People of The Living God

John 17

 

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July 2012



 

THE GREAT DISPARITY

A.W. Tozer

        There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and which in its effect upon the Christian religion is more destructive than Communism, Romanism and Liberalism combined.  It is the glaring disparity between theology and practice among professing Christians.

        So wide is the gulf that separates theory from practice in the church that an inquiring stranger who chanced upon both would scarcely dream that there was any relation between them.  An intelligent observer of our human scene who heard the Sunday morning sermon and later watched the Sunday afternoon conduct of those who had heard it would conclude that he had been examining two separate and contrary religions.

        It is not uncommon for conferences of Christian leaders to listen to and approve a spiritual message in the morning and at the afternoon session of the same day vote for measures that are in flat contradiction to the truth they heard a few hours before.  Neither is it unusual to see Christians weep tenderly over beautiful religious sentiments, only to balk flatly when it comes to putting them in practice.

        This can be explained only by assuming a lack of integration in the religious personality.  There seems to be no vital connection between the emotional and volitional departments of the life.  The mind can approve and the emotions enjoy while the will drags its feet and refuses to go along.  And since Christ makes His appeal direct to the will, are we not justified in wondering whether or not these divided souls have ever made a true committal to the Lord? or whether they have been inwardly renewed?

        To follow Christ costs heavily.  Truth will not accept service that costs us nothing.  The cross is still a weighty and unpleasant burden and not many care to take it on their back.  “Jesus hath now many lovers of His heavenly kingdom,” says Thomas à Kempis, “but few bearers of His cross.  Many He hath that are desirous of consolation, but few of tribulation.  Many He findeth that share His table, but few His fasting.  All desire to rejoice with Him, few are willing to endure anything for Him.  Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His passion.”

        It appears that too many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of living right.  So the divorce between theory and practice becomes permanent in fact, though in word the union is declared to be eternal.  Truth sits forsaken and grieves till her professed lovers come home for a brief visit, but she sees them depart again when bills become due.  They protest great and undying affection, but they will not let their love cost them anything.

        The average church today simply does not dare to check its practices against Biblical precepts.  It tolerates things that are diametrically opposed to the will of God, and if the matter is pointed out to its leaders they will defend its unscriptural practices with a smooth casuistry equal to the verbal dodging of a politician.

        Could this be the condition our Lord had in mind when He said, “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead”?  What can the effect be upon the spectators who live day after day among professed Christians who habitually ignore the commandments of Christ and live after their own private notions of Christianity?  Will they not be forced to believe that the faith of Christ is an unreal and visionary thing which they are fully justified in rejecting?

        Well, we are free to live as we will, and no one can lay any moral necessity upon us.  But the disparity between our theology and our lives remains an offense to men and a scandal to the kingdom of God.  Sterility and blight hover over the church as vultures over a sick flock to feed on the sheep as they drop one by one.  It does not take a sharp eye these days to detect the shadow of their wings on the roofs of our churches.

        In that great and terrible day when the deeds of men are searched into by the penetrating eyes of the Judge of all the earth, what will we answer when we are charged with inconsistency and moral fraud?  And at whose door will lay the blame for the millions of lost men who, while they lived on earth, were sickened and revolted by the religious travesty carried on in the name of Christianity?

 

 

THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS

Randall Walton

        “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, (1) when shall these things be? And (2) what shall be the sign of thy coming, and (3) of the end of the world?  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.  And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:3-8).

        The answer Jesus gave to these questions asked by His disciples has been the subject of theologians and eschatologists in each generation since He uttered those famous words, but the past one hundred years has doubtless produced more speculation than all the previous centuries combined.

        The first question the disciples asked was in response to His statement concerning the destruction of the Temple (one stone shall not be left upon another), a local and singular catastrophe which occurred in 70 A.D., under the devastating attack of Titus’ Roman Army.

        The following questions concerned two events of major importance because of their universal magnitude and scope: His second coming, and the end of the world (age).

        Many people have mistakenly concluded that because the first query was fulfilled in 70 A.D., the rest of Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled in that day and age, or during the martyrdom and persecution of the early Christians.  What they have failed to see is that Jesus emphatically declared that immediately after the tribulation, the sign of His coming would appear, and He would arrive on the scene with all His holy angels (Matt. 24:29-31).  The fact that He did not come after THOSE days of persecution rules out the possibility of that being the great tribulation of which He spoke.  This, then, places that great calamity in the future!

        Just as important a fact to be considered is that He will not return before the tribulation!  Scripture does not support the idea of a secret return of Jesus prior to the time of great turmoil, trouble and tribulation as is described in Matthew 24.  And in addition to the great tribulation, there are many other events which must occur before our Lord returns.

        Among these signal events are what Jesus called “the beginning of sorrows.”  Strong’s Concordance defines this word “sorrows” as “a pang or throe, especially of childbirth”; it is translated as pain, sorrow, travail (See Gal. 4:19; I Thess. 5:3; Rev. 12:2).  The severity of this time of sorrows is to be compared to the pains of a woman in childbirth!  It is no wonder that Jesus spent considerable time warning the people of this generation concerning the horrors of the beginning of travail and of the travail itself.  And we should emphasize the fact that these warnings were given for our benefit!  They were not meant for the people of that era, nor for the ungodly (unsaved).

        They only have meaning for the generation which is living when those things are taking place (Matt. 24:33,34), and for the followers of Jesus Christ.  “Take heed that no man deceive you” is addressed directly to Christians!!  And Christians would do well to pay strict attention to the warnings Jesus so graciously offered.

        It is a bitter fact that most Christians are being taught that these warnings are not meant for them; they are told that they need not heed these words of Jesus, for they are not supposed to be here when these sorrows take place!  The people are being lulled to sleep at this desperate hour by the very ones who should be sounding the alarm and waking the people to a state of readiness!  Surely the complacency of this generation and the message of “eat, drink, and be merry,” must be a terrific grief to the Holy Spirit and the angels of the Lord who minister among the “heirs of salvation.”  It is reminiscent of the words of Jesus when He grieved over Jerusalem saying, “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37)

        Consider carefully the list of “pains of childbirth” which Jesus gave:

  1. Great deception
  2. Wars and rumors of wars
  3. Nation against nation
  4. Kingdom against kingdom
  5. Famines
  6. Pestilences
  7. Earthquakes

Anyone who is even casually acquainted with current events has no trouble

recognizing the extent of these seven sorrows in our present society and environment:

1). Great deception by false Christs is a worldwide crusade.  They come in His

name!  His name, Jesus, means savior.  The world is full of self-proclaimed saviors today, and they declare that they are the Christ (Christ means anointed), by claiming to be sent from God.  There are many false prophets, as well, who have “in the name of the Lord” watered down God’s Word, neutralized His commands, fantasized His grace, and turned the “way of the cross” into a self-centered, devious and deceitful life of worldly prosperity.  As though one can manipulate God into giving health and wealth for a mere 10% offering and thinking that God is so well pleased with their meager sacrifice.  What a farce!!

        A tree is known by its fruit, Jesus said, and the fruit of any of the trees which are heaven-sent, will measure up to the standard in God’s Word; there is no better gauge by which to measure fruit than Jesus’ Sermon On the Mount!!

        2) Wars and rumors of wars.  It’s unnecessary to elaborate on this, in consideration of the profusion of conflicts throughout the world.

        3) Nation against nation: the word “nation” in the Greek is ethnos, having to do with racial lines, or national origin.  Our 21st century is well noted for the bloodshed along racial lines – blacks against whites (and vice-versa), yellows versus Caucasians, and we are all aware of the fierce competition between the Semitics and the rest of the world, in addition to the ongoing struggle among and between the Arabic countries.  All of these antagonisms have steadily grown in the past recent decades, the United Nations notwithstanding!

        4) Kingdom against kingdom: this, of course, has more to do with one political unit, or government, against another.  Pitted against each other are the so-called Super Powers (ostensibly those possessing nuclear weaponry), with lines drawn along ideological boundaries, i.e., communism versus capitalism, imperialism versus free enterprise, totalitarianism versus republicanism, etc.  Lines have also been set between religious factions: Christians, Moslems, Jews, Hindus, atheists, etc.  The world is one vast battleground with peace among and between the inhabitants a mere misty vapor in the night.  The only true and lasting peace is in Jesus Christ: those who walk with Him have peace now, and it is a peace the world doesn’t know (John 14:27)!

        5) Famines: a famine is an acute shortage of food which brings on starvation.  There are three main causes of any famine, or food shortage: (1) Overpopulation of a given land area, (2) Lack of food production caused by one or more of the following: drought, depleted soil, improper farming methods, cultivation of commercial crops in preference to food, (3) Poor distribution of food, usually due to inadequate roads, exorbitant prices, and/or faulty distribution centers.  Any or all of these factors combine to create a condition of serious food shortage in any country, and it is no secret that famine already grips the population of scores of nations.

        6) Pestilences: this can be defined as either fatal diseases, or as insects or other animals which destroy either plant life or other animals.  Those of us who have experimented with growing gardens can well testify to the awful grief of seeing one’s efforts literally eaten away by various kinds of “bugs.”  The only solution seems to be the application of “pesticides” or “insecticides,” chemicals which are themselves harmful both to the body and the soil, yet there seems to be no alternative if one wishes to produce food from the ground.  The list of worms, borers, insects, beetles, or just plain “bugs” is apparently endless!  The medical profession is kept busy naming the newly discovered diseases and plagues that befall mankind.  At least a few of the “cures” they have discovered are responsible for other diseases or at least harmful side affects.

        7) Earthquakes in divers places: earthquakes are a phenomenon which have been peculiar to certain prone areas, geologic earth faults (cracks and fissures in the crust of the earth), volcanic areas, etc., but the “divers places” Jesus spoke of indicate that there will be tremblers in areas that would be the least likely to have them occur.  During the past thirty years many people have expressed shock at the unexpected occurrence of shakes and quakes where there were none ever recorded.

        Now, it can be truthfully pointed out that all of these circumstances have appeared throughout earth’s painful history.  There have always been wars, famines, pestilences, deceivers, pests, sickness and disease, and earthquakes.  But it only makes sense that, since Jesus took the trouble to enumerate these particular events, He was indicating that there would be a marked and noticeable difference in the degree of intensity and the rate of occurrence.

        Who can view the present scene of world activity with open mind and conclude that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (II Pet. 3:4,5)?  Those who are willingly ignorant can succumb to this apathetic state, but those whose eyes have been anointed with eye-salve should have no trouble seeing that the rate of incline has been increasing at a staggering amount.  Not only are we witnessing an increase in the scourge of deceivers, there is a concurrent growth in all the areas of which Jesus spoke!  If we were to consider only one portion of His Sermon (famines, for example), and found that the problem had compounded, that in itself would not be sufficient cause for alarm, nor reason enough to believe that the “beginning of sorrows” had begun, but when we behold that on every front there is astounding evidence that these potent words of Jesus are being fulfilled, it is surely cause for alarm!

        We in the United States have some trouble relating ourselves to many of these problems because of the extent of affluence and abundance of wealth.  Our high standard of living has contributed to a condition of lethargy and stupor, a condition that has caused great spiritual blindness to the greater portion of our citizenry.  We somehow have convinced ourselves that we are a superior people, and that eternal prosperity and happiness is just around the corner.  And even when we momentarily compel ourselves to admit that most of the inhabitants of the earth are hungry, poverty-stricken and destitute of many of the necessities of life, we bolster ourselves with the misguided belief that “it could never happen here!”  Somehow we have assured ourselves that we are God’s chosen nation and that He is obligated to see that we never suffer the fate that others have.

        It is high time that we remove the blinders from our eyes and face reality.  The time of the “beginning of sorrows” is upon us; all of the sorrows that Jesus spoke of are already abounding throughout the earth.  And this time of travail is but a prelude to the time of great tribulation.  The world is certainly pregnant with all the elements of which Jesus spoke with such solemn warning.  As we witness the coming crises, the pangs of travail, the suffering, anguish, mass starvation, brutal and savage violence, we will be without excuse if we have not followed the counsel of the Lord.  We urge every servant of Jesus Christ to study the Scriptures, read the words of Jesus, begin applying His words to your daily lives.  Spend much time in prayer and fasting and calling upon the Lord for guidance and direction.  It is time to forsake the things of the world, to cease playing religion, to stop taking lightly the words of the Living God.  This is a serious and crucial period of earth’s history.  We admonish you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

 

 

Q & A

Regarding "swine's flesh"

Question:

        Why does "Testimony of Truth" observe the seventh day Sabbath and yet does not hold to the Biblical teachings of clean and unclean meats?  It seems you have taken part of God's law and disposed of those which you chose to omit.  Do you not think God's judgment will fall upon you as is stated in Isaiah 66:17 that states God will judge those "eating swine's flesh"?  Please, explain you position on this scripture.

                                        W.K. Charlotte, NC

Dear W.K.

We appreciate and welcome questions from the readers of "The Testimony of Truth," for we want our readers to understand the scriptural foundation upon which we establish our teachings, and it helps us to present articles that can clarify our positions as well as to address issues in which our readers are concerned.

Many times People of the Living God (Publishers of "The Testimony of Truth" monthly publication) have been asked our position regarding Isaiah 66:15-17, specifically about eating "swine's flesh."  According to the word of the Lord to Isaiah, God's judgment will fall upon those "that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord." (Isa. 66:17)  It is of special interest to Christians who observe the seventh day Sabbath, for many Sabbath keepers also accept the "dietary laws" of clean and unclean meats.  Since People of the Living God teach the necessity to live by the Ten Commandments, including the fourth, other Sabbatarians wonder why we do not observe those laws regarding clean and unclean meats.

People of the Living God has always held the position that our doctrines and interpretations of scripture must be based upon the plain words of Jesus Christ and the Apostles.  The prophesy of Isaiah 66 is not one of plain speech, so we must refer to other portions of scripture which are easily understood and that need no interpretation, upon which our doctrinal position can be built. 

If we go back to the beginning of scripture to the book of Genesis chapter seven and verse two, we find that there were clean and unclean animals in the time of Noah.  "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female."  However, if we look closely at the record given us in Genesis, we find that men did not eat any meat before the flood (Read Genesis 1:29-30).  It was only afterward that God told Noah, "And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.  Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things" (Gen. 9:2-3).  He goes on to tell Noah that he is not to eat the blood of those animals.  So the question arises as to the purpose in the distinction of the clean and unclean animals, for as we have seen in Genesis  1:29-30, God did make a difference between them.  The purpose from the beginning was to distinguish which animals were to be used for sacrifice to Jehovah, for animal sacrifice was already in existence in the days immediately after the fall as we see in the sacrifices of Cain and Abel in Genesis four.  There were certain animals that God allowed for sacrifice, which were the clean animals, and there were those that were considered by God as unclean and which were forbidden for sacrifice.  The sacrifice of animals was for the cleansing of the man's sins who offered the sacrifice, and it must, by divine order, be in keeping with the "Lamb of God" who was to take away the sin of the world.  The whole issue of clean and unclean animals was to picture Christ as the perfect, righteous and holy One whose shed blood would "take away the sin of the world.”  “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4).

It was under the covenant made with Israel through Moses that the order came which forbade Israel from eating unclean meat and was a part of the Mosaic law.  Being a part of the Old Covenant law, it was a sign in the natural, or a physical type which signified and testified to certain spiritual truths just as circumcision in the flesh was a seal or token that Israel was God's chosen people and signified and pointed to that New Covenant circumcision of the heart and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the sign and seal of the New Covenant.  As Paul stated in Romans 8:9: Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."  As with circumcision, there is a significance of the clean and unclean meats as well.

In John the sixth chapter, Jesus speaks of Himself as the Bread of life (Jn. 6:48, 51).  In verse 50 Jesus says, "This is the living bread which came down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die."  In Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, He responds to Satan's temptation with these words, (Lk. 4:4) "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God."  Jesus declared Himself to be The Way, The Truth and The Life.  Jesus was also the Lamb that was slain bearing the sins of the world.  The true believer realizes that in our present society there are many false Christs, false prophets, false doctrines, and great deception, and sadly many (even Christians) feed on that unclean meat and are led to spiritual malnourishment, weakness and in many cases, even spiritual death.  There are multitudes today who are preaching a false gospel.  It is an unclean gospel and those who imbibe it will certainly reap the results of spiritual malnourishment.  Jesus is the true bread that came down from heaven, and in Him alone do we find nourishment for our spiritual souls, meat that will sustain through the storms of life and will provide the strength to stand in the most severe trials.  David wrote in the 23rd psalm, "yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:…Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies."  A table is spread before the Christian who continuously feeds from the table of the Lord and drinks from the waters of life.  The abomination that Isaiah was referring to was not physical unclean meat but the abomination of those that teach false doctrines and lead many in the path of destruction.  Consider the most solemn words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:19: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."  There are many in the world today who are being fed the husks that only swine would eat.  Isaiah sadly prophesies of these days in chapter 28 and verse 8, "For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean."  They, like the woman at the well, go daily to the same well only to find the same dregs that they drew the day before.  It was not until she met the "Bread of life" that she found "The Manna" from heaven for her hungry soul and water for her dried and withered spirit.

If the Apostle Paul had such an understanding of the "meats" issue, as many Sabbatarians seem to have today, he did a great disservice to the church of Christ by not emphatically and clearly stating in his epistles the seriousness of eating swine's flesh.  Not only is there the absence of this teaching in the New Testament but the clear teaching by Jesus and the Apostles is that those things which enter into the mouth do not defile, rather it is those things that come out of the heart of man that are the defiling factor (Matt. 15:17-20).  God is working in men's heart.  Jeremiah 17:10 reads, "I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."  God is searching man's heart.  Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks on the heart (I Sam. 16:7).

Just as circumcision in the flesh will not save a soul nor will non-circumcision damn a soul to hell, neither will eating certain meats or not eating certain meats control our spiritual destinies.  What we feed on daily is what will determine our eternity, whether it be Jesus Christ or the world and self.  We make that choice.

                               

                                Sincerely, A.K.

Testimony of Truth

 

 

GRACE

Harry Miller

        A doctrinal mirage has enchanted the greater portion of professing Christendom and few people seem to realize the treachery that has been dealt to this generation by this insidious work of evil: “the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously” (Isa. 24:16).  This is the time which is spoken of as “the last days.”  Many Scriptures are being fulfilled before our eyes: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3,4).

        The great revival (so-called) is now sweeping the whole earth.  Multitudes are accepting this glamorous new brand of Christianity.  This is the religion that is so compatible with the carnal life of men: it offers so much and requires so little.  Men are told to accept and believe, and they then have a through ticket to glory!

        Apostolic Christianity with its austere demands and commands made no appeal to the world, but the “treacherous dealers” formulated, or rather, concocted a system of philosophy that completely removes all obligation to God on the part of any believer.  “Jesus paid it all,” believers are told, and for anyone to attempt to “work out his own salvation with fear and trembling” would be to “fall from grace.”

        All law, obligation and duty have been removed from the doctrinal foundation of this so-called gospel; little wonder that the world has accepted what it has to offer.  The diabolical art of perverting the Scriptures for the destruction of men is at last fantastically achieved by the “powers of darkness;” the grace gospel is its foundation.  “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.  He that committeth sin is of the devil” (I John 3:7,8).  One other verse from this chapter: “Whosoever commiteth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (verse 4).

        The grace gospelers tell us that the sin question was settled on the cross; there all sins were pardoned forever.  It is assumed that man is a sinner by nature, and the only way to save him is to forever discount his sins by removing every semblance of law.  “The law and the prophets were until John” is the oft-repeated text; the implication is that since John there is now no law.  Another favorite test of the grace teachers is, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (I John 1:17); the implications based upon this portion of Scripture are that under Moses there was neither grace nor truth, and not until the advent of the man of Galilee were these two blessings given to the human race.  Such a conclusion is contrary to Holy Writ and to simple reason.

        “Grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Tim. 1:9).  Here is a Scripture that plainly states that grace was God’s gift to man before the world began; there is nothing here implied that this grace was only for these “last days.”  It is supposed that since “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” it naturally follows that before the advent of the Savior there was neither grace nor truth; this is an error.  Christ Himself said that He was the truth, and both He and God’s grace are often spoken of in the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi.

        Beginning with Adam, no man has ever been saved except by the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.  After Adam sinned, he was a son of God in disgrace; however, after the Savior shed the blood of an animal and then clothed the man and his wife, they were partakers of God’s mercy and grace; for this act of the Most High signified the death of the true “Lamb of God” and His righteous covering which would be given to those who would put their faith and trust in Him.

        The teachers of error have told us that only since the cross has the grace of God been available to men.  They also call this present time “the day of grace.”  The Scriptures plainly set forth this fact: God’s grace has always been with men.  Even those people who lived under the Levitical law were saved by grace, as well as those before the time of Moses who were saved by the same “unmerited favor of God.”  “And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created…But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:6,8).  Then, too, there was Lot, a man of whom Peter said, “his righteous soul was vexed from day to day.”  This man would have perished in the city of Sodom had it not been for the mercy of the heavenly advocate: “Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight” (Gen. 19:19).

        There should be little doubt in the mind of anyone that Lot’s deliverance from Sodom was in answer to Abraham’s prayer.  Here was a man that lived a life of the kind of faith that tapped the reservoir of the grace of God.  This patriarch’s faith became an example for men in all ages: “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace” (Rom. 4:16), and he became the father of all them that believe “who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” (verse 12).  Take note that grace is given to those who “walk” in the sort of faith by which this man of God lived.

        Let us now consider the man whose very name seems to suggest law to the majority of Bible students: Moses.  Was God’s grace available to him?  We have a most positive answer to this question in the words of the Lord Himself.  Speaking to Moses the Lord said, “Thou hast found grace in My sight” (Ex. 33:17).

        Bear in mind that God’s grace has always been available to anyone who would “walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham.”  The mercy and blessing of God were not only for Moses the law giver, but were for every one of the people under the old covenant.  In all ages there have been but two classes of people: those who obeyed the Lord and those who disobeyed.  The people of faith were obedient and they in turn received God’s grace and blessing; those who refused the will of the Lord became recipients of His judgment: “With whom was He grieved forty years?  Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?” (Heb. 3:17)  “For some when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt” (verse 16).  According to this passage, there were some who did not provoke God by their unbelief, and of these the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness” (Jer. 31:2).

        This may astonish many people; but, nevertheless, it is true: The gospel of the grace of God was available to the people of faith under the law in the wilderness.  “To whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them, but the word preached did not profit them: not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Heb. 3:18,19; 4:1,2).

        In the wilderness the children of Israel heard the gospel!  Some may ask, “What gospel?”  The gospel of the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ – this is the “everlasting gospel.”  Righteous Abel was saved by faith in the blood of the true “Lamb of God.”  The Hebrews whose faith was of the Abrahamic type “Drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”  Neither did this class of saints “tempt Christ” by their disobedience and unbelief” (I Cor. 10:4,9).

        The grace of God was manifest in the salvation of sinners through the gospel long before the law was given to Morse: “They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham” (Gal. 3:7,8).  Salvation through Christ has always been available to those who would appropriate it by a walk of faith such as Abraham had.  Both the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures declare this fact.

        The attitude of the Creator has not changed in regard to sin and sinners; He hates sin, but His grace is extended to the repentant sinner.  Take note that the grace of God is extended to a certain kind of sinner: the repentant.  This has ever been His attitude: “I the Lord change not.”  Many have thought that the death of Christ on the cross changed the Sovereign mind concerning sin.  Not so.  Sin is the violation of the law of God, and if the universe is to remain intact He must ever be an enemy of transgressors and transgressions. The Creator can under no circumstances connive with sin.  He dare not lower the standards nor let down the bars.  To bring the demands of righteousness down to the level desired by the transgressor would bring disaster to the universe: complete corruption would then be inevitable.

        Through Christ, on either side of the cross, the grace of God made a way for repentant sinners to find peace with God.  Saul, the son of Kish, was converted by the grace of God: “God gave him another heart” (I Sam. 10:9), and he was “turned into another man” (verse 6).  David was a “saved” man, for he prayed to God in one of his psalms: “take not thy Holy Spirit from me” (Psa. 51:11).

        Some may ask, “Is not God’s grace greater today than it was before the cross?”  The answer is no.  His grace has not changed.  Because of the cross of Christ, greater provision is now available for repentant sinners.  Before Calvary it was extremely difficult for Gentiles to find God; the snobbishness of the Hebrew clan had made the religion of Jehovah almost exclusively their own.  The Lamb of God broke down this “middle wall of partition” erected by Judaism; God then made known that His salvation is universal: “whosoever will, let him come.”

        The advent of Christ also made provision for the coming of the Comforter within the believer.  He is the most powerful influence the Christian has against sin.  We now possess a divine bias.  We have been given an ever present helper, a heavenly-minded influencer, one who helps tilt the scales in the direction of right in matters of our judgment.

        “A new heart and a new spirit” is now available to anyone who will call upon the name of the Lord.  It is now possible for believers to be saints.  Complete holiness is now possible among men: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

        “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (I Jno. 3:3).  Self-purification is a work of Christianity; it is performed by those who are saints.  The “Bride,” the Lamb’s wife, will make “herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).  “If a man therefore purge himself…he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified” (II Tim. 2:21).  The work of purification, purging and getting ready for the coming of our Savior requires a lot of the grace of God.  Such things are not accomplished by ritualistic practices, nor by accepting a philosophy, nor by mere belief.

        While the crucifixion of Christ is a manifestation of the grace of God, it is also a positive testimony of the absolute respect of the Sovereign for His law.  The heaven-permitted murder of the Son of God should leave no doubt in the mind of any man that the Creator holds His law in highest esteem.  His law must be absolute, final and eternal.  The whole universal kingdom rests upon the eternal quality, the stability and faithfulness of the law of God.  It can never change; neither can the Master’s attitude toward it change.  If it had been possible to change the law without disturbing the force of it in an attempt to reconcile man to God, this would have been done, but the death of Christ has settled forever any argument that such a thing was possible.  “The law of the Lord is perfect” and, as Paul said, “it is holy, just and good.”  Let us put it this way: The foundation of the kingdom of God is perfect; it is holy; it is just and good.  Certainly no other foundation would be acceptable.

        Calvary meant the end of the laws of the Levitical priesthood.  It also fulfilled the many predictions of the prophets; but that which is perfect, holy, just and good, “we establish” (Rom. 3:32).

        The eternal law of God was not changed, but man’s responsibility in relation to it was: “To him whom much is given much is required;” this is divine law.  Since the cross, men have access to all the blessings of heaven, and with this blessedness there must also be great obligation upon the part of the individuals so enriched.  The law of God, as it was given to men before the cross, did not make the demands upon them as it now does.  When “the Lamb of God” made the supreme sacrifice, He honored the will of His Father and by His work He magnified the law: “He will magnify the law, and make it honorable” (Isa. 42:21).

        Through Christ, the law which He once, with His own finger, had written on stones, He now writes in the hearts of His people: “I will put My laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts” (Heb. 8:10).  The law on stone said “thou shalt not kill,” but the law written in the heart says, “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matt. 5:21).  The precepts on the cold stone read: “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” but in our hearts the words of the Sermon on the Mount say: “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).  Yes, surely the law has been magnified and not abolished.

        Brethren, let us not be swept away with the errors of the wicked, but let us go on to a walk of faith such as our Father Abraham had, and respect the will of our Father in heaven by obeying His every word.  Then from His throne of Grace we can find grace and mercy in every time of need.

 

 

THE GOSPEL

Alda Scullin

        From Genesis to the end of Revelation there is one main theme: the Kingdom of God!  We read that the gospel was preached unto Abraham and to Israel (Gal. 3:8 and Heb. 4:2).  It was preached by John the Baptist, by Jesus and by His disciples (Matt. 3:1,2; 4:17; 10:7).  Even many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus we find the same gospel still being preached by the apostle Paul, to the end of his ministry (Acts 28:23,31).  There is no other message given of God, to be preached, than the Gospel of the Kingdom.  There never was!  Brother Paul wrote that if anyone preached another gospel, he should be accursed (Gal. 1:6-9)!

        Jesus said, “This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).  This is yet to be done, for, strange as it may seem, it is not preached by the majority of ministers of the gospel, it is not taught in most seminaries or Bible schools, and, in fact, is not understood by the greater part of the so-called Christian world!  Yet the Bible is our textbook, and it is a book about the Kingdom of God.  In it we can learn of every aspect, every phase, every detail of His Kingdom and its operation.  We are told of the King, Jesus, and of the realm of His power, which is universal; of His throne or seat of authority at the right hand of God; of its eternal existence (not 1,000 year existence!); of its laws and their purpose – to convert the soul; and of its subjects who are given power that they might become the sons of God (John 1:12).

        This gospel of the Kingdom was given to Israel of old, in sign language: first through the tabernacle; and later, a more comprehensive message was given through the temple, which, with all of its accouterments, presents, even to us today, a very graphic picture.  Then Jesus came and was the third and most perfect message.  All three messages have been rejected by the supposed people of God.  Israel did not want His kind of kingdom.  They did not want to be a peculiar people.  They wanted to be like other nations.  In like manner, today, the church wants to be like the rest of the world.  They do not want to be a spectacle.  The gospel has been watered down to: “accept the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” in an attempt to make it more easily accepted.

        Consider the temple and its outer court as it pictured the Gospel of the Kingdom.  By the Holy Spirit, God gave a message through things.  The things in the temple composed a message of the most glorious spiritual things that exist.  Shadows or symbols are limited, but the essence of the message is there – the promise and the means to attain it.  Before the world was, God promised to share His own divine nature with certain beings – beings who would sit with Him in His throne.

        Now, except a man be born again he cannot even see the Kingdom of God.  Therefore, in order that each one might have the opportunity to properly evaluate his choice for eternity, God made it easy for men to see the Kingdom.  “Whosoever will may come,” is the invitation given.  The gate into the courtyard is wide – so wide that many enter without difficulty.  In a moment, as it were, they are translated from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13).  Their old garments are removed, they are washed and reclothed with new garments.  All this is done for them by another.  All they have had to do thus far was to come in through the gate.  Many go no farther.

        God, Himself, paid a great price that this easy entrance be made possible.  He has an investment in His creatures and He rightfully expects a return.  As He gave His life for us, so must we give our life for Him.  Is He not seeking a relationship of oneness with His creatures?  He has perfected the process whereby this might be accomplished.  The furnishings of the courtyard show that there is much to be done before anyone is ready to enter into the Holy Place.  The courtyard is the sphere of self-cleansing.  Here are the ten altars of sacrifice, aids through which the human spirit is taught to become compatible with God.  Even as Jesus did (Heb. 5:8), we, too, learn obedience by the things we suffer.  “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Psa. 50:5).

        There are, also, the ten lavers in which to wash the sacrifices, for even they must be clean.  There is the sea in which to bathe, for we must purify ourselves.  The New Testament writers shed more light on how these are to be done.  Ephesians 5:26 reveals that the Word is the element in which we are to wash in order to cleanse ourselves, be sanctified, made holy and without blemish.  However, we must be washed in it, not just look into it and be as the forgetful hearer spoken of in James 1:23,24: “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”  When speaking of iniquity and vessels of dishonor, Paul wrote, “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (II Tim. 2:21).  John wrote, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (I John 3:3).  I Peter 1:22 says, “seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit”; and II Cor. 7:1 tells us, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.”  None of this nullifies our need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb; but that is the price God paid for our salvation.  Applying His word to our lives is the price we pay to appropriate our place in the Kingdom.  Yes, there is much a man must do to prepare himself.  The sea in the courtyard is held up by twelve oxen – beasts of burden – for a man must labor to enter into His rest.

        Once the obligations of the courtyard are met, one should be ready to cross the porch of gold, which speaks of divinity, and walk between the two brass pillars which speak of testimony and of judgment.  Are we living testimonies to His glory?  Have we judged ourselves so that we shall not be judged?  Remember, as we come closer to the presence of God in the Holy and Most Holy place, there is not tolerance as in the courtyard, no margin for error or disobedience.  Here, so near to the source of power, one transgression may be fatal.  Aaron’s sons were struck dead for making just one substitution!

        All of the symbols here picture progressive states of being.  The final state being the “REST.”  According to Hebrews 4:5,6, some must enter therein.  This will be complete when we become one with Him at the marriage of the Lamb, when the bride will have made herself ready.  The invitation has been given to the marriage feast, and excuses have been made.  How many will awaken to discover it is too late to prepare?  How many will find themselves outside the shut door where there is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth?  These things are being determined right now.  There is not a moment to waste.  Every effort must be concentrated on seeking first the things of the Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.  Take hold of the power He has given, the most important of which is the power to become the Sons of God.  The very word become suggests a process and a period of time.  Time is running out, and remember: time was the important factor when the foolish virgins went to buy oil!

        To merely enter the gate and remain in the courtyard is spiritual suicide, for it is to be given over to the nations to trample under feet.  We must go on as we are admonished in Heb. 6:1 and 2.  Search for the strait gate and the narrow way.  This is not the easy way, or the one that most men choose – but it is the way to life everlasting, and “few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14).

 

 

A PERSONAL TESTIMONY

Wesley Fountain

        For some time the Lord has been dealing with me about “giving thanks always, for all things” (Eph. 5:20), “for we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).  All through the scriptures, from the Old Testament through the New, we see God fights our battles for us if we obey.  Read II Chron. 20:15-22.  The Lord fought for Israel as they obeyed in singing and praising the Lord.  Remember what happened to Paul and Silas as they were praising the Lord in prison (Acts 16:24-26).  “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Neh. 8:10).  I recently read a book on this same theme, Prison to Praise by Chaplain Merlin Caruthers, which was a real inspiration to me.

        In August of 1985 the Lord allowed me to be tested through a foot injury.  Three other men were helping me move a large food mixer weighing 800-1000 pounds, which fell on my left foot.  When they finally got it off my foot, the pain was terrible.  As someone went for ice, I began to think of other more serious things which could have happened, and I started thanking the Lord for His mercies.  I managed to hobble home and elevate my foot.  As I lay there meditating on how the Lord had protected the other men, I started praising God in spite of the pain.  Someone offered me pain pills, but I had just had a wonderful realization of what Jesus Christ had gone through on the cross at Calvary for me.  He had no pain pills and suffered far more than I.  I refused the pills and began thanking God for what He had suffered for me.  I continued to praise and worship the Lord, and the pain in my foot and leg subsided and left.

        After a while I decided to try helping the other men again with the moving.  My foot was discolored and swelling, but still no pain.  After a few hours, it was so swelled I could not stand any weight on it whatsoever.  My friends and family insisted I go to the hospital for x-rays.  These pictures showed my foot was broken through the instep, but the bones were in line.  Because of the swelling, it was impossible to place a cast on the foot, and I was sent home on crutches to wait for the swelling to lessen.  The doctor wanted to prescribe pain medicine for me, which I refused.  Again I thanked the Lord for His mercy.

        I had three days to pray concerning my foot and for God’s will pertaining to it.  It started paining again on Friday night, but I took a stand against it in Jesus’ name and began praising God, and again the pain left.

        When Monday arrived, I went to the doctor and was placed in the “Cast Room.”  After examining my foot, the doctor said they would need to take x-rays again.  After examining the x-rays, the doctor was somewhat baffled.  He said the bones were still in perfect line and looked fine.  He ordered additional x-rays, for he could not understand the change, but I knew what had happened.  He still had no explanation after the second group of x-rays.  I left the hospital without a cast and was told I could try walking on the foot carefully, but the doctor wanted to see me in a couple of weeks.

        Within the week, I received a letter from the doctor who explained the break and said I was not to work.  I had already been working some.  By the second week after the accident, I loaded a big truck and drove it from New Orleans to Tennessee and returned to New Orleans.  At the end of this trip, my foot was terribly swollen and doubt began to creep into my mind.  When I recognized this as an attack of Satan, I cancelled my appointment with the doctor and exercised the power in the blood of Jesus; again I claimed the victory Jesus won for His children.  Since then I have done many kinds of strenuous work and have jogged many hours, all with no ill effects.

        I personally feel the Lord healed my foot the day of the accident when I had that wonderful experience with him, when I simply praised Him for His goodness and mercy in spite of the pain and what appeared to be a bad situation.  There have been times when my faith has been tested by recurring soreness or swelling, but I know what Jesus has done for me, and I have kept proclaiming it.  Through this experience, my “first love” has been restored as well as more of the “child-like faith.”  I praise God for this; I have personally experienced the “Power in Praise” to Almighty God.

        As I have shared this testimony with others, God has continued to bless me in a special way (Psalm 111:1-6).  I pray this testimony will encourage each of you to press on, and to praise and magnify God in every situation.  Read I Peter 1:7,8.

 

 

A DEFEATED WORLD NEEDS A VICTORIOUS CHURCH

Oliver G Wilson

        We are praying for a spiritual awakening.  It is heard on every hand: “Lord, send an awakening.”  Less often, but with great earnestness, is heard: “Lord, send an awakening at any cost, by whomsoever Thou wilt, and by whatsoever method.”

        Let this prayer be examined in the secret chamber of the soul.  Are we ready to pay God’s price for an awakening? Are we willing to be stripped of all but God in order to bring in the awakening?

        It is feared that our mechanical comforts have made us indolent and spiritually flabby.  Our concern for the well-being of the physical man has well nigh obscured sainthood.  Hardship is often considered the result of weakness rather than a refining process in character building.

        We love effortless gratification.  We demand ease.  We ride in machines with power steering, power brakes, automatic shifts and pneumatic tires.  We live in automatically air-conditioned houses, sleep on sea-foam mattresses, and have placed before us, daily, food prepared in the most tempting manner.

        We are too flabby for a moral fight.  The note of sharp urgency, of desperation, is gone from our praying.  We are so enslaved to the clock that we have no time for strong crying and importunate praying.

The Hour Is Desperate But The Saints Are Not

        Never before in human history has the Church faced a more desperate hour!  On the one hand is Communism with its militant godlessness, bent on the enslavement of the world.  On the other hand is the enemy within the fold – modernism – the peril of corruption.  Modernism would sell our Lord for a mess of pottage.  Liberalism has cut the lifeline of the Church by undermining faith in the supernatural, denying the integrity of the Bible; and reducing Christ to the level of mere man, teaching that every man is his own Savior.

        Brethren of the Evangelical Faith, the battle is set.  We have a rendezvous with Destiny.  Many serious-minded, spiritual leaders are convinced that we are sadly unprepared for this perilous hour.  There are few volunteers for the suicide squad!

        Comfort and ease have made us a generation of pleasure-mad lovers of Self.  In the place of burning zeal for the cause of Christ we have ease in Zion!  We decry the spiritual drift but we do absolutely nothing about it.  Our church altars remain barren while multitudes tramp by our doors to the doors of the cults and to the places of amusement.

        We can measure our spiritual decay and defeat by our adoption to the world.  The future will be sterile and empty of a spiritual awakening if we continue making God’s cause Last, and our own FIRST.  If we are to have revival we must get further from Self and nearer to God!

        The revival will come when Christians pay the price.  It will require confession – confession of sin, confession of depending upon works rather than on Christ.  There must be confession of our worldliness, of our prayerlessness, of our insincerity, of our lack of inward assurance.

The revival will come when there is a separation from the world by the Church; when there is a positive and persistent declaration against immodesty, against sordid sex appeal, against indecency and promiscuity.

        The revival will come when there is a positive faith in the Living Lord – in a Christ who walks with us, who speaks to us, who defends us, who holds in His possession the keys of death, hell, and the grave.  He is our present living Lord who desires to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward Him.

        The Holy Spirit will fill and equip every yielded soul that earnestly seeks Him – empowering him to do the tasks assigned him by the Almighty.  The Holy Spirit is the Dynamic needed today.  It is in Him we find the power to carry the fight to the enemy, and, having Him is the difference between our defeat and failure.