People of The Living God

Isaiah 53

 

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September 2012



 

THE CHURCH IS ANEMIC

Armando Montes

         “I am come that they might have LIFE, and that they might have it MORE ABUNDANTLY” (John 10:10).

        Let’s explain the terms “church” and “anemic.”  The word church as it is used in the Scriptures does not refer to a building.  It has to do with a people.  The Greek word for church, EKKLESIA, means the “CALLED OUT.”  The true church is made up of those who have been washed in the precious Blood of the Lamb of God.  They have obeyed the call of the Spirit to “come out from among them, and be ye separate” (II Cor. 6:17).  This is the church that our Lord Jesus Christ is building “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).

        The Webster Dictionary defines anemia as “a condition in which the blood is deficient in red blood cells, in hemoglobin, or in total volume; ischemia; lack of vitality.”  “For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11).  Blood is life.  If the blood is deficient it affects the whole body.  Some of the symptoms of an anemic person are easy tiring, dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath, poor appetite.

        Today the Church of Jesus Christ lacks VITAlity (the Latin word VITA means life).  This condition is seen in the life of the members of the church.  God’s plan for His Church was established at Pentecost.  Jesus is our individual pattern to live by.  The early Church is our group pattern to follow and to be conformed to.  Our Lord Jesus “left us an example, that we should follow His steps” (I Pet. 2:21).  The church spoken of in the first chapters of the book of Acts is our example.

        Today we hear about mega churches. Let’s read about the true and only mega church founded by the Holy Spirit.  The Early Church had:

  • GREAT power: Acts 4:33
  • GREAT grace was upon them all: Acts 4:33
  • GREAT fear upon all the church: Acts 5:5, 11
  • GREAT wonders and miracles: Acts 6:8; 8:13
  • GREAT persecution: Acts 8:1
  • GREAT lamentation: Acts 8:2
  • GREAT joy: Acts 8:8; 15:3

        The word GREAT in the preceding verses is the English translation for the Greek word MEGAS.  Then, in the light of the Scriptures, we conclude that the Early Church was the real and true MEGA CHURCH.  It was ordained and established by God.  Today’s mega churches do not measure up to the standards set up by the Living God.  They are man-made.  The Lord has given the order to “Rise up and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein” (Rev. 11:1).  From now on, the Lord demands QUALITY, not QUANTITY.

        The Scriptures show very plainly that the modern church lacks God’s power and grace.  In the days of the apostolic church every spiritual or physical need was met by the power of God.  Healings and casting out of demons were a common practice.  God’s love was manifested in the lives of the early disciples.  The mighty presence of the Lord brought brotherly love, sharing one with another.  The Lord was very pleased to dwell among and in them because of their love that brought unity: “And the multitude of them that believed were of ONE HEART and of ONE SOUL…And they, continuing DAILY, with ONE ACCORD in the temple” (Acts 4:32; 2:46).  Here was complete unity: ONE HEART, ONE SOUL, and ONE ACCORD. Their hearts were knit together and set on one common goal: to serve the Lord and please Him.  Love brings unity.  Unity brings the blessings of the Living God.  This is God’s order.  Jesus’ more abundant life was daily enjoyed by the early disciples.

        The present modern church is sick.  We need a revival from the Living God, the true fount of life.  The church is anemic because they have departed from the fountain of living waters.  Jesus stated: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are LIFE” (John 6:63).  He also said in John 6:53, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have NO LIFE in you.”  Our spiritual life is conditioned to eating His flesh, to drinking His blood, His words.

        As we are getting closer to the end of all things, the forces of hell are doing everything possible to destroy God’s Word and His people.  Many Christian(?) people do not believe the Word of God.  The churches teach that we are under grace and we do not have to live and abide by Jesus’ words.  This is a lie from the enemy, brewed in the very pit of hell.  The words of the Master are as efficacious today as they were when He uttered them many years ago.  If we want life, if we want a revival, it is high time to go back to the words of Jesus.  They are the only medicine for our sick souls.  We surely need His life to flow through our hearts.  In His words Jesus taught our duties toward God and to one to another.  We are reaping what we have sowed.  Obedience to His word brings LIFE; disobedience brings DEATH.  It is that simple!

        Here are some of the words of the Lord and Master.  They are medicine for our sick souls.

  • “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
  • “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).
  • “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).
  • “Watch 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).
  • “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life” (John 6:27).

 

 

GOD’S PLAN FOR MAN

Wayne King

        This study is to consider God’s Plan for Man.  The more we can understand what God’s purpose is for us, the better we can “run the race that is set before us” and the better we can understand other portions of the Bible.  Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church in New York wrote in his book, Fresh Faith, “People turn to drugs and alcohol because they don’t have a clue as to why they’re alive.  Others turn to career achievements, or pleasure, or materialism…something, anything to fill the void.  But it doesn’t work.  God created them to worship and enjoy him forever, but this awareness has been stolen from their consciousness.”

        Long before the earth was created, God created the angels and Lucifer.  There was a time when they were not…a time when they began to be.  These created beings dwelled in the very presence of God in heaven.  Eventually, we know, Lucifer became proud and was cast out of heaven along with one-third of the angels.

        After Lucifer's fall, God created again, but this time the process would be different.  His new creation of mankind would not live with Him immediately in heaven as the angels before, but would first be subjected to a process whereby each individual would choose the path for his life.  God has reserved a special place in heaven for those that willingly choose to pursue a life of righteousness despite the natural inclination to follow a life in opposition to Him.  Romans 8:20-21 says, “for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.”  (RSV)

        There is God’s plan for man in a nutshell: He will receive those that obtain the glorious liberty, the ones that choose God’s way in life.

        So, now, here we are.  All of heaven as well as hell are watching as God’s plan unfolds.  Hebrews 12:1 states, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses [we are surrounded by the history of great men and women of God who have gone on before us], let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us”.  The earth is merely a stage where we live our lives on display before all spiritual powers and beings.  Although we humans live in this physical realm and cannot see into the spiritual realm, those who have been “born-again” or “born of the Spirit” are aware of one important fact—the spiritual realm that we cannot see is more real than this physical realm we live in.  When Elisha and his servant were surrounded by an army in 2 Kings 6:16-17, Elisha responded to his fearful servant, “Fear not: for they that be with us [in the spiritual realm] are more than they that be with them [in the physical realm].  And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: [into the spiritual realm] and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”

              God's Plan for Man Diagram 1

 

        And so, life is but a proving ground for the hereafter.  And life is short when compared to eternity.  Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth Act V, “Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more:”  Life is but an hour and then is gone.  In James 4:14, we read, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  Each of us must decide what we will do with the brief hour we have.  The opportunity that is ours to be one of God’s special “jewels” is staggering and beyond comprehension.  1 Corinthians 2:9 reads, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  Unfortunately, we know that God’s creation has not entreated Him well but has grown exceedingly sinful.

        To reiterate this idea of life as a proving ground, let us consider a story.  Once upon a time, a wealthy investor decided to build a factory.  The factory was to be constructed so that a specific product would be produced.  So he built the factory, brought in raw materials, and subjected the raw materials to a process.  Eventually, the finished product was being produced.  Despite the time required and the investment, the finished product that he desired was coming forth from the factory–a finished product that was pure and pleasing to the investor.

                        God's Plan for Man Diagram 2

        When God created the world and the universe, He had a plan.  He desired a finished product that would meet His definitive requirements.  We can illustrate God as the investor in the factory.

        James 5:7 states, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.  Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.”  Again, there is God’s plan for man.  The husbandman (Jesus said in John 15:1, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”) is waiting for the product He has desired from the beginning—the precious fruit of the earth.

                   God's Plan for Man Diagram 3

        Malachi 3:17 “And they [that love the Lord] shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”

        If the world is a stage and the real realm is the spiritual, then this world is but a tool to bring about God’s purpose.  Once the finished product (righteous mankind) is produced, physical earth no longer has a purpose.  Jesus said concerning the parable of the wheat and the tares, the harvest is the end of the world.  In other words, When God gathers the wheat (the precious fruit), the world will end.  In 2 Peter 3:10, we read about the end of the world:  “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”  There will be a last day.  There will be an end of the world.  There will be a final harvest of souls.

        Now, let’s talk farming for a minute.  After a farmer (husbandman) plants a crop, the time comes when the crop is nearing the time of harvest.  The farmer goes into the field and finds some ripe fruit here and there although most of the crop is not quite ready.  The first yield is called the “first fruits”—the first of the harvest, the first of the final product.  As we consider God’s desire for “the precious fruit of the earth”, let us look at Revelation 14:4.  “These [the hundred and forty and four thousand] are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.  These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.  These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”

        What an awesome picture.  The harvest that God has waited for is beginning to come forth.  The text in Revelation refers to them as the “hundred and forty and four thousand” that have the Father’s name written in their foreheads” (verse 1) and are “redeemed from the earth” (verse 4).  Some theologians consider these to be literal Jews because of the reference to the twelve tribes of Israel but they are actually “spiritual Jews” or those that have been born again and have pursued God with all their hearts.  Galatians 3:7 states, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith [whether Jew or Gentile], the same are the children of Abraham”.  Those that are of faith are of the twelve tribes of Israel.

        After the “firstfruits” comes the rest of the harvest.  The next verse, Revelation 14:15 continues this thought,  “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”  What an incredible scripture.  The harvest is now ready.  God’s plan for man is now complete.  We can be a part of that glorious harvest.

        The surprising thing here is, God’s final product, the precious fruit of the earth, comes forth during the tribulation.  Think about that for a minute.  Popular doctrine teaches that the church will leave the earth in the rapture before the tribulation, yet it is during the tribulation that God’s church reaches its glorious destiny.  Matthew 13:30-42 states, At the harvest and the end of the world, the righteous and the wicked are gathered but the wicked are cast out and burned and the righteous are gathered to God.  Verse 43 continues, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”  It is at the end of the tribulation that Jesus returns with the sound of a trumpet for His bride without spot or wrinkle.  It is at the end of the tribulation that the last trump sounds and we are “raised incorruptible” and receive immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52), that we see Him, and we are like Him (1 John 3:2).

        As we stated at the beginning of this article, a greater understanding of God’s plan will affect the way we look at other portions of the Bible.

        In God’s process of securing the precious fruit of the earth, God demonstrated man’s complete absence of righteousness and total dependence on the redemptive work of Christ in what could be referred to as the three covenants.  Most people are aware of the covenant of the Old Testament and the covenant of the New Testament, but let us consider the Garden of Eden to be a third.  Each of these environments gave man the opportunity to know God, but man failed.  Even in the Garden of Eden where man “walked and talked with God in the cool of the day”, God desired to have fellowship with man.  Yet, man failed.

        In the second covenant (the Old Testament), God again desired to have fellowship with man.  Exodus 29:45-46: “And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.  And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God”.  But, again, man did not want to live God’s way.  Time after time, in the Old Testament, God reached out to Israel only to be consistently rejected.

        Now, in this present age of grace through the shed blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ (New Testament), we have the opportunity to be recipients of God’s final move upon His people, when the precious fruit of the earth is brought forth.  “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

        There is the finale of God’s plan for man—to receive a glorious church unto Himself.

        Final Thoughts: This article has been intentionally presented in a simple, straight-forward manner.  Other related subjects that could have been considered but were avoided are:

  • A new earth after the end of this present earth.  Rev 21:1: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea”.

2 Peter 3:13: “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”.

  •  Hell—the destiny of those that do not turn to God’s ways.
  •  Perfection–will the perfection obtained by the latter church be available to the saints of

times past?

  • The covenants and specifically the everlasting covenant.

 

 

SONSHIP

Randall Walton

        Divine Sonship is a term which seems nearly incomprehensible to us poor mortals who are so aware of our very obvious earthiness, and when we contemplate the subject in earnest sincerity, we usually conclude that this is a highly spiritized state of being which is only used as a friendly gesture toward the followers of Jesus Christ, but is actually an unattainable goal – the impossible dream.

        Put Paul stoutly defends the doctrine of Sonship, not as an illusory concept, but as a viable, real, present reckoning of God: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:14,15).

        Sonship, then, is a reality for those who are led by the Holy Spirit; in fact, it is a state which is confined to those who are Spirit led, and they, the sons, are thus identified.

        There are several Greek words from which the English word son, or child, is taken.  Jesus stated, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).  This truly designates a small, young child or an infant, and this is where we all start when we first come to God.  No one becomes a Peter or John instantaneously.  If any would wear their shoes, they must grow into them, and that takes time, experience, and growth.

        But there are two other words which are used to refer to sons or children.  TEKNA is a general term which is translated either child or son and seems to indicate a child who through training and discipline has reached manhood.  Consider the following references for examples:

        “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons (TEKNA) of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

        “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons (TEKNA) of God, without rebuke” (Phil. 2:15).

        “Beloved, now are we the sons (TEKNA) of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be” (I John 3:2).

        The other Greek word for son which seems to have an even greater significance for us is UIOS (HEW-OSE).   This term is always used in connection with Jesus as the Son (UIOS) of God.  He is never referred to as TEKNA.  The saints of God are known as both TEKNA and UIOS, but the UIOS son seems to be a superior state to that of the TEKNA son.  Thus we read in Romans 8:14, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (UIOS) of God.”  True, they are also TEKNA of God, for the “Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children (TEKNA) of God” (verse 16).

        But, Paul speaks of more for us than as TEKNA of God.  He refers to “the glory which shall be revealed in us” (verse 18), and then says that creation (the creature) is waiting for the manifestation of the sons (UIOS) of God (verse 19)!  Not the revelation of the TEKNA of God, but the revealing or making known of the UIOS of God.

        Let us be mindful of the original state of God’s creation, Adam.  He was made in the image and likeness of God, and when God beheld His handiwork, He said it was very good.  He gave Adam dominion, power and authority (Gen. 1:26-31), and commanded him to live in obedience to the word of the Lord.  Adam’s failure to believe and obey God’s voice cost him the loss of his privileges and his God-likeness, and man has fallen heir to a life of inferiority ever since.

        However, the Father sent the Son, the pattern, the mold, to be the exact copy of Himself as an example to all of humanity of the image He desires them to be.  He offers Sonship to all who are willing to be conformed to the image of His beloved Son, Jesus, who are willing to submit themselves to the necessary process to reform, rejuvenate, remold, rehabilitate, renew, renovate, reproduce, reconstruct, revolutionize, repent, or whatever is needed to be reconciled to God (Heb. 1:3; Rom. 8:29; Titus 2:12-14).

        “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scougeth every son (UIOS) whom he receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons (UIOS); for what son (UIOS) is he whom the Father chasteneth not?”  (Heb. 12:6,7)  This is God’s method of dealing with His sons, His UIOS.  Jesus Himself as the UIOS of God, experienced the same dealing of the Father, for “Though he were a Son (UIOS), yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8).

        There is a very definite purpose in the correction of the Lord.  He does it “for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Heb. 12:10).  This is the process He has chosen for us to be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, to return to that place or position of glory which Adam enjoyed and so foolishly lost.

        “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son (UIOS)” (Rev. 21:7).  Notice that the promise of Divine Sonship is very discriminatory – it’s not for just anyone.  Overcoming is a call to battle, the same as “getting the victory,” to conquer, destroy, overpower.  There is nothing passive in overcoming.  One does not “conquer” by spending hour after hour after hour being mesmerized with entertainment, whether it be secular or religious.  One does not overcome by refusing to become involved with the Sword-of-the-Spirit, the Word of God – the Bible.  One cannot gain the victory without being in close contact with the very source of all power, the Living God.

        Those who expect to gain the state of Sonship must be overcomers!  They must gain and hold the victory over the flesh, the world, and the devil.  They must submit, willingly, to God’s process of purification and discipline and, putting on the whole armor of God, go forth to meet the enemy.  Too long, the church has sat back and conceded victory after victory to the flesh, the world and the devil.  Age-old excuses such as “I’m just too weak,” “I’ve got too many problems,” etc., must be rejected, and a new determination to serve God with one’s whole being regardless of the cost must be adopted.  It is time now for all who claim the name of Jesus to become serious about their profession.

        Playing church has not produced any overcomers.  Worldwide evangelism has not produced any overcomers.  Non-stop religious TV shows have not produced any overcomers.  None of those man-generated efforts can do more than provide a little window-dressing to impress the spectators.  There must be a return to the old paths, the old ways, the God-values: “If my people…shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

        This is a good starting point for those who desire to be overcomers, but it certainly is no stopping place.  Divine Sonship is only acquired when the overcoming is complete.  Jesus demonstrated this in His own life.  As He faced the Cross, that final moment of complete surrender to the Father’s will, He victoriously proclaimed, “the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me” (John 14:30).  He had so triumphed over every enemy that Calvary was a reflection of glory, triumph, and victory.

        God has determined to make a formal display of His sons (UIOS).  The “manifestation of the sons of God” will be a public vindication of the righteousness, the ability, the power, the justice, and the integrity of God and His word.  It will be a testimony to the world, principalities and powers, that God in His infinite wisdom was able to take of the dust of the earth, creatures who so loved Him and believed Him, that they willingly devoted themselves to His plans and purposes, and used the means He provided to become partakers of His own Divine nature, thus fulfilling His desire and bringing everlasting glory to His Majestic Greatness, and He will be their God, and they will be His Sons.

        But, remember that the key is, “He that overcometh.”  In a day when people are being taught self-expression, self-esteem, self-exaltation, “how to learn to love yourself,” etc., it is difficult to grasp the importance of self-denial, self-mortification, self-humiliation, all of which the Bible states are vital remedies for the ills of the soul.  The good news for modern man is that the road to heaven is paved with lots of nice things, all of which can be yours for naming and claiming.  Very few sermons are preached on I Tim. 6:8 as the text, “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”  You can’t build up a large following with such a radical message as that.

        But that message is the need of the hour.  Modern man is selling his right to Sonship for a “mess of pottage” that has about as much value as Esau’s.  Yes, “the voice is Jacob’s, but the arms are those of Esau.”  Materialism and the pride of life (ego) have become the tools of Satan to allure the sheep of the Lord astray.  The “arms of Esau,” the ministry, has catered to the desires of the flesh for filthy lucre’s sake and the true gospel, the Gospel of the Kingdom, has been pushed aside.

        Yet, God has not given up hope, for “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2:9).

        May we encourage you to seek the Lord as never before, to lay aside all unnecessary activities, and study God’s word; ask God to fill you with His own sweet Spirit, and show you how to become an overcomer.  Prayerfully consider these words from Paul’s letter to the Romans: “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13).  This is one of the steps toward overcoming and it is available to all who will have it.

        Read also Colossians 3:1-15.

 

 

OVERCOMING

Randall Walton

        In the foregoing article we mentioned the importance of overcoming, and we listed the flesh, the world, and the devil as objects to be overcome.  To most Christians, this seems a formidable task.  We have enough trouble with the flesh, without bringing the world and the devil into the picture.

        But since overcoming is set out in the Scriptures as a most important goal, it certainly must be within the realm of possibility.  In each of the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, great benefits are promised to those who overcome and not to anyone else.  If it were impossible for us to gain this position, surely the Lord would be mocking us by holding out unattainable promises to be won only by a process which we are incapable of fulfilling.  But such is not the case!

        Now, we do not claim to have ascended to this high and heavenly calling, but we can, through the eyes of faith, behold this goal which has been set before all of God’s people.

        The word overcome is very significant.  It means to conquer, rise over, subdue, or get the victory over, and it is very plain that the Lord has supplied all necessary means for His people to conquer, subdue and to get the victory over every opposing force, whether it be the enticements of the world, satan and his hosts, or the wayward cravings of the flesh.

        John stated it this way, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4).  Stated simply, our victory over the world is in direct proportion to our faith, not merely the amount or quantity of faith, but the quality or kind.  It’s a fact that among Christians today there is a lack of faith, both in quantity as well as quality.

        Faith is more than belief.  It is an active response on the part of the believer to the word of God and to the Lord, Himself.  “Faith without works (action) is dead,” and this is the quality (or lack of quality) of the faith of most professing Christians.  True overcoming faith is a powerful incentive in the soul which consistently persuades the child of God to draw closer to Him, to hide under His shadow, to lose all appetite and desire for things worldly, to be dissatisfied with all earthly activities that do not include God and His redemptive salvation.

        Proof that this kind of faith is rare can be seen where any number of believers gather together for visiting or fellowship.  Seldom will the conversation be along spiritual topics.  The weather, sports, hunting, automobiles, houses, employment, politics, taxes, weddings, deaths, births, etc. but spiritual topics are relegated to a confined and limited length of time to be tolerated as a necessary side issue.  Shallow faith produces shallow Christians.

        But we can have the right kind of faith.  We can, through God, have the faith which will separate us from the world and things earthly.  But like all the good things of God, there must be a desire for the faith and a disdain for the world.  Those who are to be overcomers must have a longing for that blessed state.

        John also stated that, “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” (I John 2:14).

        The wicked one referred to here is, of course, the devil.  There are two keys to the victory over the power of satan as stated here: 1) ye are strong, 2) the word of God abideth in you, and both of these keys are accessible to those who desire them.

        “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might,” Paul admonishes in Ephesians 6:10.  How does one become strong in the Lord?  Strength in the natural sense comes from proper nourishment, exercise, and restraint from excesses.  And in the spiritual realm, the same methods apply.  A person must have the proper spiritual diet; he must feed upon the heavenly manna and eat at the Master’s table.  He must exercise himself in spiritual calisthenics: Bible study, earnest prayer, remaining in the presence of God.  He must turn his back on certain pleasures and entertainment.  Self-discipline must become a way of life.  He must reject anything that might have a deleterious effect on his spiritual well-being.

        Anyone who sets about to be strong in the Lord will spend time in communion with the Lord, for He is the source of all strength.  “Draw nigh unto God and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8).  This means dedication, consecration, whole-hearted submission to God and His will.  It means touching the hem of His garment, to “come boldly unto the throne of grace.”

        The other key, “the word of God abideth in you,” denotes time spent in the word and applying its precepts in the daily life.  It also includes using the word as a weapon to wage war against one’s enemies.  The word of the Lord is the sword of the Spirit and is available to the saints for their use.  But all too few saints ever bother to use it as a weapon; consequently, they are frustrated, confused, weakened, backslidden, disheartened, discouraged, and beaten down.  They are in no condition to attempt overcoming the wicked one.  It’s obvious that some drastic changes are in order.

        It’s time for God’s people to reevaluate their standing with God, to see whether they measure up to His standards, to judge themselves regarding their state of overcoming.  It’s time that we all rearrange our priorities and place God at the top of the list.  It’s time for us to “Put on the whole armour of God.”

 

 

A PRISONER OF JESUS CHRIST

Jimmy Windham

        My name is Jimmy Windham.  I’ve been incarcerated in South Carolina for twenty-eight years for a terrible crime I’m responsible for.  David wrote in Psalm 51:4, My sin is ever before me, and he told God, "Against Thee and Thee only have I sinned.”  How is that possible?  He committed adultery and had a man killed.  He committed adultery with Uriah's wife, and after he found she was pregnant with his child, he had Uriah killed in order to hide his sin, yet he told God, “against Thee and Thee only have I sinned.”  Why is this true?  Because when David broke one of God’s holy and perfect laws, one of the 10 commandments, it was to God only that he would pay.  God’s law is holy and just, and because God set boundaries for man to walk in, boundaries in regard to how we are to live before Him and treat our fellowman, if we sin or cross the boundary lines God has set, the law which is perfect will be executed against you.  But with God there is no big sin or little sin.  If we sin at all we are under this death penalty for the wages of sin, any sin, is death.

        Lately we hear a lot of talk about grace.  Grace doesn’t give anyone a right to sin.  Grace only puts off your sentence of death for a moment until you repent before God.  It’s because of God’s loving kindness and tender mercy that He allows you time (grace period) to repent, but know this for sure – if you continue to walk in your sins and fool yourself into thinking that God is a God of love (which He is) and would never exact payment for your sins then you don’t know God or His word.  Jesus didn’t die so you could continue in your sins.  He died to wash away your sins.  Grace isn’t a license to sin.  Say you went to the bank and borrowed enough money to pay for a car.  Your payments are due on the first of each month but you have a ten day grace period.  During these ten days of grace you don’t have to make your car payment on the first.  But once your grace period has run out the bank is entitled to take your car.  Paul wrote in the scriptures, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  God forbid.”  God forbids you to continue in your sins just because He’s given you grace or time to repent.

        I John 1:9 says, “If we confess (true repentance) our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Jesus didn’t nail your sins to the cross as some say.  No, they nailed Jesus to the cross for your sins and mine.  So if we repent, His blood can cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Some say I’m saved because I believe in God and I believe that Jesus died and God raised Him from the dead so all I have to do is believe.  My friend, Satan believes in God and Satan believes Jesus died and Satan believes God raised Jesus from the dead.  But he isn’t saved.  He rebelled against God.  The carnal mind is God’s enemy.  Your carnality, fleshly ways and thinking can cause you to believe you’re saved without genuine repentantance, sanctification and being filled with God’s Holy Spirit.  But you are lost and deceived by Satan.  I’m in prison with all types of men who have done all sorts of crime, and some preachers come to preach to us.  But most of them soften their messages and won’t preach sound doctrine.  One such preacher told me once when I asked him to pray for me over my often secret sins, (call sin, "sin") he said, “Well Brother, God understands and He sees where you have to live so you’ll be okay.”  Listen to me!  God doesn’t give anyone a free pass to sin no matter where you live.  I repented in fastings and prayer and God set me free from that adulterous act against God’s perfect law.  Yes, grace and mercy allowed me time to turn from my sins but I cared enough for God to help me.  He will help anyone who is trying to be set free from any sin you know is wrong.  I used to smoke cigarettes but I knew it was wrong.  I kept myself on the altar where mercy and grace abide.  I would always ask God to give me the strength to quit and finally one day I was able to turn them down.  That period is called grace.  It isn’t grace to continue as though it isn’t wrong.  It’s grace or a time God is working in you and on your flesh until you are free.  That’s grace, friend.  You don’t have God’s blessings in your sin.  God will bless you when you repent and turn from your sin.

        Some of you never read your Bibles.  Instead, you allow a preacher to tell you what is right or wrong.  He’s your God!  You are listening to a god of flesh, not spirit.  When you repent during your grace period, God will fill you with His Holy Spirit, then you can serve the true and living God in spirit and in truth.  A true son is like his father.  Well, our Holy God has sons in the earth today who are striving against the principalities of the air and rulers of darkness, in order to be like their father.  God is holy so I am holy.  God is righteous so I am righteous.  Would a man want to pick a bride to marry by going to a gin mill and see one with her lips all painted red, her hair cut off to look like a man, a cigarette hanging out of her lips, a glass of beer in her hand and a man on each arm?  Well, Jesus is looking for a bride in the earth who is preparing herself to be in the wedding supper.

        In Matthew 25, it talks of five wise virgins and five foolish virgins.  Both had a grace period and had time to trim their lamps.  We trim our lamps if we’re of the wise virgins who see time is running out.  We must prepare ourselves now to meet Jesus because time or grace will run out soon and when it does you can knock on the door of grace and mercy but God will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”  That word “knew” means an intimate relationship.  Now is the time (grace period) to seek God.  Now is the (grace period) time because God’s grace period and time will run out on you.  You can’t love the world and love God.  God isn’t speaking to the world today, He’s speaking to you who call yourselves Christians.  The worldly churches have made the name “Christ” or “Christian” so worldly and the world so “Christian.”  But it isn’t the true Spirit of Christ, it’s in name only.  As Christ told the woman at the well near Samaria one day, “The time is coming and now is when God will seek those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.”  Will God find you seeking Him in the spirit and the word of truth in the Bible for yourself or will you take a preacher’s word that says you don’t have to do anything to be saved for Jesus did it all for you?  My friend, you must repent and seek after God’s Holy Spirit.  You’ll find Him on your knees and in a Bible, God’s Holy Word for mankind.  The inmates I see going down to let a preacher lead them in a sinner’s prayer don’t even bow.  They’re then told they’re born again and all it takes is to believe.  My friend, you’re being deceived by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  No man enters a king’s presence without bowing and no man lives like the world and loves the world if Jesus is their king!  Jesus loves you and wants to save you from your sins!

 

 

THE DELIVERER

Randall Walton

        Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, came to the world to do more than to redeem man from his past sins.  If this were the full sum of His mission, it would certainly be great and worthy of universal proclamation; however, this was but a part of His divine purpose.  With His bold claim that “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” He was declaring that He was man’s complete sufficiency, that in and of Himself there was the answer for every problem imaginable, that He was mankind’s solution, provider, guide, and the one and only means to salvation – “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

        Moreover, He stated that He possessed authority over all humanity, a power which included the right to grant eternal life to certain individuals (John 17:2); furthermore, at the outset of His ministry (Luke 4:16-21) He asserted that the prophet Isaiah had foretold His coming and His work:

  1. to preach the gospel to the poor.
  2. to heal the brokenhearted.
  3. to preach deliverance to the captives.
  4. recovering of sight to the blind.
  5. to set at liberty them that are bruised.
  6. to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

        His mission, then, was one of deliverance.  He not only dealt with the question of sin, He came face to face with its consequences, and offered complete deliverance from its bondage.  He demonstrated that He had authority over oppressing demons: He conversed with them and ordered them to evacuate from the people in whom they had dwelt.  Whether the victims were tormented by one evil spirit or a legion of them, He was the Master Emancipator who set the captives free.  His personal life and ministry were of the same testimony: He lived above the circumstances of human frailty, and He offered the same quality of life to others.

        Let us not suppose that His triumph over adversity and the vicissitudes of life was directly related to His divinity, for if that were so, a poor example He would be to the rest of us.  He showed mankind how to live, how to rise up out of the heap of failure and dismay, how to overcome one’s weaknesses, traits, and prejudices, how to be submissive, how to love.

        To His devout followers, He became their hope – they hoped He would redeem Israel, they hoped He would assume the crown of the Davidic kingdom, they hoped He would ever remain with them and that He would appoint special privileges and positions to them for their own benefit.  Their grief at His death barely hid their disappointment.

        It was impossible for them to understand that His death was to be another amazing triumph, that through it there would emerge another glorious deliverance.  Had He lived a normal three-score-and-ten years and died from natural causes, Israel’s history might have accorded Him a place alongside other famed men of God such as Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Samuel or even Abraham.  But such was not His calling.

        He was killed so He could conquer death.  He was buried so that He could rise from the grave.  He was beaten and bruised that He could bear the mortal bruises of those whom He loved.

        His death, burial and resurrection were the means of extending His delivering power to ALL of humanity, not limiting His great work to that generation among whom He lived.  To His disciples He replied, “It is expedient (better and necessary) for you that I go away.”  It is reasonable to assume that they did not comprehend the profound truth of that statement.  Having Him there bodily, for three and a half years, was the very apex of their existence, and to even consider the possibility of His demise was anathema to them.  Peter actually rebuked Him for mentioning it.

        But if deliverance for the whole human race were to become a reality, He must go and be crucified in ignominy (John 3:14,15).  No more would His miracles be confined to the tiny province of Palestine and the land of Judea, but in “all the world” and “in every nation” the glad tidings were to be declared!

        “…if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).  Now it can be heralded forth that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, and that through His death He brought about the emasculation of the devil’s power of death, and has delivered all them who, through fear of death, were all their life time subject to bondage (Heb. 2:14,15).

        But the deliverance is not only from the fear of physical death: it is total liberation from sin (and its consequences), freedom from all bondage, the torment of evil spirit oppression, the breaking of every yoke, and the setting free of every captive.  No longer shall sin have dominion over men’s lives.  The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, now acts universally through the followers of Jesus Christ to carry out the finished work of Calvary.  The commission which was granted to the Deliverer (Luke 4:16-21) has been passed on to us.  It is our divine prerogative to carry the torch of salvation (deliverance) to every creature, and that by the power and direction of the Holy Ghost.

Consider the following:

1.  “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us” (II Cor. 5:20).

2.  “We are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16,17).

3.  “These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17,18).

4.  “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12).

5.  “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

        Jesus is still the Deliverer, but He ministers today through His Church under the direction and anointing and power of the Holy Spirit.  Through Him there is deliverance from all harassment from wicked spirits, freedom from bondage of habits and addiction to substances such as alcohol and drugs, and liberation from traits of character which are not compatible with the nature of Jesus Christ.

        This is the Day of Salvation!  This is the Acceptable Year of the Lord!  This is the time to rejoice in the Lord for “with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).

        If you have any of the debilitating symptoms mentioned above, we will be happy to pray for your needs, for God surely answers prayer.  Just write to us and make known your requests, and we will pray for you and with you.  If you wish to send a handkerchief for anointing with oil and prayer for some specific illness, we’ll be glad to do this for you.  The Deliverer still ministers to the broken hearted, the sick, the blind, the weary and tormented ones, and He is willing and able to help you in your time of need (Acts 19:11,12).

 

 

TRUE ISRAEL

Tom Scullin

 

        “Israel” is the fad topic making the rounds on the popular religious talk shows on TV and Radio these days.  The devotees of this secular, humanistic and Christ-hating nation are united in their fanatical zeal to establish the false and fatal error that natural, national Israel is the promised seed to whom all the promises were made.  That is, those merely born of the flesh by natural birth are those through whom God will fulfill all the promises to Abraham.

        The bottom-line among these who attempt to change the Gospel of Grace into the Gospel of Race is that the Jew’s physical bloodline overrides Christ’s blood and thus determines who are the chosen people of God.

        They insist on the restoration and reincarnation of Israel after the flesh to world preeminence, power and glory.  Thus, Nationalism, Racism, Jingoism and Sectarianism are again sanctioned and sanctified in this new Israel after the flesh, even as it was in Israel after the flesh in days of old.

        You can trace these prevalent views back to their flawed roots, which is none other than the age-old Jewish fantasy of a worldly political kingdom with Jerusalem as the capital and they as the ruling class.  The Church world at large has picked up this Jewish fabrication, made a few modifications and then they preach it as though it were the truth.

        If there is an authority who has the final word of truth, that will correct this lie, it is that former Pharisee of the Pharisees, schooled and trained as a rabid believer and promoter of this falsehood, but who became the Jewish Apostle of Grace to instruct the Gentiles in the Scriptural truth of the true basis for New Covenant relationship.  This former Pharisee of the Pharisees, after being washed in the Blood of the Lamb and born of the Spirit into Christ’s Kingdom, emphatically and specifically said, “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom 9:8).  That is about as clear and definite as it can be but also about as controversial and upsetting to Jewish and Christian modernists as it can be!

        This Hebrew of the Hebrews’ dramatic conversion opened his spiritual eyes to the revolutionary and heretofore unheard of and unthinkable truth that “it is not the children of the flesh that are counted for the seed” but an altogether different kind of people called “the children of the promise”.To the Jews of that time and of today, along with their contemporary Christian apologists, this is arch-blasphemy and perverse and deadly heresy, but this is Paul’s systematic exposition of the matter in Rom 4: 8-16: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.  Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also?  For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.  How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision?  Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.  And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.  For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.  For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.  Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.”

        This Jewish Apostle, Scholar and Historian goes into a detailed analysis of just who “the children of promise” are and shows us that Abraham was walking by faith when he received the promises and thus was first known as the father of those of like faith with him, long before he received the rite of circumcision and became the father of those known as “the circumcision”.  Thus the promises which came to him and those of like faith with him, “through the righteousness of faith,” preceded and were not a part of what later came through those known as “the circumcision” or “the children of the flesh”.

        “The promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham or his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.  For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of none effect” (Rom. 4:13-14).

        So, clearly “the children of promise” are not those of “the circumcision, who are born after the flesh”; that is, “they which are of the law” but are those born of and who walk in the faith of Abraham.  “who also walk In the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised” (Rom.4:12).

        Abraham was walking in faith not in circumcision when he was given the promise “thou shalt be a blessing” and “in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:2-3), in other words, the promise of the Messiah.

        According to Rom. 4:13, if this promise had come after he had received the covenant of circumcision, circumcision representing the flesh and all that would come forth through it, the promise would have been nullified and made of none effect. Circumcision, which came later, and all that it represented was but a sign or seal to Abraham from God that the promise, which he had already received by faith, was his and his posterity’s by faith alone and not by “the circumcision”, that is, by “the children of the flesh.”

        Being “the father of them who believe though they be not circumcised” (Rom. 4:11) represents the spiritual condition of faith that Abraham and those of like faith with him (his spiritual offspring) manifest, while being the father of the circumcision represented those who were merely the children of the flesh, that is, of the law, which this Jewish Apostle expands on greatly in the fourth chapter of Galatians.  Plainly this Jewish expert in all things Jewish is teaching the Gentiles that Abraham was the father of two classes of people, one of the flesh, the other of faith – those merely born after the flesh vs. those spiritually born through faith – and those born after the flesh alone are not the children of the promise that would be heir of the world.

        Now we turn to this Jewish academic’s detailed repudiation of the old Jewish fantasy that those of mere fleshly lineage to Abraham are the true and rightful heirs of this promise.  Here this Jewish authority who, from his childhood onward, had been infused with all of the old Jewish traditions and expectations of national and racial superiority, debunks those false legends he once so fervently believed.  Gal 4:22-31: “For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.  But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.  Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar.  For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.  For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.  Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.  But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.  Nevertheless what saith the scripture?  Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”

        Here again, as in Rom. 4:8-16, he teaches that two different and distinct kinds of people are connected to Abraham.  One that was born by the bondwoman, “that is after the flesh,” while the other was born of the freewoman and are the people of the promise.  Next he establishes that in speaking of the bondwoman and those born to her, he is referring “to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children,” that is, those “born after the flesh”, the natural, physical Jew.

        Then he says “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all”.  That is, those born from above by the Spirit, even as Isaac “was born after the Spirit” are the people of faith who “are the children of promise.”  “So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”  It is the merely flesh-born Jew who is the son of the bondwoman and thus excluded from this promise.  This is the truth of the scripture.  what saith the scripture?  Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”

        This former Rabbi goes on to give more invincible proof that what he has proclaimed about those born only of the flesh and nothing more verses those born of faith from above by the Spirit is God’s established order and law of inheritance under the New Covenant.

        Rom. 2:28-29: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

        Gal. 3:16,18-19,29 forever closes the book on to whom the promises were made and who are the true heirs of the promise. “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ…For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.  Wherefore then serveth the law?  It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator…And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

        Now in Christ the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile has been broken down and Christ himself has made of the two, “one new man” (Gal. 3:28).  Now, the bloodline of the natural Jew is of no more avail than is the bloodline of the Gentile.  Neither his fleshly lineage nor our fleshly lineage is of worth before God.  It is only the blood of the crucified Christ that has value and worth before a Holy God.  The Hebrew after the flesh only has access to the promise made to Abraham the same way we Gentiles do, through faith and the blood of Jesus Christ alone.  “Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6).

        God is through with the flesh, Hebrew or otherwise.  It is the new man alone who is the inheritor of God’s promise through Abraham and all the other Spiritual promises. 

        “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Gal. 6:15).  It is only those who are in Christ Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile, that are the true seed of Abraham and the heirs according to promise; all others, including those Jews born only after the flesh, are excluded.

        Jesus told those Jews who were boasting that Abraham was their father, that “if they were Abraham’s children, they would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39), a tacit conformation that “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom. 9:6).  Jesus cut right to the chase with those Jews trusting in the flesh and tells them that the kingdom shall be taken from them and given to others.  Matt. 21:43: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”  And in Matt 23:38: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”

        Throughout the ministry of Jesus you see the two distinct and different kinds of the seed of Abraham that Paul so clearly pointed out: those merely of the flesh who hated, resisted and plotted to kill the promised Messiah.  These were not nor ever were the children of promise, but were the children of the bondwoman born only of the flesh and cast out.  And then there were and are those people of pure and simple faith, both of Jew and Gentile, who heard Him gladly and received Him; these were and are the children of the promise to whom and through whom the promises to Abraham are fulfilled.

        These conclusions are not the work of Gentile bigots or anti-Semites who had a hostility toward the Jews, but are the Holy Spirit inspired, Spiritual truth of the two most Divinely inspired and highly qualified Jewish authorities of that area, that is, Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, the singular seed of Abraham to whom the promises were made and in whom they are fulfilled and the Jewish Apostle Paul, the most respected and knowledgeable Jewish theologian of all the New Testament writers and teachers.  These messengers of God were totally dedicated and uncompromising in initiating and ushering in the totally new truths of the universality of the New Covenant verses the exclusiveness of the Old, truths that upset the old order of one physical nation being the sole representative of God.  That now there is neither Jew nor Greek, only the new man in Christ Jesus who is the chosen of God.  They brought to a close the Old Covenant, its rites and ceremonies, and introduced and proclaimed these revolutionary new truths to the early believers at great personal cost and sacrifice as the Jewish religious leaders tried to silence these men and these truths by ferocious and savage personal attacks.  This same pattern still goes on even now as these revolutionary truths, which were Divinely raised up to introduce and teach, are proclaimed today.  The religious leaders of today still hate and fight the proclamation of these truths.

        “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ”.  And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:16 & 29).  These concise statements sum up the all-inclusiveness of God’s New Covenant order; that is, Christ is the seed of Abraham to whom the promises were made and in whom they are fulfilled.  Thus, if you are Christ’s, then you are the seed of Abraham and the true heirs with Christ of the promise.  It is no longer the physical bloodline that counts; now it is all based upon the precious blood of the Lamb of God.

        God specifically chose these anointed Jewish messengers because none could accuse them of being anti-Semitic or biased against Israel as perhaps they might have done against Gentile messengers introducing and teaching such radical new truths, truths that closed out the old order and established the new, that all who are now in Christ Jesus are the true seed of Abraham, that is, the true Israel of God, and are the true heirs of the promise to Abraham, which makes national physical Israel as the chosen people of God a New Testament absurdity and an outrageous farce perpetrated by men of the flesh who attempt to force their fleshly way and will upon the plan of God, but it never worked for ancient Israel and will only lead its current supporters to the same end suffered by them.

        In a future article we will show that the house of Israel and the house of Judah with whom the New Covenant is made, is not with that fleshly earthly seed of the bondwoman who was cast out with her seed but is with the true Israel of God, the seed of the freewoman.

 

 

THE CROSS

Curtis Dickinson

        Early in His ministry Jesus became a controversial figure.  “Whom do men say that I am?” He asked.  All kinds of rumors were flying about who this man could be who challenged the Pharisees and the lawyers, insisted that eternal life could be gained only by a resurrection from the dead and that the old covenant was to give way to a new one.

        The apostles stood by in awe as the controversy raged about Him, not taking sides in the argument, but asking Him questions in private.  Not until the very last did they realize that He was engaged in a conflict for which He would lay down His life.  When that time finally came, much more suddenly than they expected, they all fled as if upon prearranged agreement!  It was all right for Jesus to be falsely accused unjustly arrested, put to public shame and even tortured to death, but they had no stomach for such controversy.

        Foreseeing this attitude on the part of the apostles and all subsequent believers, Jesus made the solemn statement: “If any man would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk. 9:23).  He also promised, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also” (Jno. 15:20).  The apostles all experienced the truth of Christ’s statements, and soon after His resurrection they found themselves in the center of controversy and persecution.

        Christian faith applies not only to the ultimate salvation in eternity, but also to every facet of present living: economic, political, recreational, health, and business.  A believer must take up the cross daily, not just on Sunday; he must carry it to work, to the classroom, to the office and even to the social gathering of the evening.

        Taking up the cross does not usually give the believer the excitement of a dramatic and heroic stand in which he may die in a blaze of glory, as is generally pictured.  The enemy is more subtle, often making the believer appear to be anything but a Christian.  To His own family, Jesus appeared to be out of His mind.  Some said He was possessed by Beelzebub.  Paul was accused by the king of being a mad man for the single reason that he affirmed the resurrection.  Many a seminary professor of our day is held in very low esteem by some of his colleagues because he stands with Paul regarding resurrection.  One professor in a (conservative) Bible college informed me that he dared not openly espouse the truth concerning the ultimate end of the unredeemed because of the pressure that would be placed upon the school by other believers.  And what of the pressure of the community for those who will not give to United Way because of its support to Planned Parenthood?  A teacher must not say aught against the NEA and its anti-Christian stance.  Don’t say anything about the immorality of values clarification or homosexuality.  One must not take the inflexible position of Christ, nor insist that God has a right to make demands.

        There is a popular and obstinate misconception that the true faith is attractive to the world.  Therefore, if the church is to grow it must adopt the world’s music, the world’s lifestyle, the world’s business practices (operate on credit) and the world’s goals – self-satisfaction, ego-building, social pleasure.  And plenty of preachers are ready to pursue these aims to the fullest in the hope that it will mean popularity and a “successful” ministry.  The end justifies the means.  It is not just the notion that such means will get a hearing for the gospel and increase the church, but it is also the knowledge that one who refuses to compromise will be treated as an outcast.  He will be shunned by other preachers and held in contempt by community leaders who see all religions as equal and want the church to be a tool for community solidarity.

        Speaking on this subject, T. Robert Ingram said, “For years it was all but impossible to find a clergyman of any denomination in this whole land of ours who would offer public prayer in the name of Jesus Christ for fear of offending the Jews.  And the blasphemous hyphenated term, Judeo-Christian civilization is used now even by the most conservative Christian scholars – for the same reason.  Yes, the true witnesses of Christ in this world will always have to face the threat of being thrown out of the respectable company of churchmen, and even those who harbor murderous intent against them will actually think they do God a service.  They will think they are right.”

        It is for these very reasons, the fear of being ostracized and smeared as a crazy fanatic unfit for decent company, that so many today take no initiative in holding forth the truth of God in the face of the present blitzkrieg of anti-Christ thought and immorality.

        Christians in public office who keep silent on moral issues are denying Christ more than Peter ever did.  Christians who compromise the truth for the sake of their own acceptance or for peace or popularity are walking in the steps of the Pharisees whom Jesus soundly condemned as children of the devil (Jno. 8:44).

        One cannot be a follower of Christ and expect to fit into the present Hedonistic society.  The fact is, we are not called to fit into society, but to call it to repentance.  To do so is to deny self and take up the cross; the cross of ridicule, contempt, opposition, denigration and persecution in any of its various forms.

        Christ went on from persecution, the cross and death to the triumph of resurrection and glorification, by which He could truthfully say: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:8).  The Jews thought they had won, but the victory was Christ’s.  The cross is the way of death to the world, but it is the way to life for the believer.

        Jesus does not call us to wring our hands and complain about the advance of Satan while retreating before him in fear.  Rather He calls us to shine with the light of truth to destroy the advancing darkness.  We may be sheep in the midst of wolves.  Nevertheless, we are sent into their midst, knowing that the Lamb of God is also the Lion of Judah, and the One before whom all will be brought to judgment.