People of The Living God

Isaiah 4

 

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October 2011



 

THE MESSAGES OF THE APOCALYPTIC HORSEMEN

Randall Walton

        In Revelation the sixth chapter, verses one to eight there is a most graphic description of four different colored horses who are being ridden by four different and distinct riders, each of which has a definite objective or purpose.  There is a great message in this passage for the people of God, but of course, the message in this passage is cloaked in the garb of symbolism: in order to understand the message it is necessary to understand the meaning of the symbols.

        Some of the symbols which should be especially scrutinized are the colors of the horses, the clothing and activities of the riders, the paraphernalia which is utilized by the riders and the outcome of their actions.  All these are messages in picture form, messages which have a profound meaning for the people of God.

        We are well aware of the traditional interpretation of these horses and their riders, and we believe that the message intended by the Holy Spirit is not the same as that which is purported to be of God.

        Horses are used in Scripture to portray spirits, as we read in Zechariah 6:1-5: “These (horses) are the four spirits of the heavens which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.”  We, therefore, conclude that the horses of Revelation six represent spirits, spirit activities, and/or spiritual forces or powers.  The “riders” are transported or are given mobility by the spirits with which they are associated, and we assume that the nature or character of the respective horses is both revealed by, and in harmony with the color as depicted.

        For example, white always speaks of purity, righteousness, holiness, and divinity.

The White Horse

        Therefore, the White Horse is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Paraclete, the One who indwells every temple of the Holy Ghost, i.e., the bodies of the saints of the Lord (I Cor. 3:16; 6:19).

        This is that same white horse which is pictured in Revelation 19:11-16, upon which sits Jesus as He goes forth to “judge and to make war.”  This is no literal, physical battle which is waged, but a spiritual conflict.  It is a struggle over the hearts and allegiances of mankind.

        Jesus stated in John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”  Here He is shown with His bow, a weapon He uses in His drawing men unto Himself, of conquering His enemies, and demonstrating His glory, His majesty, His authority and His purity.

        “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.  And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible (wonderful) things.  Thine arrows are sharp in the hearts of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.

        “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.  Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Psalm 45:3-7).

        According to Hebrews 1:8,9, this passage in Psalm 45 is referring to none other than Jesus, the Son of the living Father, and it certainly ties in beautifully with the prosperous rider of the White Horse.

        Notice that the arrows are sharp in the hearts of His enemies!  And who are His enemies?: “the people fall under thee.”  We, the people, have all been His enemies!  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:8,10).

        Arrows of Love!  Love to conquer the stubborn, rebellious heart and bring the repentant enemy to God.  This is the kind of conqueror He is.  Notice the glory of His sceptre – not of iron, or brass, nor of wood – but of right-ness.  His majesty is depicted by the crown He wears.  He is King; He is triumphant, “crowned with glory and honour” (Heb. 2:9).  All who come to Him must surrender – unconditionally – full and complete and total surrender to the Master of righteousness.

        Habakkuk speaks of the Word in reference to a bow (Hab. 3:9).  He said it was “made quite naked,” that is, it was drawn from its sheath or carrier, and was exposed for use.  But he refers to the Word as the weapon.  Truly, the word does play a large part in the execution of the battle for the souls of men, for it is also called the “sword of the Spirit.”  Bows and swords are not made for the object of display or decoration.

        Their purpose is for the overcoming and conquering of a foe, and the word of God is most effective as a weapon of war.  It not only influences a person to turn to God for salvation, it is instrumental in preserving a state of spirituality as well as being used by the saint in overcoming his own enemies, both within and without.

        The white horse and his mount also portray the conquering stature of Jesus over the “principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, the spiritual wickedness in high places.”  “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly (publicly), triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15).  And now “he is the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:10).

        It is high time that the church, which is His body, recognize His headship, His Kingship, Lordship, and authority.  It is a sad state of affairs that most churchmen anticipate the second advent as the ushering in of Jesus to reign over His enemies in a physical, literal sense on this earth for one thousand years.  That doctrine is the same as saying that Jesus never really accomplished anything on the cross, that the bulk of His work is future, and that today He exercises very little, if any, authority over the earth, the devil, and mankind.

        Actually, Jesus’ triumph was so great and all-encompassing that He left very little that must yet be done.  His enemies have not been destroyed as yet, but they are under His feet, and He rules in the midst of them (Psalm 110:1,2; I Cor. 15:25-27).  The picture of Him astride the white steed stands as a mighty testimony to all men that He is Lord, and that He is all-powerful and all-conquering.

        It also bears witness to the fact that those who have Jesus as their Master are also conquerors, or as Paul states it, “we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

        Thus, we see the white horse as a divine factor in the affairs of man, which has a positive and powerful influence for the benefit and good of all the human race, making it possible for “whosoever will” to walk with God in victory as a real overcomer.

        For the true servant of Jesus Christ there now exists a life of triumph because the Conqueror has won it for him.

The Red Horse

        Red generally refers to blood or bloodshed: the result of conflict or war.  In this instance the rider possesses a great sword and has power to take peace from the earth.

        Jesus made an appalling statement concerning Himself and His ministry in Matthew 10:34-36: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a SWORD.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother- in-law.  And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”  And what is the cause of this division – the SWORD of the Lord!

        In Revelation 1:16 Jesus is pictured as having a sword coming out of His mouth!  This, of course, is not a literal sword; His words, the things He preached and taught constitute the SWORD.  Man’s reaction to the ministry of the SWORD, or the teachings of Jesus, are the cause of the division, or the lack of peace.  His words, He declares, will break up families, cause discord, separate kinfolks – cause bloodshed.

        The words of Jesus are a powerful factor in the plan and purpose of God: the bringing out of the chaos and confusion of the cosmos a people who will glorify Him.  This is the great SEPARATOR!

        Man by nature is a religious creature.  His own spirit tells him there is a higher power, one to which he should ally himself.  The question of life/death is poised for all creation to answer, and the final result will, to a large extent, be determined by man’s response to the words of Jesus.  He Himself declared that “the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

        There are those who at the present time consider Jesus’ words “spirit and life,” and who endeavor to conform their lives to the standards thereof.  They are few, even as Jesus said, but they do exist.  But many of the few know the pain and suffering of rejection by their next-of-kin.  They know what it means to be scorned, talked about, criticized, rebuked, accused, maligned, and killed.  The sword has fallen, the response has been seen, heard and felt – and the blood has flowed red.  The message of the red horse is real and terrible, but it is a great factor in the perfecting and cleansing of the people of God.

        When Jesus returns He will receive unto Himself a glorious church not having spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing.  It will have come through the adversity and trials of the ministry of the SWORD, for “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12).

        These two horses represent divine forces or powers which are at work in the earth, whereas the following two horses show forces that are not of God, but are still very effective in the lives of mankind and have a great bearing upon the spiritual well-being of the people of God.

The Black Horse, Rev. 6:5-6

        The very color of this horse suggests something sinister, fundamentally evil, corrupt, the darkness of the night.  Very little is said concerning the rider except that he carries a set of balances in his hand.

        Balances, or scales, have to do with trade or merchandising, buying, selling, profiteering.  This is borne out in the following verse which says, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny.”  (Note the discrepancy: one wheat to three barley).

        Commercialism is certainly not a part of the way of God even though God laid down some specific rules for conducting business by trade or barter.  “Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity.  Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin.  I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt” (Lev. 19:35,36 [NIV]).

        The implication is very strong that when God brought them out of Egypt, He brought them out of dishonest trade practices.  The Egyptian way was to make a hefty profit from sales transactions.

        In Leviticus 25:35-38, the Lord gave instructions concerning the poor and destitute.  No usury (that is, interest charge) was to be levied against the man, but he was to be cared for and his needs were to be supplied.  Once again God reminds Israel that He brought them out of the land of Egypt!

        In Ezekiel’s prophecy where God enumerates the many sins of Jerusalem, we read this: “In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood (bribery); thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbors by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord” (Ezek. 22:12).  (Sound like Wall Street?)

        Here is a vivid picture of the black horse and his rider at work.  This is the ministry of mammon, the great god of greed and carnality, one of the forces which God is allowing to work among mankind for the sifting of the nations.

        It is common knowledge that it is nearly impossible for anyone to exist without some form of income, said income being derived as a result of man’s labors, his expertise as an investor in stocks and/or bonds, or as an entrepreneur or a merchant, or a professional in the arts, etc.  Whatever the source may be, there is the underlying impetus of the profit motive, or to put it more simply, to obtain a far greater increase in value and wealth than the value of the effort (or investment) which was made.

        The push or drive behind this activity is nothing other than GREED.  It is a powerful force to which the multitudes of the earth have succumbed.  Greed, selfishness, covetousness, love for money, affluence, monetary exploitation are all allied to the black horse.  He is the epitome of modern man in all his self–esteem and financial wizardry.

        Man’s chief pursuit today is making money.  It is as much a religion with most people as serving God!  The Lord knows we must buy the basics of life, but we need no luxuries.  In fact, luxuries become idols and they enslave and captivate the soul.  Read James’ denunciation of the rich (James 5:1-6).  He lays it on the line.  The average person would deny that he fits into that category, but many have fallen victim to the system of greed without being aware of the fact.

        There is one ray of hope in this message, however, and it is contained in the phrase, “Hurt not the oil and the wine.”  These commodities are for the saints, the “poor of this world rich in faith” (James 2:5); those who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice (Psa. 50:5).  “Wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine” (Psa. 104:15).  The Holy Spirit is the wine that makes glad the hearts of God’s people, for the “kingdom of God is…righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).  And the glory of the presence of the Lord is the oil which makes the face to shine, even as Moses’ face shone with the glory of the living God after having spent 40 days in His presence (Ex. 34:28-35).

        Even in the midst of a world gone mad for the treasures of earth, the lowly servant of God can know the gladness and the presence of God.  But let us be aware of the black horse with his ministry of bondage and death.

        “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1,2).

The Pale Horse (KJV)

        The Greek word which is used in reference to this horse is “chloros” which actually translates into green.  Evidently the translators had trouble with a green horse so they settled for a pale one, which is fairly close.

        Green, under certain circumstances, is ghastly or deathly, and this ties in well with the tenor of the message in verses 7 and 8.  Notice that the name of the rider is Death!  And Hell (hades) follows along with him.

        The object of these is to overcome mankind with spiritual death.  Indeed, this horse (or spiritual force) had power to kill or to deprive of life.

        Note the means of death – sword, hunger, death and beasts.  This, of course, has nothing to do with physical or natural death; it is far more serious than that.  This is separation from the source of life, the living God.  This is that state of death from which there is no resurrection, no return, no rehabilitation.

        “Though Noah, Daniel and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.  For thus saith the Lord God; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, the famine (hunger), and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast” (Ezek. 14:20,21).

        Too few people realize the spiritual warfare that is being waged for the souls of men.  While people are occupied and satisfied with a lukewarm religious experience, satan and his angels are devising devious means to spread death throughout their ranks.

        There are many word pictures, or symbols, throughout the Scriptures which depict the nature of satan as he attacks mankind and attempts to overthrow the work of God.  He is pictured as a beast or a wild animal.  He is called a serpent and a dragon.

        Peter refers to him as a roaring lion who is on the prowl (I Peter 5:8).  He has a tremendous roar and frightens many people to death (spiritually).  He uses all sorts of subterfuge and camouflage in his work of deception.

        He is the author of all false doctrine.  The tenets of his faith are those which destroy the soul, pillage the heart of man, impoverish and undernourish the saint to the point of exhaustion and eventual death.  He encourages and abets rebellion against the Most High and His laws, knowing that such rebellion results in death.  He is the spirit of error (I John 4:6).

        He resists the rain of heaven upon the earth so as to promote famine (spiritual).  (Amos describes famine as the lack of hearing the words of the Lord, Amos 8:11,12.)  He is that spirit of confusion which is present in most religious meetings with the object of blinding the eyes of the unbelievers lest they should see the light and follow Jesus Christ.

        The steed of death is pounding forth in every way he possibly can, using every means and every weapon he can procure.  As the god of this world, he has produced many pitfalls and snares to entrap the unwary and the gullible: the allure of the things of the world, the attraction of drugs and alcohol, the pleasures of sin and folly, the rejection of righteousness and adherence to moral standards; the many movements, cults, and sects of this present hour are generated and inspired by this master of deception, the father of lies and death.

        He takes advantage of man’s bent toward the religious…man is a worshiper by nature, and satan produces many counterfeits for the unsuspecting soul to grasp.

        These four forces, or spiritual entities are at work today in the ranks of humanity.  The first two are of God, the last two of the wicked one.  Jesus described the world as a field which is covered by two kinds of vegetation: wheat (the saved, the children of the kingdom), and tares (the unsaved, children of the devil).

        These two grow up together in the same field, subjected to the same conditions, or circumstances, but react differently to those conditions.  God has benevolently granted to all mankind an opportunity to become children of the kingdom by responding to the ministry and provision of His Son, Jesus, and by walking in His word.  Paul said that even the heathen are without excuse, for God has revealed His power and godhead unto all men through His creation – “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork” (Psa. 19:1-6; Rom. 1:18-21).

        No man is a mere pawn or a puppet.  We are all free moral agents with God-given power to choose whether we serve God or serve Him not.  While it is true that some people have more light thrown on their pathway than others do, it is also true that more is demanded of them, for justice and equity are a part of God’s government.  “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required” (Luke 12:48).

        What is our reaction to the message of the four horsemen?  What is our choice?  If we choose to follow Jesus Christ, we must surrender completely to Him – He is the CONQUEROR!  However, He only conquers the hearts of those who willingly subject themselves to Him, and the surrender must be unconditional.

 

 

“WHATSOEVER HE SAITH, DO”!

Randall Walton

        The above words are found in John 2:5 and were spoken by Mary, the mother of Jesus; they were directed to the servers at a marriage feast whose supply of wine had run out and the guests were clamoring for more.

        The miracle which Jesus performed in replenishing the original stock with a superior beverage is second in importance to the order which was given by Mary: “Whatsoever he saith, do,” for Jesus, as the very Son of God, had the awesome power to transform the water into wine.  This was no difficult feat for Him, for He is the One of whom it is spoken, “All things were made by him”!

        But there is much difficulty involved in persuading mankind that it is necessary to do whatsoever He says to do.

        Man by nature is a rebel.  It takes an extreme, deliberate effort on his part to become a doer of the words of the Lord, and not a hearer only.  Conformity to standards of righteousness does not come naturally.  According to the Scriptures man has a native inclination toward the perverse, the ungodly, the unholy, and the carnal.

        Self-will is an ugly word, but it is common to all of us.  Most of us resent authority; we bristle at commands and chafe at regimentation.  We will even involve ourselves in stubborn obstinacy to prove our independence and self-determination, whether our independence is against other fellow mortals or the Almighty.  Strange creatures are we!

        It should be self evident to us that God’s way IS the best way (Isa. 55:9), but most of us are very reluctant to venture out into His way.  We want the path which has been blazed by others, whether that path is obviously right or wrong.  His way is too unusual, too radical, even bordering on the ridiculous.

        Consider how unreasonable it was to fill water jugs with plain, ordinary water at this wedding feast.  In the light of pure logic, it was a waste of time and labor.  Surely no one could be expected to mistake the water for wine.  From a rational standpoint it was nothing but folly, if not presumption, to demand that the servants obey such a foolish and unheard of order as this.

        But, are not most of the commands of Jesus of the same nature?  Contrary to normal(?) reasonings, they cross the line of demarcation between mere philosophical musings (the hallmark of modern Christianity) and practical living. They order the way of life for the godly and direct a course through pathless waters.

        Take, for example, Jesus’ order to offer the other cheek when one has been smitten.  Who among Christians considers this a sane way to conduct one’s affairs?  The very principle behind such a response as this is contrary to our own natures.  We seek revenge, whether it be in acts of retribution or a display of impassive rejection of the person who did the smiting.  It is enough, we reason, to suffer the abuse and humiliation of having been slapped in the first place, and the very least we can be expected to do is even the score – in some way.

        But Jesus taught differently.  He said to refrain from ungodly responses such as retribution and to go one step further into self–denial by submitting yourself for added abuse!  And that is the Jesus Way.

        It is possible that some people have acquired enough poise to assume a stoic reaction to unjust treatment, but Jesus was not dealing with abstract notions of mankind, but with real, actual conditions of the heart of man.  His command contains this provision: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).

        It takes a great deal more faith and confidence in God to fulfill this demand than to fill wine jugs with water, but how many of us would find it difficult to fill the pots with water in the face of those same circumstances.  We might bring ourselves to a half-hearted response and fill for the sake of curiosity, but would it be with the proper motive, i.e., to obey just because HE said to do it.

Obedience, The Crucial Test

        We are living in a day of the separation of the wheat and the tares, a day of the measuring of the temple of God, a day of the lifting up of the standards of rightness.

        The separation is not being made on the basis of who speaks with tongues and who doesn’t, nor upon certain doctrinal opinions, nor upon the accuracy of prophetic speculations of the future, etc., but upon the basis of the obedient versus the disobedient, those who do “whatsoever He saith,” and those who do whatsoever they desire.

        No one has ever professed that following the words of Jesus is an easy thing to do.  “His commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3), but they are certainly not well pleasing to the man of the flesh.  Extreme love for Jesus is required in order to obey His words, and it appears there are few in number who love Him to that degree.

        The angels are directing this work of separation, or the harvest, as it is called in Matthew 13:37-42.  They are removing from the kingdom those offenders and rebels (who do iniquity) and are gathering the wheat into the garner or barn of the Lord.  This is an ongoing and present work, a weeding out process.

        Notice carefully the standard which determines those who are removed “out of his kingdom.”  They are not the ordinary, run-of-the-mill sinners; they are IN the kingdom!  “Things that offend” have to do with snares, stumbling–stones, or that which people do to cause others to fall.  Much of today’s teaching falls into that category.  The modern ministry is obsessed with a message of false hope, false salvation, false doctrines which are spewed forth by false prophets.  These offenders will be put outside of the kingdom even though they continue to profess Jesus Christ and His salvation.

        The other group, “them which do iniquity,” make up that vast host of people who refuse to recognize Jesus Christ as King and Lord, and will not do the things which He commands.  They are the lawless ones who despise government, correction, reproof, and law.  They will “not have this man” to rule over them.  They want His salvation and love, but not His commands.  All such are being removed from the Kingdom.

        The angels are looking for those servants who will humbly, unquestioningly do “whatsoever He saith,” whether it is filling the waterpots with H2O so He may be glorified by making it into wine, or turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, or being a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.  Obedience to every word of the Lord is of the highest priority for God’s people in this crucial hour, for only those who willingly lay down their own lives, their desires and plans, will be sustained in the dark days which lie ahead of us.

        Put into practice now that blessed injunction: “Whatsoever he saith, Do”!

 

 

THE PAIN AND THE PRIVILEGE

Curtis Dickinson

        A reader recently wrote to say that sometimes there was such a deep yearning to do the will of God that it became painful. To encourage this believer I wrote, “This is the sign of a true disciple.  When one leaves all to follow Christ, it is just for this purpose, to do God’s will.  Yet, the more one desires to do God’s will, the more pain he will experience.  Maybe that is what Paul called ‘knowing Christ’s suffering.’  And maybe that is how we get to know Him best, through this pain of striving to do His will.”

        Such pain should not surprise us.  The Bible is filled with examples of God’s faithful people who came to know Him through the afflictions and the pain that they suffered: Abraham, Moses, David, and Elijah, John the Baptizer and Paul.  These were privileged to a close fellowship with God, but also knew the pain of striving for holiness in a world of sin.

        It is when we get close to God that we feel the pain of our sin.  It is like looking at a light; the closer we get, the more the brightness hurts our eyes.  The closer we get to God, the more He reveals our nature, and the more we sense our lack of sufficient Godliness.  The pain is one way of knowing we are near the penetrating light.

        Yet there is joy, the joy in the presence of the Lord, a presence we know by faith and also by the reality of the pain in getting closer to the Lord.  A paradox, I suppose, but so be it.  The promise of relief from all pain is not to be fully realized until the day of resurrection when we awake in Christ’s pure and true likeness.

        This is not to say that the true Christian walk is a painful experience, but rather that the earnest desire to be always in the Lord’s will is bound to produce some pain and suffering as we are refined in the test of trial and fashioned more to conform to the image of God.  The more we do the Lord’s will, the more we are at odds with the world, and the more we are having to put down the carnality of our nature. The warfare is always there.  Once we enter into Christ’s kingdom and begin putting the righteousness of God first, we immediately become misfits as far as this world is concerned.  Of course, it is better to be a misfit in this world than to have no place at all in the eternal world to come, as will be the condition of those who have rejected Christ.  We are not called to fit into society, but to call it to repentance.  “The friendship of this world is at enmity with God.”  Becoming a Christian, according to Paul, is like being crucified. Jesus said we must take up the cross daily.  Self denial is demanded all along the line, and the closer we get to God and His will, the more clearly we see those things which must be denied; therefore, the pain of denial never ends but increases as we progress along the way.  Christ did not find it easier as He approached the cross, but harder; nevertheless, before Him and in the cross lay His glory.

        To reject the pain is to reject the growth and the joy produced by walking with Christ.  So, when we truly follow Christ, we accept the cross and all it involves.  The discipline of Christ is severe, but with it comes His deep love and great power, and in the end immortality and great reward.  In the meantime, the Lord gives us seasons of refreshing, and there is an undercurrent of peace and joy that the world cannot touch, because it comes from harmony with God, a harmony unknown in the world of unbelievers.

        The unbeliever considers himself a product of chance, with no particular purpose for being here and no one to account to when he leaves.  The Christian believes he is here by Divine fiat.  He owes his existence to the Creator-Lord, and is destined to become immortal in His image and must give account to Him.  Therefore, as he becomes more aware of the privilege of being created for such a noble, infinite and holy purpose, he also becomes painfully aware of the great responsibility he must bear in fulfilling that purpose.  The pain is relieved only by going a step further, to acknowledge that he is not left to attain the purpose alone nor by his own power; but once having committed his life to the Creator, he is assured that it is “God who works in (him) to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

        Contrary to what some teach, Christ does not offer a life of what the world calls happiness and success.  His kind of happiness the world tries to avoid.  “Happy are the meek.”  “Happy are you when you are persecuted for my sake.”

        The happiness Christ gives goes far deeper than that which the world talks about.  It goes far below the surface, down below the pain, a happiness that few ever really seek.  Nevertheless, it is the real joy and peace that enable one to live without anxiety and fear, and fills one with a deep sense of thanksgiving and praise.

        After all, what God intends to make of us is so magnificent!  So glorious!  It is worth everything – the pain, the tears, and even our very lives.  In fact, that is just what it takes!  Then He will make us more than we can even imagine or dream!  In fact, He has already started, and the most exciting and thrilling vocation is to participate in the progress of His work.  To bear the pain of willing the will of God is a great privilege and blessed are the few who know it.

 

 

OUR INHERITANCE

Melody Ax

        The little word “inherit” is a powerful word.  World Book Dictionary gives the definition as: “to get or have after someone dies, receive as an heir.  To receive qualities, powers, duties, or position as by inheritance.”  A person has to die before someone will receive an inheritance.  Jesus died on the cross and left his people an inheritance!  Praise the Lord!

        In Hebrews 9:15 it says “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”  Jesus died on Calvary, and He left us an eternal inheritance.

        Ephesians 1:3 states: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”  This little word “hath” is in the past tense.  In verse 11 it states that “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.  Which is the earnest of our inheritance of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

        Colossians 1:12 & 13 & 14 – “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”  Colossians 3:24 states: “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Jesus.”  Notice again, the little word “hath.”  It is past tense; we don’t have to wait for the future to obtain this.  We have it now!

        Ephesians 2:5 & 6: “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  This is part of our inheritance!  “He hath made us Kings and Priests” (Rev. 1:6).  And in I Peter 2:9 – “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  Romans 8:16 & 17 says, “The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”  We have this authority now.  Praise God!!

        Let us, as children of God, pray to fully understand the inheritance our Lord has left us.  He paid the price that we could have this glorious inheritance.  Let us pray Ephesians 1:17-23 – “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”

        Galatians 3:29 – “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

        God’s children are certainly blessed with such a blessed inheritance.  Let us walk in that inheritance that the Lord has given us.

 

 

LOOK UP

Randall Walton

        We are living in perplexing times (Luke 21:25).  There is severe uncertainty among the inhabitants of the earth, for they are receiving different messages from many different sources.  On one hand, there are the prophets of gloom and doom, while on the other are the voices of appeasement and tranquility.  As the walls of communist occupation come tumbling down, people are in a great quandary as to the meaning of these things.

        New movements and forces of influence are breaking forth all around us.  New Age theology appeals to more and more, while fundamentalism and the “Old Time Religion” seem to be on a steady decline.  The Rapturists are proclaiming with more fervor than ever that “it could be today,” while others declare that a christ has already come and will soon make his appearance as the final solution to all of man’s problems.

        Everywhere you look, there is vast confusion and turmoil, worry about the economy, the environment, the education of our youth, and the future of this planet.

        We still maintain that the Bible, the PLAIN words of Jesus Christ and the apostles, has the answer for all of our needs.  Without concentrating on the stock market, the multitude of agencies, departments, and bureaus of secular government, we can find the true way which is so explicitly set forth in the glorious Sermon On The Mount, that manifesto declared by Jesus to be both the responsibility and prerogative of those who are His followers (Matt. 7:24-27).

        It is true that the world and society are in a horrible mess, and there appears to be no solution to the problems which exist.  Since 1940, the plunge into the abyss of degradation and moral corruption has been a continuous dive into decadence on a scale unprecedented and unimaginable!  We can scarcely believe all that has taken place and is still flourishing throughout the world.

        We recently read that teenage pregnancy cost the U.S. government almost twenty billion dollars last year!  It is as if we, the people, are paying kids to indulge in illicit, premarital, irresponsible sex.  Nowhere, that we know of, are young people being told to wait until marriage to become involved in sexual activity.  In fact, with the programs of free contraceptives on nearly every college and high school campus, they are being encouraged to participate.

        While teachers are prohibited from teaching moral values based on the Bible, they are allowed to refer girls to abortion clinics!

        While there is some talk of dismantling some of the war making machinery of the major powers, there is little evidence that the main world aggressors (the U.S.S.R.) are ready to de-escalate their massive buildup of military might.  A recent article in U.S. News & W.R. confirmed that in the midst of Soviet overtures of peace and goodwill, they are pursuing an aggressive probing of Sweden’s shores and naval bases with clandestine, covert submarine incursions.

        While we stagger under the enormous burden of debt (5 trillion [plus] dollars), we are being assured of prosperity and good times ahead for all.

        Does all this mean we should panic and flee to the caves of the mountains?  Hardly!  Jesus, in His concern for the welfare of His people, exhorted that when we see all these things begin to come to pass, we should “look up, and lift up our heads” (Luke 21:28).

        Our hope is not in earthly, worldly things, nor in the devices and ways of men, neither in man’s government nor his programs.  Our hope and help is in the living God and His ability to preserve and protect in this day just as He did with Daniel when he was thrown into the den of lions, and as He did with the three Israelites in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace.  God is still sovereign and supreme, and His power has not waned.  The Scriptures are replete with instances of God’s sovereignty in the affairs of men, as well as His willingness to intervene in the schemes of mankind at certain times, according to His own counsel and judgment.

        The following are but a few of the instances when God showed His supreme authority:

        1.  Israel killed 100,000 Syrian soldiers in one day.  27,000 others fled to a city named Aphek where a wall fell on them (Who caused the wall to fall?) (I Kings 20:28-30).

        2.  An angel of the Lord smote 185,000 Assyrians who fought against Israel (II Kings 19:35).

        3.  The Lord discomfited the Philistines when He “thundered a great thunder” (I Sam. 7:10).

        4.  The Lord sent a storm of hailstones upon the enemies of Israel: “they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword” (Joshua 1:8-11).

        5.  God provided a pillar of a cloud which stood between Israel and the Egyptians.  It was darkness to the Egyptians and gave light to Israel (Ex. 14:19,20).

        6.  The Lord sent manna to Israel for forty years.  It fell six days each week, but never on the Seventh (Ex. 16:14-31).

        Need we say more?  God is still on His throne, and He is well aware of the circumstances which are taking place upon the earth.  God’s people need to look up to Him and, in obedience to His word, trust Him in every issue.  He is still able to provide whatever is needed for our sustenance.

        It is very urgent that every Christian spend time in prayer, seeking the Lord and renewing their relationship and dedication to God and His word.

 

 

A LESSON IN DAVID’S VICTORY

John Sanderson

        The battle lines were drawn.  It was all or nothing.  Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, stood proud and defiant.  For forty days he mockingly said to the armies of Israel, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together” (I Sam. 17:10).

        His fierce threats and visual impact alone were enough to keep the armies of Israel paralyzed.  After all, he was over eight feet tall and wore much armor.  He had a personal shield carrier.  To fight against this giant was pure insanity!  This man was MEAN!  The armies of Israel were losing without a fight.

        Young David had just come upon the scene.  He was bringing bread for his brothers and cheese for the captain.  When he heard the challenge, David could not bear to see the Israel of God humiliated.  He said, “who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (I Sam. 17:26)

        David could easily have backed away from this situation as most of us would.  He, justifiably, could have said, “Look, King Saul, I am not a soldier.  I think I will just go back home to take care of the sheep.  That, I can handle.  This guy is just WAY too big for me.  I am sure you will be able to find someone to fight that character.  Goodbye and good luck!”  The God of Heaven was exalted because of the stand young David made.

        David confidently killed Goliath with power from the Lord.  The Philistines were overcome and defeated (I Sam. 17:52).  David’s confidence never did waver.  He knew that “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).

        We must be the same as David.  When we become a Christian, we are instantly drafted into God’s army.  We must fight!  Too many times we let Goliath run over us.  Goliath of today has to be destroyed.

        We have much to learn from David when it comes to facing our own Goliath.  Using him as an example, let us look at a few important things we will need for victory.

David Knew The Enemy

        David knew who the Philistines were even before he was confronted by the giant, Goliath.  He must have heard many stories about these people and their paganistic way of life.  David knew that this giant had to be defeated.  He had confidence that his Almighty Father of Heaven would help him in the fight.

        I must make one thing absolutely clear.  Satan is out to destroy the child of God.  Even though he was made powerless at Calvary, Satan can still work through his many agents.  He, therefore, sends out one of his giants to defeat the child of God.  Somehow, he seems to know which giant to use.  I am not talking about flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12).  I am talking about the spiritual giants.  Have you ever heard of these Goliaths – Pride, Unbelief, Depression?  These are not the only giants that have to be defeated.

        The Lord has given us the weapons and armor to fight the giants.  To go against Goliath would be utter suicide without the full armor of God.

David Took The Whole Armor

        Can you imagine what would happen to a soldier in the midst of a battle without his weapons?  He could expect certain defeat.  A soldier has been trained to make sure he has full battle gear.

        The Lord has given us everything we need to overcome the giants of our day (See Eph. 6:14-18).  Our biggest problem is that most of the time we leave part of our armor behind when we meet the giant.  Maybe that is the reason we cannot overcome this guy.  We must make sure that we have on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:13), or we will be defeated.

        David knew exactly what type of weapon he was skilled with when Saul offered his own armor.  David said, “I have not proved them” (I Sam. 17:39).  In other words, David had not tested the type of armor a regular soldier used.  The only protection David needed was his sling and the Lord.  His ammunition was one smooth stone.

        In order to be victorious, a soldier must know how to use his weapons.  He is taught how to keep his weapons in top working order.  Every day the soldier is shown how to use the weapons he has been given.

        We must keep in order the weapons God has given us, also.  We cannot expect to defeat the giant if part of our armor is collecting dust from sitting in a corner.  The Lord has provided all the things we need to be victorious; it is up to us to use them.  Also, we must not get to the point where we think God is no longer needed in the fight.  Without the Lord, we can do nothing (Jno. 15:5).  Remember where we were before the Lord picked us up!

        There are many weapons that we can use against the giant.  The best of all is the blood of Christ. The enemy suffered a humiliating defeat at Calvary.

        Satan knows that he was defeated at the Cross (See Heb. 2:14,15; Rev. 12:11).

        Another very powerful weapon we can use is the name of Jesus.  The apostles in the Lord’s time realized the power they had in the Lord’s name.  “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name” (Lk. 10:17).  Talk about power!

        The next time you have problems with the giant, call upon the name of the Lord.  Do not be ashamed to call upon the Lord.  Satan wants you to think that the Lord will not be there to hear you.  The Lord said that He would be there, always (Matt. 28:20).

And, as Paul said, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

David Knew God

        God desires to have a more personal relationship with man, but man thinks he can do a better job by himself.  This is why the world is in such a bad condition today.  Man has been trying to do things without the Father for thousands of years.

        If we are going to serve God, we must put forth every effort to serve Him seven days a week.  A walk with the Lord one day a week will not be enough to survive these days.  God must have our all, or nothing (Mk. 10:30).  If He is to have our all, what is left for our own use?

        David had a very personal relationship with the Almighty God of Heaven.  He cherished the good things of God to such a degree that he arose early in the mornings to be with the Lord (Psa. 5:3).  We would much rather sleep!  We need to decide which is more important – the rewards of the flesh or the rewards of the Lord.  We cannot have both.

David’s Reward

        As long as David “dwelt in the secret place of the Most high” (Psa. 91:1), he was victorious over the giant.  In return, he received the riches of the king (I Sam. 17:25).

        Did you know that “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:32)?  Everyone who is born again into the Kingdom of God becomes an heir of God (Rom. 8:13,14,17).  One big problem of ours is that too much of the time we live far below our inheritance.

        The rewards from our Heavenly Father to the overcomers are beyond our human comprehension.  To the overcomers God has promised:

1.  Rev. 2:7        “to eat of the tree of life”

2.  Rev. 2:11      “not be hurt of the second death”

3.  Rev. 2:17      “eat of the hidden manna”

                “a white stone”

                “a new name”

4.  Rev. 2:26      “power over the nations”

5.  Rev. 3:5        “white raiment”

                “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.”

                “confess his name before my Father”

6.  Rev. 3:12      “make a pillar in the temple of God”

                “write upon him the name of my God”

                “write upon him my new name”

7.  Rev. 3:21      “grant to sit with me in my throne”

8.  Rev. 21:7      “shall inherit all things”

                “I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”

        The only rewards which Satan offers are “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25).  In other words, they are here today and gone tomorrow.  They are not permanent. The rewards of Heaven are everlasting.

In Conclusion

        Carefully consider each point before moving ahead into action.  The most important thing to remember is that we must have the help of the Lord.  We can do nothing in ourselves.  We must have Him!  Only then will we have the power and anointing needed to defeat the giants.  In our weakness, Christ can work.  He wants to use each of us in a special way.  The Lord is the only one who will get the glory.  With the Lord, victory is ours. Can we refuse to step out and take it?

 

 

SEEK YE THE LORD

Randall Walton

        This year has brought forth many surprises upon mankind.  And we are all left wondering about what will happen next!  How will all of these surprises affect us, the U.S., and our neighbors?  There are many sobering questions to have arisen from the upheaval in Europe, and we cannot help wonder what our position in world affairs will be.

        There are a few statements which we can make which help us to discern the dominating trend of society in this country.  For several decades the U.S. led the world in many fields: economics, industrial expertise and productivity, education, morality, religious missionary zeal, military might and patriotism.

        As we plunge into the end of 2011, we can no longer make such claims.  We are a sick nation, morally, spiritually, and physically.  Our very innards are being devoured, eaten up from within with such moral corruption and decay that the evil effects are erupting outward through the very physical bodies of our citizenry.  We are a country whose once brilliant beacon of light has been extinguished through the excesses of the flesh, the wholesale tearing down of moral standards, a country whose identity matches that of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah, a country which spends millions fighting Sexually Transmitted Diseases in order to provide safe promiscuous sex, while we allow the homeless to languish on our cold streets as we subsidize legal birth control by killing.

        We are a nation of paradoxes and ambiguity: we furlough convicted rapists and murderers, and imprison Christian ministers guilty of fraud and embezzlement.  (While all sins are wicked, some are more wicked than others.)  We allow the workers to impale their managers to the degree that they demand and receive exorbitant wages for shabby and shoddy workmanship.

        In the past decade we have complacently watched the Japanese surpass our productivity in both quantity and quality.  ‘When the ‘80’s began, the world’s largest corporations, banks, stock market and investment bankers were all American.  As the ‘80’s end, they are all Japanese.  Forty years ago, American goods had a worldwide reputation for superior quality.  A recent Harvard Business School study finds that, on average, 70 defects show up in American assembly line products for every one from a Japanese assembly line.”

        There are definite reasons for the decline of a nation such as this.  Too many people fail to recognize the sovereignty of the living God who is the Judge of the universe and who yet “ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will” (Dan. 4:32).  The citizens of this country refuse to acknowledge the absolute power of the law of “sowing and reaping” (Gal. 6:7).  Judgment is on the way!

        The same article we quoted above carries this warning: “We are on the verge of becoming a classical economic colony, competitive only when we can reduce the value of our currency;” in other words, when we allow inflation to escalate making our currency more worthless.  We are so burdened down with debt and deficit that we teeter on the verge of bankruptcy.  The financiers are nervously juggling the delicate items of interest rates, inflation, easy money, debt.

        “The nation that brought freedom to Europe (the U.S.) cannot afford to keep its streets safe, its work force educated, its infrastructure up to the standards required for a complex, information-based economy” (ibid.).

        The economic pulse of this country is much weaker than most people are willing to believe.  We are a debtor nation today, which is being called upon to bankroll countries of the world which are better off than we are.  With the highest debt in our history, we are being asked to underwrite many other unfortunate peoples throughout the world. We do not question the fact of their need; we are merely pointing out the precariousness of our financial condition and the fact that, in order to float the hundreds of programs and projects both at home and abroad, we place ourselves in very serious jeopardy, the consequence of which may well be the junk-heap of civilization.

        Of course, the question that always arises is: “Why?  Why could catastrophe come to such a once-proud nation which boasted to the world that its economy was practically invulnerable; we had licked the problems of depression and dire poverty.  How could our system possibly fail?”

        Japan has never claimed to be a Christian nation.  Never have they publicized to the world, “In God We Trust.”  They have never sent thousands upon thousands of “Christian” missionaries to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord.  While their national religion is a farce and paganistic, it has never claimed to represent the Living God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, as well as mankind.  There is no salvation nor eternal reward for the adherents of their paganism, and they will certainly not stand in the Judgment.

        But the greater damnation will come to that nation, or those nations, which have proclaimed that they are the true representatives of God in the earth, that they are the protectors and defenders of God’s word and His truth, that they alone hold high the torch of light to brighten the darkness of man’s night.  Oh, what a failure we have been!

        Our churches have defied the Living God by practicing spiritual adultery: they have claimed to be married to Jesus Christ, but have embraced the world and made love with mammon.  They have proclaimed Jesus as Lord but have denied Him lordship over their own lives.  They have build multi-million dollar cathedrals while neglecting the widows and orphans and the poor in their midst.  In them is fulfilled the word of the Lord as spoken by Isaiah the prophet: “they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant” (Isa. 24:5).  And yet have purported to be the true church of Jesus Christ.

        God said the result of this high treason is: “Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left” (Isa. 24:6).

        God’s fierce judgment is sure to come.  And the sad part is that it could have been prevented had we as a nation been a true light, a true witness of the kingdom of God before the rest of the world.  There is probably still time for us to repent, to return to the Lord, to become obedient to His word, and to follow Him.  But it’s doubtful that it will ever be.

        “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.  And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (Matt. 11:20-24)!!

        There are several lessons to be learned from these verses, among them the fact that there are degrees of punishment and retribution, also degrees of transgression and rejection of God. The citizens of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom certainly met the just hand of God in His judgment of them, but Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum were even worse, for they had witnessed the power and the gifts of God through the Son of God, and refused to recognize Him and His message.  Theirs was and will be the greater damnation!

        Our nation has also witnessed the power and the blessings of God, probably unmatched by any nation in modern history.  But have we responded in a favorable manner for His magnanimous generosities and His bold display of grace?  Have we as a nation chosen to serve God and render obedience to His words and His laws?  No!  We have received His blessings as if He is indebted to us, as if He is obligated to unconditionally favor us above all other peoples.  We have stood by in casual detachment as our courts outlawed the Word of God in public schools, and made it a misdemeanor to have silent prayer or Bible reading.

        We have redefined morality, obscenity, and the “family” in order to justify that which is condemned in God’s word.  We show more leniency to the criminal suspects than to the victims of their crimes.  Our actions declare that we believe evil is good and good is evil.

        God has been good to us, but just as the ancient cities that defied the goodness of God and paid the ultimate price for their rejection of Him, this nation faces a time of great “woe.”  Woe unto thee, America, for if the mighty works which were done in thee had been done in other nations, they would have repented long ago, and served the living God!

        This nation needs a revival, a turning back to God and His word in repentance and remorse, with strong weeping before the throne of grace.  We need to turn from our arrogance and pride and, as little children, come before the Lord God.  We need to shake off the Laodicean lethargy that has caused us to become lukewarm.  We are on the verge of total collapse and don’t know it and don’t care.

        Let us seek the Lord as never before.  Maybe He will grant us a reviving before it is eternally too late (Ezra 9:8,9)!

 

 

GOD’S PURPOSE

Marjorie Hidley

Why are we here?

What is this life all about?

Is there really a purpose for our being here on earth?

        No doubt such questions as these have passed through the minds of all of us at times.  If there is a reason for living our short span of life here on earth, then what could it be?  Surely it is most vital that we find out what that reason is.  We could turn to no better place than the BOOK of all books.  In the Bible there exists a most sensible and satisfying answer to man’s questionings.  The purpose for our existence revealed here is certainly a most glorious one.  It is worth living for!  It is worth dying for!

        God the Father, the Almighty One, is perfect, incorruptible and immortal (Matt. 5:48; I Tim. 6:15,16).  He is the fullness of love, mercy, compassion, longsuffering, and everything that is good.

        “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jno. 3:16).

        “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).

        “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell” (Col. 1:10).

        “The love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (Eph. 3:17-19).

        God’s benevolent nature, His perfect love caused Him to desire to share these qualities with other beings who would become part of His family.  Before the foundation of the world God had a wonderful plan, an end in view.  He planned a glorious family, others who would be like Him in nature, those with whom He could fellowship and share His glories.  Not only would He give them part of His kingdom, but even part of Himself.  What unselfishness!  What Love!  It knows no boundsIt knows no limits!

        These beings would be made like Him (I John 3:2), not by force as puppets, but through love, love which works both ways.  This love from the Almighty God to His creatures brings forth a devotion and loving obedience to God from His subjects.  “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4; I Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2).

        The angels are glorious heavenly beings, but are not His sons.  Jesus Christ is God’s Son, and He is the image of His Father.  They, the Father and the Son, possess the same divine qualities and are all–sufficient in themselves.  To think that the Creator of heaven and earth desires to enlarge His family (and that we are privileged to be partakers of it) is truly a most glorious thought!  This knowledge should cause us to praise God continually.

        God is making a great demonstration to men and angels, of what His perfect love can do for others.  His every act will have been shown to be just and righteous.  God is a free moral being.  He knew that when He created man as a free moral agent, there would be a great possibility that he would sin; for all have the free power of choice.  Seeing the end from the beginning, He knew men would sin.  “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and death is being cut off from God.  Therefore, a way was provided to lift man out of his sin – Jesus’ death on the cross.

        The Father, because of His infinite love, was willing to let His Son pay the dreadful price for the sinner.  The Just would suffer for the unjust, and praise God, Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself, leaving heaven 33½ years to die on the cross for each of us.  Though the wages of sin is death, “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).  Jesus willingly took the sinner’s place and became sin for us.  It was then that the Father turned away from Him, and He cried, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”(Matt. 27:46)  Jesus died of a broken heart.

        But this was not His end.  After three days He rose from the tomb, just as He said He would.  His ministry on earth, then, was very short, and He ascended back to heaven where He is at the right hand of His father, “Far above all principality and power and might and dominion” (Eph. 1:19-21).

        Jesus did not leave us alone, but promised us the comforter.  This Holy Spirit was given to man to point him to God, and lead him in the way of righteousness.  Jesus and the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can become a reality in the lives of men.  Though “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), yet sinful man need not remain in his sins; for the price has been paid.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).  God Himself will come into our life and make us a new creature in Him.

        When a person is made clean and washed by the blood of Jesus, a new joy and peace fills his soul.  He actually experiences a resurrection, for He “hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13).  Christ’s kingdom is “Righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).  It is a kingdom of power which exists NOW.  Christ is now King, Lord, Ruler.

        He is the only perfect government known; and when He rules in our life, there is peace that passeth all understanding.  Jesus is real.  There is no other life worth living! And to these creatures of earth who were once sinful and rebellious, God has imparted not only the blessings of heaven, but also the glorious gift of His own person.  This person, called the Holy Spirit, is ever working within us to make us more like Jesus.

        The putting on of His divine nature is not an instantaneous miracle.  It is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work together with the cooperation of the individual.  There is a process involved.  As the person looks to Jesus, and in full surrender yields his will in obedience to the commands the Lord has laid down, his own human desires are set aside, and self is crucified a little at a time.

        This crucifixion is known as “bearing our cross,” a process required of every disciple of Christ (Luke 14:27).  Every command that Jesus gave us is for our good, and has a therapeutic influence on our soul.  The more that self dies, the more God’s nature can be created within us.  The image of Jesus is being formed in human vessels.

        The heavenly beings are watching the process.  They see men of earth who have never seen God, yet through faith, love Him and obey Him.  To them the manifold wisdom of God is being unfolded (Eph. 3:10), and God’s name is being praised.  There will be a mighty manifestation of the sons of God on the earth before Jesus returns (Rom. 8:19; James 5:7).  These will be the overcomers.  These will have laid aside their own desires and found the victorious walk in the will of their Lord.  Through them, God’s name will be praised, honored, and glorified.  It is these folks who will be part of God’s divine family.  “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him” (I John 3:2).