People of The Living God

I Corinthians 13

 

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October 2012



 

WATCHMAN ON THE WALLS

What of the Night?

Alfred King

        In days of old, watchmen were placed on the walls of great cities who were to keep their eyes open for any enemy approaching and were assigned the duty to warn the inhabitants of the city of any eminent danger.  This was to allow all gates to be shut and secured and the armies of the city to gather themselves on the walls to resist the approaching enemies.  Failure of these watchmen to sound the alarm could allow enemies the tremendous advantage of surprise.  Therefore the watchmen held a great responsibility to be awake and alert at their positions, and any failure at their posts could mean destruction for the inhabitants of the city.

        The watchmen were also to watch for any supply caravans or other necessities approaching that were for the good of the city over which they watched and to allow entrance into the city.  So they watched for both the good and the evil which might come and inform the authorities so proper decisions could be made for the good of the city.

        Today there are those who are called to be watchmen for the church.  Their duties demand a constant alertness and ever watchfulness of enemies which threaten the church of Jesus Christ.  It is sad that those ministers who have been called to protect the sheep are themselves asleep or are too involved in the cares of this life so they have not been aware of the wolf who has crept into the church in sheep's clothing.  Wolves have brought in many evils so that holiness and righteousness is lost and in their place are entertainments, false teachings, and worldliness.  If the ministers are not preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified, if they are not preaching the Gospel of Christ's kingdom, if they are not preaching holiness and righteous living, they are not properly watching and sin will creep in.  If they are merely entertainers, attracting members by the same devices that Hollywood uses; if they must have fleshly music, worldly activities, celebrities or other man–devised shenanigans to hold their members, there is no doubt that the walls have been broken down, the watchmen have slept and the enemy has come in.

        In the days of Nehemiah when Nehemiah asked concerning Jerusalem and the Jews who were left, he was told, "The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down and the gates thereof are burned with fire" (Neh. 1:3).  Nehemiah sat down and wept when he heard these words and he mourned, fasted and prayed unto God for the condition of Jerusalem.  The temple, which was the place where God Himself came and spoke to Israel, was destroyed and the city of Jerusalem, where once the praises of God sounded and God descended in such a manner that the priests could not minister for the presence and glory of God that fell upon them (I Kings 8:10–11), laid desolate and forsaken.  It was the city where prophets spoke God's word and the people listened, heard and trusted the God of Israel.  It was once a city where God's people followed His leading, saw His mighty power exhibited as they battled enemies, and observed God's word being fulfilled before them as they possessed the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Jerusalem was a city where walls had been erected that were on par to any other and as long as the LORD was their God, those walls were impregnable and her people invincible.  There was no God like Israel's God.  There was no enemy who could stand before her as long as Jehovah was their Leader and Commander.  But over the centuries, Israel turned to other gods and fell into many sinful practices of the heathen around them.  They wanted to be like the other nations.  They wanted to have a king to go before them to battle.  They wanted all the pomp and ceremony that was so impressive to the eyes and hearts of men.  They wanted the praises of men more than those that come from a holy God.  God sent watchmen who warned Israel of impending danger.  He sent prophets who sounded the alarm of approaching enemies but Israel had waxed fat.  They were comfortable in their sins, and the alarm only caused them to bury their heads a little deeper in the dust of worldly indulgence.  Where once the great walls of salvation offered protection, where once the gates of praise hung majestically honoring their great God and testified of His greatness before all nations was now in, Nehemiah's day, destroyed and broken down.  Great breaches existed in those once impregnable walls so now any enemy could just walk in with no effort at all.  Not only enemy nations but even wild animals had no means to detour their entrance into the once holy city.  Nehemiah grieved under the awakening in his own soul to the condition of Jerusalem and those few Jews who were left.

        But twenty five hundred years have passed and we find a similar situation in the 21st century church.  The church, which is called to be a beacon of light and hope, a people who are called to be living epistles, demonstrating to the world the holiness and righteousness of God, has also had watchmen who are asleep and enemies have broken through the walls and infiltrated the church.  The glory that rested upon that early church, that church described so beautifully in the book of Acts, where "suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance" no longer rests upon the church.  The power and majesty of God that gave testimony that these men had been with Jesus has departed and the watchmen have slept while the walls have been broken down and sin, that was once imagined only among the heathen, has crept into the church.  What are some of those enemies that have slipped into the church and how are they to be extricated?  It is time that the watchmen "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isa. 58:1).

        Let those watchmen who are faithfully on the walls and see the approaching enemies cry aloud.  Let those who see the storm coming and who are grieved by the sin and worldliness that has crept into the church begin to clear the rubbish (beginning in their own lives) and begin to build again the walls of salvation.  Let those who are burdened over the desecration of the Gospel, stand up and proclaim the message of holiness and righteousness, the Gospel of the kingdom of God where the blood of Christ is not merely a message of easy believism but a message of deliverance.  It is a gospel that proclaims Christ, Who came to deliver man from sin, to free His people from the slavery of Egypt (the world, sin and the flesh).  It is the Gospel of full deliverance so that His called out people can serve and worship their God "in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life" (Lk. 1:75).  It is time the church prepare herself, for the day of the Lord is at hand.

 

 

WHO ARE THE COVENANT PEOPLE OF GOD ?

Jer 31:31–34 & Heb.8:7–12

Tom Scullin

        “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.”  The Scripture plainly states that God has made the New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. But the critical and defining question is what house of Israel and what house of Judah is this referring to?  An error in answering this question will have a devastating effect on so much of what will be believed concerning New Covenant rights, privileges and inheritance, so we need to proceed with prayerful study, asking God to open our spiritual eyes and our hearts to receive His Divine truth on such an important issue.

        The dissimulations and deceptions that are accepted and practiced as the truth by various Christian entities today are almost beyond belief.  For instance: there is a segment of professed Christians who still adhere to and practice various types and symbols of the Old Covenant that were fulfilled at Calvary.  Now, those who consider themselves the true representatives of the Christian Faith regard these groups, at best, as unorthodox and out of the mainstream of Christianity; at worst, as false cults or aberrant sects; but this is an example of that trite saying “the stove calling the kettle black” because these who are calling the kettle black are also guilty of using Old Covenant types that were fulfilled, and thus were done away, to support their unchristian and anti– Christ fables concerning national Israel.  What all these groups seem to miss is that it is in the New Covenant, not the Old Covenant, that we find the now relevant and pertinent facts and truths concerning Israel, the house of Israel, and of Judah; that God is building Jerusalem, who are the Covenant people of God, and the people that will be at the center of God’s end time work.

        Though there is huge disagreement among these different groups, yet they all agree on one fundamental error; that is, they expect national Israel after the flesh to be reinstated as the covenant people of God, but by terms different than are offered under the New Covenant.  Some of these groups even approve, promote and applaud the Jews who aim to reinstate animal sacrifice and Temple worship.  These are the most anti–Christ and defamatory doctrines that are “called Christian.”  They presuppose that the cross of Christ was insufficient to meet the needs of man, specifically the Jew, or to satisfy the demands of Holy God; therefore, they find it needful to go back to what they perceived that worked, that is, the rites, rote and rigor of the Old Covenant.  Is there a more egregious contradiction of Scripture?  I think not!

        Heb 8:7–9: “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”

        Surely the Jewish Apostle Paul’s rebuke in Titus 1:14, “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” is sound and needed correction for such slanderous views of our Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect and complete work on the cross and its all sufficiency to provide all that God requires to accomplish His will under the New Covenant.

        Yes, our views on the New Covenant and those with whom it is made has a profound effect on whether we understand or misunderstand God’s  “eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” and the outworking of that purpose throughout the ages.

        Later on in this article we will expand upon the misuses of Old Covenant symbolism or types that were canceled out at Calvary and yet are used in an attempt to make what were at one time old Covenant truths, the current truths of the New Covenant.  But first we will address the question: who are the covenant people of God ?

        We are instructed by the renown and Divinely inspired Jewish authority, Paul the Apostle, that now under the New Covenant: “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” (Rom. 2:28–29).

        The seed of Abraham born of flesh and blood is he that is a Jew outwardly, and to these who trust in their fleshly ties to Abraham, there is no greater authority qualified to speak to them on the matter than the creator and King of Israel Himself, Christ the Lord.

  • Matt 3:9–10: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.  And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire”.
  • 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.”
  • Matt 8:11–12: “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.  But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
  • Matt 23:38: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
  • John 8:39: “They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.  Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.”
  • Heb 8:9: “they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”

        The Divine Record has detailed overwhelming evidence of National Israel’s apostasy of breaking the Covenant God had established as the grounds and the basis for continued and permanent relationship with them.  A covenant, like a contract, is made between two parties.  When both parties abide by the terms of the covenant, that which they covenanted upon will be brought to pass; but if one of the parties fails to live up to their part of the covenant, then the covenant is broken and that party forfeits or loses all rights and benefits of the covenant.  Thus, National Israel, in breaking their part of the covenant, are rejected by God.

  • Jer. 11:10: “The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their Fathers.”
  • Heb. 8:8–9: “because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”
  • Ps. 78:10 & 37: “They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law…For their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant.”
  • Jer. 22:9: “Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.”
  • Ezek. 44:7: “and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations.  Therefore their inheritance is taken from them; in its place is kindled the fire of God’s anger against them, which will burn forever; there is no remedy for them; they are rejected.”
  • Heb. 8:8–9: “because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”
  • Jer. 17:4: “And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.”
  • 2 Chr. 36:16: “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.”
  • Jer. 6:30: “Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.”
  • Lam. 5:21–22: “Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.  But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us.”

        Abraham brought forth two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, which this foremost Jewish authority of New Testament times uses as an allegory to teach the end of the Old Covenant order of national, physical Israel as the chosen and exclusive people of God and the ushering in of the New Covenant order.  According to the allegory in Gal. 4:22–31, these who broke the Covenant and were cast out are the bondwoman and her children who are born after the flesh; that is, “Jerusalem which now is and is in bondage with her children;” while those who, like Isaac, are born from above by the Spirit are the children of the promise and of the New Covenant and are counted for the seed through whom the spiritual promises to Abraham will be fulfilled.

  • Rom. 9:6–8: “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.  For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, 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.”
  • Gal. 4:28: “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”
  • Gal. 4:31: “So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”
  • Rom. 4:13–14: “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.”
  • Rom. 4:16: “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 whole process we are studying is the out–working of the Spiritual law Paul taught in 1 Cor. 15:46: “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”

        The natural seed was first; but they broke the Covenant between themselves and God which led to the dispossession and rejection of Covenant relationship as the people of God.  That is, national, physical Israel, the nation, ceased to be the Covenant people of God; however, God did not abandon his Covenant or His promises to Abraham, nor has He forsaken the seed of Abraham.  Christ, the son of David, is that seed to whom and through whom the New Covenant will be established and through whom the promises will be fulfilled.

        So the big change is not with the promise or the covenant God made with Abraham.  The change is with the seed God would use to fulfill the promise.  No longer would it be those after the flesh; they are rejected.  Now it is changed to come through  “THE SEED,” which is Christ because the promise was to Abraham and his seed, singular, not seeds, plural. Christ Jesus alone is that seed!

  • Isa. 65:9: “And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.”
  • Gal. 3:16: “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.”
  • Gal. 3:19: “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.”
  • Gal. 3:14: “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
  • Gal. 3:29: “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

        So no longer is the Covenant with the seed of Abraham after the flesh but now through that one seed of promise, which is Christ Jesus and if we are Christ’s, then we are Abraham’s seed and heirs with him of the New Covenant and of the promise.

        The elect and holy nation of the New Covenant is no longer based on being born a Hebrew; it is comprised only of those who are in Christ Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile. 

  • 1 Pet. 1:1–2: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace be multiplied.
  • 1 Pet. 2:9–10: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
  • John 1:11–13: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
  • Gal. 6:15–16: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”
  • Gal. 5:6: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”
  • Eph. 2:13–18: “but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. for he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

        If the Hebrews after the flesh are to be part of and partakers of this New Covenant, they like everyone else must come through Christ Jesus.  Their fleshly lineage to Abraham does not give them entrance into or access to the blessings of Abraham contained in the New Covenant.

        The Old Covenant was all fulfilled in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross.  It is done, over with, passed away, never again to be the basis of New Covenant worship, service or practice; for it was only in types and shadows pointing forward to Christ and the Spiritual realities He brought into being as our inheritance and possession.

        Why would anyone prefer a type or a symbol, a thing that represents something else, rather than the reality itself??  Well, that’s what these do, who revert back to Old Covenant symbolism and types that are done away in Christ and attempt to resurrect them to be New Covenant realities.  They exalt the symbol above its reality.  They are Symbolists instead of Realists.

        Take, for example, Jerusalem or Mt. Zion, two of the most potent symbols used in Scripture.  The religious symbolists demand that we continue to use the Old Covenant usage and meaning of these terms instead of their New Covenant usage and Spiritual reality.  In other words, to them, physical Jerusalem as spoken of in the Old Covenant (Ps. 48:1–9) is still the earthly city of God even under and during the New Covenant.  They are adamant in their belief that earthly Jerusalem is the holy city, where Christ will set up His earthly throne and then reign from Jerusalem for a thousand years.

        However, if we go to the New Covenant Scriptures themselves and let them speak to us of the New Covenant realities brought forth by Christ, we find the Spiritual reality that now earthly Jerusalem is accounted as anything but the holy city.

  • Rev. 11:8: “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
  • Gal. 4:25: “Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”
  • As you can see, God is through with earthly Jerusalem.  It will never be the place of His Throne, as the Old Covenant symbolists insist.  Now the New Covenant Spiritual reality brought forth through Christ, that supercedes Old Covenant symbolism, is that the city of God, the Holy City, is New Jerusalem or the Heavenly Jerusalem and not earthly Jerusalem.
  • Gal. 4:26: “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
  • Heb. 12:22–24: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
  • Rev. 3:12: “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”
  • Rev. 21:2: “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

        These we call the symbolists attempt to hold on to and give these Old Covenant types or symbols they use to support their theories, that which is only found in the Spiritual reality of the New Covenant, but that’s an impossibility!  Example: You cannot make earthly Jerusalem of the Old Covenant into Heavenly Jerusalem of the New Covenant!  Neither can you make national Israel of the Old Covenant into the Israel of God of the New Covenant

        Christ Jesus is the seed of Abraham, the true Israel of God, that changed it all into Spiritual reality instead of the physical reality that the symbolists hang on to and demand.  This New Covenant is A Covenant that His word says will not be according to (or after the manner of) the Old one.

  • Heb. 8:7–9: “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”

        In Isa 49:3 Jesus is referred to as, “Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”  And verse 8 says : “I will preserve thee and give thee for a covenant of the people to establish the earth and to inherit the desolate heritages.”

        Isa. 42:6 confirms this prophecy of Jesus by saying: “and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.”

        The Septuagint version of the Old Testament was the version most often quoted from by Jesus and the writers of the New Testament.  The Sept. version of Isa. 42:1, speaking of Jesus says: “Jacob is my servant, I will help him; Israel is my chosen, my soul has accepted him, I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.”

        Isa. 42:1–7 is speaking of Jesus and the work He would accomplish.  Jesus, then, is the Israel of God of the New Covenant and the Covenant of the people and the light of the Gentiles; so then all Gentiles or Jews who are born of Him are the true Covenant people of God and the true Israel of God and are joint–heirs with Him of all that He is and of all He has provided.  This is the truth that strips away the exhausted, worn–out and terminated Old Covenant symbols that are no longer applicable to the New Covenant and reveals the Spiritual Reality and Spiritual understanding that the Scriptures teach of the New Covenant He has made with the seed of Abraham, Christ Jesus, the true Israel of God, the house of Israel and the house of Judah that God is building, after the failure and rejection of the house of Israel and the house of Judah after the flesh.

        His word has said this New Covenant is not according to, or like, the Old one He made with national Israel.  The flesh has no part in this Covenant like it did in the Old one.  Now it’s neither circumcision nor uncircumcision that counts; now it’s only the new creation in Christ Jesus that is accepted.

        This is not about the old order of the flesh that failed and was rejected by God, but whom God is now going to reinstate as His covenant people — never!  Christ is the seed of Abraham, the house of Israel and the house of Judah, with whom the New Covenant is made; God will never take from Him that which He has given Him, and those that are joint–heirs with Him, they, and they alone, are forever the Covenant people of God!

        This is not about an old order.  No, it’s all about the new order and the new things God has brought forth through JESUS CHRIST, THE SEED OF ABRAHAM, THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND THE HOUSE OF JUDAH, TO WHOM AND THROUGH WHOM THE PROMISES ARE FULFILLED.

        This is about: “A New Covenant,” “A New Birth,” “A New Heart and A New Spirit,” “A New Creature,” “One New Man,” “old things have passed away, behold all things are become New,” “A New and Living Way,” “Walk in Newness of Life,” “Serve in Newness of Spirit,” “A New Name written,” “A New SONG,” “New Wine in New Bottles,” “Speaking with New Tongues,” “A New Commandment,” “New Jerusalem,” “A New Heaven and A New Earth,” “Behold I make all things New.”

        In a follow–up article we will examine the Old Testament and the New Testament Scriptures that speak of the house of Israel and the house of Judah that God said He would and is currently building.

 

 

A LOOK AT THE HEART OF MAN

Kenneth Fountain

        Man’s physical heart is the central, preeminent organ of his body.  The brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys are vitally important to the life of the body, but without the heart, even these are useless.  Throughout Scripture, man's heart is depicted as much more than the muscular organ that pumps blood throughout the body.  As early as in Genesis 6:5, it is recorded that "every imagination of the thoughts of his (man's) heart was only evil continually."  The Hebrew word used here for heart is also defined as soul, mind, will, and knowledge.  The physical organ in the chest does not have an imagination, or thoughts, or a will, but the spiritual heart most certainly does!  The spiritual heart is the core of man's spiritual, moral, and emotional being.  It is the governor, dictator, and home of the real “you.”

        Before we get into a study of the spiritual heart we must recognize that mankind is “by nature the children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).  Adam’s rebellious transgression of God’s command caused the fall of man from the relationship God designed to the current state on the earth as sinful man.  “Death passed upon all men” (Rom. 5:12).  Each child is born spiritually dead, separated from God, and in need of salvation.  Even a “good” person with nice, gentle, loving qualities is spiritually dead until he receives God into his heart to rule his life.  Scripture states that “there is none good, no not one” (Rom. 3:10,12), and that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  Furthermore, “all our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6) before Him, the God of Glory.  People are born with a carnal, fleshly nature that is proud, selfish, rebellious, stubborn, envious, and at enmity against God.  (Our natural man is the image of the beast: Satan.)  This can be witnessed in very young children as they selfishly demand certain things from their parents, or meanly mistreat other toddlers.  Short of salvation, every individual is bound directly for hell – even the sweetest little “angel” born of the most godly parents.  Only Jesus saves, not our relations or social status, or church affiliations.  (Note: It is true that a newborn is covered, or protected in a spiritual sense, by the holy relationship his parents have with God if they are born–again practicing Christians, until the “age of accountability” for each child, at which time the child is directly responsible to God for his moral, spiritual condition.)  We are given lists in Matt. 15:18,19 and Mk. 7:21 of some despicable characteristics found in the unrepentant heart.  Solomon said, “there are many devices in a man’s heart,” and one of the most dreadful is that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Prov. 19:21 and Jer. 17:9)  Solomon also speaks of the wicked with these words: “frowardness (stubbornly contrary and disobedient) is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord” (Prov. 6:14).

        Fortunately, man is not irredeemably confined to this sad condition.  However, man MUST BE born again (Jn. 3:3) – the spiritual birth of a new man receiving forgiveness, and newness of life.  This work is also accomplished in the heart.  The sinner must “believe in thine heart…for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness…unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9,10).  In Deut. 4:29, we read, “if thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”  Jesus has made the way of salvation available to every man, woman, and child through His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.  In Revelation 3:20, we read “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.”  He requests entrance into the person’s heart, not his brain.  He does not barge in uninvited, but He does approach the house and knock on the door.  Everyone has, at some point in his life, an invitation to know and walk with the Creator and Savior.  When he surrenders his life to the Master of love and mercy, God delivers him from destruction, and gives the repentant sinner a new heart with new desires.  He provides the Holy Spirit to guide and instruct in righteousness.  He enables this new person to walk pleasingly before Him in love. “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (Jn. 1:12).  Fellowship with God Himself is reinstated, and on–going cleansing of the heart and life is possible through access to the throne of grace for sin and uncleanness (Heb. 4:16).  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (pliable).  And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them” (Ezek. 36:26,27).

        As mentioned above, when a person is “born again” spiritually, forgiveness of past sins is granted, the person is given a new, clean, pliable heart with new desires, and the Holy Spirit resides in this temple of God to guide, instruct and teach the convert in the ways of everlasting life.  This Presence of God in the life hungers and thirsts for righteousness to be brought forth in this cleansed habitat, and works to produce the fruits of the Spirit, which are a natural product of a God–centered, surrendered life.  This is not to say that a convert’s new life in Christ is free from inner turmoil, or conflict.  (This is where many people become confused and discouraged because trials and testings befall them, and they think perhaps God has abandoned them, or maybe they just thought they had received salvation, but really had not.)  It is easy to see in very short time that the old carnal nature has not been destroyed, or done away with: it still exists (see Rom. 7:18–25).

        How long does the convert remain surrendered to God, and centered upon God?  This is purely an individual matter.  Some “float” in the effervescence of the love and joy of salvation for days, weeks, months, or even years, but typically each person at some point looses his measure of surrender and God–centeredness.  In a spiritual sense, he returns to the altar where he surrendered ALL to God and snatches back some portion of his self–life to coddle.  (Much like a person delivered from some addiction may easily fall back into his former state.)  Any measure of SELF is an enemy of God, and this carnal nature that has been welcomed and re–introduced into the cleansed heart, is an enemy of the Presence of God in the heart.  Mortal combat ensues between these two incompatible natures housed in the same heart.  The carnal nature demands its own way (Rom. 8:7), and the gentle Holy Spirit works to guide the believer into a holy relationship with a righteous God (Jn. 14:16,17,26).  This individual is no longer completely surrendered and God–centered.  He is double–minded.  James says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (1:8).  He goes on to say: “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:7,8).  (James was speaking to Christians, not heathen.)  This unstable situation must be remedied, and it shall be with God’s help and the desire of the individual to do so.

        This is where the numerous Scriptures referring to taking up our own personal cross, denying self and following Christ come into effect.  (Paul said, “I die daily” I Cor. 15:31)  Jesus Himself said, “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”  (Matt. 16:24).  The convert has daily, even hourly, choices to make regarding his relationship of love with the Master as opposed to his natural affection for self (Jn. 14:23,24).  Self must be crucified for Christ to be glorified in the life.  As John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30).

        A convert is called a “babe in Christ” who must be nourished with spiritual milk and grow, or mature, into a person who can be fed the meat of the Word.  Hebrews 5:13,14 says, “for every one that useth milk is unskillful in the Word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age (mature), even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  A babe in Christ (new convert) could not possibly have exercised himself in the Word by reason of use because he is new – inexperienced.  Growth is expected, even required.  Being born again is a wonderful, heavenly experience, but it is only a beginning!  We must abide in the Vine, and bring forth fruit (Jn. 15:1–10).

        The follower of Christ must also become an overcomer, victorious in the spiritual battles that confront him.  “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).  “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I Jn. 4:4).  “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jesus in Jn. 16:33).  In Revelation 2:7, we read, “to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”  This promise is not given to every born again believer, but to the overcomer.  The true follower of Christ cannot simply sit back on his Levi’s and be a victorious overcomer.  He must engage in the warfare, or he will be swept away.  Scripture makes it very plain that a cooperative work must be done within the heart of each believer because, when Jesus returns with all His holy angels, “he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27, see also Matt. 25:31–46).  This is an on–going process begun with new birth (conversion) and completed at the time of the person’s cessation of physical life.

        These decisions (or choices) to continue in a love relationship with God are made in the heart as well – evidently based upon the contents of said heart.  In Psalms 27:8, David said, “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.”  He made conscious choice to submit to the command of God.  In Psalms 19:14, David prayed, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”  It is important to note that “the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Sam. 16:7), not just on the actions.  This is why in Matthew 5:21–44, when Jesus expounded on some of the commandments, He addressed the cause of sin (evil intent in the heart), not just the action.  Among the list of things Solomon said are an abomination unto God is “an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations” (Prov. 6:16–19).  King David also said, “If I regard (approve) iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Ps. 66:18).  Paul compares malice and wickedness to leaven, and points out that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”  He says to “purge out the old leaven” (I Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9).  Evidently wickedness harbored in the heart is not stagnant, instead it grows or manufactures by–products of more wickedness!  These verses are but a sampling to show that wickedness, expressed through an individual’s daily activities, originates in the heart.

        Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matt. 12:34,35).  It is interesting to note that the word treasure used here is described as a place of safe–keeping, a storehouse, a deposit (Strong’s, and Vine’s).  Evidently, the “good treasure,” and the “evil treasure” are not simply inherited traits or qualities, these were deposited in the heart!  The question then is this, was the good deposited by God, or perhaps godly parents, or a godly environment, and conversely, was evil deposited by Satan, or ungodly parents, or an ungodly environment?  If either were true, then man is merely a pawn or marionette whose actions are manipulated by an external power greater than himself.  Not so!  God created us as free moral agents with the awesome power of choice!  History has proven that man has the capacity of doing great good, or tremendous evil.  The individual makes the specific deposits in his own heart.  If good exists in the heart, the owner of the heart chose, or at least permitted the good to be deposited there.  By the same token, if evil exists in the heart, the owner of the heart so willed it!  External forces (including hereditary traits) definitely influence the contents of one’s heart, but the deposits are made only due to the choices or will of the person.  For example, an ungodly environment (neighborhood, home, family, friends) does not automatically cause the individual living there to be ungodly, any more than a godly environment (same) causes one to have the attributes of a holy God.  Just because a person has encountered heart–rending, or abusive situations, does not mean he has to become bitter, or hard–hearted.  These things could, instead, cause him to become sympathetic, compassionate, and loving toward others.  The results (in the heart) are dependent upon the choices of the person who has endured these hardships – the hardships themselves do not dictate the response of the heart.  To justify, or excuse one’s heart condition because of bad experiences is a self–preserving rationalization designed to absolve one of his responsibility, but it does not change the truth: each one is responsible for the contents of his own heart.

        Sin separates from God, and it grieves God because He desires fellowship and communion with His creation; and He knows that when His invitation is rejected, the individual has chosen instead the path to destruction and eternal loss.  Jesus wept over His chosen people, Israel, because they rejected Him.  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37).  He told the ancient prophets, “this people have a revolting and a rebellious heart” (Jer. 5:23) and explained their lack of responsiveness with these words: “(they) have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house(Ezek. 12:2).  Ancient Israel was described as “a people that do err in their heart” (Ps. 95:10), and King David admonishes to “harden not your heart” (v. 8) as they did.  Pharaoh and his fellow Egyptians in Moses’ day repeatedly hardened their hearts against the working of the Lord (I Sam. 6:6).  Years later, Israel’s King Zedekiah was recorded as having “stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord” (II Chron. 36:13).  Notice that these deeds of rebellion against God originated, and were determined within the heart of man.

        Looking again at the sins of the heart recorded in Matt. 15:18,19, and Mk. 7:21,22, we find different categories of sins.  All of these are manufactured in the heart, and acted upon in the individual’s life.  There are other aspects of a person’s life that also originate in his heart.  “Let not thine heart envy sinners” (Prov. 23:17), “bitter envying and strife in your hearts” (Jam. 3:14),“haughtiness (scornfully proud) of heart”(Jer. 48:29), hate thy brother in thine heart”(Lev. 19:17), lusts of their own hearts” (Rom. 1:24), and “set up idols in their heart” (Ezek. 14:3,4).  ”Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34,35).  We must realize that this human heart “is the center of thought and conception; the heart knows (Deut. 29:4, Prov. 14:10), it understands (Isa. 44:18, Acts 16:14), and it reflects (Lk. 2:19).”  (taken from Unger’s Bible Dictionary)  The fact that man chooses the condition of his heart is evident in Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:15. “For this people’s heart is waxed gross (grown callous or corrupt), and their ears are dull of hearing and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

        We are admonished in I Chron. 28:9 to “serve Him with a perfect heart and willing minds for the Lord searcheth all hearts.”  In Psalms 77:6, David said, “I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.”  He evidently wanted to find and eliminate anything in his heart that may separate him from God or hinder his fellowship in any way.  David further invited the Lord to look into his heart.  “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me, and know my thoughts” (Ps 26:2 and Ps. 139:23, 24)).  The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer. 17:10).  The Holy Spirit is constantly at work within the heart to convict of sin, point out evil, and generate love toward God.  It is the pure heart that shall receive the blessing from the Lord (Ps. 24:4,5).  God is good to such as are of a clean heart (Ps. 73:1). ”Light is sown for the righteous and gladness for the upright in heart” (Ps. 97:11).  God places great value upon a tender heart – one which He may influence and direct.  “Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God…I have heard thee, saith the Lord” (II Chron. 34:27 and II Kings 22:18).  “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite (regret for sin) spirit” (Ps. 34:18).

        When a person falls into sin in any area, or by any cause, he must repent and renew his fellowship with God.  Psalms 51 is the record of David’s penitence before God after his sin was exposed by Nathan the prophet.  This is an excellent example of how one should respond to God’s correction.  David acknowledged his wrongdoing to God, asked forgiveness and complete cleansing, requested a clean heart again, and a renewal of a right spirit within.  He desired the Holy Spirit and the restoration of the joy of salvation (verses 7–12). He stated that “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (v. 18).  It is important to note that sin must be dealt with in the heart.  If it is ignored, or nurtured, it will multiply as leaven in dough.  It will not just go away of its own accord.  God is faithful to convict of sin and point out any wickedness in the heart.  It is then up to the individual to repent or refuse His leading.  Refusal leads to a condition Scripture calls hardness of heart.  Repentance leads to humility of heart, and a greater awareness of the Holy Spirit’s work within the heart.  Repentance, as already shown, also leads to restoration of fellowship and joy in God, without which the once–cleansed heart becomes increasingly polluted.  Ultimately, the unrepentant person may backslide and become callous against any promptings of the Holy Ghost, resulting in spiritual dearth and finally spiritual death.  Israel did not respond favorably to God’s chastisement “until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy(II Chron. 36:16).  “Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone (a stone of impenetrable hardness), lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in His Spirit by the former prophets; therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 7:12).

        God is a merciful God, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy (Ps. 103:8).  If there remains any interest, any good intent or desire toward God, there remains hope.  The faithful Holy Spirit of God will continue in love to prod and woo the wayward heart of man, but the response remains in the hands of the individual.  “If My people, which are called by My name 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” (II Chron. 7:14).  This is a promise from the throne of Almighty God, and He always honors His Holy Word.  As the prophet Jeremiah told ancient Israel, “break up your fallow ground,” and the prophet Hosea also stated, “it is time to seek the Lord till He come and rain righteousness upon you.”  A person with a hardened heart has some ground to plow up in order to make it again receptive to the seed of righteousness and the rain of the Holy Spirit (Jer. 4:3 and Hos. 10:12).

        We read of King Jehoshaphat in II Chron. 19:3 that he “hath prepared thine heart to seek God.”  Ezra also (7:10) “had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it.”  King David took steps to devote himself to God.  We read in Psalms 119:11, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”  His son, King Solomon, echoed with these words found in Proverbs 3:1–3: “let thine heart keep My commandments: write them upon the table of thine heart.” May we beasJob, who expressed his determination with these words in Job 27:6, “My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.”

(end of “Heart of Man” part 1;  part 2 renamed “The Types of Spiritual Hearts”)

 

 

PAUL TO THE GALATIANS

Randall Walton

        Paul’s letter to the saints at Galatia is one of the most maligned portions of the entire Bible (next to the Book of Revelation).  While we don’t call it rambling prose, it nevertheless lends itself to pulling of choice phrases and verses out of context and away from the original intent of the author.  The very style of construction is such that divergent views are readily garnered from any given area.

        It is certain that Paul never dreamed that his Epistle would be included in the pages of Holy Writ and would be considered part and parcel of sacred canon.  He wrote a special letter to a specific people who should have had no trouble recognizing the purpose behind his message.  The Galatian congregation knew well the aims and purposes of his admonition and rebuke.

        For example, consider the following statements Paul made, and pay close attention to their import as they are presented out of context and out of connection with the main body of the letter (the way most people read them):

        “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21).

        “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Gal. 3:2).

        “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal. 3:24,25).

        “how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.  I am afraid of you” (Gal. 4:9–11).

        “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

        These and other statements he made are generally construed to certify that there exists a controversy between grace and law and that the law of God was formally and conclusively obliterated from the obligation and duty of Christians to obey.

        But, is this truly the substance of his famous letter?  If so, then Paul is guilty of blatant contradiction, for to the Romans he declared, “Do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31).  How, then, do we reconcile this view with the verses we quoted from Galatians?

        Paul and the other New Testament writers affirmed that there were two sets of laws which were binding upon the Jews and Israel: the law of God and the law of Moses.  The law of God consisted of that set of edicts which were engraved in stone by the “finger of God” and are known universally as the Ten Commandments.

        This profound code states mankind’s responsibilities both toward God and to other men.  The whole scope of man’s existence is summed up in those beautiful orders which were sculpted by God and handed to Moses.  Jesus further enhanced them by condensing their application to a simple but powerful formula: total love for God and one’s fellow creature (Matt. 22:36–40).  All ten of those commands are still in effect for the people of God.  Anyone who loves God and his neighbor will have no trouble observing any/all of those precepts.

        But there was another set of laws which were given for a specified time and to a specific people and which are referred to in both the Old and New Testaments as the law of Moses: II Kings 14:6; II Chron. 30:16; Ezra 3:2; Ezra 7:6; Daniel 9:11,13; Malachi 4:4; Luke 2:22; Luke 24:44; John 1:45; John 7:19,23; Acts 13:39; Acts 15:5; Acts 28:23; I Cor. 9:9; Heb. 10:28.

        This set of ordinances was not written in stone, but was dictated by God through His angels and was given to Moses who was God’s mediator to Israel (Gal. 3:19).  Included in this grouping of laws was the plan for the erection of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the setting up and support of the Levitical priesthood, the ordering of the services, sacrifices, and offerings, and it also covered both ceremonial duties as well as civil matters.  It was a most comprehensive and thorough code of ethics, governing business, trade and agriculture, as well as dietary and medicinal practices.  Also included was the rite of circumcision for all males, and the setting up of special feasts and holy days.  (The Passover was ordered at least three months before this code was given from Mt. Sinai: Exodus 19:1).

        This code in its entirety was fulfilled and abolished when Jesus went to the cross (Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14).  It is this code to which Paul refers again and again in his letter to the Galatians.  It is evident that Paul assumed that these folks would have no trouble understanding the theme of his message.  When he referred to “law,” he was speaking of this temporal code, not the Ten Commandments.

        In chapter one he speaks of his past association in the Jews’ religion and of his zeal concerning the “traditions of my fathers” (verses 13,15), an obvious reference to the ordinances which set the Jews apart from all other religions.  In chapter two he makes mention of a confrontation between himself and Peter over the observance of separation of Jews and Gentiles (found in the law of Moses), and he casually calls this “the works of the law” (2:11–16)!  The Galatians would have no problem understanding the subject at hand, for they knew this was not a part of the law of God, which is eternal, but was a part of Moses’ law, which was temporary.

        Likewise, he dealt with other aspects of Moses’ law, i.e., circumcision, and he stated emphatically that if this rite is practiced (as a religious obligation), then the rest of the law (Moses’ law) must be observed as well.  “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.”  Incidentally, circumcision is mentioned 13 times in this letter!

        It is obvious that this once spiritual people were falling into ritualism, adopting the customs and traditions of the Jews who were still trying to follow the law of Moses and were imposing those views on the Gentile converts.  Not only did Peter have a problem (eating with Gentiles), Paul himself circumcised Timothy for the same reason; yet he firmly rebuked the folks at Galatia for believing that circumcision was required for justification before God.

        It should also be remembered that the churches of Galatia had been brought out of paganism with all of its heathen religious practices, such as Easter (Ishtar), Saturnalia (now called Christmas), hallowe’en (holiday of evil spirits), etc.  These were the “weak and beggarly elements” Paul berates them about.  The “days, months, times, and years” are references to their pagan celebrations, not to the observance of the seventh day Sabbath!

        These people were becoming involved in carnal things, both pagan and Jewish (Heb. 9:10, “carnal ordinances”), and were falling into bondage to those observances.

        The Ten Commandments were never a schoolmaster to bring them, nor us, to Christ.  The law of Moses, however, was that very thing.  Its rituals and practices were types and shadows which prefigured the coming of the Lamb of God.  Its many bylaws had the objective of keeping the lineage clean through which Jesus would come.  Thus, when Jesus arrived there was no longer any need for the types and shadows, for they were unnecessary.  Their reason for existence was past, over, and done with.

        But not so with God’s majestic statutes, indelibly engraved in permanency on stone tablets.  That remains in perpetuity, for “until heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law” (Matt. 5:17–20).  If any one of those divine principles is abrogated by God, then He Himself is subject to question, to failure, to fallibility.

        In our study of the letter to the Galatians, let us be assured that Paul does not in any way belittle the law of God, but he does point out the futility of trying to observe the law of Moses and of commemorating heathen holidays.  With this view in mind, perfect harmony is evident with Paul’s other letters as well as the other integral parts of the Word of God.