People of The Living God

Psalms 150

 

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June 2012



THE MARK OF THE BEAST

Randall Walton

        Much is being taught today concerning the mark of the beast as portrayed in the book of Revelation (13:16–18).  Many ideas have been advanced, so much so that people are in a state of great confusion concerning this volatile and vital topic.  It is extremely important that people understand the truth of a matter which has such impact as to deprive humanity of the privilege of “buying or selling,” or of obtaining the necessities of life.

        It is as important to know what or who the beast is as it is to understand the mark of the beast.  The word “beast” as it is used here in Revelation 13, denotes a dangerous and wild venomous animal (Greek).  By making a careful survey of chapters 12–17, it becomes quite evident that the beast is synonymous with the dragon, the serpent, which is also called the devil and satan.  He is one ferocious, wild animal, or being, who will use any means at his disposal to accomplish his diabolic plans.

        The art and craft of his deception are very plain to see once we grasp the meaning of his identity and the number which portrays him.  Revelation says it like this: “Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and the number is six hundred threescore and six,” or 666 (13:18).

        The secret to this puzzle is contained in the clause, “it is the number of a man.”  The number six is man’s, or mankind’s number.  It was on the 6th day that man was created, and man, unregenerated, has identified with the number 6 ever since.  When this number is raised to the third power (666), it describes the complete exaltation of mankind and man’s ways and ingenuity, especially when he is inspired by the beast (satan), for this is the number, or means, which he uses for his own schemes or plans!

Man Versus God

        Mankind, as a free moral agent, is faced with many decisions or choices.  Most of these are of minimal importance on a day by day basis.  Others are of profound consequence, however, and the difference between the right or wrong choice may be the difference between life and death (eternal), or as Jesus said, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

        The Lord has offered mankind help in making the proper decision.  He has delegated authority to the Holy Spirit to aid, lead, teach, and direct those who are willing to accept such help.  He has also preserved the Scriptures so that anyone who is genuinely concerned may see for himself what God has to say to mankind.  God’s will for man is clearly presented in the good Book we know as the Holy Bible.

        But satan, as God’s adversary, desires to influence mankind away from the Almighty and His will.  He offers many alternatives: pleasures, fame, wealth, prestige, materialism, false religion, etc.  Evil is made to look good, and good is shown to be bad.  Man is confronted with having to make a choice: either accept God’s way or his own way!

I Did It My Way

        When anyone chooses his own way rather than God’s way, he is listening to the voice of the enemy and is being affected by it, for “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12).  All of man’s ideas, ambitions, and accomplishments are opposed to God’s ways; therefore, satan is pleased to see man following his own plans, for in so doing he is surely destroying himself.

        In every area of life, man has adopted his own way in contradiction to God’s.  It has become Man, Man, Man, or six, six, six (666).  And this is so in the three main aspects of man’s activities: government, economics, and religion.  The stamp of MAN is upon it all.  Though people little realize it, they are being branded psychologically and spiritually with the number 6.  By following and clinging to man’s mode of behavior while rejecting God’s standards, people are accepting the “Mark of the Beast” inwardly, that is, in their minds, their hearts, and souls.

        Whether a literal mark is ever placed upon the forehead or hand is inconsequential; the most important thing is the conditioning of the soul in accepting man’s ways in preference to God’s and thus becoming marked with the beast and the beast system.

Government

        The only truly just and righteous form of government among mankind was that which God gave to Israel through the judges, prior to the kingdom set up by Saul and passed on to David.  God plainly rebuked Israel for asking for a king, saying to Samuel the prophet: “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but THEY HAVE REJECTED ME, THAT I SHOULD NOT REIGN OVER THEM” (I Sam. 8:7).  Then the Lord told Samuel to inform the people of the kind of government they would have under man’s rule: it would not only be inferior to God’s plan, it would be corrupt, tyrannical, and unjust.  No longer would the people have the voice of God to direct their lives, they would be under the dominion and opinion of men!  “And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day” (I Sam. 8:18).

        The governing of people from that time on has been a major disaster.  Kingdoms have risen and fallen by the dozen while man has attempted to run the affairs of state by fiat and the consensus of carnal minds.  While representative government may be superior to dictatorship or monarchy, it is still so far below the order of God that it is not worthy of comparison.

        While Jesus stated that we are to render unto Caesar that which is his, we need to remember that our primary allegiance is to the living God and that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 2:21).

        In order for tottering governments to sustain themselves, they invariably resort to tyranny or the rule of force in order to hold their subjects in line.  Many people do not realize that there exists a plan in our federal government, which will become effective in the event of a national calamity such as a major war or a deep depression, which will allow the government to take over all means of production, to appropriate any and all lands and property which the government determines necessary in the interest of the welfare of the country, and to regulate and control all wages, prices, and transactions.

        The Executive Order which embodies these provisions sets up a virtual dictatorship in the name of expedience, but at the expense of freedom, both religious, intellectual, commercial, and political.  But the important issue here is that the majority of the people are so dependent upon the government for their livelihood.  Socialism crept up upon the people over a period of sixty years so that it was unnoticed by the populace.  Now, we Americans have come to believe that the government is responsible for us all, body, home, and job.

        We are so fine–tuned to the machinery of the political system that we have accepted it and its programs as a viable way of life: we have failed to realize that the entire system is MAN’S government opposed to God’s. The greed of mammon has served to dull the senses of most people concerning the evils which are inherent in the anti–Christ system.

        In the very face of the graft, corruption, and blue–collar crimes which are extant in all levels of the federal government, people still have confidence and trust that the system will see them through.  They are receiving the mark of Man’s invention, a system which is receiving impetus and inspiration from the beast (satan).

Economics

        God’s ways are so different from man’s.  The present system of merchandising and profiteering was not initiated in heaven, nor was it the method God gave ancient Israel.  The goal of merchandising is abetted by the drive of greed for more wealth, affluence, material possessions, prestige, and power.  It embodies the idea of “buy low – sell high,” and has no second thoughts about who is hurt in the process.  This is the way of carnal man, but how many saints are caught up in the deceitfulness of this vile and ungodly method.  The problem is that they accept man’s dealings as the normal, natural way to do business and they are about to be snared in the trap of the beast.

        God was quite plain in His rulings about commerce and business.  “Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers (different) weights, a great and a small.  But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have” (Deut. 25:13–15).  God demanded honesty for those who bought and sold.  A thing was to be sold according to its actual worth, not for an exorbitant or excessive price.

        “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.  Take thou no usury of him, nor increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.  Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase” (Deut. 25:35–37).

        And Jesus commanded this: “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great” (Luke 6:35).

        Of course, all of the above goes completely counter to the practices of man’s economic way of life today.  Exploitation is the order of the day; in fact, usury, is legal up to a certain point.  Modern man thinks God wasn’t much of a business man, so he has devised a better way.  In fact, the modern system of profiteering goes back to the practices of ancient Israel.

        “The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob (Israel) according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.”  “He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress (or deceive)” (Hosea 12:2,7).  Also, read Amos 8:4–8.  The greed which drives the machinery of entrepreneurialism is not new, it has merely been refined!  The aim of most people, including Christians, is to see how much money they can make and accumulate, and it is the motivating factor behind most of the financial scandals at the present time.

        But the world is not alone in its push for more wealth; Christians too are mired down in the system, their minds and hearts oblivious to the words of the Lord.  The mark is becoming a part of their existence, and they don’t realize it.

Religion

        In all the world, there is but one true religion, and that is the faith once delivered unto the saints; the religion established by Jesus Christ of Nazareth of which He is both the founder and the head; the religion which recognizes Him as its Master and Commander and which conforms to His words and commands.

        But man has built a house of religion which has all the stability of a house of sand on the seashore which immediately vanishes when the waves wash over it.  Man’s religious system exists without benefit of authenticity.

        Over the past few years a new religion has risen which is an amalgamation of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism.  Under the banner of the “New Age,” it has crossed the lines of sectarianism claiming hundreds of thousands of adherents.  The basis of this new movement is humanism, the exaltation of the self, or ego, with the idea that man is not only his own god, but that he is God.

        While many of the old line denominations have denounced the movement as heresy, some have embraced some of the tenets of this new faith, such as the glorifying of self, self–love, self–esteem, self–realization, the capability of man to cope on his own merits and self–worth.  The idea in the end is that man has all the qualities of goodness, wisdom and knowledge, innate, and needs only to focus his attention in a proper manner to be a total achiever.  This is pure nonsense, but it is amazing how many “Christians” have embraced this humanistic doctrine.

        The idea of positive thinking and positive action, etc., stem from the same general source.  One denomination has discarded such old hymns as, “Hiding In Thee,” as well as others which refer to man’s insufficiency and his need to find refuge for his soul in God.  Pride has been nurtured in the circles of religionism, not pride in God, but pride in MAN, in self, in the human entity.

        As a consequence, the number 6, man’s number, is being stamped upon the religious systems universally.  They have become a part of the diabolic combine that challenges heaven for superiority.  The scene is quite ugly, but it is real.

Come Out Of Her (Rev. 18:4)

        There is but one solution for the people of God in these last days: to become totally disentangled from man’s ways, ideas, plans, schemes, and programs.  The longer people remain tied to the humanistic system, the more compelled they feel to remain, and the more justified they become in their attitudes and views.  It is time to reject man’s ways and adhere to God’s ways which are described and set forth in the Book of the Lord.

        The time will come when people will be forced to declare their allegiance, either to God, or to man.  Those who choose man’s way (666) will be allowed to buy or sell, but they will have sold their souls for nothing.  Those who stand for God will not be able to buy or sell, but they will be cared for by the Almighty who loves and cherishes them.  Are you accepting the mark of the beast in your thinking, your planning, your mode of life, and your behavioral pattern?

        Or are you turning your heart to the Lord, carefully following the words of Jesus Christ and rejecting the humanistic formula of success?  The choice is yours to make: “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.”

 

 

THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH

Wayne King

        Throughout this study, the word “rapture” refers to the theory that God will cause His people to leave this earth and rise into the air to meet Him before the great tribulation.  The term “second coming” used herein refers to Christ’s return to earth after the tribulation (See Matthew 24:29).

        When the disciples asked Jesus in Matthew 24:3, “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus’ immediate response before giving any details of His coming was, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

        When we think of people being deceived regarding the things of God, we naturally think of the unchurched or false religions or perhaps even Christians that are not familiar with their Bible.  But the reality is, Jesus was speaking to His disciples.  Today, we are His disciples and His words still apply: “You in the Christian church, be not deceived because there will be deception that overtakes even the mainstream Christian church.”

        The theory of a rapture, a catching away of Christians to escape the tribulation, is a deception that causes Christians to lose sight of what is ahead for the church.  It does Christ no good to tell us about the signs of His coming and of the end of the world if we don’t think we will be a part of it—if we think we will be in heaven while the tribulation is occurring on earth.  Let us consider the facts:

        Point #1The “rapture” theory is a relatively new doctrine that was never a consideration by the Christian church until the 1800’s or, more accurately, the 1900’s.

        The following is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on the internet.  This material has been condensed for space considerations and to emphasize major points:

        Dispensationalist Pre-millennialists (such as many Evangelicals, especially in the United States) hold the return of Christ to be in two stages.  The first event is to be unseen or secret, the rapture proper, when the saved are to be “caught up,” from whence the term rapture is taken. The “second coming” is the public event when Christ's presence is to be clearly seen as he returns at the end of the tribulation.  The majority of dispensationalists hold that the first event (the rapture) immediately precedes the period of Tribulation.

        John Nelson Darby, considered the father of dispensationalism, first proposed the pre-tribulation rapture in 1827 when he espoused a two-phase return of Christ, the first phase being a secret rapture prior to the rise of the Antichrist.  The publishing of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909 and 1919--revised in 1967—that included direct references to Darby’s rapture doctrine, contributed greatly to acceptance of the pre-tribulation rapture.  The first known theological use of the word "rapture" in print occurs with the Scofield Reference Bible of 1909.

        Numerous denominations have no tradition of a preliminary return of Christ and reject the doctrine, in part because they cannot find any reference to it among any of the early Church fathers and in part because they find its biblical foundation weak. 

        During the 1970s, the rapture became popular in wider circles, partially due to the books of Hal Lindsey, including The Late Great Planet Earth and by the movie A Thief in the Night.  Lindsey proclaimed that the rapture was imminent, based on world conditions at the time.

        In 1995, the doctrine of the Pre-Tribulation rapture was further popularized by Tim LaHaye's Left Behind book series, which sold tens of millions of copies and was made into several movies.

        Award-winning journalist David Van Biema (a senior writer at People Magazine, The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, and Life Magazine and who served as Time’s chief religion writer from 1998 to 2008 with many cover stories on religious topics) commented on John Darby: “Darby repositioned (the rapture) at the Apocalypse’s very beginning (instead of the end), a small shift with large implications.  It spared true believers the Tribulation, leaving the horror to nonbelievers and the doctrinally misled…Darby’s scheme became a pillar of the new Fundamentalism.”

POINTS LEARNED FROM ABOVE INFORMATION:

  1. The pre-tribulation rapture theory is a new doctrine that didn’t exist prior to 1800.  Before that, it was not even a consideration of the church.  Remember Christ’s warning against “deception” in the days of His coming.
  2.  Some denominations reject the pre-tribulation doctrine in part because of its weak Biblical foundation.  The fact is, the rapture theory, when studied carefully, has no Biblical foundation.
        Point #2Jesus must have forgotten to tell us we would be saved from the tribulation via the rapture.

        Any doctrine that is considered (whether concerning the rapture or any other subject) must align with the plain statements of Jesus Christ.  In Matthew 24, Jesus is plainly describing the events preceding His coming.  His “coming” would include the rapture if there were to be one.  In verse 5, He spoke of false christs; in verse 6—rumors of wars; verse 7—famines, pestilences, earthquakes; verse 8, the beginning of sorrows; verse 9, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake”.  Oops, what was that?  Jesus said, “YOU (His disciples) shall be afflicted, and killed, and hated”.  There should have been a verse before this somewhere stating that the righteous of that day would escape.  Perhaps…, Jesus forgot.

        Most people would say that the purpose of the rapture is to allow the church to escape the tribulation.  There is no such intent to have the church escape.  The church will be protected by God but, like the three Hebrew children, will be in the midst of the fire.  1 Peter 4:17 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”  In times of persecution and hardship, the church has always thrived and grown.  Although, some shall be killed and many afflicted and hated, God’s glory will come and the church will triumph in the midst of Satan’s fiercest assault.

        Point #3The “rapture” scripture tells us when the rapture will occur.

        In Matthew 24:31, we read concerning the second coming of Christ, “he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet”.  This is all we want to glean from this verse at the moment:  At the second coming of Christ, there will be the sound of a trumpet.  Now let us go to 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 52 (commonly referred to as the “rapture scripture”) which read, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

        Did you notice that?  Verse 52 tells us that we shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump, or at the last trumpet sound.  Since we just noted above that there will be a trumpet sound at the second coming after the tribulation, then the “last trump” of 1 Corinthians 15 has to be at the second coming of Christ or later…not before.  The moment we are changed and raised incorruptible occurs after the tribulation.  Once again, the “rapture” theory is wrong.  Don’t be deceived.

        Point #4In scientific study, a “theory” is discarded if any part is disproved.

        From Brethren In Christ in North America –www.bic-church.org, we read: “By taking the definition of a scientific theory as described by the Simple English Wikipedia of the internet, and applying the definition to Biblical concepts, we have:  A theory is a tested and expanded hypothesis that explains scripture and fits ideas together in a framework.  The theory must be tested a number of times, by different scholars, and must pass the test every time.  If all or part of a theory is false, then that theory must be changed or rejected.”

        We’ve found several inconsistencies in the rapture theory already.  This theory is already worthy of rejection.  But there is more to come.

        Point #5:  The rapture theory states that man will come forth from the graves and rise in the air before the tribulation. 

        5a:    Jesus said He would raise man on the last day.

        In John 6:39, 40, 44, and 54, Jesus stated that He would raise Christians up on the last day.  John 6:40 reads, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  The resurrection from the dead, which is a part of the rapture scriptures, cannot occur until the last day.  The dead cannot be raised before the tribulation.  Again, no rapture.

        This idea of the resurrection of the dead occurring at the end is also stated in 1 Corinthians 15:23: “But every man (shall be resurrected from the dead [verses 21 & 22]) in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's (shall be resurrected) at his coming.  24 Then cometh the end.”

        There will be no resurrection in a rapture.

        5b:    The separation of the good and the bad occurs at the same time and occurs at the end of the world.

        Even though 1 Thessalonians 4:16 states, “the dead in Christ shall rise first” and no mention is made of those not in Christ, we know from the scriptures that the good and the evil rise at the same time.  Jesus said in John 5:28-29, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

        Then in Matthew 13:39, Jesus gives additional information about the separation of the good and the evil when He said, “The enemy that sowed them (the tares among the wheat) is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.  40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

        There are not two resurrections--one at the rapture and one at the second coming.  There will be one resurrection at the end of the tribulation.

        Point #6: The church will be glorious during or at the end of the tribulation—on earth, not in heaven.

        6a:  The bride “hath made herself ready”.

        The bride (the church) hath made herself ready for the bridegroom near the end of Revelation when the day of God’s wrath (tribulation) is over.  The bride will be ready and without spot or wrinkle.  Revelation 7:14 reads, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  The righteous church will not be in heaven in a spiritual rest home but will have completed God’s glorious plan on earth.

        6b:  Jesus must remain in heaven until all things are restored. (Acts 3:21)

        In order for “all things to be restored”, something must have been lost or destroyed.  What has been lost since man began?  Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the cool of the day.  Man had access to the Tree of Life.  For all things to be restored, man must return to his original state of intimacy with God.  Even the outpouring of God’s Spirit at Pentecost did not bring complete restoration to the church.  Jesus will come back after all things have been “restored” to the then-glorious church shown in Revelation—on earth, not in heaven.

        6c:  The glory of the last days’ church will be greater than the first.  (Hag.2:9, Joel 2:23)

        During the first “rain” of Pentecost, John’s and Peter’s shadows healed the sick.  The dead were raised, the demonic were delivered, and the church had “all things common”.  The latter rain of the outpouring of God’s Spirit is coming.  God’s church (as described in Revelation) will be glorious.  When Satan is released from the bottomless pit onto the earth and his previous limitations are removed, God’s Spirit will also be released.  It will be a time of great separation and God will cause those that love Him to triumph.

        6d:  The 144,000 become the firstfruits unto God.

        In James 5:7 we read, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman (Jesus said in John 15:1, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”) waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

        The entire purpose of creation is for God to receive the precious fruit.  Rev 14:4 “These (hundred and forty four thousand) are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”  This scripture is followed closely by Rev 14:15 that reinforces the idea of the precious fruit coming forth from earth: “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”  Note: some theologians consider the 144,000 to be literal Jews, some consider them to be spiritual Jews (Christians).  Either way, the church has become glorious on earth and has not been raptured.

        6e:  The marriage supper of the Lamb takes place on earth.

        In Matthew 22:11, a guest at the marriage supper had on an unclean garment and was cast out.  There are no unclean in heaven.  The marriage supper is a celebratory feast of the Bridegroom with the bride.  Remember Matthew 25:6, “Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”  Then in verse 10, “they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”  The marriage supper will be attended by the righteous church—on earth.

        The evidence against a rapture has been presented above and establishes the rapture theory as a deception.  The idea that “the church is now all that it is going to be” and that we are just “waiting to be made perfect in the twinkling of an eye” is absurd.  The church will be glorious.  The bride will make herself ready.  God has great and mighty promises ahead for His church. 

        Many will fall away (“the love of many will grow cold”) and many will come (“then shall this gospel be preached unto all the world”).  The spiritually maimed, the halt, and the blind (those that have been hurt by dead religion or have never caught a glimpse of who God is) will be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.  Revelation 22:11, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

        The end-time church will experience the latter rain, the perfection of the bride of Christ, the final triumph of Jesus over Satan, the restoration of all things, and the marriage supper of the Lamb.  Some will be martyrs and, like Stephen, will die declaring the glory of the Lord.  Some will enter into His rest.  Hebrews 4:6-7: “Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein (into His rest), and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: …To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

        Zephaniah 2:2 “before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD's anger come upon you.  3 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.”

 

 

AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY:

THE BROAD WAY THAT LEADS TO LIFE?

Alfred King

        What a wonderful salvation we have in America today.  No longer is the need for believers to be different from the world, or to suffer for the cause of Christ.  The days of the martyrs are past.  The reproach of Christ is a thing of the past.  No more does the Christian have to experience the inside of prison walls or be flogged for his "faith" in Christ.  In modern Christianity believers are not expected to refrain from premarital sex, if one can't restrain himself; he can curse and take God's name in vain; and lie (as long as it is a "white" lie); he now can kill the baby in the womb for God overlooks such minor infractions of His word that man is not to commit murder.  Christians today are free to smoke; get tattoos; drink; and if the believer can't refrain from pornography, God understands and He is a God of grace, just believe in Jesus and you are saved.  Cursing and bitterness (Rom. 3:14) are just a part of life and Christians don't need to worry if those things come out of their mouths once in a while nor do they need concern themselves with dirty and off-color jokes, God has a good sense of humor and enjoys it Himself.  No longer is the command concerning adultery a serious offense; after all, the divorce rate among believers is about the same as that among non-believers.  The instructions Jesus gave directing men to take up their cross, deny themselves and follow Jesus down a path of self-denial are all for the Jews and not for today's Christian.  Today the "gospel" is that believers are to be wealthy, prosperous, healthy (with no sickness or disease); and all the believer has to do is just give a donation in faith and God will multiply that donation back to him.  Modern Christianity is what the whole world is seeking for, and the greatest benefit of all is that Christians can have all that sinners have, all the world has, indulge in whatever the flesh desires; believers can serve God and mammon and they still get to go to heaven and have eternal life.  The American Christian can have the world and God too.  Who wouldn't want to serve God?  And you know what?  All you have to do to get in on this deal is walk down an aisle and repeat a sinner’s prayer after the pastor and you have it.  Alternative lifestyle is now acceptable by American Christianity and openly gay ministers preach God's word from the pulpit.  Same-sex marriages are now legal in some states and will be, of course, acceptable by modern Christianity.  God is honored today when believers bring Hollywood's entertainment into the church and use the world's techniques to sell the gospel.  God is pleased when Christians take the world's music, the rock music birthed in hell, the music of sex, drugs, rebellion and revolution, and bring it into the church.  They supposedly have baptized it in some type of holy water, making what was previously profane and ungodly, now clean so that it is appropriate for worshipping a holy God.  It does not matter if the performers are living Godly lives because God is such a good and merciful God, Who no longer cares about sin because His Son, Jesus Christ carried all man's sins to the cross.  We live in the age of grace.

        And we wonder what is happening in America today.  We wonder what has happened to our young people who form gangs and prowl neighborhoods afflicting pain on innocent people for no cause.  We are puzzled when our young daughters become pregnant or we find they have just had an abortion.  We struggle to understand why our teenagers can be so disrespectful to their parents, their teachers; and for that matter, they have no respect for any older person.  We are shocked when we hear of another school shooting and we have to place police officers in America's schools to protect our children.  We are appalled and baffled when we read about our politicians having their flings with prostitutes or their same-sex partners.  American politicians have perfected the art of lying and deceiving and it is most obvious that Paul's words are fulfilled in them, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate (void of judgment) mind to do those things which are not convenient."  Why can politicians not make common sense decisions?  God has given them over to a mind void of sound judgment.  As true Christians, we understand exactly their problem, they have not kept God in their knowledge, they have discarded their knowledge and wisdom when they shoved aside God's word, deeming it old fashion and archaic.  Oh, they will use His name when it is beneficial to their agenda, but they will not stand for His truth.  And are we surprised that this is the case?  Should we be shocked when we see the path America is on?  No longer does America want God in our schools, in our courts, in public buildings or public places.  Do we expect God to bless America when every day His name is blasphemed, His laws disregarded, His Word ridiculed and His Son mocked and cursed?  Why should we not expect God's judgment to fall upon America?  Have we never read Paul's warning words to the Galatians in chapter 6 verses six and seven, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting".  This law applies to nations as well as to individuals.

        God is a God of love, grace and mercy.  His love is so great for man that He sent His only Son into the world to suffer, to be mocked, spit upon, falsely accused, slandered, hated, and finally crucified by those whom He created (the created slew the Creator) and He bore it all because He loved.  And how little does even the Christian understand the depths from which he was delivered by this Christ.  How deep is that "bottomless pit" from which we have been rescued?  How truly sinful were we when Christ reached down to draw us up?  What love is it that would reach down for an enemy of the cross of Christ, for that one full of hate, lust and sin, that one totally depraved and wretched?  We do live in the age of grace and that grace not only saves the sinner and gives him eternal life, but that grace also empowers him to walk in obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ, and that grace makes him a new creation so that he now hates the sin he once loved and loves the things he once hated.  He is a changed person, for old things have passed away and all things have become new.  No longer does he want to walk the path he once walked but he desires and hungers for a better country, whose builder and maker is God.  To be truthful and purely Biblical, if this change has not happened in your life, you are not truly saved, you have merely a form of godliness but you know nothing of the power of God (II Tim.3:5).  Scripture is clear that when one is saved his stony and sinful heart is taken away and he is given a new heart (Ezek. 36:26, Heb. 8:8-10).  With that new heart, God instills within him a desire for God and those attributes of Christ of which sin does not possess a single part.  A truly converted and saved man hates his past life and desires to depart as far from it as possible and is grieved when sin creeps into his life.  A sincerely saved man will wrestle against sin. (Eph. 6:12)

        Under the New Covenant, we are in a special age of grace.  This grace is that the blood of Jesus will cleanse anyone who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).  Biblical belief includes conviction of sin, confession of sin and repentance (renouncing and turning from sin).  True belief is evidenced by a deep remorse for one's previous life of sin and a cry to God for forgiveness and help that he is certain only God can give.  The very fact that the omnipotent, holy, pure and righteous God would hear that cry, forgive him, save him and adopt him into God's family is grace, pure unadulterated mercy.  Paul states in II Cor. 6:2 that "behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."  Today if ye will hear his voice “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (Jn. 6:37).  This is the day of grace and mercy.

        BUT: The day of salvation will one day come to an end.  The door will close.  Scripture teaches that when Jesus comes back, the day of salvation is past and He will come with vengeance.  Paul warns of that day.  II Thess. 1:7-9 states "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord."  Nothing is mentioned here about easy believism but those that know not the gospel.  The gospel is not only that man can find salvation through faith in Christ (although that is a great part of the gospel and the first step), it is also the gospel that God has sent His Son to change our desires and ambitions and cause us to walk in His ways, (above sin, righteously and holy in an evil world) through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life, and to come to a mature state in Christ. (Eph. 4:13)  To say that believers must continue to sin is to state that Jesus' work was shoddy because it did not really deal with sin.  It states that Jesus can only save my soul after this life is over but He is not big enough to deliver me from sin today.  That's a lie and not really much of a gospel.

        You can be certain that when He comes in flaming fire taking vengeance, American Christianity will not be found uncondemned by this Christ.  God has placed watchmen upon the walls (Isa. 62:6) to "cry aloud and spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." (Isa. 58:1)  In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, Jesus said there was a cry at midnight and the virgins all awoke.  Christians today are asleep but there is a cry going forth to awake and trim the lamps.  There is a great need today to return to the ways of God, to righteousness and holiness.  It is a time to return to God with the whole heart and soul.  We do live in an age of grace.  Great Grace!  Grace that enables one to so love God that he submits to God's commands and lives his life according to God's instructions.  It is this path that is the strait and narrow way that leads to life.  Those who are genuinely born again know this change of heart and are acquainted with this warfare against sin but those who are not truly saved will turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (lose living, catering to and pleasing a sinful and deceitful heart).

        American Christianity is on the broad way that leads to destruction.  I am reminded of the words of the late Ray Jarmin when he said, "The greatest missionary field in the world today is the American pulpit".  How sad but how true.

 

 

 “THE JOY OF THE LORD”

Armando Montes

        Every person that has come to the Lord Jesus and has experienced the cleansing power of His Blood knows what “the joy of the Lord” is.  Our hearts rejoice when we are made partakers of His gift of salvation.  The Spirit of God, with His presence, brings “joy unspeakable and full of glory” into the heart of everyone that surrenders to Him.  O the joy that fills the soul of every individual whose sins have been forgiven.  O how blessed and joyful is the state of the soul that has touched Jesus Christ in faith.  “He touched me, O He touched me, and O the joy that floods my soul” is the song of praise that flows from the thankful lips of a heart whose sins have been washed away.

        The Lord, in His manifold wisdom, made man with a void, a longing within himself that only His presence can fill and satisfy.  Nothing, absolutely nothing can fill the emptiness of a thirsty soul.  Nothing is so complete, so satisfying, so sweet as the presence of the Living God.  “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psa. 16:11).  “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psa. 34:8).

        God designed and created the world with the purpose of having a family of beings who would be like Him.  This world is the workshop where He is creating divine character within His saints.

Two Realms

        Every disciple of Jesus Christ walks in two realms: the world and the kingdom of God.  These are completely different and oppose each other as light and darkness do.  It’s a fact that each born again Christian has been translated into the kingdom of God (Col. 1:13).  To translate, as Thayer defines it, means “to transpose, transfer, remove from one place to another.”  At the time of conversion the repentant sinner is removed from the power of darkness to the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus.  This is a supernatural work of the Spirit of God.

        The first realm is a completely material kingdom.  It is known as “this present evil world.”  The second realm is spiritual, but real.  “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:2).  The kingdom of God has been established in the hearts of His people.  It cannot be seen with the natural eye, but it can be experienced in your hearts.  As he is in the world, the child of God is subject to affliction, pain, sorrow and the miseries of this corrupt world.  As he walks in the kingdom of God the believer has “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).

        According to the words of our Master, His disciples are in the world, but they are not part of it (Jno. 17:15,16).  In other words, it is possible to walk above the world and not to be subject to its vagaries.  The Lord Jesus told His disciples: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jno. 16:33).  There is a way to overcome the miseries of this world and have His presence and joy at all times.  Our Lord was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3), but “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2).  A life of complete commitment to the Father is the only way to have a victorious life in this world.

        It is also true that the Lord, through the mighty work of the Cross, has given us wonderful promises that apply to our lives right now  God has provided a means for His people to live a godly life of complete victory above sin, and continually have the joy of the Lord.  It behooves us to meet the conditions and take hold of His promises and live a joyful and fruitful life for Him.  Then we will be His true and faithful witnesses.  The world will know, through our testimony, that God’s way is a joyful way, and that “it is glory just to walk with Him.”

True Joy In God Alone

        True Joy is exclusively found in God.  Neither pleasures of life nor riches can produce it.  Life without Jesus is nothing but emptiness.  Worldly pleasures and material possessions are transitory; His joy is everlasting.  It was given to remain in us (Jno. 15:11).  It doesn’t fade away before difficult situations.  It is the source of divine strength when persecutions, tribulations and trials hit our lives.  It relieves pains and sorrows.  It is possible to have it in the very midst of turmoil.  Imprisonment and scourgings were not an impediment for Paul and Silas to sing praises to God (Acts 16:19-26).  History has recorded the lives of thousands of martyrs who have faced death, torture and brutality for the kingdom’s sake.  The arena, the stake and the dungeon have heard the songs of praise of many of these martyrs.  They “endured, as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27) because the joy of the Lord strengthened their hearts to give their lives as a testimony for the glory of the Living God.

Joy As A Fruit Of The Spirit

        “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY” (Gal. 5:22).  Besides being a gift from God, joy is also a fruit of the Spirit.  As a fruit it can grow and mature.  As a gift we cannot produce it in ourselves because it comes from God, and it’s wonderful to partake of “the joy of thy salvation.”  We’re not to lose it, but to remember with joy and thanksgiving the day when the mighty hand of God brought us out from the prison of bondage and sin.

        Our Lord Jesus told His disciples: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (Jno. 15:8).  The same words apply to us today.  Here, then, is found a condition of true discipleship.  Fruit bearing, growth, development is one of the most vital teachings taught throughout the Bible.  It takes time and effort to increase any of the fruits of the Spirit.  It takes a combined work of the Word of God, His Holy Spirit and the cooperation of the individual to bear fruits of righteousness.

        “[T]hat ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19).  These words addressed to the Ephesian Church and still applicable to the people of God today show the possibility of coming “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).  The book of Acts says that “the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:52).  Through the mighty work of the atonement the Lord God provided a way to have His plenitude and to enjoy to the utmost the riches of His kingdom.  Through the shedding of His precious Blood the Lord Jesus made a way to have “the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”

Joy As A Weapon

        Paul wrote about the Christian warfare.  The Scriptures teach very plainly that every genuine believer is in a constant warfare.  There are evil forces that try to destroy the people of God and to separate them from the love of God.  Even though our warfare is real, “we do not war after the flesh” because “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).

        As “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” the believer is commanded to “put on the whole armour of God” (Eph. 6:11).  “The helmet of salvation” (v. 17) is part of this armor.  Our salvation or deliverance is accompanied with the joy of the Lord.  We gather, then, that this joy is part of the helmet and consequently part of the whole armor of God.  The helmet is a defensive weapon that surrounds and protects the head.

        Condemnation, depression and oppression are not found in the kingdom of God.  A faithful soldier of Jesus Christ should not be tormented by these evil forces.  Let’s praise God, “which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57).  The enemy cannot stand the presence of a joyful saint clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ and with the sincere praise of God on his or her lips.

        Many times we allow situations in our lives or in our environment to rob us of the presence of God and of His peace and joy.  When the believer loses the joy of the Lord then his Christian walk becomes dried and lifeless.  This is a sad condition and a very poor testimony because we’re to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psa. 100:2).

        As never before we need the joy of the Lord in our hearts.  Let’s keep in mind that we are living in the last days.  This is a time of judgment, upheaval and destruction.  The Lord of hosts has determined that there will be a consumption upon the whole earth (Isa. 28:23).  Justice demands the intervention of the Living God to stop the corruption, violence and chaos that man has brought upon himself.  The joy of the Lord will sustain His children in these last days.  As this sinful world collapses in sorrow and anguish the people of God will have His joy as an inner force to endure to the end.

        Satan “knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12).  He is very angry against the work of God and His saints.  He’s using every possible means to discourage His people.  He hurls his furious attacks against those who have been washed in the precious Blood of the Lamb.  A joyful song of worship or thanksgiving is a mighty weapon to put to flight the enemy when he comes in like a flood.  The Lord has always fought on behalf of His chosen.  The battle is not ours, but His.  In this end time, when the rulers of darkness will be loosed, the saints of the Most High will joyfully remain faithful and unmovable in the work of the Lord.

        “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum.”  The joy of the Lord is a gift from God, a fruit of the Spirit and a valuable part of the whole armor of the Christian soldier.  This knowledge places a tremendous responsibility upon us.  As a gift and fruit it is to be kept and increased.  As a weapon we’re to use it in our spiritual warfare.  The Christian walk would be more satisfying if we served the Lord with gladness.

Joy For All

        Now, let’s consider an event of great importance in the calendar of the Living God.  “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the lamb is come and His wife hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).  This verse should thrill our souls.  Our Lord Jesus is THE Lamb of God and His wife is His Body or His People or His Church.  The word marriage speaks to us of the intimate and everlasting union of Christ and His Bride.

        Today the Body of Jesus Christ is divided into thousands of pieces and creeds and doctrines have been used to separate His people.  God’s family is to be one in spirit and in truth.  The Lord is working among His people to bring this unity into perfection.  Before our Lord Jesus returns, God will unite and gather together His divine family.  The Word of God states that there will be a unity and gathering together of His people.

        A wedding is a time of rejoicing for the bride, the bridegroom and their relatives and friends.  Christians should look forward to the marriage of the Lamb with great joy and anticipation.  Besides this future event, many of God’s promises for His people are going to be fulfilled in these last days.  Our hearts are to be filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory.  We’re to be encouraged in the Lord because we are living in “the times of restitution of all things.”  It is time to rejoice with exceeding great joy for “the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

 

 

 

THE FULL GOSPEL

Alda Scullin

        The “Gospel of Salvation” has been widely preached throughout the world for many generations resulting in the spiritual birth of multitudes of human beings.  Yet the “Gospel of the Kingdom” that Jesus and the apostles preached is almost unheard of.  Why should this be so?  There are very grave reasons and they are hell inspired; and many of the multitudes that were “saved” could easily lose their souls because they did not hear the “Full” gospel.

        Matt. 4:17 states that “Jesus began to preach, and to say, “Repent; for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Without being born again, Jesus told Nicodemus, it is impossible even to SEE the Kingdom of God, much less to enter it.  “Ye must be born again”, Jesus told this “master of Israel”, but there was more to Christ’s message than new birth.  Being born again was only a small part of His message.  It was not THE gospel.  Repentance and new birth are the entrance into the Kingdom of God.  (Col. 1:13,14 – “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;” also John 3:5).  Many ministers, however, have lowered the requirements that demand growth, development and service, to mere church membership.  Consequently the majority of these spiritual babies are then left to languish and eventually die of malnutrition.  This is a very serious situation and a frightening one for those who feel secure of their eternal salvation because they had a “born again” experience and perhaps were baptized.

        Jesus died an extremely cruel death in anguish on the cross to redeem mankind from his lost state of being.  He came to redeem them for a definite purpose; not only to save them from sin, but that through them He could demonstrate His wisdom, justice and power to every being in the universe.  Remember, that in the courts of heaven, His justice was challenged by Satan, himself (Job 1).

        Heaven did not pay so great a price expecting nothing in return!  The apostle Paul admonished the brethren to present their bodies a “living sacrifice, which is your reasonable service” (Rom 12:1).

        Speaking of Jesus, it is written “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things He suffered, and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that OBEY Him” (Heb. 5:8,9).

        The four Gospels are filled with the words of life: Jesus said so! (John 6:63)

        When a lawyer tempted Jesus by asking, “Master what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”, Jesus let him answer his own question, which he did by quoting the first commandment.  Then Jesus said, “Thou hast answered right: this do and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:25-28).

        There are millions who profess to love God, but their lives deny it.  God is not deceived by words.  He has a definite standard by which love is measured.  John 14: - “If ye love Me keep My commandments”, v. 15; “He that hath My commandments and keepeth them He it is that loveth me.., v. 21; “If a man love Me, he will keep My words…”, V. 23; “He that loveth Me not, keepeth not My sayings”, v. 24.

        More than one hundred commands of Jesus to His followers are recorded in the four gospels.  None of them are pleasing to man’s carnal nature.  That is why Jesus said, “whosoever shall seek to save his life, shall lose it” (Luke 17:33).  The sinful nature must be crucified.  John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).  Jesus lived and taught a way of life, by which He is “bringing many sons unto glory…” (Heb. 2:10).

        Only by following His teachings, His rules, His commands, which are the laws of His Kingdom – ONLY in this manner can one become righteous and – “be no more children…but speaking the truth in love, may GROW UP into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:14,15).

        The Father is waiting and hath long patience for the precious fruit of the earth” (James 5:17).  He is looking for sons.  He does not intend that we remain babies.  Being born again is the first tentative step into the Kingdom of God.  Growth is essential to life.  To become mature heirs of God demands that we “live and move, and have our being in Him” (Acts 17:28).

        Few Christians believe these teachings of Jesus, largely due to the teachings of a man named Scofield and others of his ilk who say it is impossible to live by the words of Jesus and therefore God does not require it of us.  Not only are Jesus’ words rejected, but He, Himself is denied His authority as King; and His Kingdom, men have postponed to a future era.  Such audacity as this perpetrated by “Pharisees” both ancient and modern, must astound the heavenly beings who are watching.

        Nevertheless, we have some of Jesus’ final words before His ascension and this we believe!  “All power (authority) is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.  (He also has the keys of hell and of death, Rev. 1:18.)  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:18-20).

        In modern theology a love of truth is not to be found.  Jesus said, “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life (John 14:6).  Making converts and enlarging congregations is the main thrust of most churches.  Many have gone throughout the earth proselytizing, and baptizing, but they are not about to tell people that they must “observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

        Judgment has already been pronounced upon those who have thus rejected Him.  “For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).  Also Jesus declared, “He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

        THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM IS THE FULL GOSPEL.