetic message now in force.  So, also, with the mute testimony of ordinances which ended with Him of whom they spoke.  However, not all ordinances, or “shadows,” ended with the coming of Christ.  Those that applied strictly to His first appearance, and to His sacrifice, were complete and final; but certain “shadows” still speak of certain things to come: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink (the sacrament of holy communion), or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come,” e.g., still future (Col. 2:16,17).

        Since Christians are the witnesses of Christ, does it seem unreasonable that they should find it a pleasure to keep His commandments relative to the testimony of the shadows that are still speaking of things to come?

        Upon two tables of stone God personally wrote the Ten Commandments.  These ten commands are not to be misconstrued with those that Moses wrote for Israel.  The laws which God wrote upon stone are the sum and substance of the law contained in the charter of the kingdom of heaven.  These ten laws were not created by arbitrary dictation: they are based upon principles compatible with the just government of free moral agents.  The Sovereign not only has the divine right to demand the complete love of His creatures: He is obligated to demand such devotion.  The very nature of moral law obligates the Sovereign to require that moral beings support His government.

        Law is the foundation of any government; and the strength of a government is determined by the faithfulness of its sovereign to enforce the respect of its law.  The kingdom of heaven is a perfect government; and the “law of the Lord is perfect.”  God cannot, and never will, “water–down,” minimize, or make void any law in order to accommodate His creatures.  Principle can never be sacrificed for expediency.  The law must remain absolute, or even His very kingdom would eventually disintegrate.  The lowering of any standard of God would be a connivance with sin; and such a thing with Him is unthinkable.

        The crucifixion of the Son of God should settle forever any man’s doubt concerning the Father’s attitude with regard to the breaking of His law. Not an angel in heaven, nor an imp in hell, has the least doubt concerning God’s faithfulness to the precept of the charter that supports His throne.  They KNOW that He means what He says.

        Men (poor, warped creatures) often get the idea that God’s commands are merely suggestions or recommendations!  This condition actually accounts for the many sorrows of mans’ earth life.

        There are also certain schools of religious philosophy which teach that all law was “done away” with in Christ; and, consequently, we are now under a new dispensation which they call “grace.”  The main idea of this school of thought is that grace and law are antagonistic to one another and can never be reconciled.  Those who hold this idea state that if a man is “under the law,” he is not “under grace.”  As a matter of fact, they contend, such an individual is “fallen from grace.”  Their conclusion, then, is that in order to remain in grace they must avoid all recognition or observance of the law.

        Let us examine this statement about being “under the law.”  Who is “under the law”?  Is it the man who obeys and honors the law?  Or is it the man who disgraces the law by neglect or willful disobedience?

        The apostle Paul asked, “Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace?” (Rom. 6:15)  Now if there is no law there can be no sin, for “sin is the transgression of the law.”  Paul answered his own question by saying: “God forbid.  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness…but ye have obeyed from the heart…being then made free from sin…for the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:15–23).

        The state of not being under the law is conditional: the condition is obedience to the law.  Christians are not afraid of the FBI, because they are not under the law of the FBI.  The laws of the FBI are for the lawless: those who despise and willfully break the precepts of the federal government.  Every law–abiding citizen enjoys the liberties set by the bounds of his government.  No man could say that such a man is “under the law.”  To the obedient citizen the laws of his nation are a blessing and a protection to his freedom.

        “knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners” (I Tim. 1:9).

        Christians have been made “free from sin” by the grace of God working within their hearts.  Instead of a stubborn, rebellious heart, the unconverted man is given a “new heart and a new spirit” which delight to obey every command of God.  As a matter of fact, God’s laws are now “written in the hearts” of the saints.  “Do we then make void the law of God through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31).  Here the apostle is only confirming the word of Jesus concerning the LAW: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill (keep).  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17,18).

        Jesus stated that there was a certain condition which was demanded of saints if they were to abide in His love:  “If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love” (John 15:10).  Man’s passport through the gates of pearl must contain a record of his obedience to the commandments.  Only those individuals who qualify have a right – a legal authority – to the glories of that world (Rev. 22:14).  During the great tribulation only those “who keep the commandments of God” will be known as saints (Rev. 14:12).  The “remnant” who have the testimony of Jesus are said to be they “which keep the commandments of God” (Rev. 12:17).  John the Beloved stated: “He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him” (I John 3:24).  And again he said: “Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:3,4).

        The apostle Peter declared that “the washed sow” that “returned to her wallowing” in the mire and “the dog that returned to his vomit” were typical of those who “turned from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (II Peter 2:21,22).

        In the light of these Scriptures it seems a most necessary thing that all Christians obey the commandments of the One whom they call their Lord; for it certainly seems most stupid to call Him Lord, Lord, and then not do the things which He says!  It, also, seems to follow that those who love Him will have no difficulty in obeying His commandments.

 

 

MORAL CHARACTER

Alda Scullin

        Rom. 8:18–23 gives in a few words a hint of how and why God created man, the process the creature will go through and the product that will be produced.  It gives in a nutshell an outline of God’s plan for the creatures He created from the dust of the earth: moral beings subject to vanity, holding in their frail hands the awesome power of choice.  Deliberately and with purpose God handicapped, as it were, these beings, not only making them subject to vanity, but with the inability to see beyond this physical realm with the natural eye.  They must walk by faith in that which they cannot see.  Yet, these need not be handicaps, for all things are designed to work for the good of those that are His (Rom. 8:28).

        Mankind was subjected to this existence “in hope,” and, if submitted to this process, will bring forth in them His glory, the demonstration of His wisdom, and the manifestation of His sons who will have put on His divine nature.  Let us take a closer look at the process which can produce divinity in mere creatures of the dust.

        There are two powers seeking to control moral beings: the power of force and the power of love.  Force can move inanimate matter or substance.  There is no choice.  No moral issue is involved, but force cannot develop moral character, therefore, God does not use force in this process.

        Dan. 11:37,38 refers to the evil king as honoring the god of forces.  Fortunately for mankind, the presence of God’s Spirit in His people restrains this force which seeks to destroy every soul.  However, he who continually chooses the evil rather than the good falls victim to the god of forces.  As Paul wrote, “to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey: whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness” (Rom. 6:16).  The Greek word which is here translated “servant” actually means “a slave.”  It does not require great powers of perception to see how great are the bonds of evil that enslave many.  On the other hand, those who yield themselves in obedience to God’s commands which are right or righteous, “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:12) – these become the love slaves of the Almighty.

        God is perfect love, perfect charity and mercy.  Many think of God as an austere being who imposed terrible laws upon Israel, and Jesus came to deliver them from the things the Father had put upon them.  According to Psalm 19:7, the purpose of God’s law is to convert the soul.

        Men are free moral beings with the power of choice, but as they choose between good and evil they are actually surrendering their will either to the influence of hell which will eventually completely control them, or to the powers of good which will finally free them from every last vestige of evil which is inherent in the carnal nature.

        Man, through Adam, inherited a carnal nature – one that tends toward corruption.  How could God retrieve these beings from sin and its penalty?  He could not possibly annul the law “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”  Death is the natural result of sin (James 1:15).  His love for His creatures cried out for mercy to be shown while His justice demanded that the law be honored.  Were God to lower a standard, even His kingdom could not stand.  How could this breach be bridged without making an agreement with sin or without dishonoring His word?  If through one man sin could enter the human race, why could not man be delivered by one who would pay the penalty to meet the requirement of the law?  Such a one must be sinless in order to pay the debt of sin for others.  If he were not sinless, his death would simply be the result of his own sin.  For this reason God, who so loved, gave His own Son to make possible the redemption of sinful men.

        So we see that God, who foresaw the sin hazard even before He created man, also made provision to redeem him before the world began (II Tim. 1:9).  Through His death Jesus opened the way whereby a sinner can become godly.  “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).  The words “to become” show this to be a progressive affair rather than an instantaneous one.  The ability to keep the law which converts the soul is the power that is needed to become a son of God.

        Pardon cannot be granted upon the condition of a literal payment of debt.  The cross was not a literal payment of debt.  Jesus was not punished.  He was not a transgressor.  If He had literally and unconditionally paid our debt, then every sinner could demand salvation as his right, which is what many try to do!  This is the essence of the grace doctrine which denies that man must meet any requirement of God’s law in order to appropriate his inheritance in God’s kingdom.

        Even the expositors of the grace doctrine, however, will usually admit that man must choose good rather than evil in order to be saved, but their ideas of what is good and what is evil seem to vary tremendously from person to person, church to church, and from generation to generation.  God’s moral law and government, when adhered to, will develop divine attributes or characteristics in the creature.  This is the reason for being: to make us “like Him” in character.

        God does not appeal to the carnal nature (Rom. 8:6,7).  God dwells in a realm of good, of perfection.  There, love has full sway.  That which is of God is good; that which is not of God is evil.  Self, or self–interest, is the only reason that man would choose anything that is not of God.  Self is evil.  Good is selfless.  From Adam all men inherited the selfish nature, a nature that naturally tends toward evil.  When self rules it furthers the degeneration of a sinful nature.  The being then becomes an enemy of all law.

        “The glorious liberty of the sons of God” is not to have license to do as they please, but it is to have the ability to do that which they know they ought to do; to do that which pleases God.  Jesus said, “I do always those things which please Him” (the Father).  Yet He learned obedience.  His love was perfect.  The divine plan to bring “many sons unto glory” has been going on for thousands of years.  Jesus shall present some faultless before the throne.

        In the realm of love there is complete freedom.  A selfish person is an absolute prisoner of often uncontrollable emotions, passions, and lusts.  He becomes a victim of these unreasonable bonds.  He often cannot understand why he does certain things.  In evil there is always the lie.  The choice of evil receives its motivation from spirit inspiration.  Take away the inspiration and the person falls back on reality and is appalled.  Judas was horrified at his act after the inspiration was gone.  What were thirty pieces of silver?  Nothing!  He did not do it for silver, but because of evil inspiration on his already sinful heart.

        In love Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He could not gather them under His wings as He desired to do because they would not.  It was a moral issue.  He could not force them.  God will not break His law because of sentiment.  To lower a standard would jeopardize every being in the universe.  It would not be an act of love.  If any change is to be made in the relationship between God and man, it must be made in man, not in God.  God is perfect.  His law is perfect.  It is designed to bring man to spiritual maturity or perfection.

        God has always hated sin, not because His feeling are offended, but because He knows what it does to those whom He loves.  He knows that the end is complete corruption and eternal separation from everything good and from God Himself.  It would not be right for God to make provision for man to live on in sin.  Driving Adam from the garden was proof of that.  He did not want them to be able to live forever in that condition.

        In considering man’s reconciliation, numbers of problems were posed.  God’s nature is one of mercy AND justice.  Both must be satisfied.  Because He knows the end from the beginning, He was able to provide everything man needed to help him become a son of God.  The elect of God are actually elected because of their love for God and their desire to please Him; otherwise, we would not be free moral agents.  The government of love is one of free moral agency.  Its power lies in its appeal to the heart.

        Men are thinking, rational beings with their own free wills.  God does not create or bestow moral character.  It is impossible.  It must be done by the creature himself with God’s help.  He created beings with all the possibilities of becoming perfect.  They are able to bring this about by submission to God’s word.  His commands are not just dogmatic or autocratic rule, but are related to the very nature of moral beings, just as natural, physical laws govern our bodies.  God is love.  Love desires fellowship.  To give is a natural characteristic of love.  God could have no pleasure in mannequins or puppets who through force of tyranny would serve Him mechanically.  No one can be forced to love.  The solution was to cause love to be wrought in the heart of the individual.  To accomplish it He demonstrated His own infinite love by giving His only begotten Son to die for us.  God has sought to enter our hearts by moral persuasion.  He will cause issues and circumstances to arise that will help develop character if one makes the proper choices.

        Jesus’ final character test was in the garden.  There was the Father’s will and His own will.  His flesh shrank from the ordeal which He faced.  Everything within Him was against it – His will, His emotions, His mind.  He prayed, “If it be possible let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).  Job, too, had the right answer, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him.”

        The valley of the shadow of death is never an accident in our lives.  It is designed, planned.  There our spiritual nature is developed, made strong.  There we learn to trust the Lord.  We learn the comfort of the Most High.  God would violate the law of His own Kingdom were He to make the choice for us.  How love cries out to do it, but it is as impossible as forcing open a rose bud; it would destroy it.  Therefore, the Lord still waits with long patience for the precious fruit of the earth (James 5:7).  The final harvest is near.

 

 

DECEIVERS

Randall Walton

        We have been rebuked for being too harsh in some of our remarks about some of the religious movements which are afloat in the world today.  We were advised that we should only have compassion on them, not condemnation.  We do have compassion – on the sinner, the down–and–outer, the less fortunate, the wayward and the poor.  But we draw a line between these folks and the religious hypocrite who is also a deceiver and a liar.  It is a part of our job to expose, uncover, and make manifest that which falsely represents Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God.

        But we have never been as outspoken against hypocrisy as were Jesus, John the Baptist and the apostles.  Listen to Jesus as He cuts down the pious churchmen of His day: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt. 23:33)  “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matt. 23:23)  “ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matt. 23:28).  This from the lips of the most compassionate man to have walked this earth!

        Sheep have a right to know when traps and pitfalls have been laid to ensnare them.  And we who can discern between the evil and the good have an obligation to warn them.  If we should see a person about to walk through a mine field unknowingly and we know it is a mine field and do not warn them, we would of all people be most irresponsible.

        “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand” (Ezek. 33:6).

        This is a divine principle as well as a commission to the “watchman” to sound an alarm and a warning whenever he should be aware of lurking danger.  We would fail God and His people if we were to be silent when we see hypocrites taking advantage of the unwary and gullible.  This we cannot and will not do!

        We do not consider ourselves to be on the same team with the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who have fine–tuned their skills of “shearing sheep;” they “devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer” (Matt. 23:14).  As long as God gives us the ability and the wherewithal, we shall continue speaking out against the false, the make–believe, the hypocrite and deceiver.  We do not judge them – only God can do that – but if we see a mountain and state that it is a mountain, that is not judging.

        And when we see preachers making merchandise of their ministry and we state this fact, that is not judging either.  It is pure truth.  When we view the many abuses and excesses which are prevalent in the Pentecostal and charismatic circles and we speak out, that is not judging.  That is a WARNING.  We do not want anyone to fall into the snare and delusion of these last–day apostate movements which are hood–winking countless souls into believing that they are true representatives of God.  It would be wrong for us not to speak out.

        “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Mat. 24:24).

        Let us face the fact that there are many false Christs on the religious scene right now!  Big–name theologians are saying they are Christ and you can be Christ, too, if you’ll only believe. Some of these pseudo–prophets are claiming power to heal and work miracles.  They deny the authority and power of Jesus the Messiah while they boast of possessing the supernatural themselves.  They use their ill–gained wealth as proof or confirmation that they are genuine.

        People need to know how to detect the false so they can avoid becoming ensnared.  There are several signs a person should look for when they are searching for the true:

        1.  Is their message God–and–Bible centered, that is, does the preacher/minister emphasize walking in obedience to the word of God, or is the main emphasis upon manifestations of “spiritual activity.”  Are the words and sayings of Jesus strongly upheld and taught, or is the main thrust along the lines of “believism?”

        2.  Does the message exalt self, self–esteem, and man’s innate ability to achieve or to become something divine?

        3.  Are money, prosperity, and wealth an integral part of the program?  Is Jesus pictured as a rich man?  Does the minister teach that God wants everyone to be prosperous?  Are tapes, literature and other objects offered for sale before, during, or after the program/service?

        4.  Are the occasions of healing or miracles presented in an ostentatious or showy manner?  Does it appear that the healer or miracle worker exalts himself or takes credit to himself for his claim of power?

        5.  Does the “prophet” give proof and rebuke for the people, or do his words generally compliment and bolster people’s egos?  Does he give instructions to people in his prophetic utterances?  Do they carry them out?  Does he make predictions of future events?  If so, do they come to pass?

        6.  Do you know anything at all about the minister’s personal life?  Does he live above reproach; is he a devoted family man?  Does he practice what he preaches?  Does he live extravagantly or pompously?  What does he do in his spare time?

        Of course, we understand that some people will disagree with some of these probing questions, but let us be serious about this most serious issue.  Jesus said plainly that there will be characters whose objective in life will be to deceive and mislead people.  He said that we can know them by their fruits.  A bad tree will produce bad fruit; a good will bring forth good fruit.  Why allow oneself to be deceived when it is possible to know the nature of the character who may be trying to deceive you?

        Friends, be warned!  The deceivers are hard at work looking for potential victims.  Don’t let it happen to you.  Keep your eyes upon Jesus Christ and avoid the devious means of the supposed super men of the cloth.

        And we reiterate what we said previously: the falling away, spoken of by Paul in II Thess. 2:1–3 is already under way.  It is ongoing and gaining ground.  We believe Jesus knew what He was saying when He stated that “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT” (Matt. 7:14).  Our hearts should melt at such words as these, for this means that a minority will be saved.  The huge masses of humanity who are rallying around various dynamic leaders are not going the strait and narrow way: Jesus Himself said so!

        It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to sound the warning of spiritual disaster taking place so that we may be able to save some from the wreckage of these last days.  We urge you to measure all things by the Word of God.  This is THE standard by which God will judge all men: what have you done with the Word?  Have you seriously embraced it and diligently applied it to your daily life?  If not, there is no better time to begin than now, and by so doing, you will assure salvation for both yourself and your household.

 

 

JESUS IS COMING AGAIN

Randall Walton

        “Jesus Is Coming Again.”  What a title for an article!  Yes, of course, He is coming again, but there are several very important issues which must come to pass before He comes back!

        We, of course, do not believe in a secret, at any moment rapture of the saints, neither do we believe in a millennium, that is, in a future 1,000–year utopia when Jesus is supposed to reign over the world and show Himself mighty to save and heal!  There is absolutely no scriptural reference for either of those doctrinal myths, so we do not hold to either one!

        However, there are several other issues to which we must address ourselves, and it is to these that we now refer.  We think it is quite obvious that we are in the last days, but we don’t have any idea when, or how soon, the end will come.  We can only assume that we are living in the last days because of the many infallible signs which tell us that time is precious and that we are running out of it!  We are not in the camp of the “know it all’s;” that is, we are not about to announce the day or the year when the end will come because we do not know when it will be!  All we know for sure is that it will be because the Lord Jesus tells us that the end will surely come, and we know of several items which must occur before that day arrives.

        So, we are looking for a fulfillment of everything the Scriptures tell us concerning the days which precede the last day, for therein lies some very important issues which will be very divisive and separational, and will cause many people to be deceived by the very strict nature of the deception.

1.  Separation.  Consider, first of all, the fact that God will call His people out of the world system, or we could say, the Babylonian System (Rev. 18:3–5).  It has stood the test of nearly 2,000 years, and yet people are reluctant to leave the system because they feel secure and steadfast in that particular endeavor.  All the while, the Lord’s warning remains the same, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”  We will well ask at this point, what are God’s people doing that they are still there in that system of things which is dealing so unfairly with them?

        We are well aware of the fact that there are probably hundreds of thousands of people out of work at the present moment, and the prospects of reemployment seem very dim.  But the warning remains in the Book of the Lord.  What can be done about it?  Please notice verse 2, chapter 18 of Revelation: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”

        This description of Babylon surely holds out little or no help for those who find themselves in the clutches of that false god.  Such a cry as this will mean that some will leave the system with all its “benefits,” while others remain there blinded by the glimmer of the lights of gloom and despair.  There must be a separation of the tares and the wheat, and God will lead many people out of Babylon into a place to be cared for.

2.  Places of refuge.  God will have places of refuge, or places of retreat, in various places throughout the globe.  The Scriptures are quite plain that God will provide for His people places which will feed, house, and provide the necessities of life for those who leave the Babylonian lifestyle.  There are a number of both Old and New Testament verses which attest to that fact (Isa. 26:20,21; Zeph. 2:1–3; Matt. 24:16–22; Luke 21:34–36; Rev. 13:10; Rev. 12:6,14).

3.  The Marriage Feast of the Lamb (Matt. 22:1–14; Rev. 19:7–9).  This is one of the mightiest manifestations of the glory of God upon His people.  This is a spiritual feast of the glories of King Jesus.  God shows His own respect for the people who were involved, as well as for those who knowingly misrepresented themselves.  The glory of the latter house shall be greater than that of the former.  This feast will be held wherever God’s people are gathered together.  It will be a wonderful and glorious demonstration of what could have been had the people of God surrendered sooner.

4.  The putting on of the nature of Jesus Christ.  God has recorded the very nature of Jesus throughout the Scriptures.  All through the ministry of Jesus He proclaimed that He could do nothing of Himself, that He was totally committed to doing the Father’s will, and that it was the Father’s will that He suffer and die on the cross.  We also have a cross to bear, and our cross brings forth death to the natural man.  But our cross is the means by which we enter into the joy and the presence of the living God and put on the very nature of Jesus Christ.  It is through the cross, our own personal cross, that we enter into that glorious place of perfect rest and harmony with Jesus Christ.  According to Romans 8:29, we have a call to be conformed to the image of God’s blessed Son, to be molded and made over until we are just like Him.

        This ministry is being carried on by the angels of God who are devoted to the death of the natural man (and woman), because, according to Romans 8:4–13, the natural man is an enemy of the living God and is in rebellion to the will of the most high God.  The only solution to this problem is that he must die!  Just as Jesus gave Himself willingly to die on the cross, so we, too, must submit ourselves to the death of the carnal nature.  We must be totally, completely, absolutely committed to the will of the living God – to do His will, to be so devoted to God that we are in subjection to His complete and total will.  This is what it takes to make it through to the end!

        This death to self is fully explained by Bro. Paul in the fifth chapter of Galatians, verses 22 and 23!  He tells us in these two verses that love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith(fullness), meekness, and temperance are a part of the glorious nature of Jesus Christ (verse 24), and that we, as servants of Jesus, are obligated to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts!  The big problem with this is our lack of desire to crucify the old nature and put on the true nature of Jesus Christ, yet this must be done, and will be done, by those who go on with God.  Those who refuse to surrender their all to the Lord will surely be cut off from serving God (Rom. 13:14).  God intends that His people put God first in their relationship with Him, and that is what will be required of everyone who plans to walk with God in these last days.

5.  The Manifestation of the Sons of God (Romans 8:19).  The Spirit of God was given to the early saints and was proclaimed to be a part of the ministry of God to all the believers in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38,39).  He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and the Holy Spirit still abides within the hearts of those who love Him.  However, He (the Holy Spirit) abides within us provided we follow His leading and guidance.

        In the early church, God gave certain ministries to the various members of the congregation.  These are listed in I Corinthians 12:8–11 and are known as the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Those gifts were given to the members of the church for their ministry within the body of believers.  It is a sad state that today those gifts have been mutilated, distorted, abused, and falsified so that there is hardly any similarity between the false and the true gifts.

        But in the future, there shall come a day when all the gifts of the Spirit shall be alive and functioning within the confines of the Body of Jesus Christ.  Woe be to anyone who fails to hear the word of God proclaimed by a minister of Jesus Christ, or he or she pays no attention to it at all.  Judgment will be swift and certain (Acts 5:1–11), and those who transgress the laws and precepts of God will suffer much because of their rebellion.

        There will be many miracles by the people so blessed of God, and the Lord will be honored as the Leader of the people, for He will oversee the works of the congregation and lead them safely to the goal set before them.  The manifestation (actually, the unveiling) of the Sons of God will be a mighty overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit as He leads the way into the glorious benefits of the Kingdom of God.  There will be a presence of the Holy Spirit as He leads the servants of Christ into deeper and fuller truths.

6.  The Early and Latter Rain (James 5:7; Joel 2:23–25).  Rain is referred to in Scripture as the outpouring of the Holy Ghost (Joel 2:23–25).  According to James 5:7, “the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.”  The Lord has reserved “the rain” for the last days of the last days.  Of course, there have been times when God refreshed His people with the “early rain,” but there has never been a time from Pentecost in Jerusalem to the present time when the “early and the latter rain” has been poured out upon the people.  So, we have this glorious event to look forward to when the glory of God descends upon the saints and they are baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

        Note that fire is necessary in the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The fire consumes all the unnecessary confusion of the natural man and leaves him with the delightful feeling of purity, holiness, cleansing, purification of his heart and soul.  It is a balm for the hungry, a gift of God from above, an anointing of the Holy Spirit within his very spirit.  There is nothing else to compare it with.  It is all consuming, transcending all other experiences which we might enjoy.  And it is in the near future!  Sad to say, many people are settling for far less than the “early and latter rain,” and we can blame the “pastors” or other leaders who are misleading their congregations into believing that they have already received this mighty, glorious, wonderful, powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  No, it is still future and will be fulfilled by the living God.

7.  Restoration (Acts 3:19–21).  We are looking for and anticipating the glorious restoration (restitution) of the power, the glory, the fullness of the blessing of God upon everything the Bible teaches.  This is not to say that everything in existence today must revert to the conditions and circumstances of former years.  That which will be restored is the power and glory which was upon the first or early church which existed for a few years after that outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.  There will be a restoration of the miracle working power of the Holy Spirit as people are brought back into a fresh, refilling of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

        This restoration will be a total re–commitment to the Holy Spirit as people are filled with the Spirit and enter into a divine relationship with the Almighty God.  We expect to see many miracles and manifestations of the Spirit of the living God as people are filled with the Holy Spirit and recommit their lives to God.

        This rededication to God will mean that people get really serious about their relationship with God.  It will be a glorious celebration of all that really matters.  Those who are not serious about maintaining a viable, living relationship with God will not make it through with Him, for He will bring to naught everything that speaks of selfishness, love for self, inward private sentiments, and gross infidelity.  God knows every heart, and He will judge righteous judgment upon all who name His wonderful name.

8.  The Kingdom of God Possessed (Luke 12:32; Daniel 7:22,27).  The Kingdom of God is a spiritual reality.  Notice that Luke 12:32 says that “It is your father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  The kingdom being spiritual is a divine entity and cannot be entered into in a literal fashion.  Daniel states that “the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (Dan. 7:22); that is, that they actually took hold of the arm of the Lord and possessed, or occupied, the kingdom of the living God.  It must be remembered that the kingdom is a spiritual reality, not physical nor fleshly, or as Paul said in I Cor. 15:50, “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”

        Paul also said concerning the kingdom that “the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Cor. 4:20).  It is a powerful force of unprecedented energy; it is so full of power that through its energy the dead come to life; the sick and infirm are immediately healed; lepers and others who need healing are healed for the asking; the rough, roaring water support the weight of those who walk upon its waves; a few fish and a handful of bread feed 4,000 men, plus women and children (also feeds 5,000 men, women and children); a boat load of men are immediately transported across the water to their destination.  There is no explaining the many marvelous works of the kingdom except to say that all things are possible to him that believes!  There is no need to go over the multitude of miracles performed by Jesus Christ during his 3½ years of ministry.

        Such power as was demonstrated throughout the ministry of Jesus was indicative of the power that was inherent in the kingdom of the living God.  It was the same power that brought Jesus to life while He was in the tomb (Eph. 1:20–22).  That same power will be restored to the people of God as soon as they are ready to receive it.  There is a preparation to be made before the power of the kingdom is ready to be applied to the servants of the most High God.  The power is there, but it must be secured and protected by the true servants of Jesus Christ who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit of the living God.

        Allow God to work in your life to bring you into that divine state where everything that you are, or hope to be, is in complete control of the Spirit of God.

 

 

THE WILL OF GOD

Randall Walton

        “Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, BUT TO THE WILL OF GOD” (I Peter 4:1,2).

        It is a sad fact of life that so few people are impressed with the necessity of being engrossed in the doing of the will of Almighty God.  It is almost as if Jesus never said one word about the will of God and the importance of our doing the will of the heavenly Father.  Yet, His entire ministry was given only to doing the Father’s blessed will.  And we may well ask, how did He know the will of His heavenly Father?

        He stated so plainly that He could do nothing of Himself!  “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34).  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the son likewise.  For the father loveth the son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.” (John 5:19,20).  “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just, because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).  “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).  “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).  “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” (John 7:16).  “When ye have lifted up the son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my father hath taught me, I speak these things.  And he that sent me is with me: the father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:28,29).  “I speak that which I have seen with my father” (John 8:38).  “Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him; and keep his sayings” (John 8:55).  “For I have not spoken of myself; but the father which sent me he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:49).

        The above verses should be sufficient to show that His words, His sayings, His speech, are not His, but He received His knowledge from the Father Himself!  This means that if we disobey His words, we are disobeying the words of the Heavenly Father for He, Jesus, received His knowledge of things spiritual from the Father Himself!  The Scriptures relate the many times when He was alone, and He prayed and talked with His Father in heaven.  Whatever He did was in obedience to the voice of the Heavenly Father who directed and ordered His communication and His will!

        And what bearing does this have on all of us: what are we to do with the words, the sayings, the speech of the Lord, who only repeated what He had heard from the Heavenly Father?  Does this mean we are obligated, or required, to follow the words of Jesus which are truly the words of the Father brought down to earth through the means of the Son of God who stayed in constant connection with the Father?  Are you aware of the fact that Jesus had so little to say about the church or its functions, its programs, its arrangements, its offices, its methodology?  It is true that under the leadership of the Holy Ghost certain administrations were set in order, but unless the Holy Ghost sets things in their proper places, the result is mass confusion and turmoil.

        God still has His hand on the government of the true church of God.  He has not left the responsibility of the church to a body of believers who vote on the business of the organization.  He has left the full responsibility of the church in the hands of the Holy Spirit who has the power and the authority to do as He has been instructed to do.  It is up to the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and direct the “business” of the church, and He, the Holy Spirit, does not need, nor ask for, help from mankind who has such a hard time submitting himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  The eighth chapter of Romans bears out this great truth!

        It is really amazing that so many “Christians” miss the commands of Jesus to “take up your cross and follow me” (Luke 14:27).  It is only as we bear our cross and follow Jesus all the way until there is no more left to die on that cross, are we able to state with accuracy that we are truly dead to self and to sin.  The requirements are still as they always have been – there must be a death to our former way of life: we must surrender our all to Him.  It is only as we are fully committed to Jesus Christ and His words, or His message, that we can begin to see and know complete deliverance from everything of self and sin, and we are able to put on the whole armor of God, and make Jesus Christ our savior and Lord by being obedient to Him!  Merely thinking about the cross, considering it as a potential means of crucifying our own nature and desires, is not enough: it is to embrace it, cherish it, consider it as the only means to complete and gain a wholesome life.

        When this is accomplished, it will show.  You won’t have to tell anyone that you are dead and your life is being lived to the glory of God.  It will be demonstrated by your actions, your motives, and your devotion to Jesus Christ.  It is time to re–evaluate where you stand in Jesus Christ.  Allow Him to lead you to the old rugged cross upon which you must resign and turn your life over to be lived according to the measure of the grace and patience of Jesus Himself.  This do, and you shall live!

 

 

SCRIPTURES SUPPORTING THE MILLENNIUM THEORY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 AWAKEN

Randall Walton

        “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.  Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Isa. 52:1,2).

        The call of God to His people is a cry of alert: “Awake, awake.”  It is a regrettable error on the part of God’s people that God must so sternly rebuke His people for being asleep when they should be wide awake and ready to meet their enemy(ies).  It is a fact that the majority of God’s people are fully asleep, unaware of the impending disaster which is most apt to catch them sleeping away their time and the time of the Master of the house!  That the people of God are fully asleep, we only need to quote Isaiah 52:1 and 2, and ascertain the truth of the matter, that the sleepy condition of the people is holding back the judgment of God because most of them would be caught sleeping and snoring.

        What is meant by the cry, “awake, awake”?  Has God been busy all these many years with a sleeping congregation whose aim and purpose is to put off for as long as possible the call to repentance, conversion, putting on the divine nature, becoming like Jesus Christ, and fulfilling all of the divine commands of the Scripture?  The call, or cry, is one of imperative offering, that of hearing the voice of God and responding to it by awakening.  We marvel at the marvelous patience of the living God in His dealings with this present generation.

        Notice that God orders His people to “put on thy beautiful garments,” for He will not allow the uncircumcised and the unclean to enter the secret place of the most high.  The standards of the Almighty are much too harsh and difficult for the ungodly to partake of: the standards are founded upon the divine order of things spiritual and encompass the commands and laws of the Holy Spirit.  “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

        God further orders His people to “Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down…loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Isa. 52:2).  Why has He ordered His people to “shake thyself from the dust”?  Why has it become so dusty where the people of God congregate?  Dust is all that there is left when the Holy Spirit knocks on doors and orders that the people shake themselves from the dusty conditions which exist.

        Dust!  This is a situation which exists where all true spirituality has disappeared and where mechanical means are applied to keep the interest of the people alive if at all possible.  This is a good reminder by the Holy Spirit of a condition which is geared to the lowest common denominator, for when a group of people gather together to be fed manna from heaven, all they get is more dust!  We receive a large dose of requests to attend rallies or conventions of well known popular evangelists, or ministers, who only want to appease the people and entertain them through various gimmicks and “rock & roll” music.

        God’s part in all of this is to announce clear and loud that the people need, really need, to 1. shake themselves from the dust; 2. Arise; get up on their feet; 3. sit down!  Sit down in heavenly places in Jesus Christ; 4. loose themselves from the bands of their necks; 5. be no more captives of the system of religion that they are in!  Notice that He put all the blame for their condition where it belongs – on themselves.  They put themselves into the untenable, rebellious state of challenging God, and God says to them, “Shake thyself from the dust.”

        There is really not a viable excuse for having to “shake oneself from the dust.”  When anyone in a place of recognized authority approves of unbridled sexual mores, or of considering the words of Jesus unimportant, or of making the message of Jesus a mere set of unimportant issues, or of holding to the idea that Jesus’ words are today just a bunch of words with little or no special significance, that person needs a great deal of personal help, for God Himself has ordered a clean up, a straitening up, and a setting in order of everything upon which He, Himself, finds in the Book of the Lord.

        It is of little or no benefit to give up the moral issues of the Bible in order to “gain” one person from the pit.  The fact of the issue is this, that to give in to the ravages of the divine will, it is absolutely necessary to grant the human will as the means of salvation.  God’s evaluation of things spiritual is embedded in the reality of commitment, surrender, and consecration of the soul who seeks God and is devoted to Him and His cause in the earth.  God’s requirements are the same to each of us.

        Consider, for example, the rest of these verses of Scripture: Arise! Then, sit down! Loose yourself from the bands of your necks!  Don’t be a captive of the forces of evil!  All of this places responsibility upon US.  In other words, while we cannot save ourselves (salvation comes from the Holy Ghost), once we are saved, we make ourselves responsible to the Holy Spirit to go all the way with God and the Holy Spirit as He leads.

        We are to see to it that we don’t remain in our original state of being – asleep to the realities of what He has done for us; He forgave us of our past lives; He gave us the Holy Spirit to abide within us; He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us; He has given us many infallible proofs of His salvation; He has made us heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus; He has made us to be partakers of the divine nature; He has placed before us a blessed invitation to be sharers together of the glory of the Lord; He has called us to put down every weight and to make His and our enemies our foot stool; He has given us victory over all the power of the enemy!

        In return for all these blessings, He has demanded of us that we awaken to the reality of the gospel of the living God, that the kingdom of God is at hand, that it is available to the servants of Jesus Christ, that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32)!  He has the right to demand of us that we respond to Him objectively and take hold of the kingdom, for the “kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Cor. 4:20).  He has said to us to “Arise, sit down, loose thyself from the bands of your necks.”  This is something that we can do!  We have the right and responsibility to do what God has demanded of us.  We can arise!  We can sit down!  We can refuse to have the enemy keep our necks under the bands of his cruelty.  We do not have to put up with his evil ways to keep us in bondage to his wickedness.  No!  We refuse to coddle him or his cronies; we will not yield our lives to him nor to any of his evil angels; we owe him nothing; therefore, we reject him and his forces of wickedness; we stand redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God, and declare that Jesus has made the devil powerless and defeated, and has given us power over all the so–called power of Satan.

        It is time for every born again believer to proclaim his liberty and freedom from sin through Jesus Christ and His shed blood.  It is time for each of us to declare that we are the children of the living God, and that we will put up with the work and labor of love that we as true Christians have done for many years before us.  There is victory for us all if we will take it and use it for the purpose for which it has been provided.  God is still on His Throne and He remembers His own; His promise is true, He will not forget you, God is STILL on His Throne!

 

 

A NEW COMMANDMENT

Randall Walton

        In a day when commandment keeping is so universally unpopular, it seems almost inappropriate to bring up a “new” one.  But none other than our Lord Jesus is the One who introduced this innovative order which was quite revolutionary, to say the least.

        There was no lack of religiosity in those years when Jesus trod the dusty roads of Judea.  Of the several denominations which then existed, the Pharisees outdid them all with their feigned piety and high self–esteem.  They publicized their devotions and financial offerings as they strutted along the streets in their finery to let people know how devout they were in their “giving to the church.”  No mere blank envelopes for them to stuff.  They pompously marched to the blast of a trumpet to draw attention to themselves, “that they may have glory of men” (Matt. 6:2).

        Jesus further castigated them with His blistering denunciation of their ungodly conduct: “do not after their works,” He said, “for they say, and do not.  For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do for to be seen of men; they make broad their phylacteries (packets of Scripture worn on the arm or shoulder), and enlarge the borders of their garments” (Matt. 23:3–5).

        The outward appearance was the main issue.  It didn’t matter that inwardly they were “full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness,” as whitewashed tombs (Matt. 23:27), a most deplorable condition to say the least.

        They were very, very proficient at substituting their own traditions for the commands of God (Matt. 15:3–9).  But Jesus proclaimed that they worshipped God in vain, for their hearts were far from Him.  Religious?  Yes.  Godly?  No.  They had substituted the god of self for the living God.  It is plainly shown in the gospel writings that their greatest love in life was their own individual, personal self.

        Under the Old Covenant the people were commanded to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” a very formidable task, to be sure (Lev. 19:18).  But it appears as if people did not take God seriously about His commands and laws; as if He didn’t really mean what He said.  How could He expect anyone to love their neighbors as themselves?

        Now Jesus came and went a giant step further.  “An new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34,35).

Love One Another

        Of all the illnesses ailing the church today, this is probably at the top of the list; the lack of love among and between the professors of Christianity is appalling.  Since Jesus said that this would be the testimony or criterion by which people would know a true follower of Himself, we can only conclude that there must be very few who are genuine disciples.

        Love is one of the main building blocks in the foundation of the kingdom of God.  It is the prime mover for the accomplishment of the plan and purpose of God with His creation.  There was no compelling force which caused God to bring forth mankind in His own image – other than love.  His very nature is that of gregariousness, sociability, companionship, fellowship, fraternity.  “That he might be the firstborn among many brethren,” is how the apostle Paul stated it (Rom. 8:29).

        His purpose in creation is so that He might have a FAMILY whose members deeply love Him and each other, a love so pure and fervent that they become inseparable, codependent, dedicated in service to each other, and faithful.

        “As I have loved you” is a staggering statement.  Consider briefly His love toward us who are the beneficiaries of His inexpressible love.  Willingly, He left His glorious estate in heaven to come to this earth to live as we do, a circumstance necessary in the reclamation of humanity, but He didn’t have to do it: He could have allowed the human race to destroy itself in the quagmire of sin.  But because He “first loved us,” He laid aside His garments of glory and came and dwelt among us.

        No privation nor humiliation was too painful for Him.  He faced false accusations and the tyrannical judgment of fierce men only because of love.  The awful brutality of His inglorious death was the ultimate expression of His devotion to His mission – the salvation of souls.  He considered the value of a reclaimed son of Adam worthy of His suffering and death.  Now, “as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

        The world is waiting to see this miracle performed by the professed church, and rightly so.  It is an indictment against the Christian faith that there is so little true love among and between the members of the “church.”  The opposite of love is selfishness, greed, conceit, thoughtlessness.  And these non–qualities are so prevalent everywhere one looks.

        John stated: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen.  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (I John 4:20,21).

        Consider briefly some of the many passages which refer to our ordained relationship with other members of the body of Christ: “everyone members one of another” (Rom. 12:5).

“kindly affectioned one to another”

“in honor preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10).

“of the same mind one toward another” (Rom. 12:16).

“not therefore judge one another anymore” (Rom. 14:13).

“things wherewith one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19).

“receive ye one another” (Rom. 15:7).

“to admonish one another” (Rom. 15:14).

“tarry one for another” (I Cor. 11:33).

“have the same care one for another” (I Cor. 12:25).

“by love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).

“be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5:15).

“forbearing one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).

“be kind one to another” (Eph. 4:32).

“forgiving one another” (Eph. 4:32).

“Submitting yourselves one to another” (Eph. 5:21).

“Lie not one to another” (Col. 3:9).

“increase and abound in love one toward another” (I Thess. 3:12).

“Comfort one another” (I Thess. 4:18).

“exhort one another daily” (Heb. 3:13).

“Speak not evil one of another, brethren” (James 4:11).

“Grudge not one against another” (James 5:9).

“pray for one another” (James 5:16).

“fellowship one with another” (I John 1:7).

        All of the above are active expressions of love toward members of the one body of Jesus Christ.  Notice how they embrace selflessness, or the sincere concern for the welfare of others.  These are the fruits of love in action as contrasted with the shabby sentimentalism which is so abundant in religious circles.  We are not judging when we say there isn’t much of this genuine love and concern for other members of God’s family.

        But you can be sure that God is working to bring forth such a people upon the earth.  The Holy Spirit continues to convict of wrong–doing on the part of believers today.  He will continue with this divine manifestation until the people of God surrender themselves in love and service to God, and to one another.  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).