People of The Living God

John 17

 

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February 2013



 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

“PERILOUS TIMES SHALL COME

II Timothy 3:1

Randall Walton

        Paul’s second letter to Timothy gives a vivid description of the times in which we now live, a time which Paul said would be “the last days.”  There have been many different eras which have been “perilous times” since Paul wrote those well-known words, and the people who experienced those times undoubtedly believed they were living in the last days.

        We have asked hundreds of people throughout the country whether they believe we are living in the last days.  Invariably, the answer has been a resounding, unanimous “yes.”  Millions purportedly believe that the second advent is so imminent that Jesus may come at any moment and catch away His church.

        Yet, despite all these claims of believing in the immanency of the end of this age, we detect an underlying current of skepticism which is evidenced by circumstances which are contradictory to the professed claim.  In plainer words, people who say they believe these are the last days do not live as if they truly believe it.  If we all knew that Jesus would return two weeks from today, you can be sure that lives would change; people would be cleaning up their lives, praying, seeking God, making reparations, restorations, putting forth great effort to be ready to meet Him.

        The fact that folks are not now doing the above gives room for us to wonder about their claims.  Apathy abounds among the majority of professing Christians today.  Sectarianism dominates the religious scene: thousands of those who expect to be raptured away on the same cloud of glory don’t fellowship with each other while here on this planet earth.  (Or do they expect each denomination to have its own “separate but equal” cloud?)

        Of course, God never approved of apathy and sectarianism in any age, but let us hope that these negative qualities were not so prevalent in by-gone days as they are today.

        The modern inhabitant of the earth would do well to pay attention to the warnings written on the pages of man’s history.  A famous chronicler, Edward Gibbons, after much research into the workings of the Roman Empire, compiled his well-known, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in which he listed the five primary causes of the collapse of that great society.  They are as follows:

1.  The rapid increase of divorce and the undermining of the sanctity of the home.

2.  The spiraling rise of taxes and extravagant spending.

3.  The mounting craze for pleasure and the brutalization of sports.

4.  The building of gigantic armaments and the failure to realize that the real enemy lay within the gates of the empire in the moral decay of the people.

5.  The decay of religion and the fading of faith into a mere form, leaving the people without any guide.

        If we hadn’t already given credit to Gibbons for his masterpiece on Roman life, you probably would have thought we were writing a contemporary analysis of the United States of America.

        Indeed, the evaluation of ancient Rome so closely resembles that of the U.S. today that the differences are negligible, and as surely as the Roman Empire was reduced to rubble and ashes, this nation is destined to the same fate, unless repentance is brought forth – quickly and sincerely.

        Corruption runs rampant in our society as if there is no other way – in politics, business, sports, religion, medicine, education, and entertainment.  The love for money and the power it affords are probably at an all-time high.  In fact, the corruption in our society and the love of money complement each other to the degree that all of the old values and standards of morality are passé; this is a day of reckless abandonment in every area of society.

        We are living in the very heart of a nation which has rejected and defied the living God, a nation which has flaunted its ill-gained riches before a world of starving peoples, a nation who boasts on its coinage, “In God We Trust,” while it encourages its citizens to indulge themselves in ungodly practices and teaches its children that God did not create them nor the universe.

        There was a time in our history when the Bible was considered a vital part of the foundation of our nation, but those views are held no longer.  The swearing-in ceremonies of our chief officials are significant in the fact that the Bible which is used is closed, a clear reflection of the attitude which prevails throughout the entire nation.

        How long will the Almighty tolerate these conditions?  We can’t say when God’s sword of judgment will fall upon this nation, but we can say with full assurance that it will!  It is already evident that God is true to His word and He does not allow sin to go unpunished.

        Those who have insisted on their civil rights(?) to practice sodomy are already paying a great price for their sins.  The current scourge of the disease of AIDS is nothing other than God’s answer to the rebellious. (We make allowance for those unfortunate few who are subject to the disease by heredity, or through blood transfusions, or hemophilia.)  God has gone on record that He gives mankind ample opportunity to alter his ways; failure on man’s part to respond to the mercy of God through repentance and change invokes the awful hand of justice in retribution against the lawless and disobedient.

        How soon?  Only He knows!  However, impending judgment should never be the motivating force which brings about changed lives.  God’s standards have been made available to man for centuries but have been disregarded, phased out, fought against, dispensationalized, and ridiculed; God’s blessings have flowed upon a thankless people who have mistaken His bounties as approval of their wicked ways, and they continue to scoff and to live as if they believe He’s dead.

        We should all be impelled to forsake our own ways and follow Him closely just because we love Him (John 14:15), not for fear of what will happen if we don’t.  However, it is incumbent upon those of us who see that justice is about to demand a day of reckoning, to sound an alarm, blow the trumpet, or whatever else may be necessary and useful to awaken humanity to the realities of the day of the Lord.  The prophet Isaiah declared that “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9).  O that men would learn the righteous ways of the Lord now, for the righteousness which they learn then will only be to teach them what could have been had they followed God previously.

 

 

CHRISTIANS UNDER ATTACK

Curtis Dickinson

        About twenty years ago Elton Trueblood made the prediction that committed Christians, by the end of the century, would be “a conscious minority, surrounded by a militant and arrogant paganism, which is the logical development of a secularist trend.”

        His prediction has come true sooner than he expected.  Not since the first century has there been such an effort to destroy Christian faith and culture as is now taking place throughout the world and especially in the United States.  The newspapers, TV, and magazine industries are almost unanimous in censoring the truth of Christ from all viewing and reading.  Schools, from the first grade through graduate college, work for the extinction of Christian truth and influence, so that our Christian heritage is being eroded deliberately and systematically. A government-funded survey has placed the blame for teen-age suicides on the Christian teaching that sexual perversion is sinful and says that churches need to change their beliefs concerning homosexuality.  The study recommends that churches “enlist gay and lesbian adults to work with youth,” obviously to assure these children that their aberrant lifestyle is acceptable.  This is typical of the state’s effort to control the church and an example of the general animosity toward basic Christian teaching.

        In May of this year, the American Bar Association sponsored a seminar for trial lawyers, instructing them in how to use tort law against religious organizations and individuals.  According to Attorney J. Shelby Sharpe, in Chalcedon Report (October, 1989), “War has been declared, and Christianity is in a fight to the death.”

        Under the relentless pressure to conform to the world, many have taken the easy way, by compromise or surrender.  Their churches have become social clubs, blending in with the pagan world and offering a kind of religious casserole where all may feel religiously blessed without having to make the choice of self-denial or renouncing the world’s agenda in order to follow Jesus.  Such a compromise may seem to offer less conflict, but it does not bring peace of mind and leads to ultimate defeat rather than victory.

        The question is: How should a Christian react to this all-out attack on Christian faith and life?

        In the first place, one must accept the basic difference between the person of the world and the Christian, as Jesus presents it in the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5:3-12.  The difference is not in the environment nor work place nor station in life but in character.

        Instead of boasting of self-sufficiency, the Christian is poor in spirit and humbly acknowledges his dependency upon God’s forgiveness through the gospel.  Instead of finding pleasure in sin, he now grieves over his weaknesses and mourns over the evils in society.  Instead of striving for position above others and satisfaction for himself, he is meek and seeks the welfare of those above or beneath his position.

        Where once he justified unethical practice and tried to find ways to get around the Creator’s commands, the Christian now has a completely different desire, hungering and thirsting after the righteousness of God.  Having received God’s mercy, the disciple of Christ refuses to take vengeance against those who abuse and injure him but extends to them his own mercy and forgiveness.  Rather than pursuing a multitude of concerns, he is single-minded and pure in heart, setting his goal on pleasing God in everything.  He is at peace with God and seeks to extend that peace to all within his influence, and as a peacemaker, he is one of the sons of God.

        Such a life is diametrically opposed to that of the secular humanist and exposes the latter’s shabby values and false sense of worth and security.  For this he can expect the hatred of the world, its false accusations and persecutions.  There is no value in being different just to be different, but at the core of Christian faith is the purpose to be like Christ, to be conformed to the image of God, and this immediately is going to set us apart from the rest of the world and invite its animosity.

        In the second place, we are called on to confront the world by giving it Christ’s message, calling it to repentance and exposing its works of darkness.  While we are under no mandate from Jesus to gain the world’s riches, power or recognition, we are under His instructions to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The greater the evil in the world, the stronger the flavor of the salt and the brighter the light appears.

        The real conflict of our day is religious, yet the major voices in the denominations refuse to speak out.  The church retreats into its own ghetto and polishes its armor but leaves it behind when it goes out into the world.  Many Christians not only will not speak out, they will not even hand out a tract or clipping on a timely subject.  They may hotly debate current issues in the Sunday school class, but their witness is never heard outside the walls of the church house.  If this is salt, Jesus said it is good for nothing (Matt. 5:13).

        We are followers of Jesus.  He drove the money-changers from the temple and openly rebuked the scribes and Pharisees.  He spoke of love, but He also challenged falsehood and evil and demanded repentance.  This is confrontation and is an example for every Christian.

        In the third place, we are to apply God’s purpose in all of life.  We are created to be in God’s image and to glorify Him in all things.

        For too long, Christians have divided life into the secular and the sacred.  Leaders talk about one’s “spiritual life” or his “prayer life.”  Worship, evangelism, prayer, and Bible reading are seen as spiritual or sacred, while work, school, business and recreation are seen as secular and as less important in relationship to God.  A portion of life is set aside for God’s use, but the rest of it is lived as though God is not concerned.  In some churches every act is carefully regulated where the “assembly” is at “worship,” but the rules do not apply at home or at work.  This reduces worship to church attendance and robs the believer of the joy and strength of daily worship and of being the church wherever he is at any time.

        God’s image is to be reflected in the way one does business, in the way one farms, keeps house, sells a product, writes (or makes) music, in short, in every thought and action.  The culture in this country is rapidly changing because it is being permeated with strains of pagan cultures.  This could not happen if Christians brought the Creator’s purpose to bear upon every dimension of life.

        In the fourth place, we must demonstrate that our security is in Christ and not in the world.  Our generation seeks security in human guarantees: social security, unemployment benefits, health care, union membership, insurance, etc.  We have relied on military protection for security, ignoring the fact that while we won World War II by military power, we failed to secure the nations of Europe, resulting in the loss of millions of lives and the loss of freedom for the survivors.

        Jesus warned against trusting worldly means for security.  Banks fail.  Governments fail.  Men fail.  But God does not fail.  “But seek ye first his kingdom and righteousness; and all these things (necessary to life) shall be added unto you.  Be not therefore anxious for the morrow” (Matt. 6:33,34).

        No one fails who honestly pursues the goal to be in the image of God.  You may fail to grow rich or to be successful in business.  You may fail to win acclaim or to have an ideal marriage or even to enjoy good health.  But none of this can prevent you from growing daily more and more in the grace and knowledge of Christ so that transformation to the image of God can be taking place in the midst of all your trials.  In fact, scripture teaches that such trials are the very means by which we develop the patience and faith by which we live to please the Father.

        The only security is in God.  Christian faith is to believe that we may give everything, even life itself, over to Him, and in the resurrection He will give us glorious and incorruptible bodies that we may have eternal life in His new creation.

        These are only a few of the basic things we need to have firmly in mind as we engage in this warfare.  The enmity is against Christ, and we are His ambassadors.  We do not stand alone.  There are great numbers of others throughout the world who have not “bowed the knee to Baal.”  Christ is in our midst and has assured us of the final and eternal victory.

 

 

A CALL TO GLORIFY GOD

Kenneth Fountain

        When someone is asked how a person is to glorify God, the common response would be with vocalized worship and praise, either privately, or in a church setting.  (Secondly would likely be prayer, miracles or prophecy.)  While it is true that worship and adoration expressed through songs is a means of blessing God and entering His presence, there are several other ways of glorifying God which are actually greater than vocal or musical means.  In Isaiah 1:13-20, God told Israel that He hated their incense, sabbaths, assemblies, and feasts – all of which He had ordered – because the people were wicked.  Solomon said that the prayer of one who turns from God’s law is an abomination (Prov. 28:9)!  In Mk. 7:6-7, Jesus said, “This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”  We read in Acts 19:11-16 of some who wanted to exercise authority over evil spirits, but they certainly did not glorify God because they were operating in themselves.  The prophet Samuel recorded a time when King Saul and his messengers prophesied before the Lord, but their hearts were full of evil (I Sam. 19:20-24).  Worship, praise, prayer, spiritual power and prophecy only bring true glory to God when the heart of the individual is right in God's sight.  Here, then, is the key to truly glorifying God: obedience, surrender, reverence in the heart, and its manifestation in one’s daily life.  We bring glory to the Lord by obeying His commands: this demonstrates our love and appreciation for Him.  Our submission to the Lord shows our desire to please Him by humbly cooperating with His leading in our lives.  Our reverence for God’s Word and His presence is an expression of deep awe, respect and honor.  Without these qualities of sincerity within, the outward expressions of praise, prayer, or even prophecy can be merely displays for glorifying the flesh, as we find recorded about the proud Pharisee in Luke 18:10-14.

        God is to be glorified within and among His people.  In so doing, He is also glorified before the eyes of the heathen (unbelievers).  When Moses returned from the mountain top after being in the presence of God, the glory of the Lord rested upon him to such a degree that he wore a veil so the people could bear to look upon him (Ex 34:30-35).  When the temple was dedicated unto the service of God, the glory of the Lord was so great that the priests could not perform their duties (I Kg. 8:11).  When the early church had received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, observers took note that they had been with Jesus (Ac 4:13).  Our personal qualities, use of time and talents, every aspect of our lives – not just during weekend and mid-week services – are to be for God’s glory!  “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:19,20).  We are to be a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1,2), because God is glorified by and through His servants only when they properly represent Him in their character, action, devotion and purpose.  They become like Christ: conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29).  It is no longer I, but Christ who liveth in me (Gal. 2:20).

        The manifestation of the sons of God is an unveiling before mankind of those who have surrendered to Him, and have continually sought His purpose for their lives.  These are they who have mortified the carnal nature, and have put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Rm. 13:14). This term, put on, means to clothe completely as with a great overcoat, to be immersed in; our nature is hidden by His nature.  Paul said, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity (godly love), which is the bond of perfectness” (Col. 3:12-14).  These qualities are directly opposed to the carnal nature.  By exercising oneself in these Christ-like attributes, the carnal nature is put to death, and the nature of Christ is embraced in the heart and life.  God is glorified!

        In His sermon on the mount, Jesus commanded us to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 5:16, see also I Pt. 2:12).  Many of these good works are simply humble, righteous responses to persons and situations that confront us.  We are to extend God’s loving nature to those who oppose us and have ill will toward us.  This is the way God loved us – when we were enemies of Christ.  Peter said that if we do well, and suffer for it, but take the abuse patiently, we honor God: He is well pleased because we have chosen to do His will, and honor His word by denying our self-nature (I Pt. 2:20)!  This is letting the light of Christ shine forth through our lives.  Furthermore, if we suffer as a Christian, we are to glorify (praise) God (I Pt. 4:1,2 & 16,19).  These things constitute our cross: mortifying the deeds of the body.  God is lifted up, or glorified, by our submissive obedience to His will (The Word).  Others will recognize the character of God in our words, deeds and responses.  We are to become “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:11).

        Most Christians content themselves with the basic processes of human existence, but God is designing a glorious church here, and now (Eph. 5:27).  His return is scheduled for the purpose of receiving a spotless, pure, holy bride (people).  Those who (in their hearts and deeds) postpone the plan of God simply exclude themselves due to unbelief or rebellious disinterest.  God’s plan will be fulfilled by those whose belief in His Word prompt them to action.  The glory and power of the Lord are for those who choose to follow Him regardless of cost.  They have reverence for the name of God, for His Word, for His presence and for His place of worship.  They recognize that their bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost, and conduct themselves accordingly.  As those seated in heavenly places in Christ, they are ever conscious of His presence and His will, saying and doing those things that please Him.  “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (Jn. 15:8).

 

 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD OPERATES BY THE LAWS OF THE SPIRIT.

Tom Scullin

        In these turbulent times of wickedness and violence when each day brings another even more unimaginable evil to the front pages of the news, it’s hard for some to believe that Jesus has won the victory over the powers of darkness and evil and presently reigns as King in the amidst it all.

        A large portion of the contemporary Church world do not believe that Jesus is reigning as King at this present time, because they look around and see all the rampaging evil and conclude that His Kingdom is for a future time when all evil will be eliminated and the world will be at peace.  The only problem is, the Scriptures do not teach this.  Quite the contrary, they emphatically state that He reigns as King in the midst of His enemies, until He has put all enemies under His feet at the end of the world (See Psa. 110:1-2 & 1 Cor. 15:24-25).  They arrive at this erroneous view because they disregard what He said about His Kingdom; that is, it does not come “with observation” (Lk. 17:20-21).  OBSERVATION, OBSERVE: parateresis ^3907^, “attentive watching” (akin to paratereo, "to observe") does not come, “in such a manner that it can be watched with the eyes” (Grimm-Thayer), or, as KJV margin says, “with outward show”(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).  His Kingdom is a Spiritual Kingdom; it “is within you.”

        Since the majority of the so-called Church rejects the present Kingdom of God, their unbelief then cancels out all the benefits and blessings that His Kingdom provides for His subjects.  No wonder, then, that today’s Church is but a pitiful caricature of the Church in the book of Acts.

        Isa .53:1 poses the question, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?”  The Scriptures answer that question by declaring that God’s report or record is concerning His Son (1 Jn. 5:10; 1 Jn. 3:23; Jn. 6:29).  Those who do not receive or believe that report make God out to be a liar, while the arm of the Lord is revealed to those who do believe it (Jn. 14:21-23).  In other words, God only reveals Himself to, and fellowships with, those who receive and believe the record He has given us in His word of the fullness of His Son and His mighty supernatural work in our behalf.

        Then, according to God’s own words, those who reject His report; that is, the record He has left us concerning His Son, His present Kingdom and our full inheritance in that present Kingdom, make God out to be a liar!  That’s serious!!

        The whole of the report in Isa. 53 that God calls on us to believe is concerning His Son and His work in behalf of man.  The problem arises when we only believe and receive a part of God’s report concerning His Son and His work.  We are called upon to believe that “HE IS” indeed every thing that the Father has declared Him to be.  We are not given the option of receiving or rejecting the parts we choose, NEVER!  We must believe and receive the full record of His Son and His finished work if we are to see the arm of the Lord move in our behalf.

        Understanding the truths concerning the Kingdom of God is the basic premise for understanding much of what the New Covenant is all about.  A misunderstanding here will have far reaching consequences, not only on our belief system, but also on who and what we are in Christ and what we expect to participate in during our Christian walk and life here on earth.

        Carnally minded Christians must have visible physical evidence that meets the demands of the reasoning of the mind before they can believe a thing is so.  The great stumbling block to these kinds of believers(?) when told that the Kingdom of God has come and is in full operation at this time – is – they see no outward, visible evidence that it is so.  On the contrary they see an abundance of evidence that the kingdom of darkness is in full control of the world systems; therefore, they cannot believe in the present Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  So they look for a future age when there are no more enemies and all the outward evidences of world peace and righteousness prevail.  Then they see Christ able to reign, which we have seen is contrary to Scripture.

        God’s ways and thoughts are not according to our ways and thoughts and nothing illustrates this more clearly than when Jesus and the Apostles began to teach and manifest the Kingdom of God as the present reality and inheritance of believers.  The religionists and tradionalists in concert with their father the devil rose up in their fury to try and silence this move of God (Jn. 8:39-45).

        The Kingdom of God does not operate by physical law but by Spiritual law, which the carnally minded do not understand and thus reject and instead look for a kingdom that is suited to their physical reality.  The essential and distinctive elements by which the Kingdom of God operates define and make clear the type and nature of the Kingdom.  Faith, as taught and demonstrated in the Gospels, in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, is the law by which the Kingdom of God operates, and this by itself automatically excludes those full of doubt, fear and unbelief.  So, in fact, these carnally minded who reject God’s ways are in truth rejected and shut out by God’s selection of the way He operates His Kingdom.

“The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2) is the law of the Kingdom of God, and it operates by the law of the Spirit called “the law of Faith.”  In order to walk and function in the new covenant realm of the Kingdom of God, we must know and live by the laws that govern that state of being.  Only then can we hope to grow and develop in the Divine nature and become mature and useful servants of our King.

     One of the most important and fundamental, if not the most important and fundamental, Spiritual law is that all life, development, growth and attainment in the new covenant man is only accomplished by abiding in Jesus (Jn. 15:1-7).  This is called “THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS” (Rom. 8:2), for Jesus said, “without Me, ye can do nothing.”  This seems so obvious that no born again believer should ever have a problem with it.  But, at times we all are guilty of totally ignoring and disregarding this, the fountain of living water, in favor of our little cistern of dead work.  But the futility, the fruitlessness and the lifelessness of its failure is loud testimony that Jesus alone is “THE WAY – THE TRUTH and THE LIFE” (Jn. 14:6).

     The rest of faith that we experienced “in Christ Jesus” at the time of our new birth is the law of the Spirit that God has established as the Spiritual means of attaining Divine life and Spiritual growth in the kingdom of God and the Spiritual possession of all He has given us in and through Christ Jesus.

     Col. 2:6 declares, “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.”  This is THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT for every attainment or advancement that will ever be made in Kingdom life and growth; there is no other way.

     This rest of faith “in Christ Jesus” and in His perfect, complete and finished work in our behalf is “the yoke” that unites us to Him.

      In Matt. 11:28-30, He is calling all who are weary from the crushing burden of their own fruitless labors; “come unto Me…I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me…and you shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

     As we stay united to the Lord by taking “HIS YOKE” upon us, there we learn of Him and from Him, and that is indeed rest from our own futile labors and struggles.

        Our own experiences teach us that any victory over satan, the world or self that we have gained came by this rest of faith in Christ Jesus and in His mighty victory over them.  I Jn. 5:4-5 states, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.”

Heb. 3:14 says, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.”  This confirms the law of the Spirit that we just read in Col. 2:6; that is, we must hold steadfast in our rest of faith in Christ Jesus, that beginning of our confidence, if we are to continue to be made partakers of Him and of His finished work.  That is, any further partaking of Christ after our salvation experience, any advancement, any development in the Divine nature and in Kingdom living, will come the same way we received Him in the beginning; by that rest of faith in Him that believes and receives Him, not only as Savior but as Lord, Deliverer, Healer, our Keeper, Leader, Commander, King and everything else He is and that we are to be in Him.

        II Cor. 13:5 tells us to: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”  We would be wise to do that as we look into this important law of the Spirit that is stated in Col. 2:6, because this is how God demands that we walk under His new covenant order.  Outside of this law of the Spirit, or apart from it, there is no fellowship or partaking of Christ Jesus or of all His full and finished work.

        We need to consider, now, how it was that we received Him, in order to understand and appropriate this law of the Spirit into our Christian walk.

        In some form or fashion we heard the good news that the Lamb of God had indeed come as the Savior of the world.  We were made aware of our sin, our guilt and the separation from God that our transgressions of His Holy law had wrought.  The Holy Spirit impressed upon our hearts the lost and hopeless condition we were in, that we were “without Christ, having no hope and without God in the world.”  As transgressors of God’s Holy and Just law, that law condemned us as rebels against God and His Divine government and as such, the law demanded our death and eternal separation from God.  When our lostness and hopelessness seemed beyond repair, the Holy Spirit took us to Calvary and showed us the Lamb of God who had come to earth to suffer and die and to take our place before the bar of Justice, so that our guilt and punishment would fall upon Him.  Believing this, by the obedience of faith, we cast all our sin, corruption and guilt upon Him and received Him as our personal Savior and Redeemer.

Heb. 4:3 states: “We which have believed do enter into rest.”  When we believed this Good News and by faith rested in Christ to be our only Deliverance, at that very instant, we were saved, redeemed and set free, because at that very moment we rested in Him as our Savior.  He became our Savior and the work was done, full and complete.  By the rest of faith we were “YOKED” together with Christ and into His full Salvation.

        The Scriptures have stated very clearly and simply, “AS YOU HAVE RECEIVED CHRIST JESUS THE LORD, SO WALK YE IN HIM.”  The Scriptures have left no doubt how we receive Him.  The problem has been how we have walked with Him since that time.  If we will simply hear the Scripture and do as they instruct, there will be no problem, because they have left no room for doubt as to how we received Him, so there is no room left for doubt as to how we are to continue to walk the remainder of our Christian life.  That is, in the exact same way that we originally came to Him, by being “YOKED” together with him by faith; that is believing and resting in Him as our only means of everything that God seeks for in us; yoked, united, joined to Him and His mighty finished work by the rest of faith.  This is God’s WAY for us to grow and develop.  For JESUS ALONE IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE (Jn. 14:6).  That means that as we abide in Him, as the branch abides in the vine, He is everything we need and everything that God looks for in us.  HE IS – THE WAY – means that He alone is the WAY; and any other way is a false way (Jn. 14:6); HE IS – THE TRUTH – means that if we are taught of God, He is that truth we are coming to (Jn. 6:45); HE IS – THE LIFE – means that He alone is the life force within which produces growth, development and fruit (Jn. 15:1-7; Phil. 1:11; Phil. 2:13). No wonder He is called “THE AUTHOR AND THE FINISHER OF OUR FAITH.”

        Many assume that they are holding fast to this beginning of their confidence and rest in Christ Jesus, when in fact they are not!  Somewhere along the way they ceased to rest “in Christ” as their everything and began to perform their Christian duties in their own efforts and strength.

        When there is no Spiritual life or victory, when praises to God are silent and when the fruits of the Spirit are missing, so also is the rest of faith in Christ Jesus; it’s just dead works!  They may be saying the right things and doing what appears to be the thing to do, but if these fruits which are by Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:11) are not there, then neither is Christ Jesus, because He said in Jn. 15:5, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.  Jesus taught in Jn. 15:5, that only as we abide in Him, as the branch is inseparably joined to the vine, would we bring forth fruit.  For He said in verse 4: “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”  “For without Me ye can do nothing.”  That certainly is plain enough language and removes any doubt how we are to grow and be fruitful.  It confirms Col. 2:6 and makes this union with Him by faith an absolute.  He said that this abiding in Him would without exception bring forth fruit, “much fruit,” because any branch that does not bear fruit, “He taketh away.”  This rest in Christ can be nothing but fruitful because it is His life and His power that is actuating all of the work.  Yes, both the willing and the doing are of Him (Phil. 2:13) in the same way that the branch only bears the fruit, it does not produce it; that is the product of the life force flowing from the vineinto the branch.  All that is required of the branch is to abide in the vine; that is it’s work – rest in the vine.  As it does, it will both grow and will bring forth fruit because the vine will sustain it, nourish it, support and strengthen it to do so; for that is the work and power ofthe vinePhil.1:11 confirms this – “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ.”

        Some will think this is promoting a state or attitude of passivity, where we simply do nothing.  That is a totally false assumption because this is “THE WAY,” "THE TRUTH” and “THE LIFE” that is active, productive and fruitful and is the only way that the perfect righteousness and the exacting demands of the law will be fulfilled in us (Rom 8:1-4).

        To suggest that abiding in Christ or resting in Christ by faith is a state of inactivity or passivity reveals a state of carnal reasoning that does not understand the ways of God.  We were born into Christ by faith, and by the obedience of faith, we continue to rest in Him for the completion of His great work, for He is the “Author and the Finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2)

        Gal. 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

        The all-important point to take note of is that the life which we now live in the flesh is lived by the faith of the Son of God.  But what could that statement mean — “is lived by the faith of the Son of God”?  The Son of God certainly did not operate by faith in His prior existence with the Father, because faith only operates where there is incomplete knowledge.  Well, He shared in the absolute knowledge of the Father in that existence, so it was notthere that the faith of the Son of God operated.  But when He left the Glory of the presence of the Father and took upon Himself the body of flesh, and the limitations that this imposed upon Him, then He had to walk by faith just as we do in this body.  He had to come in the flesh and live and obey by faith if He was to be the Lamb of God and accomplish all that was needed to save and deliver mankind.  There was no other way.  So the fullness of all that He did for mankind as the Lamb of God is what comprises “the faith of Jesus.”  This fullness of Jesus and this mighty work, “the faith of Jesus is what we now live by in the flesh”.  His faith is the power that worketh in us.  Eph. 3:20: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

        You see His faith is “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”  It is not limited as our faith, to what we can ask or think, but is the divine completeness and fullness of all that Jesus is and all that He accomplished when He walked by faith as the Lamb of God.  So, the expression “the faith of the Son of God” or “the faith of Jesus Christ” is an expression that signifies the fullness of all that the Lamb of God accomplished as He walked by faith in the body of flesh.  It is our inheritance in Christ Jesus, right now in this flesh, to live our life by His faith, that is, by all that he accomplished in his body of flesh by the obedience of faith.

        We need to pray the prayer of Eph. 1:17-20 so that we have the true Spiritual understanding of such a deeply Spiritual truth, because the natural mind alone is not capable of grasping its Divine significance or its infinite reach and scope.

        This is the mystery among the Gentiles that Paul wrote of, because the rest of faith in Christ, as our all in all and the labor to which we are called, is incomprehensible to the carnal mind.  Nevertheless, it is the mystery that God is revealing and calling us unto.  Col. 1:26-29: “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory: WHOM we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according TO HIS WORKING, which worketh in me mightily.”

  This “mystery of God” (Rev. 10:7) – “Christ in you, the hope of glory” – is to be finished; that is, brought to its fullness or completion.  That means that at this time it is an on-going work or a work in progress.  In other words, it is that which God is in the process of developing orbringing to completeness in us and the process which God is using is bythe law of the Spirit; of life in Christ Jesus” which operates by “THE LAW OF FAITH.”

        Look at the changes that were brought about in the lives of Peter and those followers of Jesus after their Pentecost experience.  These men had sat at the feet of the greatest teacher ever to walk this earth.  They lived and had intimate fellowship with our Lord and Master himself.  They heard and saw the words and works of God as no others had before, yet until the Spirit of Christ came into them, they floundered and failed miserably.  Nothing but “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” operating in them can account for this dramatic and radical change.  Read the account in the book of Acts.  All that these men witnessed and testified of was concerning Christ, His kingdom and the power of His resurrection.  This is the book of the Acts of the Holy Ghost, as He revealed and manifested Jesus through these men and women, and this is now our inheritance and our call, to live our life in the flesh, “by the faith of the Son of God,” for “the mystery of God” has been revealed unto us and it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” and “God who worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

        This is the day when all of the word and the will of God is to be fulfilled.  That means this is the day when the Supernatural and Spiritual realities of the Kingdom of God are to be possessed and manifested.  The Church, like Israel of old, has been content with the physical and material aspects of the call of God while rejecting the call to Spiritual possession.  Israel possessed all of the physical land but totally rejected the Spiritual rest in God, and this is still the pattern in the Church.  We are warned of this dangerous unbelief and lack of faith in Heb 3:18-19: “And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”  Heb 4:1-3: “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”

        All of the great accomplishments of Jesus which He secured for us in the body of flesh as the Lamb of God, for our Salvation, Deliverance, Victory and Inheritance, were finished, completed and fully paid for when He shed His blood on the Cross.  If this is not true: what has He left undone, or which work was not enough and needs additional work to be completed and made perfect?  None!  He did a complete and perfect work.  He left nothing unfinished or incomplete!

        Although Jesus has bought and paid for this our inheritance, not one detail of it will come into being or be possessed until man believes God regarding Jesus and His mighty work and reaches out by faith to take hold of it.

        Take the matter of Salvation for an example: by His sacrifice and the shedding of His blood, Jesus made an end of sin, for He bore the sins of the whole world (Jn. 1:29).  But, not one man will be saved until he believes the Gospel and, by the obedience of faith, receives Jesus as his personal Savior.  Just because Jesus bore the sin of the whole world does not automatically save the whole world.  Each person must seek and inquire after it in order to enter into that Salvation for himself.

        This principle applies to possessing all that Jesus has provided for us by His death and resurrection.  Entrance into and possessing any of our inheritance, through Jesus Christ, will only come as we believe the Spirit of God as He makes the word and promises of God real to us and then we step out upon that word.  This is what faith is all about, believing and acting upon what God declares to be true, even though it is not seen or evident to the natural man.  Every thing God has called us unto in Christ Jesus is going to require a step of faith, because these are Spiritual realities, not physical or fleshly realities, that Jesus accomplished for us on the Cross.  The Spirit and the flesh are contrary and opposed to one another, so much so that you are forced to believe one or the other, because their respective testimonies of truth and reality are as far apart as light and darkness.

        Every child of God should be prepared to be tested by the demands and the test of faith that the word of God will make upon their minds, their will and their emotions as it makes known the will of God.  Every advancement in Christ Jesus or development in the Kingdom of God is made when we step out upon the Word (either to do or to be) into that which has no other evidence or proof of its reality and truth than the fact that God says it by His Spirit and His Word.  This is truly resting in Christ Jesus by faith, because there are no other supports to lean or rest upon.

        It is easy to pay lip service to the call unto Christ and His fullness, but when the Holy Spirit leads you to leave thy country and thy kindred and thy Father's house to go unto a country that He will show you, the disparate nature between the natural and the spiritual, between the mind and the Spirit, become stark and real.  We cling to the familiar, the familial, the fathomable, and try to confine God's workings within these boundaries; but Jesus did not pay such an extreme price for us to settle down and be comfortable in the natural realm and be subject to it’s dictates.  He cannot and will not be so restrained and restricted; He moves in the power of The Spirit, in the eternal realm of the supernatural, and He has purchased us to live and move and have our being there, with Him.

        Now, God has not left us on our own to arrive at or attain that high and holy state of being in Christ Jesus to which we are called.  He has provided “THE WAY,” “THE TRUTH” and “THE LIFE” at great expense and sacrifice to Himself and to His Son.  The infinite magnitude of that cost is sufficient proof that there is no other way.  It’s strange then why we do not constantly abide in Him as the only way, and stranger still to think we are abiding in Him while flesh and mind are busy plotting, planning and prescribing the way.

        To ever come to such a life and walk in Christ Jesus, we must go unto Him without the Camp, for that is where He will be found.  That is, away from religious tradition and bondage, away from the kosmos (the world arraignment), away from the dominion of the flesh and the mind, to be shut in with Him and His fullness, and that means we will be called upon to leave our Father’s country and our Father’s house, just as Abraham, to go unto that inheritance God has prepared for us in Christ Jesus.  And that is going to test our faith, because the only basis and evidence we have for the reality of that inheritance is what the Spirit and the Word tell of it, while that which we are leaving behind is founded in the evidences which the five senses supply to our minds and our emotions.  This is where the great battle rages.  Will we believe and heed our mind’s and our emotion’s insistent demand to be heard and obeyed, or will we believe God’s word and step out by faith into the unseen realm of the KINGDOM OF GOD, out where God abides and where his power is made manifest to those who believe??

 

 

“HE SHALL BE LIKE A TREE PLANTED BY THE RIVERS OF WATER”

Armando Montes

        In several places the Scriptures liken a man unto a tree (Jer. 17:7, 8; Matt. 3:10; Matt. 7:15-20).  In Jno. 15:5, our Lord calls Himself THE VINE and His disciples the branches.  In the same chapter He stressed the importance of being productive, of bearing fruit (Jno. 15:2, 5, 8, 16).  The Lord Jesus and His disciples taught about the necessity of spiritual growth in the life of a genuine follower of Jesus Christ.  Fruit bearing is so important in the eyes of heaven that our Lord Jesus said that every branch in Him that does not bear fruit the Father takes away (Jno. 15:2).

        Read Psa. 1:1-6.  (You might have read this psalm several times.  Read it again).  In Matt. 5:1-12, our Lord Jesus taught the multitudes about nine blessed states in the life of a Christian.  We know them as the beatitudes.  David begins his Psalm 1 with these words; “Blessed is the man”  This is another blessed state to be attained by the children of God.  The psalmist wrote that this man:

        1. Does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.

        2. Does not stand in the way of sinners.

        3. Does not sit in the seat of the scornful.

        In the sight of our Heavenly Father this man is like His Son Jesus, “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26).  He walks in newness of life (Rom. 6:4) because he is a new creature (II Cor. 5:17) and his sins have been forgiven.  “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered,” (Psa. 32:1), wrote David.

        This man walks in truth because he is led by the Spirit of God.  He walks not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

        He stands in the way of the righteous.  He stands fast in the Lord and in the true grace of God.  He stands clothed with the whole armor of God fighting, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, the forces of hell that have arrayed themselves against God and His people in this evil day.

        He does not sit in the seat of the scornful, but he does sit.  He sits “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).  Jesus is presently seated at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 8:1; 12:2; Rom. 8:34).  This is a place of kingship and lordship.  He is King of kings and Lord of lords.  We are seated together with Him.  We rule and reign with Him.  This is part of our inheritance in Christ Jesus.  Let’s take hold of it and live it.

“Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the Lord.”  This man takes pleasure in the Word of God.  “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word” (Psa. 119:16).  His meditation is not on things of this earth, but on heavenly things.  He knows by the Spirit of God that “the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:18).

        David likens the righteous to a tree:

        1.  Planted by the rivers of water.  The water is His Word (Jno. 15:3; Eph. 5:26).  Jeremiah adds that this tree “spreadeth out her roots by the river” (Jer. 17: 7, 8).  He is rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:17).

        2.  That bringeth forth his fruit in his season.  God made a great investment in His creation.  He is a businessman and farmer.  According to our Savior’s words in John 15, He is looking for fruit, more fruit, much fruit and that the fruit should remain.  He is waiting with long patience for “the precious fruit of the earth” (Jas. 5:7).  To bear much fruit the living trees have to abide in the vine, in Christ, because without Him we can do nothing.  Everyone who wants to be continually operative in the kingdom of God must have the Word of God abiding in his heart.  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).  God gives the increase when the tree is “planted by the rivers of water.”

        3.  His leaf also shall not wither.  The change of weather does not affect the leaves because he is an evergreen tree.  One way to please our God is to be fruitful in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10).  The man of God who bears “the fruits of righteousness” is a good tree that shall not be rooted up.

        4.  And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.  What a MEGA (GREAT) promise.  Joseph is a good example.  The Book says of Joseph “that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand” (Gen. 39:3).  Joseph’s “feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron” (Psa. 105:18).  He learned to trust God in the bitterness of trial.  And the Lord worked all things for his good because he loved Him (Rom. 8:28).  The Lord delivered Joseph of all his afflictions (Psa. 34:19) and made him prosper in the land of Egypt.  The way of true prosperity, according to God’s Word, is the way of complete submission to His divine will.

        The prophets of old and the apostles spoke of world conditions in the last days.  They warned us concerning judgments and destruction coming upon all the earth.  Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of rain, floods, and winds beating upon every house (Matt. 7:24-27).  We have had so much destruction in the last years: Hurricane Sandy, earthquakes, tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina, snowstorms, tornadoes, droughts, record-breaking floods, and forest fires.  God is using all these calamities to awaken us to seek His face.  It is high time to return to the living God with all our hearts.

        But there are forces more destructive than these calamities of nature.  “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood” (Rev. 12:15).  Of course, this is dark speech.  Satan is the old serpent; the woman is the Church of Jesus Christ.  The flood coming out of Satan’s mouth is to carry away, to sweep away the woman, the Church.  And what comes out of the serpent’s mouth?  Jesus, speaking of the devil, said, “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (Jno. 8:44).  Paul said in Ephesians 4:14, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”  These lies of “the great dragon” and winds of false doctrines are like “fiery darts of the wicked” aimed to annihilate the Church.  Today, many people are following the “pernicious ways” of false teachers.  “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

        We are living in a time that is different from other times.  This is the time of the great separation of the wheat, “the children of the kingdom,” and the tares, “the children of the wicked one.”  The words of our King of glory will be fulfilled.  “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13).  Every tree that is not “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:17) will be swept away.  The raging stormy forces will wash away every tree that is not “rooted and built up” in Christ.

“Master, careth thou not that we perish?” the fearful disciples asked their Master (Mk. 4:36-41) in the midst of a great (mega) storm.  He rebuked the wind and there was a great (mega) calm.  God was behind the storm; God was also behind the calm.  What a wonderful and mighty God we serve!  The prophet Isaiah foresaw the conditions of the earth in the last days (Isaiah 24:1-6).  A decimation is in the agenda of the living God. The earth has been defiled, polluted, under her inhabitants.  The curse has devoured the earth.  Great multitudes will fall by the way side.  Few men will be left.  God will have a remnant.

        The trees that weather the storm will “be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord” (Isa. 61:3).  To make it through they will need the strength and life that the Lord Jesus infuses into His followers.  They shall have learned complete obedience to the will of God.  They will “be like a tree planted by the rivers of water” (Psalm 1:3).

                Tree Planted by River of Water

 

 

JESUS, THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE

Randall Walton

        “Jesus answered and said unto them, I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:5).

        With these words, Jesus rejected and eliminated every other source which might claim to be a solution to mankind’s needs.  He categorically states that there is no other savior which can give man access to the Father, no not one.  No institution can stand between man and God.

        No church, religious organization, religious order, preacher, priest, elder, deacon, rabbi or other church official can serve as mediator between mankind and the living God.  Jesus Christ and He only is the means by which man can reach God.

Jesus The Door

        Jesus stated in John 10:10 that He is the door to the sheepfold and that anyone who attempts to enter by any other way is both a thief and a robber.

        These are very bold words, for they incontrovertibly exclude all other “ways” for man to reach heavenward.  With these words He gives hope for salvation only to the person who receives Him and conforms to all that the word “door” implies.  This means, then, that anyone who desires salvation – eternal life – must turn his back upon every other hope, every institution of man, every philosophy, tradition, dogma or creed, and grasp Jesus Christ in a most personal and intimate relationship, thereby surrendering himself, his life, his soul, his present and future into the care and disposition of the Great Master of Life.

Jesus The Redeemer

        It is a pity that multitudes of people think their salvation rests in their church or denomination.  There are those who believe that by joining a religious organization with a Biblical-sounding name, they are saved and have a sure ticket to glory.

        Others believe that once they have been baptized in water they have salvation.  Little do they realize that if such a ritual were sufficient to save their souls, then Jesus went to the Cross unnecessarily.

        Jesus paid for our salvation, or redemption, when He shed His blood on Calvary.  This was the great atonement for us all.  This cruel death was the one single event which provided the means for any person on earth to be saved, set free from the dominion and domination of Satan, and have a personal relationship with the Lord.

        The Crucifixion was the greatest demonstration of unselfish commitment that the universe has ever witnessed.  Without it, no one would ever have any hope or help, but because of it, hope and help are available to every person upon this planet.  The Bible says that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world!

All Men Are Sinners

        The Bible plainly declares that all men are sinners – they have a sinful nature; “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  The Bible also states that this sinful nature has not always been man’s lot, for the first man and woman were created in the image of God, and God said they were very good.  They remained in that blessed state until they deliberately chose to disobey the voice of God.  In that very moment, man became a sinner, separated from God and possessed of a sinful nature.

        He was not only capable of sinning, he now had a natural inclination and tendency toward ungodliness.  And there was really nothing he could do to change himself.  He had turned his back upon God, and only God had the ability to turn him around and change his nature from sinfulness to sinlessness.

The Substitutional Death

        Man needed a redeemer, a savior.  God had declared that “the soul that sinneth must die”!  This declaration passed judgment upon the entire human race, for man, who was a sinner, could only produce more sinners and death would be the determined result.  All of mankind’s offspring were destined to inherit the same sinful nature as their parents, and thus death and destruction would be the lot of every human being.

        However, God had a solution for this monumental problem: a solution founded upon the premise that if there were one sinless person who would be willing to suffer death in the place of all the rest of humanity, His death would be sufficient to meet the demands of God’s word – that the soul that sins must die.

        Notice this now – only a perfectly sinless person would be worthy to absolve others’ sins by taking their death penalty upon Himself.  Jesus met the demands of that high and holy standard, for it is written of Him that He was tempted in all things just as we are, yet He was without sin!  Never, not once, was He guilty of breaking God’s law.  Not once did He yield to the voice of temptation.  He was guiltless, sinless, spotless, perfect.  And because of this fact, He was eligible to be a substitutionary payment for sins – to offer His life as a ransom for all of sinful mankind, thereby taking their place – the Just for the unjust.

The New Birth – A Resurrection

        Now, this means that mankind’s only source of salvation is in Jesus Christ.  He said that He had power over all flesh and that He gave eternal life to as many as the Father had given Him (John 17:2).  He also said that to receive eternal life a person must be born again.  Now, you can’t accomplish this yourself.  You cannot initiate the New Birth by your own power or ability, neither is the solution found in doing good works.

        Many people think that if they do enough good deeds they will be saved, be born again or will receive eternal life.  This is a great delusion, for Paul said, “By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.  Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9).

        Good works do not save anyone.  The process of becoming born again is completely supernatural.  It takes place when the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of Jesus Christ, enters a person’s heart and takes up residence there.  Paul said there are definite signs that indicate that this reformation has taken place: “If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature.  Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new” (II Cor. 5:17).

        He is saying that the old life is over.  The things that a person once did, he does no more.  The things he once liked, he no longer cares for: He has a new life and a new outlook on life.  His goals have changed.  His perspective is different.  His old habits are gone.  He no longer smokes, drinks, nor runs around.  His desire is to please God and to love Him more.  He begins to study the Bible and spend time in prayer and communion with God.  He really begins to live.

        Jesus describes it this way in John 5:25: “The hour is coming, and NOW IS, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.”  Jesus is saying that there are some folks who are dead right now who will hear the voice of Jesus, and those who hear will be made alive, or resurrected!  Verse 24 describes these people as having already passed from death unto life!

        Of course, He is referring to those who are spiritually dead and who receive spiritual life.  Paul refers to this class of people as the “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).

        According to this, everyone who is not saved, or born again, is dead spiritually because he is separated from the source of life, God.  He is dead and will remain in that dead state unless he hears the voice of Jesus speaking to him, and he responds to that voice. “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. 5:14).

        Of course, Jesus seldom speaks in an audible voice, but He does speak.  He may speak through a person’s inner consciousness, the thoughts, the mind.  He will bring to a person’s awareness his inability to cope with his own problems.  He will cause him to become miserable, troubled, restless; this is how He speaks.  The hollowness that a person feels, the dissatisfaction with life and the shallowness of your existence are all a part of His speaking to you.

        Jesus came to give life to mankind, life which is rich, pleasurable, full of joy and fulfillment.  This quality of life is available to anyone who desires it, for the asking and receiving of it.

        “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God” (I Peter 4:1,2 NIV).

 

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

        I read the article “God’s Cleansing Fire” by Curtis Dickinson.  It was quite thought provoking.  Perhaps I am looking at it from a purely human standpoint.  But as it talks about the ultimate end of the wicked is total and final death, it seems to me to be a little unfair from a judicial view.  It would seem people like Nero or Hitler etc. should be punished more severely than say someone who fails in some respect to perform God's law  “To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin.”  I would like to have further information on these matters.

L.C.

Dear L.C.,

        We, at People of the Living God, truly appreciate you and the concern you have regarding Curtis Dickinson’s article.  It is true that all who do not follow Jesus Christ will be eternally damned.  But you are correct in that there are those who will receive greater punishment.  Jesus made this clear several times in His preaching and His dealings with the Pharisees and scribes.  For instance, in Matthew 23:14, Jesus said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”  These religious leaders, because they have used religion to deceive, enslave and use people, their punishment will be greater than most who end up in hell.

        Consider a couple other verses of scripture in regard to this topic.  Luke 12:47-48: “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.  For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”  There are degrees of punishment for those who reject salvation in Christ.  One other verse that supports this is found in Matt. 5:19: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”  Jesus is not saying that those who break the commandments and teach others that it is okay to break them will be in the kingdom.  He is declaring that those who do this are the worst of sinners.  In God’s sight, and by all beings in the kingdom of God, those who are disobedient and teach others to disregard God’s law are considered the greatest enemies of God.  They are not in the kingdom but are known as the greatest of sinners and their punishment will be greatest.

        There are degrees of rewards also but that’s another topic.  Thanks for the letter and please feel free to write anytime you have questions concerning any articles in “The Testimony of Truth.”

                                                                Your brother in Christ,

                Alfred King