People of The Living God

Romans 10:9-10

 

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January 2012



 

JESUS IS STILL KING

I Tim. 1:17; Rev. 17:14

Randall Walton

        In this day of portending global disaster, chaos and turmoil, many people are assuming an attitude of defeat as if God has somehow withdrawn from the activities of this earth and has allowed satan to run the world as he sees fit.

        Nothing could be further from the truth.  The facts are: Jesus Christ as King gave mankind (through His own teachings) a mandate for the governing of the affairs of the earth.  The church was to have been the LIGHT OF THE WORLD, and it was ordered to teach ALL NATIONS to obey all the commands He gave to His disciples and apostles (Matt. 23:18-20).

        It is most clear that the church has failed in its mission.  The standards of right, of truth, and of obedience have been disregarded (if not discarded) by the entire church world which has chosen the wide gate and the broad way for its journey through life.  This wholesale rejection of the commands of the King was not the work of satan; it has been, and still is, the work of ungodly (albeit religious) mankind.

        In Matthew 24, Jesus repeatedly warned His followers of deception by men (mankind).  Not once did He mention that satan would deceive them or cause them to sin.  The greatest enemies of Jesus and His cause have been those of His own household!

        This does not mean that satan has no interest in the goings-on of religious men.  He no doubt sits on the sidelines cheering the rebellious and encouraging (if possible) their nefarious ways.  But he can hardly be blamed for the wickedness which is so prevalent in the earth.

        All people upon this globe are free-moral-agents who choose of their own free will their eternal destinies and their day by day activities.  No one makes them choose the wrong over the right.  In fact, all mankind is without excuse before the great living God.  If this were not so, then the judgment at the last day would be nothing but a farce, with justice only a by-word.  But every person will stand before the judgment bar of Jesus Christ and receive reward or punishment on the basis of her and his personal decisions in their own lifetime.  The vital question is: what are you doing about the words, sayings, and commands of the King, Jesus?

God Has A Program

        The Lord created the earth and placed mankind upon it for a definite purpose.  His plan was formulated before the foundation of the world, and it will surely come to pass.  Even now He is quietly raising up a formidable army of faithful, obedient soldiers who will follow Him into battle against His foes.  These warriors are known as the “called, faithful, and chosen” (Rev. 17:14) who are 100% dedicated and devoted to their loving King.

        Amazingly, this army is not large numerically, but it is powerful and invincible, because its soldiers are well disciplined and are fiercely obedient to their leader, the King.  This army cannot fail: its members are “more than conquerors” having stood the test of time, trials, and tribulation.  It is they who will assist their King in bringing down the houses of rebellion and iniquity and will aid Him as He rules the world with a rod of iron.

It is most likely that the year 2012 will be a most eventful time.  Systems of management and governments will undoubtedly crumble and fall, but Jesus is still King and His “kingdom ruleth over all.”  His ultimate divine will shall surely be fulfilled. and He will triumph gloriously as all of His enemies become His footstool.  And He will not return until this has become a reality.  Read: Acts 2:34,35; Heb. 10:12,13; Heb. 1:13; Psalm 110:1; Matt. 22:43,44.

 

 

GOD’S STANDARD

Lorraine Scullin

        “Rise, and MEASURE the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein” (Rev. 11:1).  “YE are the temple of the Living God” (II Cor. 6:16).

        God is not only the Sovereign, the Ruler, the Commander, the Master, but as the Judge, He is also the one who evaluates each human life.  This appraisal begins long before the Judgment at the last day, for even this evaluation rests upon the record, or dossier, of what has preceded the Final Tribunal of the Almighty God.  Daily our lives reflect what we consider to be of paramount importance; and from this, the record is made.  It has little to do with our words, for it is based upon our actions.  “Let us not love in word---but in DEED"”(I John 3:18).  “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples INDEED” (John 8:31).

        In this scripture of Revelation 11:1, the writer, John, was given very definite instruction concerning the measuring of the temple of God.  The Greek for the word “measure” shows that this evaluating was done according to a “fixed standard,” thereby excluding any tampering with the instrument of judgment.  “A reed like unto a rod” was handed to John.  This rod is God’s standard of measurement.  “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth”(Isa. 11:4).  This rod is His word, and all who truly love Him will “pass under” His “rod,” by obeying every word He has spoken (Ezek. 20:37).  “Out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev. 19:15).  “For the word of God is quick (living), and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit---and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).  No instrument devised by man can ever uncover the secrets of a man’s heart as does the word of the Living God.

        This is true of the written word anointed by the Spirit of God, as well as the spoken word that comes through the gifts of the Holy Ghost.  An individual possessing such a gift reads his message as the words appear written before him, sometimes in letters of fire (Amos 1:1; Isa. 2:1).  If one prophesies, “and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth” (I Cor. 14:24, 25).

        “I lifted up mine eyes---and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand.  Then said I, Whither goest thou?  And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem” (Zech. 2:1,2).  God is not as yet measuring Babylon, that great religious impostor that professes to be His people, for her judgment is future, but He is NOW scrutinizing the walk of the true people of God who obey his commands.  Their lives must come up to standard – His standard.  His criterion is His word.

        “Behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in His hand…Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people” (Amos 7:7,8).  Notice that the Lord stood on that which had been made according to the standard demanded by the plumb bob.  It was absolutely perpendicular, and at no place out of line.  It met all the requirements of being true to the measuring device.  In the Lord’s hand was also a plumbline with which to measure His people.

        “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Pet. 4:17), which is the temple of the Holy Ghost (I Cor. 6:19).  What is the instrument used in this judgment?  “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him” (John 12:48).  Jesus Christ is walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (His church), according to the apostle John, in Revelation 1:20, to see what kind of testimony His people are giving to the world.  There is only a certain kind of testimony that pleases God, and that is the one that measures up to His pattern.  In Isaiah 49:22, He says, “I will set my standard.  His criterion is the one requisite, and for this; there is no substitute!  We are given a command, an order“Set ye up a standard in the land.”  Isaiah 62:10 reiterates this same injunction, “Lift up a standard for the people.”

        Standards have fallen in all areas of human society today — educational, religious and moral.  In fact, codes of behavior have slipped so low into the mire that even many respectable people cease to be shocked at the vilest kinds of conduct.  Thousands of people roam the countries of the world living as parasites upon others, without any understanding of moral values, laws, or obligations.  They are totally without any sense of responsibility. They are adrift without an objective, confused, lost; for “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18).

        What are those divine standards by which men are being measured?  Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart, and with ALL thy soul, and with ALL thy mind, and with ALL thy strength” (Mark 12:30).  This leaves room for nothing else.  The indictment against the church in Ephesus, according to Revelation 2:1-7, was that they had left their first love.  This is our “first work”: to love God with ALL of our being“Remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent.”  Except thou repent, “I will remove thy candlestick out of his place.”  “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).  The requisite is complete devotion.

        Even a man’s worship of God must measure up to a certain standard.  “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).  It cannot be all spirit nor simply truth; it must be both.  The foundation for our worship is the word of God.  Without that basis our worship is unscriptural.  “IN vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9)

        Men must not only worship in the Spirit, but they must also be led by His Spirit.  “For as many as are led (Greek: are being led)by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).  A walk in the Spirit is costly; therefore few men seek it.

        In this last day there must be complete effort.  “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many…will seek to enter in, and shall not be able When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door” (Luke 13:24,25).  Here is a command to the people of God, in these last days, to put forth extraordinary effort to make themselves ready for the supreme test – that of complete devotion to His will.  The word “strive,” according to the Greek, means to “struggle to the point of agony” (see margin, Luke 13:34).  Only those who measure up to this standard will secure the oil – the one essential commodity required to enable one to enter through the door and remain at the marriage supper (Matt. 25:1-13).  A door is going to be shut before the end of time, just as the door was shut in the ark which Noah built.  This door was shut seven days before the flood came (Gen. 7:7-10 and 16).  “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26-37).

        Those who walk with God to the end will labor unceasingly and fervently to measure up to God’s requirements.  They will, through absolute devotion, become burden bearers.  Few men want this kind of ministry, for their portion often consists of tears and anguish of spirit for the abominations they see “done in the name of the Lord.”  These are marked people.“And the Lord said, Go through…the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”  All others were to be given over to judgment, “But come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary” (Ezek. 9:4-7).

        The prophet Isaiah spoke of these days when he wrote by the Holy Ghost, “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail (His standard: His word) shall sweep away the refuge of lies” (Isa. 28:17).  Many trust in a refuge of fables and lies.  These false places of security will be exposed by the word of the Lord as He rides forth to judge and make war with the sword of His mouth — His standard (Rev. 19:11-15).  When the word of the Lord is rejected by men, it can no longer be a means of their conversion (Psm. 19:7).  It then becomes an instrument of judgment with terrific impact.  The hail signifies the destructive power of the word of the Lord.

        “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zeph. 2:3).

 

 

HOW TO BEHAVE IN THE CHURCH

I Timothy 3:15

Randall Walton

        We who live in these days of the twenty-first century are witnessing one of the saddest spectacles ever to have been foisted off on a gullible and unsuspecting mass of people such as we see at the present time.  It is a fact that churches throughout this country are experiencing a time of unprecedented numerical growth.  Many congregations have quadrupled (or more), and it is not unusual to note that as many as four or five services are necessary on any given date, in order to accommodate the traffic!

        We may well wonder about the reason(s) for this tremendous magnetism which attracts the multitudes to these huge gatherings.  Are people truly being turned on to God?  Has the power of the Holy Spirit returned with signs, miracles and wonders as we read about in the book of the Acts?  Are the dead being raised and the lame being healed?  Are these meetings “turning the world upside down”?  If not, how can we explain the great excitement taking place in these places of worship?

        It is quite plain that in the majority of these places there is much emphasis on having FUN in the name of the Lord!  True worship is rare or non-existent.  It is fun, fun, fun, with a Christian Rock Band to accentuate the festivities!  And what is wrong with that, you may ask?

        Simply this: rock music (irrespective of lyrics) is inspired of the devil!  You cannot sanctify the devil’s rock and roll sensual, and sensuous, beat.  There is no possible way to make this ungodly beat godly: it cannot be done!  It was bred in hell, raised in the dungeons of drugs, illicit sex, and rebellion and it is incorrigible.  While these words may seem somewhat harsh, we are dedicated to the truth, and we shall not shirk our responsibilities to tell the truth as God reveals it.

        The sadness of this situation is that the people who are involved in this bizarre behavior do not realize the potential dangers inherent in activities which are inspired from beneath.  The devil is described by Peter as our adversary (i.e., enemy).  Anything which has the slightest hint of demonic inspiration should be off-limits to every child of God, and the music which is employed in the above described meetings is certainly inspired of the devil.

        People think that as long as you use words which are religious (or are praise to God), that gives approval to the music.  They never consider that the beat of the music is the motivating force which they feel and they think that that is the Spirit of God.  It is spirit, all right, but not the Holy Spirit.  But if they were to drop the beat, they would feel that the music was dry and dead.

        We cannot stress too highly the powerful influence the rock beat has on people’s psyches, whether it is at a rock concert or a religious gathering.  Professional musicians refer to the syncopated rhythm as bastard music.  It is used occasionally in some classical pieces to denote drunkenness, depravity, and demoralization.

        It is common knowledge that in many rock concerts, women and girls have thrown their undergarments on the stage for the performers.  They were impelled by the influence of the beat to become immorally involved in the heat which was generated from the scintillating pulsations of the beat which is meant to simulate the movements of sexual intercourse.

        But people will protest that it’s not that way in a religious service.  That is only because they know that it’s not appropriate.  However, the same motivation is at work.  This is why the people resort to dancing, cavorting, screaming, moaning, prostrating themselves, running, passing out.  All because of the sensual, sexual beat of the rock music!

        It is interesting to note a portion of an article in a small magazine called “In Choir,” written by Kurt Woetzel.  He interviewed several professional secular musicians (Robert Shaw, Rolf Smedvig, and Wynton Marsalis) and asked for their opinions about the use of rock music in religious services.

        Mr. Shaw replied that the music was “perverse,” (the same as perverted).  Mr. Smedvig stated that he hadn’t been to church in several years.  Recently, he decided to go with his wife to the church she regularly attended.  He was surprised to see a rock band at the altar.  He stated that, “when they began to play, I felt like throwing up.  I know what that music stands for.”  Mr. Marsalis said, “That type of music will cause your mind to atrophy.  Also, I try to tell them, stay away from the backbeat.”

        Mr. Woetzel’s response to these answers was whether this was a possible example of Luke 16:8, “for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light”!

        It does seem strange that these secular artists were more knowledgeable about the kind of music employed by many congregations than the congregations themselves.  Little do they realize that their brand of rhythm invites the participation of “perverse spirits” in their midst.  And the Spirit of God and evil spirits are not compatible.  Thus people who think they are worshiping God with their rock music are actually being moved by evil spirits!

        Bro. Paul wrote that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Tim. 4:1).  This is exactly what is happening all across this land today.  People are heeding the seducing spirits which are invited into religious gatherings through Satan’s music.  There is no possible way to make the world’s music sacred or blessed by the Holy Spirit.  The two do not mix.

        These things we submit by way of love and concern for the Lord’s sheep who are being led astray by the false shepherds and false prophets who are multiplying themselves by the hundreds.  The following is a vivid example of what we mean:

        This advertisement appeared in the Chattanooga Times for Feb. 28, 1999.

        No offering is taken at Connections.  Sermons are under 12 minutes; worship only

  1. Drums, guitar, and synthesizer-not dead musicians.  Casual dress is not only

possible it’s probable.  Movie clips, music with a beat, theater and dance.  Boring?  Not.        (First Baptist Fellowship Hall).

        This is the new way to worship(??)  Evidently the writer of Hebrews was poorly informed about the proper way to conduct oneself: “serve God acceptably with REVERENCE and godly FEAR: For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28b,29).  Would Jesus or the Holy Spirit be comfortable in the above-advertised spectacle?  Not!

        We shall continue to warn people of the dangers of attempting to mix the world and worship of God-in order to appease people and swell the ranks of the congregants.  A better choice is to restore the family altar in one’s own home without the risk of involving demonic spirits, for our God IS a consuming fire.

        Do not assume from this that we are opposed to music in a worship service.  In our own meetings we have piano, violins, clarinet, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, an occasional flute, and guitar.  The instrumentation is not the issue.  The issue is: the rock and roll BEAT!

 

 

THE NEW COVENANT

Randall Walton

        A covenant is nothing more or less than a contract or an agreement between two separate parties or entities, and consists of certain specified promises and rights, as well as states the requirements in order for the promises and rights to be made accessible.

        The person(s) making the contract has the total authority to establish the bounds and limits of said contract, and specify precisely the field covered by its bounds and limits.  At the same time, the parties to which the contract is offered have the right to accept or reject it.  They are not free, however, to pick and choose those parts of the agreement which are most appealing to themselves.  Neither may they accept the rights and privileges of said contract without also accepting the requirements and the limitations.  In other words, it is all or nothing at all.

        From the beginning, God has dealt with mankind by covenant.  He specified the limits of activity to Adam and Eve in the Garden.  He stated the blessings which were available to them and also informed them of their obligations.  He further warned them of the consequences if they should foolishly break the covenant which He made with them.

        God also made a covenant with Abraham and the children of Israel.  Through His servant Moses, God established a covenant with the entire nation of Israel in which He made many wonderful promises; all of them tempered upon the premise of obedience to His divine contract.  This we call the Old Covenant (or Testament) which was given for “the time then present” and consisted of a priesthood, washings, sacrifice of animals as an atonement, and various laws, by-laws, and ordinances all on a strictly temporary basis “until Shiloh should come” (Heb. 9:9).

        The precepts of that covenant were referred to by Paul as “a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Gal. 3:24), and as “ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator” (Gal. 3:19).  Paul also stated that “it was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.”  In verse 16 of the same chapter, Paul makes it very plain that the promise was made to Christ!  When He came that spelled the end of the Old Covenant with all its bloodshed, rituals, and priesthood.

        The writer of the book of Hebrews states it thus: “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old.  Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb.  8:13).  And vanish away it did.  The blood of the thousands of innocent animals offered as daily sacrifices did not, could not, expatiate man’s sins.  They were used as symbols whose blood pointed to the blood of Jesus which was efficacious for the sins of the whole world.

        It should be noted here that the divine moral law, the Ten Commandments, was not a part of the “schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.”  Neither were the Ten Commandments “ordained by angels in the hands of a mediator.”

        God Himself inscribed two tablets of stone with those Ten immortal orders and handed them personally to Moses.  They were not a part of the temporary “law of commandments contained in ordinances.”  Of these, Jesus declared, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18)

The New Covenant

        “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:10-12)

        Notice the great contrasts between this New Covenant and the Old.  This is basically a spiritual contract whereas the Old Covenant was founded upon carnal, natural, fleshly things.  This covenant is made with all true believers who are of the spiritual house of Israel (Rom. 2:28,29; Rom. 9:6-8; Gal. 3:27-29; Gal. 4:25-31).

        This covenant is sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ and contains the means to sanctify and purify those who come to God.  It is on a personal basis – the believers now know God, not as some abstract, invisible being who instills fear in the hearts of men, but a merciful, living Being who forgives and forgets man’s iniquities.  No more are God’s laws written on tablets of stone, but they are engraved upon the mind and in the heart of mankind, thus making man more responsible for the keeping of God’s laws.

        This is the better covenant; it has better promises, better hopes, better relationships with God.  But it is no less binding upon God’s people than was the first.  In fact, since His laws are so personal and intimate, it stands to reason that more, much more, is expected from those who are under contract with God today.

        Those who dare to disregard the laws of God, which are posted in the mind and heart, will certainly not reap the benefits and blessings which are inherent in the promises of the covenant.  Men need to know that the promises of God are conditional; they can only be appropriated when the conditions are met and measured up to.

        Under the terms of this glorious contract, there are no limitations upon those who accept the covenant.  Its very purpose is to bring the believer into a deeper, closer, more intimate relationship with the Creator.  The wall of separation between God and man because of sin, has been torn down, and man now has access to the living God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18).

        “Having therefore, brethren, boldness (liberty) to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;” (Heb. 10:19,20).  It is possible now for a man to enter into a most glorious relationship with God, far above and beyond the expectations of the nominal Christian.  To know God is to be personally acquainted with Him, to live within His divine presence, to experience first-hand His mercy, grace and love.  It is to be in tune with Him, in full agreement with Him and His word; it is to be a fully committed associate, partner, companion, friend and servant of the Most High.

Which Laws In The Mind And Heart?

Since it is evident that God’s laws have not been rescinded nor abolished (they are now in the hearts and minds of the believer) it is proper for us to ask the question, “which laws are referred to?”  This question may be answered by observing the teachings of Jesus.  He most certainly upheld the validity of the Ten Commandments.  But He also stated that there are two great commandments upon which all the law hangs or hinges.  1. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength.  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

        These two powerful commands are embedded within the mind and heart of every true believer.  Whether people practice, or observe, these two greatest commands is their own personal obligation.  God has fulfilled His part of the contract by putting these laws in the mind and heart of each believer.  The responsibility for DOING what He commanded rests directly upon the shoulders of each person (Matt. 22:36-40).

        In addition to the above, Jesus issued over seventy direct commands which He said are to be observed by everyone who would be His follower.  He amplified the importance of obedience to His commands by instructing His disciples to teach all people everywhere that they are to observe, or keep, everything He had commanded them to do (Matt. 28:19,20).

        These laws have also been placed in the mind and heart of every true believer!  The sad fact is that few seem to be aware of the laws which God has put within their beings.  Many do not want to know because they want no obligations or responsibilities in regard to their salvation.

        In speaking of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave the following: “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).  What things was Jesus referring to?  Those things He had taught His disciples: His words, His laws, His commands, His will!

        A person who truly walks with God will be constantly guided, goaded, reproved, and led by the Spirit of God.  The Holy Spirit will jog his memory and will convict the person for wrongdoing.  This is an ongoing process which continues so long as the person listens and obeys the voice of the Spirit.  When a person disregards the work of the Holy Spirit, that work ceases and the person’s walk begins to atrophy.  He soon becomes a hypocrite or an unbeliever who, though still religious, has broken his covenant relationship with God.  Most people in this condition become satisfied with their godless life and plod along in hopeless abandon toward oblivion.

        It is true that a person can be restored to his former estate, but if and when he does, he must still face the reality of God’s everlasting covenant: “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their heart.”

        Where do you stand today in relation to the covenant you made with God when you first came to know Him?  Are you aware of His laws in your mind and heart?  Are you applying any effort toward obeying those laws to which God has directed you?  Are you being taught and led by the Holy Spirit in respect to the words of our Lord, Jesus Christ?

        If not, why not?

 

 

MORAL LAW

Harry R. Miller

        “In the beginning God…” These are the first four words that we find in the Bible.  Since the Lord is the Creator of all things and of every being (“Without Him was not any thing made that was made,” John 1:3), there was a time when He was alone in this vast universe.  It may seem to some that since there were no other beings in the universe there was no need for any LAW or rule of action, but this was not true.  Even in the virgin atmosphere of eternity there existed the LAWS of right and wrong.  The basic principles of justice, mercy, love, and benevolence, stood side by side with truth and righteousness.  All of these principles are attributes of the very nature of the Creator, God.  They are also the moral laws of His kingdom and of His very existence.

        The nature of God is one of divine love; His own nature demanded His obedience to the moral laws governing His very person.  Love cannot abide alone, neither can benevolence be static, inert, or impotent.  These two attributes of God constrained Him to desire companionship.  Of necessity, He must share His glories, His bounties, His magnificence.  Love is a divine principle, but love cannot abide alone; it must spend and be spent.  Divine love lives to give.  It has no thought of remuneration or recompense; its reward is its joy of giving.

        Our Bible represents the throne of God being supported by law.  This has always been a necessity and will ever continue to be.  Moral nature demands moral law.  To say that any being exists without law is to speak nonsense.  In these “last days” we often hear the despairing cry of those who are afraid they might find themselves under the law.  Such people have the mistaken idea that Christ Jesus came to repeal all law and to dispense with the very idea of commandments.

        Moral law is not law because of dictatorial commands or precepts.  Moral law is the principle of right operating among moral beings.  Such law cannot be repealed by God or man.  When moral law is broken by man or angel, violence and injustice are done.  And in justice to all, the Creator (by His own attributes) is in duty bound to demand retribution; even as He is in duty bound, as the Creator, to demand devotion of every creature for the well-being of His kingdom.

        We are living in a day of lawlessness; such things as commands and laws are in disrepute.  Many people today have become so freedom-loving that the law is often openly defied, and officers of law are despised and ridiculed.  The city “cop” has been the brunt of many crude jokes because there is little respect for right government.  If this disrespect of law were confined to the criminal element of society the need for deep concern wouldn’t be quite so desperate; but millions of people who actually call themselves Christians today are also lawless.  Their lawlessness is not the defiance of social law, nor of man’s ordinances: it consists of absolute disregard for the commands of Christ.

        The confusion in the minds of these people is a result of the combination of a rebellious heart and a lack of understanding concerning the New Covenant.  Any covenant is an agreement: a contract between two parties.  God has made an agreement with man, upon condition.  Multitudes have grasped the promises of the New covenant, but they refuse to comply with the conditions.  The blessings of Christ’s atonement, kingdom and Spirit are all conditional.

        It is written that Christ died “for the sins of the whole world.”  But not every man shall be saved.  Why?  Because there are conditions to the promise of salvation.  Men must believe; they must obey the gospel; they must repent.  All of these are conditions, and only those who meet the conditions of the covenant will receive the blessings.

        The Old Covenant, or Old Testament, was a conditional agreement between God and the Hebrew people.  Obedience to the covenant was the divine law.  The New Covenant contains different demands of those who enter into God’s contract, but the obligation of obedience to the requirements of the covenant are just as necessary now as they were to Israel.

        The government of the kingdom of Heaven contains divine law.  Every angel is fully aware of law in heaven.  Divine order and absolute rule sustain God’s throne; even the demons have no doubt about this.  Lawlessness and anarchy are confined to this world and its related realms, and will be tolerated only for a certain time, and for certain purposes in the Divine plan.

        Beware of those who despise Divine law, for such people shall surely perish in the judgments of this hour.  Doesn’t it seem stupid and ridiculous that a Christian would take the position that to obey the Lord is to fall from grace and be under the law?  Yet those who take this attitude are not morons, but actually thinking scholars!

        Consider the words of the prophet Isaiah as he describes the judgment of the wicked of this last day:  “The earth is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.  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. 24:5,6).

        “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him”(I John 2:4).

 

 

“EXCEPT THERE COME A FALLING AWAY FIRST”

Randall Walton

        This phrase from the letter of Paul to the saints at Thessalonica (II Thess. 2:3) places definite restrictions upon the time for the return of Jesus to this earth.  “A Falling Away” must precede the Second Coming.

        There exists a school of thought which contends that this falling away, or apostasy, occurred in the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D., when the Roman Catholic church brought the masses of humanity under its authority and rule.

        The apostasy is linked together with “the man of sin, the son of perdition.”  It is claimed by the proponents of the “already fulfilled apostasy” doctrine, that the man of sin referred to by Paul was the pope, not just the man, but the office which he holds.  Thus, we are told that these happenings have already taken place and the world is now anticipating the soon return of the Master.

        We frankly admit that an apostasy took place many centuries ago, but it began years before the R.C. church came into power, and it was gradual enough that you could hardly set a date upon it, or use it as a measure with which to mark other events.

        We refer, of course, to the decline of the early church.  The power, the purity and the glory of that pristine body began to fade away before the end of the first century.  Not only does history attest to this fact, the book of Acts and the writings of the Apostles bear witness to the apostasy.  But that does not appear to be the falling away to which Brother Paul referred.

        For one thing, it is apparent that Paul believed there would not be a great lapse of time between the events he spoke of and the coming of the Lord Jesus.  He does not indicate that the falling away and the revelation of the man of sin would take place and then many, many centuries later Jesus would return.

        The implication is very evident that he believed those two events were closely related to and just prior to the coming of the Lord Jesus.  This is much the same as Jesus’ prophetic statement that He would come immediately after the tribulation (Matt. 24:29-31).

The Apostasy

        This word is defined as an “abandoning of what one has believed in,” or to “defect from the faith.”  While these statements are true, we believe that there is a great deal more involved in this than is apparent on the surface.  Paul describes this as a signal event which precedes the advent of the Lord, and is of such proportions that it will be clearly recognizable as such.

        A mere rejection of certain doctrinal beliefs does not carry the preponderance which is signified by the term “a falling away.”  Jesus spoke of a condition which would exist called “the abomination of desolation” (Matt. 24:15; Daniel 12:1), which He said should occur in conjunction with the great tribulation, and we believe it is synonymous with the great apostasy.

        We recognize the argument that the abomination of desolation took place in 70 A.D. when the Roman general, Titus, devastated the city of Jerusalem and desecrated the temple by driving swine through the Holy Place.  That may or may not have been a fulfillment, but if so, it was only a physical/material desecration which was merely symbolic of the spiritual abomination which is yet to take place: much more serious and on a far greater scale than the environs of Jerusalem.

The Abomination Of Desolation

        In Matthew 24:15 Jesus said: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place.”  In the parallel account in Mark 13:14, He said: “standing where it ought not.”  This condition, the abomination, is so terrible, so gross and vile, that it desolates the place where it appears.

        Let us remind you that there is a greater temple than the one which existed in Jerusalem; Jesus proclaimed, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up…But he spoke of the temple of his body” (John 2:19,21).  By the same token, the body of every child of God is the temple of God!

        “know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” (I Cor. 6:19)

        “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (I Cor 3:16).

“for ye are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them” (II Cor. 6:16).

        This temple, then, is far more important than any building made with men’s hands could ever be, for “the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48).  God lives and dwells within His people, and they constitute His temple, and they are His holy place (I Cor. 3:17; Heb. 3:1; I Peter 2:9).  When anyone is born again, or saved, or converted, he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus declared, “he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17).

        Every true believer, then, receives the Holy Spirit who comes to live within this temple of clay, which is God’s temple.

Other Experiences In God

        However, this experience of conversion or salvation is not the fullness of the promise of the Lord to the believer.  In Acts the first chapter, Jesus gave specific instructions to the apostles just before He ascended to the Father.  In verse 5, He stated: “ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”  And in verse 8 He promised: “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.”

        When the fulfillment of this came about on the day of Pentecost, they were not only, (1.) baptized in the Holy Ghost and, (2.) received power, but they were also, (3.) “filled with the Holy Ghost” (2:4).  Three distinct operations of the Holy Spirit took place, and the CHURCH was instituted in the glory and power of the Spirit.

        One of the evidences that they were baptized (immersed) in the Holy Spirit was that they “all began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  Now, this was not an occasion of their speaking foreign languages.  They were speaking with a heavenly tongue, or spiritual language, which was interpreted by the Holy Spirit to the people who stood by.  (“though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels.” I Cor. 13:1)

        The fact these people spoke a language they did not know was evidence that the Spirit of God was in control of this “unruly member” (James 3:2-8), and they spoke under His control (as the Spirit gave utterance).

        These experiences were repeated several times throughout the book of Acts.  Many people spoke in tongues and glorified God, and many others were filled with the Holy Spirit.  The power of the Lord was great in the midst of these early believers because of the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit.  Every sick person was healed, and there were some who died and were resurrected.

        God was in His temple, ruling and reigning, and directing the lives and activities of these holy people.  So long as they remained in this Holy Ghost atmosphere and condition, the Spirit of God blessed and guided them and the power of the Lord was manifest for every need of the people.

Modern Pentecost

        Early in the last century, some humble folks gathered together in a small building on Azusa Street in downtown Los Angeles, California.  As they prayed and sought God, there was a great outpouring of the Spirit upon these folks and many were baptized as well as filled with the Holy Ghost.

        This was the major beginning of the modern Pentecostal movement in the United States.  From that time, these people were called “holy-rollers,” as well as a few other names; and for several years, this “tongues movement” was confined to the poor and uneducated classes.  Gradually, it moved out of the “store fronts” and remodeled garages and into standard “church buildings.”  It also split up into several competing factions.

        However, the emphasis in all these “full gospel” groups remained speaking in tongues (glossalalia) and giving prophecies.  Divine healing has also been a major part of the Pentecostal ministry.  Great stress has been laid upon the importance of the baptism of the Spirit with speaking in tongues as the evidence; with some of the groups actually teaching you cannot be saved unless you speak in tongues.

        During the 1950’s, a new movement sprang up to both compete with and join hands with the Pentecostals.  This was the Charismatic Movement, a new wave of the Spirit which broke out among Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists and other main-line denominations.

        There were several differences, the main one being that the Charismatics did not start separate organizations, but remained in and practiced their spiritual exercises within their respective churches.

Inherent Dangers

        The big drive behind most of these groups is spiritual manifestation of some sort.  (Having been in the Assembly of God, I speak with some credibility.)  Please understand, there are genuine gifts of the Holy Ghost, including prophecy and speaking in tongues and healing and miracles.  But there is much evidence that there is a great deal of counterfeit in both the Pentecostal and Charismatic groups.

        For example, people are “taught how” to speak in tongues, and classes are conducted on the subject.  They are told to “start praising God, but don’t use any English!”

        Another fairly recent innovation is the so-called “slain in the Spirit” experience.  This is usually conducted by a minister or other person laying his hands on someone with the result that the person falls backwards into the waiting arms of catchers placed there for the purpose!

        Usually, the minister uses a good push on the forehead to help persuade the person to go down, or be slain, and I have even witnessed the use of hypnotism in accomplishing the desired end.

        Interestingly, Insight magazine (July 10, 1989) carried an article about a woman who broke her neck and back when the catchers failed to catch her (Page 52).  She was nearly slain, but recovered sufficiently to sue the “healers” for a good sum of money.

        The only record in the Bible of anyone being slain by the Spirit was Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, both of whom lied to the Holy Ghost.  It is a pitiful thing to have to say, but Pentecostalism has become a “fun house” where almost anything goes so long as you can enjoy it.

        “Rock and roll” music has been adopted by most of the “Spirit filled” groups, music which is so sensuous and worldly that if it were not for the lyrics, you would think you were at a rock concert, or at a bar.  The sensuous beat is so overpowering and strong, that people gyrate across the floor shaking everything that’s shakable, in a manifestation they choose to call “dancing in the spirit.”  In some of the better groups, you can be taught how to do a dance in the Spirit.

        People are convinced that because they use the Lord’s name in all these activities that God places His stamp of approval on them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Many will stand before the Judge of all men and protest that they prophesied in His name, cast out devils in His name, and did many wonderful works in His name, but it will do them no good (Matt. 7:21).  And, there is much false prophecy among the so-called “Spirit filled” groups.

The Result

        Paul said, “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (I Cor. 12:7).  This, of course, has to do with spiritual growth and coming to maturity.  It has nothing to do with entertainment nor having fun.  The Spirit of God is given to us as a helper, a guide, an instructor, a disciplinarian, a strength, comfort, encourager, and healer.  To attempt to “use” the Holy Spirit in order to impress people or to have a big time is close to blasphemy, a condition which Jesus said is unforgivable.

        The writer of the book of Hebrews gives us a very good insight into this situation.  He likens God to rain and mankind as the earth.  He says “the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing: whose end is to be burned” (Heb. 6:7,8).

        Get the seriousness of this corollary: God rains himself upon mankind (in the form of the Holy Spirit).  Mankind responds in producing either good herbs or thorns and briers.  The earth with the good herbs is blessed; the earth which produces thorns and briers is burned!

        Here is a vital warning to all Pentecostal and Charismatic followers: God will judge by the fruit we bear, not by the multitude of spirit manifestations we have.

        Verses 4-6 of this same chapter in Hebrews relates one of the saddest possibilities in all the Scriptures.  Here it is: “For it is impossible for those who were (1) once enlightened, and (2) have tasted of the heavenly gift, and (3) were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and (4) have tasted the good word of God, and (5) the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

        Here is “the falling away,” or the apostasy which Paul said would precede the coming of Jesus.  It will take place among those who have experienced the five glorious manifestations of the Spirit mentioned above.  And this is also the abomination of desolation: when the Holy Spirit leaves the temple of God (the human body), and it becomes inhabited by evil spirits!

        There is no experience which can replace the day by day, steady, faithful walk with God in loving obedience to the words and commands of our Lord and Saviour.  This amounts to the production of the “good herbs.”

        Yet it’s a fact that most “Spirit filled” folks boast of their freedom in the Lord and their being set free from the “curse of the law,” which to them means no laws, no restraints, no boundaries.  They are prime candidates for this terrible apostasy in these last days.

Sound Advice

        By no means do we imply that we should avoid all spiritual experiences.  Possibly at no other time has the church needed the true ministry and the power of the Spirit as it does at the present.  God’s people need the fruits of the Spirit (all of them), they need the gifts of the Spirit (all of them), they need to be filled with the fullness of the Spirit.

        What they don’t need is the make-believe, the false, the diabolical, the pretense, the hot-air prophecy, the manufactured tongues, and the spectacular so-called healing campaigns with all the accompanying show-business tactics.

        We need to become more serious regarding our walk with God.  We need to align our lives and our habits with the Word of God. We need to search the Scriptures and provide a good foundation for our feet for the days that lie ahead, and we need to SEEK the Lord with great sincerity and soberness.

        Those who fall away in these last days will most likely not realize they have fallen, irretrievably, and forever.  They will continue to have their spiritual fling, and mistake the excitement they feel for the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (II Thess. 2:10-12).

        There is hardly any stronger delusion than that which comes from God upon those who walk in rebellion and disobedience to Him and His word and still claim to have great spiritual experiences in the Lord.

 

 

PSEUDO – PROPHECY

Randall Walton

        Prophecy is one of the most sought after gifts of the Holy Spirit.  A true prophet is the voice of God, for a prophet does not speak his own words but those which he receives from above.

        It is common for preachers to be referred to as prophets, but let it be firmly understood that preaching and prophesying are two entirely different modes of communication.  Preachers can be trained in the arts of speech and elocution, but a prophet never depends upon his education, nor is he in any way hampered by a lack of such.

        We have heard it said that prophets can improve their delivery through practice and skill, but this idea is contrary to the truth as revealed in the Scripture: “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Pet. 1:21).  Most of the “prophets” we’ve heard were moved by their own enthusiasm and zeal, not by the Holy Ghost.  “Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man,” but modern prophecy, so-called, certainly does come by the will of man and is highly disgusting, abominable, and deceptive.

        “Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing” (Ezek. 13:3).

        A foolish prophet is a character who wants you to believe that what he says is the very voice of God.  Just think of the prestige, the power, the authority to be able to say “Thus saith the Lord,” or “I say unto you, my children,” as if these words came from the throne of God!

        But notice, the foolish prophet has seen nothing.  The reason for this statement is that prophets were seers, that is, they received their messages from God by sight and not merely by inspiration.

Seers

        In the days of ancient Israel, Aaron and his sister rose up in rebellion against their brother Moses because they disapproved of his marriage.  They contended that they were just as good as Moses because God spoke to them, also.  However, the Lord said there was a difference, because God spoke face to face with Moses, and not as He did with them: “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream” (Num. 12:1-8).

        In both visions and dreams, the receiver of the message from God sees the message.  It is a true message, but it is not merely divine inspiration or an anointing of the Spirit.  If the prophet is awake, he sees a vision; if he is asleep, he will see a dream.

        “The vision of Isaiah…which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem” (Isa. 1:1)

        “the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God” (Ezek. 1:1)

        “The words of Amos…which he saw” (Amos 1:1)

        “The vision of Obadiah” (Obadiah 1:1)

        “The word of the Lord…which he saw” (Micah 1:1)

        “The book of the vision of Nahum” (Nahum 1:1)

        “The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see” (Hab. 1:1)

        There was no such thing as practicing in order to improve their style.  The message was God’s; He shared it with His prophets, and the prophets declared it.

Beware Of False Prophets

        One who claims to be a prophet can be known by the authenticity of the message he proclaims.  A false prophet speaks out of his own head and says those things that are known by him personally.  An occasional Scripture verse sprinkled along the way helps to give the message a touch of genuineness.  He may even dare to make a prediction or two to impress the listeners with his ability to foretell the future and further his act of self-glory.  But the Lord said, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22).

        This pseudo-prophet received neither vision nor dream from the Lord: “the Lord hath not spoken.”  The prophet’s message may have been very entertaining, amusing and comforting, but it wasn’t from God.

        Jesus said to beware of false prophets.  He didn’t say to be afraid of them, just beware.  “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” He explained.  And when you know them, stay away from them and avoid them, pay no attention to what they say, for they speak presumptuously and do not hear from God.

        Jesus also said false prophets would abound in the last days, and so it is.  He described them as wearing sheep’s clothing, but their actions are as ravening wolves.  The word ravening has to do with their desire to get financial gain through extortion or other means.  False prophets have a very appealing message.  They are not concerned for truth nor for judgment, but for pleasing men.

        You can also measure the message of one who claims to be a prophet by the Word of God.  God does not contradict Himself; therefore, when anyone proclaims a prophetic word which is not in agreement with the Scriptures, do not hesitate to reject both the message and the messenger.  Thank God He has given us a standard by which we can evaluate that which is claimed to be of God.  Thank God for His wonderful WORD OF TRUTH.

 

 

FAITH TO OBEY

“His servants you are whom you obey”

Curtis Dickinson

        When Jesus was tempted, it was the written word of His Father, and His determination to obey it, that kept Him from yielding and committing sin.  He continuously preached obedience beginning with the Sermon on the Mount: “Not everyone who says unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of my father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

        To our collapsing culture obedience is a foreign word.  George Barna did a survey of 152 separate items comparing the lost world and the churches, and he said there’s virtually no difference between the two.  Our speech is often more like that of the world, using the world’s slang expressions referring to God and Jesus, and other speech that is far less than pure and edifying.  We treat lightly the sins of gossip, anger, and bitterness, and forget that we are forgiven only as we forgive others.

        Biblical commands with regard to modesty in dress have been discarded, in order to conform to the world’s fashion of exposing as much of the body as the law allows.  Come to think of it, I have never heard a sermon on I Timothy 2:9,10.

        When something wrong has been done, it is now customary to turn to a counselor or psychologist to find some way to feel justified without obeying God.

        Major denominations have annual debates over whether or not to accept homosexuals as leaders.  Since God’s law on the subject is clearly spelled out, it is obvious that a great many members of these churches have no interest in obeying God.  In fact, David Wilkerson, in his book, America’s Last Call, says that the sin of America has outdone every other generation, including that of Noah’s day, Sodom and Gomorrah, and any other time in history.

        Current popular theology has allowed the fact of God’s grace to crowd out the necessity of obedience.  It says that since we are saved by grace, nothing is to be done for salvation except to say a little prayer and invite Jesus into your heart, a suggestion not found anywhere in scripture.  The first command of Jesus was “Repent!”  That’s something to do, and it means to turn from one’s own way to obey God.  While it is true that there is no way one can earn salvation by works – by His grace, God saves us through the death of His son—it is also true that saving faith produces works of obedience.  True faith motivates one to keep God’s commandments out of love for God, a faith that is “working through love” (Gal. 5:6).

        Paul asked, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  God forbid.”  He then explained that in baptism the old man is crucified with Jesus, that we should no longer serve sin, but “live unto God.”  Then he asked, “What then?  Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?  God forbid.  Know you not, that to whom you present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants you are whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.  But thanks be to God that whereas you were servants of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of doctrine which was delivered to you; and being made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:1-6,15-18).

        So a Christian is one who seeks to obey God and thus be a servant of righteousness.  In these days of rancid moral corruption, sexual depravity, and greed, Christians should stand in stark contrast to the world in general.  But unfortunately – tragically – the truth of George Barna’s report puts us to shame.

        Why do we sometimes find it so hard to obey?  Perhaps it is because “stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant’ (Prov. 9:17).  Jesus recognized that sometimes “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).  James wrote that “in many things we all stumble” (James 3:2).  John wrote (to Christians) that if we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves (I Jn. 1:7).

        For such failures God’s grace is still available for His children.  “If we confess our sins he is faithful and righteous to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9).

        It may be that our pride will not permit us to let go of our own control to submit to Him.  Or do we fear being criticized as being fanatic, old fashioned, politically incorrect, or religious nuts?

        In the case of Adam and Eve they had more confidence in Satan’s insidious lie than they had in God.  Often that which the world offers appears to be a much better deal than what one can see as the consequence of obeying God.

        King Saul was commanded to destroy all the herds of the enemy, but he couldn’t see the point in getting rid of all that valuable livestock, so he overruled the command of God, and lost his kingdom and his life.  It is easy to rationalize that we can serve God better by making concessions to the world and its demands.  Today’s “church growth” experts would have us find out what pleases the crowd, then incorporate that into the church.  Heaven help the preacher in the trendy church who follows Paul’s advice to Timothy to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and teaching” (II Tim. 4:2).

        John wrote that God’s commandments are not grievous (I Jn. 5:3); but evidently they are to many people, who make a great effort to avoid them.  It is hard to obey a law that one despises, but when convinced that it is beneficial, it becomes natural to comply with it.  King David, like many of us, learned through his own sinful experience that the laws of God were given for man’s own good.  Then he could sing, “The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps. 119:7).

        So it comes down to a matter of faith.  Do we believe that God’s law and the commandments of Jesus actually provide the very best direction?  Did Jesus tell the truth when He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things (necessities of life) shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33)?  Can we have faith that to reject the fashion of the world is the best way to serve God, according to Paul in Romans 12:1 & 2?  When we have faith that all God’s ways are better than any of the ways man can devise, then His commandments cease to be grievous, and we can sing with the psalmist, “Oh, how love I thy law!…How sweet are thy words to my taste” (Ps. 119:97,103).

        Jesus didn’t obey God out of fear of punishment, nor self-interest.  His obedience did not gain the esteem of His peers, nor even of His own family.  Nor was it out of loyalty to any party or to the government.  He obeyed because he delighted in pleasing the Father.  “I do always the things that are pleasing to my heavenly Father” (Jn. 8:29).  It was His primary goal and desire throughout His life.  “I seek not mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (Jn. 5:30).

        Millions of people take medication daily in order to soothe minds that are troubled by anxiety, anger, hatred, covetousness, and guilt.  While the medication may reduce the symptoms, the only way to perfect peace is through obedience to God.  “Great peace have they that love thy law, and they have no occasion of stumbling” (Ps. 119:165).  By contrast, “the way of the transgressor is hard” (Prov. 13:15).

        There can be no peace in the human heart as long as one is operating contrary to the Creator’s instructions.  God’s way is the only right way, and therefore the only way to peace.  His express purpose is to bring our every thought and action into harmony with His will, and when this happens there is a peace of mind that the world cannot take away.  We are to surrender any other purpose – riches, security, comfort, man’s praise, even life itself if necessary – in order to do His will.

        Does the Lord demand perfect obedience?  It is the experience of every devout Christian, that the better we get to know God the more clearly we see how we have failed and come short of perfect obedience, and have all the more reason to give thanks for His grace.  But this is far different than the times past when we knew full well that we were disobedient.

        And, obedience to exactly which laws?  It isn’t clear to everyone how some scriptures are to be applied.  Some debate over whether or not a woman must wear a hat in church, or exactly how one must observe a day of rest.  According to Paul, when in doubt, we are to follow our conscience in faith (Rom. 14).  But there is no debate over matters of honesty, justice, charity, and the plain teachings of Jesus.  One knows very well whether he is living after Jesus’ example to please God, or living to please himself.

        “He that believes on the Son has eternal life; but he that obeys not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

 

 

“THE DOOR WAS SHUT”

Harry R. Miller

        One of the greatest tragedies of these last times will occur when the “foolish virgins” find the “door” forever closed.  No matter how great a man’s accomplishments may be in this life, if he loses his own soul, what shall it profit him?

        Great effort channeled in the right direction is necessary in order to find “the door”; and after one has found it, sacrifice and complete surrender to the will of God are required from every soul who desires to enter: “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14).

        Going to church, reading the Bible, practicing the “golden rule” will not save the soul.  Don’t be deceived by your devotion to religious practices.  Being saved is an experience that results in a state of being.

        Jesus Christ is the door to God: “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9).  Entering into Christ is not a gift that is dumped into men’s laps; it is the result of obedience to the constitution of the kingdom of God as it is set forth in the gospels.  “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).  Consider this: “the blood” of Christ is efficacious “if we walk in the light.”

        No matter how much “darkness” a man is in before he comes to God, as long as that man walks in the light of Christ after he has been found of God he remains in fellowship with God.  Such a man will not find the door “shut” in these last days.