People of The Living God

I Corinthians 13

 

Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size

August 2012



 

DO WE WANT A REVIVAL?

Irving Kugler

        Revival will come to our hearts only when there is heart-searching and deep contrition and self-abasement and weeping before the Lord.  When there is confession and purging out of sin from the camps of believers – when there is earnest seeking after the Lord and His ways – then revival will come to our nation.  Revival begins in the dust!

        Revival is the theme of the day in the Christian world.  It is discussed by preachers at turkey dinners.  It is preached about in Bible conferences among crowds of pleasure-loving Christians who spend thousands of dollars on vacations but throw a beggarly coin into the missionary box.

        It has become the shibboleth in the mouths of complacent children of God whose consciences are undisturbed when their women paint like ponies and their children enjoy demoralizing shows at the movies or at the television sets at home; it is a subject of lively discussion by Christians feasting at banquet tables while the hollow cry of the poor and needy enters into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, none caring for their souls.  Much is said about revival, but no one does anything about it.

        Every year thousands of meetings are held in which ice-cold Christians, who straddle the fence between the world and Christ, are “worked up” into a fleshly enthusiasm to make a “drive” for souls; high powered evangelists are brought in to preach the gospel, seasoned with the latest jokes and choruses; a few Sunday school children under the prompting of their teachers make half-hearted confessions of faith; no one is stirred, no one moved; the spiritual tempo of the people remains as low as before except that there is a temporary surge of evangelistic fervor; and they call those revival meetings.

        It is high time that we take stock of ourselves.  Do we really want revival or are we merely soothing our consciences by displaying a sham zeal for the Lord?  If we really want revival we can have it any time, anywhere among God’s people if we are ready and willing to pay the price.

        What is revival, anyway?  In order to answer this question adequately we must see first:

What Revival Is Not

        It is not a stirring of emotions.  An emotional upheaval produces an unbalanced condition of the mind, not a revival of the heart.  It is true that unless we allow the Holy Spirit to stir us we will never awake to a righteous and holy life.  It is true that tears of repentance play a great part in a genuine revival, but the stirring of our emotions in itself is not revival.

        It is not the hip-hip-hurray type of Christianity singing, as one writer put it, love ditties to Christ.  We thank God for every effort to reach the young people of the world, but too many of God’s people remain in the child level stage of Christian experience, and the faith of Christ is being reduced to a sort of playboy-religion.

        Young people need life and enthusiasm, but Christians today want nothing deeper than that.  It thrills our souls to see young people happily living for Christ, but it is a sorry sight to see Christian men and women remain in the young people stage of Christian experience all their lives.

        Can we conceive of Jeremiah leading a company of Jews in singing some of our modern catchy choruses?  Think of Isaiah telling joke after joke from the pulpit, or the apostle James introducing some of our modern day entertainers to his audience.

We Want Showmanship In The Pulpit More Than

We Want A Showdown With The Lord

        Some may say, Jeremiah was a weeping prophet – we rejoice in Christ.  Would God we had some weeping prophets today!  Jeremiah wept over the destruction of Jerusalem and the sins of the people.  Would God that some would weep for the abominations that are come upon the whole world and the spiritual paralysis that has engulfed the Church!  One revivalist wrote, “Laugh and the church laughs with you; weep and you weep alone,” and yet we live in a day when there is need for much weeping.

        It seems that God’s people today are more interested in a happy religion than in a godly life.  We want good showmanship in the pulpit much more than a showdown with the Lord.  We look for pleasure in Christian circles rather than pleasures forevermore at God’s right hand!  We have geared our Christianity to the pleasure made pace of the world.  Worship – reverence – earnestness – sobriety – all these are relegated to a few antique Christians, and gaiety is the order of the day.

        Now that we have seen what revival is NOT, let us consider:

What Revival Is

        In brief, revival is an adjustment of the Christian’s mind, heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His Word.  When Christians fall on their faces before a holy God and yield to Him their lives, their property, their all – that is revival, whether it be in an individual or a group or a city.  Revival is going on all the time in isolated spots, individuals; let us join their company.

        In a testimony meeting a lady rose to her feet and gave a glorious testimony of victory in Christ.  The lady behind her whispered to her friend, “I’d give the world to have a testimony like that.”  The one who testified overheard the remark, turned around and said to that woman, “That’s exactly what it cost me – the world.”

For Every One Of Us – A Day Of Reckoning!

        This is a sorely neglected teaching and a very unpopular teaching.  We do not want to be reminded that we shall have to give account of ourselves before our Lord.  We want to be left alone to rejoice in His salvation, but we shy away from our responsibilities.  We are so glad to sing, “Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe; sin hath left a crimson stain; He washed me white as snow.”  This makes us feel good: but we do not want to be reminded that while our Savior washed our sins away there comes a day of reckoning.

        Hence, there is no fear of the Lord in our hearts.  Christianity has become a “convenient” religion.  We love to think of our blessed Lord as our Friend and our Big Brother (and He is) but we forget that one day He will judge us.  What kind of material have we been sending up against that day?  Is it gold and silver or wood, hay and stubble?  I fear that most of us, “Happy Day” Christians, produce little more than stubble.  The shallow Christianity of today, even though some souls are snatched out of the fire, offers people only a “fire-escape” salvation – “saved, yet so as by fire;” it doesn’t produce gold that can be tried by fire.

        While it is not Biblical for any believer to cry, “the pangs of hell gat hold of me,” we should soberly consider that day when we shall stand before Him and see to it that we are prepared for it.  We look for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, but he that hath this hope purifieth himself (I John 3:3)!

        Oh, the bitter shame and sorrow that the time should ever come when any of us shall stand before Him empty-handed!

        John saw Him in glory and His “eyes were as a flame of fire.”  Those eyes will one day be fixed upon us.  What is the answer then?  It is

Self-Judgment

        Between the judgment at Calvary and the Judgment seat of Christ there is, or there should be, a continual self-judgment for the believer.  “But let a man examine himself…For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (I Cor. 11:28 and 31).  When Job beheld the glory of the Lord and saw his own spiritual condition he cried out, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

        That’s what it takes to have revival – self judgment.  We must cast “down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in readiness to revenge all disobedience” (II Cor. 10:5-6).  When we do that, God will bring us into the dust, and that is where revival begins!

        The gay Christian public will frown upon us; we won’t be the life of the Christian party; we will be called fanatics; but revival will come to our hearts only when there is a heart-searching and deep contrition and self-abasement and weeping before the Lord.

        “Blessed are that that mourn;” how often do we mourn for our sins?  When there is confession and purging out of sin from the camps of believers – when there is earnest seeking after the Lord and His ways – then revival will come and permeate our souls and our families and our churches.

        Child of God, are you willing to pay the price for revival?

 

 

CHURCH, WAKE UP BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Tom Scullin

        It has been said, “those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.”  This quote will be the theme of this article on how the Church at large is blindly following the same fatal errors that doomed Israel of old to disbelieve, discredit and reject their promised Messiah and thus will lead the Church to also disbelieve, discredit and reject the great move of the Lord in these last days.

        Contemporary Christianity, the Church, is in the same spiritual condition that Israel was in when Jesus, their Messiah, “came unto his own.”  This will become clear as we see how the church is now embracing false doctrines, just as Israel had done, that will cause it to fail at its most critical time, even as Israel became entangled in false doctrines and failed at their most critical time.

        The Jews were locked in a belief system that was based largely on the traditions of the elders, which to them superseded the word of God.  The core of this belief system was their fanatical zeal for a King and a kingdom that would exalt them to superiority and dominance in the world.  To legitimize this haughty and vainglorious image of themselves they wrested and twisted the Scripture to conform to their prideful and carnal desires, which they then canonized and aggrandized in their writings and commentaries to be the final authority to consult on what they considered orthodoxy and truth.  Thus, their traditions, and not the word of God, became that by which they misjudged, spurned and rejected their Messiah (Matt. 15:1-9).

        All of the false doctrines, the fallacies, the misconceptions, the untruths and superstitions that Jesus encountered in His dealing with them set them up for failure and the inability to discern that this was the time of God’s visitation to them.  Their lack of a love for truth caused them to create and believe a lie and so to be damned, as the Scripture declares (II Thes. 2:10-12).

        They had made lies their refuge (Isa. 28:15); therefore, they were looking for an imaginary Messiah, one that did not exist, one that was only the figment of their imaginations and would never appear.  So when the Father’s anointed one, the Messiah, walked among them declaring “the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:14-15), and when He further said that this was not a political or earthly kingdom like they were expecting (Lk. 17:20-21), they became enraged and began seeking ways to kill Him.

        What an object lesson, and when Scripture specifically tells us that their history is recorded for our admonition so that we will not make the same fatal errors as they, we are without excuse.

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor. 10:11).

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).

        What a sobering and alarming truth of history, that the people chosen by God to bring God’s promised Deliverer to the world, would so violate, misconstrue, misinterpret and misunderstand God’s word regarding their Messiah that, when He came unto His own, they accused Him of being from Beelzebub, the prince of devils!

        That is truly frightening and shocking!

        To think that God’s chosen people, the only ones in all of the world chosen by Him to receive His explicit instructions concerning the most momentous and important event in world history, the coming of Messiah, undermined and subverted the glorious trusteeship God had entrusted to them by distorting and perverting His words to them and have instead become an object lesson of failure and spiritual bankruptcy, a powerful warning for all to take heed how they handle God’s word, for it has eternal consequent.

        With such a potent and graphic lesson recorded in Scripture for our specific instruction and understanding of what we must avoid at all cost, it is truly astounding that the so-called Church has fallen right into the same grievous pattern that doomed Israel of old.

        Twisting and distorting of Scripture, Scripture taken out of context, Biblical warnings and instructions totally ignored, the words of Jesus given little if any authority, unfounded and untrue theories of so-called Biblical authorities establishing the tradition that is the accepted foundation to stand on. These and more are the reasons the Church is on course to reject God’s end-time work and move.

Take The Rapture Theory

        The millions who have accepted this unscriptural doctrine expect to be taken to heaven during the great tribulation.  This is their great hope!  A recent article in this paper debunked this theory.  What do you think these people will do when their great hope fails them and they find themselves right here on earth during this time?  They are being set up by this false doctrine to be candidates for the great falling away that Scripture declares will precede Christ’s second coming (II Thes. 2:1-3).  They are also being robbed by this theory of vital Scriptural information concerning God’s real work during this time period, information they need in order to prepare for this time, and without this preparation they will fail and miss God’s great and glorious will for this hour.

Take The Future Thousand-Year Reign Of Christ Theory

        Previous articles in this paper have dealt extensively with the fallacy of this doctrine, now I want to expose its injurious influence in the lives of those who have taken its poison into their hearts.

        This false and malevolent doctrine has left the Church weak, powerless and exposed against her deadly adversaries who have taken full advantage of her failure to believe and act with the Kingdom authority and power which is given to it by Christ Jesus (Matt. 16:19; Jn. 1:12; I Cor. 4:7; Eph. 1:17-23).

This doctrine, inspired of devils (I Tim. 4:1), strips Christ of His authority as King at this present time and His Church of present Kingdom authority and power, which explains the emasculated, anemic and feeble state of the present day Church.  II Tim. 3:1-5 foretold of this time and called them “perilous times” when there would be but “a form of godliness” which denies the power.  “From such turn away” is God’s command!

        Jesus, the twelve apostles, the early Church, Paul and all others preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, not just in word, but “in demonstration of Spirit and of power so that the faith of believers would not stand in the wisdom of man but in the power of God” (I Cor. 2:4-5; I Cor. 4:20).

        This is an anti-Christ doctrine, full of lies that will prepare those who drink its deadly poison to receive the anti-Christ and his deadly lies and thus are excluded from the genuine move and work of God.

Take The Hugely Popular Doctrine Of Grace Without Law

        Perhaps no other error has done more to tear down the defenses and protections built into His Church by Christ than this treacherous doctrine that obedience is not required.  That somehow Law is antagonistic or antithetical to Grace.

        “Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17), but take note that Jesus equates His truth with His commandments; that is, He uses the terms synonymously to describe what He taught.  He gave us His truth, which is His commandment to us, which we are obligated and required to obey!

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love…ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15:10,14).

        “If ye love me, keep my commandments…He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him…He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (Jn. 14:15,21,24).

        “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I Jn. 2:3-4).

        “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him.  And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (I Jn. 3:24).

        Grace does not abrogate or annul obedience to His Truth, which are His commandments to us, and any doctrine that teaches otherwise is a lie according to the word of God and is destroying the only foundation that will stand the violent storms predicted for these last days.

        These doctrines and others are preparing people for failure, setting them up to miss out on God’s momentous end time work.  These errors are causing people to have false hopes and unfounded and untrue expectations concerning end time events, the hour of our visitation, just as Israel had unrealistic and false expectations at the hour of their visitation.  These man-made doctrines will have the same effect on the Church at this crucial time as the fatal errors the Jews fabricated at the time of their visitation – FAILURE AND REJECTION BY GOD!!

        We all need to examine our foundation to see if we are truly building on the only rock that Jesus said would withstand the violent storms that are predicted for these last days.

        “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.  Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (II Cor. 13:5)

        “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.  Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matt. 7:21-27).

 

 

WARNING – STORM APPROACHING!

Randall Walton

        “Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matt. 7:24-27).

        Jesus has here emphatically detailed several profound facts of life:

  1. There are but two classes of people: the wise and the foolish.
  2. Both classes are builders of houses.
  3. The kind of foundation for the houses is determined solely on the basis of hearing the Words of Jesus and the kind of response to those Words.
  4. An identical storm comes to both classes of houses, or people (rain, floods, wind).
  5. Only one kind of house survives the storm, that whose foundation is on the rock!

When all these facts are assembled and assessed, it is not difficult to see the tremendous importance of hearing and doing what Jesus said to do.  It is actually a matter of survival.  And in this day when the popular “gospel” encourages Christians to hear and disregard rather than to hear and do, this warning of Jesus has become of utmost concern for everyone who professes the name of Jesus Christ.

        There is no doubt that this message of the Lord concerning the storm has a personal, present application: the common storm of life with its trials, hardships, day–by–day complexities, and anxieties.  These things come to all of us.  But if a person will follow the Words of the Master, there is a viable solution to any and every problem!

        However, in addition to this, there is a universal STORM looming on the horizon, a time of trouble such as the world has never seen, and which we believe Jesus was alluding to.  In Matthew 24:9-24, Jesus spoke of this as a time of great tribulation so devastating and fierce that those days would need to be shortened for the sake of His people.  Obviously, His people, the elect, will be present on the earth at that time.  He never promised to “rapture” the saints out before or during the great tribulation.  No, the STORM will “come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev. 3:10).  There is neither a promise nor a suggestion in the Scriptures that the Church will be in Heaven during that hour of trial!!

        No, the message in Matthew 24:29-31 is that Jesus will return AFTER the tribulation; the tribulation is only one of many things which must be fulfilled before He comes again.  The “secret, at-any-time, catching away” doctrine is a very dangerous teaching, in that many people feel safe and secure without making any preparation whatever; as if being born again and having been baptized into a church is sufficient readiness to go directly into heaven!

        Actually, if all believers would make the proper preparation, it wouldn’t make any difference whether there was a rapture or not.  I am sure that if God were to translate the church, He would be very selective in His choice of candidates, and only those who met His standards would be accounted worthy.

        However, since the Scriptures are very plain that the church will be on the earth during that time of great trouble, it is imperative that we learn what will be required for us to survive the STORM, and then take the necessary steps to ensure our preparedness.

        The theme of preparation is very common in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.  Jesus went to great lengths to impress upon His listeners the need for being ready.  Consider these verses:

        “And that servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes” (Luke 12:47).

        “And they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut” (Matt. 25:10).

        “the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

        “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa. 40:3).

        “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

        “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).

        Watching and praying, then, are a part of the preparation which can contribute to one’s qualifying to ride out the storm, or “these things that shall come to pass,” which He so vividly described in this chapter.

        Many people have interpreted this “escape” to mean the rapture, but since no other scripture anywhere supports the idea of a pre-tribulation translation, we must look elsewhere for the answer.  It is a fact that Daniel “escaped” the mouths of the lions while he was in their den; it is also true that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego “escaped” the fire of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace although they were thrown into it.  And it is just as remarkable that, while the plagues fell upon all the Egyptians in the days of Moses, no harm befell the Israelites who were also in Egypt.

        Noah escaped the flood of his day because he made the necessary preparation.  But take notice that he was not translated to heaven!  He obeyed God’s voice and walked in faith and fear (Heb. 11:7), and was therefore accounted worthy.  Lot also was an escapee, but he was not raptured to heaven. The angels of the Lord escorted him out of Sodom, and he was thus spared.

        Now, judgment is on the way!  Already, the dark clouds of the mighty storm can be discerned by those who have eyes to see.  We inhabitants of the earth are seeing the Word of the Lord being fulfilled before our very eyes.  Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17 and 21 are coming into sharp focus.  The “beginning of sorrows,” is right upon us, and the GREAT tribulation is soon to follow.

        Famine has already struck many of the nations of the world, not only the third world nations, but also many of the more advanced countries.  Hunger is an ever present companion to millions of the earth’s inhabitants.  Although energy, i.e., oil, gas and other fuels, have been in the limelight for some time, food is fast becoming the number one concern of many people.  Petroleum and its by-products mean money; food spells survival!

        As food supplies begin to dwindle down to a fraction of their present level (which is inevitable, due to water shortages, pollution of fields and streams, erosion, pests, insects, and uncontrollable disease), we can surely expect violence on an unprecedented scale.  We Americans have taught two generations of young people that a part of their culture and heritage is the right of possession whether it is earned or not.

        Our Federal and State welfare programs, as well as the Social Security System, has generated an attitude of dependency upon the Government to provide a living for everyone.  What will happen when the Treasury is empty, when the Social Security checks no longer arrive, or even if they do, will be worthless because of run-away inflation?  We can expect our cities to become jungles, with looting, shooting, and mass slaughtering on a wholesale scale, as the hordes of hungry city dwellers compete for a morsel to eat.

        Most of the penitentiaries of our nation are bursting at the seams.  When food shortages hit these penal institutions, the wall and other barricades will likely not be able to contain the eruption of violence and rebellion.

        Add to these things the other destruction from natural sources: earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes, volcanoes and tidal waves.  These are all very real potential disasters and prophesied by the Word of God to occur.

        It is only reasonable to expect governments to resort to force and intimidation in order to bring things under control.  This they will do through the power of the Man of Sin who will require everyone to certify his allegiance by accepting a certain mark upon his person.  Those who refuse will not be allowed to purchase the necessities of life.

        This certainly does not have the sound of joy, does it?  But it is according to the Word.  This is why Jesus emphasized the necessity of preparedness.  And He gave great hope for those who would give diligence to His Words.  Let’s hear it again: “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

        My friend, it’s past time for those who profess the name of Jesus to get busy with His words.  See what He had to say, then do it!  This is your only safety in these days.  “Watching and praying always” are but two things He commanded.  We urge you to dig deep into the Word to discover those things He said for the people of this generation to observe and do.

        Not only is spiritual preparation imperative in this hour, people should be praying about the kind of physical and material preparation they should be providing for themselves, their families, and their friends.  Remember, Noah built a literal ark, or a boat, as a means of protection from the storm of his day.  So too today, God’s people are being called to build places of protection from this gigantic, worldwide Storm which is looming ever nearer.  And just as Noah was instructed by the Lord concerning the construction of the ark, so also is He leading His people today regarding this present ark of safety.

        Let us admonish you to study the Word, seek God with all your heart and soul.  Ask Him what He would have you do, and He will be faithful to show you the Way.

 

 

THE BOND OF THE COVENANT

Marjorie Hidley

        “As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you:

        “And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.

        “And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.

        “Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God.

        “And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into THE BOND OF THE COVENANT” (Ezek. 20:33-37).

        God’s sheep we find scattered throughout the whole earth.  The Lord is calling His people.  God has a plan: a definite end in view.  The means to accomplish that end has been designed by the Great Creator.  Angels, who have been summoned as ministering spirits to aid in this task, bend their wills to the will of the Father; while the Holy Spirit ever works in the child of God to help him yield his will in full surrender to that of the Almighty.

        For man to submit his will in obedience to God’s process is most reasonable, for was not our Lord given “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isa. 11:2)?  “In Him [Jesus Christ] dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily,” and He is “the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:9-10).  Jesus and His Father are one (John the 17th chapter).  God’s ways, though unlike man’s, are always right, for our Heavenly Father is the very fountainhead of knowledge and understanding.  Being the sole possessor of all foreknowledge, He can look down through the corridors of time and see every eventuality and every reaction of His creatures to all circumstances and conditions.  Since He knows the end from the beginning, He can justly formulate the proper plan and process necessary to accomplish His desired end.  And thus is revealed the manifold wisdom of God.

        The end that God had in view was the creation of His divine family.  Because of His loving, benevolent nature, the Almighty One would share with others of His creatures.  The sons of God are what He saw, as He looked down through time, long before the foundations of the world.  And with these sons He would share, not only the glories of His kingdom, but also the beauty of His nature, His character, His holiness.

        So, before the world began, our loving Father “saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Tim. 1:9), and brought “eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2).

        Now, in the realm of glory, as also in this earth state, every creature of God has been given the free power of choice.  God is not a God of force.  Every being in God’s universe is a free moral agent, and in the hands of each creature lays the ability to choose his own eternal destiny.

        Lucifer, the anointed cherub, was created perfect in his ways.  Seeing the glorious state of existence that awaited God’s children, he unlawfully attempted to press into it (Isa. 14:12-15 and Ezek. 28:11-19).  The covering cherub who dwelt in the holy mountain of God in heaven itself, was found with sin in his heart.  Jealousy, pride, and rebellion had taken over this most beautiful creature, as he said within himself, “I will ascend into heaven I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13,14).  Sin, black as night, inspired those words.  Satan’s motives were evil.  Satan’s method was evil.  God cast him out.

        For any being with a humble and contrite heart to desire to be like God is a most worthy sentiment.  This is the ultimate goal for every Christian.  BUT this creation is brought about by the Almighty, whose Holy Spirit works in conjunction with the will of the individual, and to the degree that the individual will cooperate in obedience to God’s words and to the Holy Spirit’s leading.  Any other method than that of God’s process is unlawful and illegal.  The end result of God’s process is most glorious.  No joy of earth can ever compare with this state of glory which awaits God’s people.  “We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (I John 3:2), sons of God, possessing the beauty of His character, and the holiness of His nature.

        God’s process of perfection is through the way of death.  Christ “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (II Cor. 5:15).

        “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 10:39).

        “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

        “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25).

        “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (I John 3:16).

        “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20).

        Yes, God’s process is a way of death, a crucifixion of everything we call our own: death to our desires, our hopes, and ambitions, death to our ways in exchange for God’s ways, death to that will within us that would exert itself against the will of God.  “All that he hath” (Luke 14:33): these are the words of Jesus.  God requires one hundred percent of us.  Our God is a refiner of silver and gold.  He will purge out everything within us that is at enmity against Him if we yield to His scourging, and profit by His correction.  The process continues.

        He has promised to bring us out from the people, gathering us with a mighty hand and a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.  Are we ready?  He has promised to plead with us as He did with our fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt.  He will never force us.  Love does not force.  Love draws; love woos, love pleads.  Oh, the long patience of our Righteous Heavenly Father as He works us over with His rod of chastening!

        “I will cause you to pass under the rod” (Ezek. 20:37).  This passage vibrates with heaven’s pressure.  His words compose the pattern we are to follow.  “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).  This is God’s standard.  Christ’s meat was to do the will of the Father.  We are to follow Him.  Friends, the more of our time we spend with Jesus, the longer we sit at His feet, beholding His image, and absorbing His word, the quicker will be the culmination of God’s process; for, “we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Cor. 3:18).  The joy of His presence strengthens us while the process continues, for self must die and give place to the Master – Christ must reign supreme in our lives.

        “I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” (Ezek. 20:37).  And what is this?  Have we ever made a covenant with God?  Let us go back to the day we found the Lord.  While bound in the clutches of sin, the Holy Spirit convicted us of our lost condition and the great necessity of a Savior.  Water could not wash away the blackness we found within.  Only the shedding of the blood of The Sinless One could pay the price of our dreadful guilt (Hebrews, the 9th chapter).  “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18).  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

        We believed God’s word; and pouring out confession from our souls, we repented from our sins and found forgiveness, peace, and a new life within.  Oh, the joy there is in knowing our precious Lord!  He has given us part of His own life, for His Holy Spirit came to abide with us forever, and now we are new creatures in Him.  “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He that hath the Son hath life” (I John 5:11,12).  Do we walk alone?  Never!  His Spirit is within us and will lead us IF we listen and obey.  He searches the will of the Father and reveals it unto us.  The presence of the Spirit of God is the most glorious gift a being can receive.  It cost heaven much.  Oh the mercies, the compassion, the boundless love of our gracious Heavenly Father!  Mortal man can never fathom this love of God for His creatures!

        It was on this day when we found God that we made a complete surrender to our Creator.  Nothing was withheld from the ONE who died for our sins.  To Him we committed our ALL – body, soul, and spirit.  Heaven heard and accepted us at face value (God will accept nothing less than one hundred percent consecration.).  Before the throne of God our sins were washed away, and the righteousness of Jesus Christ was imputed to us.  We were accounted holy, even as God is holy.  This was our standing in the realms of glory.

        Now there is coming a day when that righteousness that God has accounted to us will be seen in actuality before men’s eyes.  The covenant we made with God must, in reality, be entered into.  Our consecration will be proven.  It must be demonstrated before the beings of heaven and earth that we love God with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31).  And it is these, His children, who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice who will adhere to God’s process of purification, cleansing, and purging.  This process of perfection entails a continual cooperation with the Spirit of God as He pleads with us to obey God’s Words.  And, thus, He ever works to make us one with our Lord.  The proud and rebellious refuse to yield to God’s plan or to obey His words.  Pride and self-will take precedence over surrender and obedience, and, like Lucifer of old, many will seek to exalt their own ways.

        But God’s plan will shine in triumphant victory!  There will be a glorious “manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19).  The whole creation awaits and groaneth to see it brought forth.  The bond of the covenant must be entered into in truth and actuality.  “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isa. 53:11).  For this we were apprehended.

        “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him” (I John 3:2).

 

 

LAW AND GRACE

Randall Walton

        There appears to be a great misunderstanding among many of the evangelicals concerning the roles that law and grace play in the lives of Christians in this dispensation.  Those who teach that Christians are responsible to obey the law of God are often accused of being legalistic (which accusation is sometimes founded in truth), while those who cling to grace alone are often judged as rebels who use grace to justify their manner of loose living (which judgment is also sometimes founded in truth).

        We believe that the correct position for God’s people is somewhere between the two opposing views of legalism and lasciviousness.  Our Christian experience is not founded upon law (nor its observance), but neither is it totally upon grace, especially if grace is considered as license to act as one pleases.

        Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance offers two definitions for the word grace:

  1. To grant as a favor
  2. The divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.

We contend that both of these definitions are accurate, and that they both have a distinct and definite work in the life of every child of God.

Let us hereby proclaim that the law saves no one.  There is no saving power in the keeping of laws and commandments!  There are actually several elements involved in the saving of a soul.  Grace is certainly one of those, but law is not.  Grace, as unmerited favor, is simply that divine characteristic of God which looks upon mankind in love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness, offers to instill in mankind a peace, a joy, a satisfaction and sense of Godlikeness and makes the first step necessary for reconciliation.  It includes the wooing by the Holy Spirit, of a deformed, lost, depraved person, the ceaseless patience of the Living God to bring a sinner to repentance.

    It is embodied in that great provision made by Providence upon the rugged hill called Calvary.  It is all bound together there by the vicarious death and agony of Jesus.  Grace existed prior to the Cross in lieu thereof.  It exists today because Jesus has died “for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2).  The crowning achievement of all the history of creation points unswervingly to that awful, but blessed moment when Jesus declared to every being in the universe, “It Is Finished.”  The means for every man to find God was provided!!  Grace was raised to its highest possible potential.  “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me.”  Hallelujah!

    No individual has ever performed any act or deed so great as to merit or deserve this incomparable act of the Lamb of God.  There is no possible way anyone could ever earn the right to so great salvation as has been afforded through the sacrifice of the only begotten Son of God.  Our only plea can be that “God so loved the world,” and that is nothing else than grace!  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).  Matchless, peerless, unequaled gift given to unworthy, unthankful, unholy creatures!  No wonder we sing, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”

    Now, once a person has received this grace gift, grace begins another work, that is, the effort of the Holy Spirit to encourage the heart to measure up to the standard of God, which is nothing other than the law of God.  God’s will is found in His law.  He has declared through His law His expectations of everyone who accepts His grace, for His law and His will and His word are one and the same.

    As long as man does not fully meet the standards of the law, grace is necessary as a convicting agent, a pardoning source, and an encouraging force.  There is no conflict between grace and law: the one complements the other.  Paul said, “where sin did abound, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:26).  Since sin is transgression of the law (I John 3:4), it follows that grace and law are partners together in the process of refinement and maturation of every child of God.

    God has ordered, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Pet. 1:16).  The attainment of this high standard is not accomplished instantaneously.  This is an on-going undertaking which requires the joint efforts of the individual, the Holy Spirit, and the word of God.  It has its beginning the moment a person is born again, or born from above, and it continues for the remainder of his physical life, unless he reaches the intended goal first (“the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph.4:13).

    This is a divinely-ordered process which consists of the work of grace in conviction as the Holy Spirit points out various weaknesses and deformities of character of the person who walks with God.  Grace intercedes by ministering strength to overcome: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Cor. 12:9).

    This never-ending devotion of the Holy Spirit is reflected in the life of the person.  Peace, joy, and encouragement are some of the graces bestowed upon the soul who has set himself to please God.  His desire to serve the Lord by obeying God’s law springs from a heart of love.  “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  The greater the love, the greater is the desire to please Him by doing His will.  And the more the person conforms his life to the standards of the Lord, the more grace is reflected through him.

    Grace is instrumental in receiving pardon for sin, but grace is never license!  Grace does not smile upon nor condone man’s waywardness and rebellion against God’s laws.  If this were so, God Himself would become party to transgression: He would be guilty of aiding and abetting criminal acts against Himself, a position diametrically opposed to His very nature.  Justice demands that man pay a price for his rebellious acts against God’s standards: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7,8).  At the same time, however, grace intervenes in behalf of the transgressor for pardon on the basis of his intention to serve God and his willingness to repent and turn from his wicked ways.

    Grace does not grant an unconditional, unlimited amnesty.  Grace constantly works for the rehabilitation and restoration of fellowship of every soul who strays from the fold of the Great Shepherd: “despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God (grace) leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).  Repentance on the part of the person invokes grace on the part of God.

    A failure to see the joint work of law and grace is due to a misunderstanding of God’s plan and purpose for His people.  It is summarily stated in Romans 8:3,4 where Paul declared: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.”

    God intends that the standards of His law be made manifest in the lives of His people.  This can only be accomplished as grace works together with a willing heart: a heart willing to surrender, to obey, to repent, to rectify wrongs, to adjust and correct, and to accept the leading of the Spirit in moral and spiritual aspects of life.  Grace is not a cover-up for sin, but rather a search light which reveals sin, then gives the needed help to overcome even the temptation to err.

    Thank God for His grace; thank Him also for His law which never compromises with the whims and desires of the flesh.  Because it stands steadfast, we can rest assured in the knowledge of its reliability, faithfulness, impartiality, and justice: it says what it means, it means what it says, and it has no favorites.  Grace makes it possible for man to keep it!