People of The Living God

Romans 10:9-10

 

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July 2013



 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

SIGNS OF CHRIST’S RETURN

Alfred King

 

        Recently, we at People of the Living God, have been asked about some of the signs of Christ’s coming and the times in which we live.  In a previous issue of “The Testimony of Truth” (November 2012) we wrote about how things in America were just fifty years ago and contrasted some of them with today’s America.  The slide into sin and ungodliness is getting steeper and America is propelling itself towards destruction.  In this article I will list a few of the signs prophesied by Jesus and other writers of the scriptures which I feel are most critical for Christians and the church at this time.  It’s important that we consider which of these signs have already come, which are in process at the present time and those which are yet to be fulfilled in order to grasp a sense of the nearness of Jesus’ return.  The clearest and most clustered prophetic events are given by Jesus and are recorded in Matthew 24.  So we will begin by considering His words.

        The first thing Jesus warns of when asked by His disciples when His coming and the end of the world would be was great deception.  His first words are from Matthew 24:4-5: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”  So serious is the deception of the days just preceding His return, He returns to this topic of deception two more times in this discourse with His disciples.  Consider verse 11, and verses 23-26: “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”  “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.  Behold, I have told you before.  Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.”  The great deception Jesus warns of is certainly a plague of our present society.  Many will say that deception has always existed, and while this is true, the deception of the last days will be greater than any of the past.  Deception comes in a great many ways in our modern society and much is found in our churches.  Many churches weekly lull their members to sleep, preaching easy believism as though a mere belief in the existence of a man named Jesus Who died on a cross, will save them and His grace is all that is necessary for them to obtain eternal life.  It is the mixture of truth with error that is most deceptive.  It takes only a little poison in the pot to make the pot deadly.  So is one lie in a pot of truth.  Easy believism and greasy grace are deadly to those who embrace them.  The Apostle Paul also warns of the deception of these days in I Tim 4:1: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”  To seduce is to lead astray and most seducing is done through deception.  The modern prosperity doctrine that is sweeping America and the world is a doctrine of devils.  Be not deceived by this doctrine cooked up in the kitchen of hell and being sold by wolves in sheep’s clothing, claiming it to be the gospel of Jesus Christ.  But you say, “They use scripture to support and prove their doctrine.”  I will let the Apostle Paul address this concern.  II Tim 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”  The time Paul speaks of is specifically the latter days.  Peter also warns of the time when ministers use God’s word but wrest them to their own destruction (II Pet. 3:16).  Consider seriously Jesus’ chilling words in Matthew 24:24 warning of this deception “false Christs, and false prophets…shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”  Jesus states clearly that even the very elect can be deceived and some will be.  If you notice the words “it were” are in italics indicating they are not in the original manuscript so the more correct reading is, “insomuch that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”  We gather from this that if one can be deceived, they will be.  Very serious!

        In considering the latter days, we need to consider a prophecy given by Enoch, recorded for us in Jude 14-15: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”  The use of “ungodly” seems excessive in this verse but when we consider what Enoch was actually communicating, we get a picture of the very day in which we live.  The seeming overuse of the word “ungodly” cries out loudly and grabs our attention as to the seriousness of this ungodliness.  Enoch attempts to picture for us that the ungodliness of the last days takes victims into a state of such repulsive debauchery and into a depth of sin which is beyond previous ungodliness and will cause the cup of iniquity not only to be full, but to run over.  It is not just the ungodliness of carnality or a person who has a worldly lifestyle and loves the pleasures of this life and so rejects God’s salvation.  It goes even beyond those who stoop to such things as lying, stealing, killing, and those things into which criminals fall victim.  The ungodly of which Enoch refers are those who commit gross and deplorable abominations before God and then have the audacity to rise up and shake their fist in God’s face and dare Him to do anything about it.  They don’t just get involved in sin, but in that sin rise up unashamedly and boastfully flaunting their sin, with deliberate and unrestrained contempt for God, God’s people, and God’s word.  They proudly get in God’s face with their sin in haughtiness and pride.  (Ever hear of “Gay Pride”?  Why is there not a heterosexual pride day?  Or a monogamous relationship pride day?  Why is there not a Christian family pride day?)  The ungodliness of which Enoch prophesied was similar to his day, shortly before the flood when “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).  Then, as today, all respect for God or things holy, had long before been cast aside and the depravity of man reached down into hell itself to find something more profane, something more abominable to gratify the lusts of his depraved soul.  Such sin is that which opens hell itself and invites the demonic, not only to manifest but to possess.  Such is the day of which Enoch warns.

        If this ungodliness existed and was kept outside the church, we would not have to worry or be overly concerned.  But when we see the church, not only excusing such debauchery and sin, but condoning and accepting it, we have a blind, worldly church and a deadly deceived group of people calling themselves “Christian.”  While “ungodly sinners” will get in God’s face; where are the Christians who will get in the face of sin and call it what it is?  Where are the John the Baptists who will tell the religious leaders to bring forth fruit meet for repentance?  Where are the heralds of the Gospel who will call a whited sepulcher a tomb of dead men’s bones and will call a wolf a wolf even if it is in sheep’s clothing?  These are all strong indications of the times just preceding Christ’s return.  It is time for the sleeping virgins to awaken and begin to trim their lamps for the Bridegroom cometh.  It is time to untangle oneself from the affairs and cares of this life and seek Him, Who alone is able to keep one from falling and protect him through the days ahead.  If there is any time in history when the church needs to awaken, arise and put on the whole armor of God and be clothed with Christ, it is the day in which we live.  May the midnight cry be heard by a sleeping church before it is too late.

        Another critical prophecy given by our Lord is found in Matthew 24:15: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand:).”  This term used first in the book of Daniel, is now brought to our attention by our Lord as a sure sign of the days just prior to His return.  The abomination of desolation is something that is done which is abominable and leaves the place or people in which it was done in a state of desolation.  Webster defines the word abomination as extreme disgust and hatred, loathing.  Desolation is a place where nothing can grow and all life has perished.  It is a desert or a wilderness where no life is.  Applying these definitions with the words used in our text, we see it speaks of a place where once life existed but something extremely disgusting and loathsome transpired which left that place barren and uninhabitable.  Let’s read what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in II Thess 2:1-4 in connection with this thought.  “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”  We see several important events which must come about before Jesus returns.  This scripture exposes very clearly the lie that Christ could return at any moment.  Paul teaches us not to be disturbed by such doctrines because two things must occur before Christ returns, and they are (1.) There must come a falling away first.  (2.) The man of sin must be revealed.  The falling away is a part of the abomination of desolation, but it also involves the man of sin.  The falling away spoken of here by the Apostle, refers to many who have been saved, known to some degree a walk with God but then lose that life found in Christ because of sin and deception.  These had life (were born again) and endured for a time but something happened that caused them to lose that life.  One of the greatest areas in which this can happen is in the Pentecostal and Charismatic circles.  Many of these people have had genuine baptisms of the Holy Spirit and even had some manifestations of the power of the Holy Ghost in their lives.  But they do not walk carefully, humbly and prayerfully with God but begin to seek experiences and emotional highs.  They begin neglecting God’s laws and feeling free from such “bondage”; they leave themselves open to evil spirit activity and grieve the Holy Spirit,Who abides within.  Just as it was in the days of Noah when God’s Spirit would not always strive with man (Gen. 6:3), so the Holy Spirit will withdraw and it leaves the temple vacant.  II Thess. 2:7 addresses this very issue.  “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”  The Holy Spirit restrains or holds back evil spirit activity presently but when He is so grieved that He must depart, the individual is open to evil spirit control and even possession.  In Matthew 12:43-45, Jesus speaks of the man out of whom was cast an evil spirit.  The spirit goes out seeking rest but finds none and decides to go back to the house from which he had been cast out and when he returns he finds it empty.  He then goes out and finds seven other spirits more wicked than himself and they enter into that house and Jesus says, the latter end of that man is worse than the beginning.  This is the abomination of desolation.  (Consider Hebrews 6 in relation to this thought)  The great falling away of the last days will be at a time in which many will fall away from God, have the Holy Spirit leave their temple (body) and evil spirits will possess that place which once housed the Spirit of God.  This is the abomination of desolation, and we see already many Christians being set up for this to happen to them. They are rejecting God’s law, believing lies and doctrines of devils that teach all we have to do is believe and that we are no longer under obligation to observe God’s commandments.  Jesus’ words are a grave warning to all those who profess to be Christian, putting their trust in spiritual manifestations while casting aside the commands of Jesus Christ in these last days.  Unfortunately, the abomination of desolations is already taking place in churches in our land.

        Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words” (John 14:23).  One’s obedience to Christ is not a legalistic approach to the commands but is the result of one who truly loves God because it is not just words, but his works testify of His love.  May God fill every hungry soul with this love of God that each one will walk daily with determination and divine grace so as to turn from all sin and live holy lives for the glory of the One he loves.

 

 

 

TRUTH OR FICTION?

Randall Walton

        The Christian faith is rife with a multiplicity of contradictory doctrines, all of which are purported to be based upon the Scriptures, or divine revelation, or both.  It seems odd that from the same Book a thousand (or more) different teachings can be derived.  This, of course, is not the fault of the Book; it stems from the difference in interpretation of the meaning of the Scriptures.

        We stand on the premise that the Holy Bible is THE word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and infallible.  We also regard the King James or Authorized Version to be the most reliable translation available.  The fact that the Bible is the word of God places it in an exclusive category from all other books.  It is God’s Book.  It was designed by Him and written according to His own wisdom and plan.

        Since He is sovereign, He Himself chose the style and format of His Book.  He could have done it differently, but since He is omniscient, we conclude that He chose the method which He deemed the best.

        It is a Book for all people: the believer, the agnostic, the atheist.  It is written in a fashion whereby one can find life or death, encouragement or condemnation, heaven or hell, God or satan.

        It would be a much simpler Book if only it were written in plain, non-interpretive language.  But such is not the case.  God chose to disguise, conceal, hide and embellish His message to man with signs, symbols, types and allegories.  He has actually hidden the true meaning of a large portion of the Scriptures by using parabolic speech.

        Jesus did the same in His preaching to the crowds who were gathered about Him.  This really puzzled His disciples so much that they questioned His motives: “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” (Matt. 13:10)

        A parable is a form of speech in which a comparison, or an analogy, is made.  In the parable of Matt. 13:3-23, Jesus compares mankind to different kinds of soil or earth.  Had He not interpreted this parable for us, we could only guess about the meaning of His teaching.

        The reason for His teaching by parables, He said, was in order to hide His message from the people: He did not want them to understand!  That seems strange, does it not?  He purposely and deliberately blinded their understanding by talking in cryptic language which they could not possibly comprehend.

        That is the nature of parabolic speech; the true meaning of the message is shrouded in obscurity.  Any attempt to unlock, decipher, or interpret the message is doomed to failure, misguidance, and deception.  In other words, to attempt to explain the meaning of parabolic speech is a display of presumption or rank stupidity.  Since God is the author of the dark speech of the Scriptures, who does man think he is to try to tell others what God meant by His signs, symbols or allegories?

Confusion Galore

        Much of the confusion which permeates the “Christian faith” is due to this very practice: interpretation of parabolic language.

        Nearly every prediction of the coming of Jesus has been made on the basis of false interpretation of Daniel, Zechariah, Isaiah, or Revelation.  The PLAIN WORDS of Jesus and the apostles need no interpretation in order for us to understand, but too few people put any faith in the plain words of the Lord.

        False interpretation has been the power behind the different date-setters who have come and gone.  In 1844, a William Miller and Ellen White predicted Jesus’ return to earth that same year; their prediction was based upon their attempt to decipher Daniel’s prophetic message concerning a period of time called “2300 days.”

        Herbert Armstrong predicted in 1967 the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple within 3½ years.  This prediction was also based upon interpretation of the dark sayings of the prophets.

        A few years ago a would-be prophet declared that the church would be translated that year.  His declaration was also founded upon his attempt to unlock the mysteries which only God is able to unlock.

        Millions of people today are expecting Jesus Christ to return to earth to set up an earthly kingdom of God with a duration of 1,000 years.  This teaching also has its roots in the interpretation of signs, symbols, allegories, parables and analogies.   And if we all have the right to determine what God meant in His parables, then why shouldn’t we all come to the same conclusion?

        Unfortunately, we do not have that right!  We do, however, have the right to explore the PLAIN words of Jesus and the apostles and to build a doctrinal foundation upon those words.  When we have built our foundation upon those plain words, then we may compare some of the parables with those plain words.  If there is agreement there, then and only then can we accept the dark speech as a part of our Scriptural foundation.

        This tenet is one of the most important truths regarding the Holy Scriptures.  This is “rightly dividing the word of truth,” i.e., separating the plain speech from the dark speech.  This does away with speculation, guesswork, supposition, and making false predictions.  It also helps to clear the air of confusion.

Plain Words

        Jesus declared: “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say Lo here! Or, lo there!”  The kingdom of God, then, cannot be located geographically.  It is not, never has been, nor ever shall be an earthly, material, physical affair: “for behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20,21)!  The nature of the kingdom is herein described as a spiritual entity, not material.

        “Flesh and blood CANNOT inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 15:50).

        “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).

        “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Cor. 4:20).

        “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

        “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath” (Hosea 13:11).

        “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43).

        “The most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet.  Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me?  saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?” (Acts 7:48,49)

        “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom” (Heb. 1:8).

        These are but a few of the plain words of Scripture regarding the kingdom of God.  These need no interpretation, for they are not written in dark speech.  These convey to us the true nature of God’s kingdom as well as the kind of rulership of the King.

        The King has given His royal orders.  The Sermon On The Mount can be called the Constitution of His government.  He has already been “crowned with glory and honour” (Heb. 2:9), He has “all power in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18), and He sits at the right hand of the Father waiting for all His enemies to become His footstool (Heb. 10:12,13).

        His salvation is universally available (Acts 10:34-35), and this is the day of salvation (II Cor. 6:2).  (Also: Rom. 3:22,23; Rom. 10:11-13; I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:12,13; Heb. 5:9; Heb. 2:9; I John 2:2; I Pet. 3:9; John 3:16)

        Not one of these verses requires interpretation in order to be understood.  They are plain, evident, obvious, simple and frank.  They mean what they say, and say what they mean.

        Every student of the word needs to approach the Scriptures this way: accept the plain, reject the interpretations of the dark speech.  If you are really a lover of truth, you will be richly rewarded for your efforts as you dig into the treasures of the Holy Scriptures.

Profound Truths Negated

        To further illustrate the importance of separating the plain words from the dark speech, we present the following.  It remains a fact that the idea of a future 1,000 year earthly kingdom is founded upon the interpretations of allegorical or parabolic Scriptures, and it is, therefore, a very dangerous doctrine.  It contradicts the plain teachings of Jesus and the apostles, and it is impossible to reconcile it with those teachings.

        For example:

(1) If satan is to be bound in the future, at the beginning of a thousand year period, then he is not bound now.  But, let us consider the plain words of Jesus and the apostles in the following:

        “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death (death on the cross) he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).  Now, if this means what it says, then Jesus made satan powerless through His death.  The work and ministry of Jesus meant the complete overthrow of the dominion of satan.  The “binding” of satan is not a future event, but it has already been accomplished!  For further proof of this marvelous truth, consider the following:

        “For this cause was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8).

        “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.  Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house” (Matt. 12:28,29).

        “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15).

        “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).  Cast out of where?  Cast out of his former abode.  Remember that satan had access to the throne of God.  As the “accuser of the brethren” he had a voice with the Almighty in heaven.  But that all came to an end with the triumph and victory which came about with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  No more can satan go before God and accuse the brethren (Rev. 12:10).

        “Of judgment, because the prince of this world IS judged” (John 16:11).

        “And he said unto them, I beheld satan as lightning fall from heaven.  Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing by any means shall hurt you” (Luke 10:18-20).

        Satan is usually accused as being responsible for all the corruption and violence in the world, but Jesus did not teach such a thing; He said that “from out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23).

        This is not to say that satan does not aid and abet man in his wickedness.  He does; however, his power and influence are limited by the will of the individual to resist him: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

        James also zeroed in on the heart of man as the source of his problems, just as Jesus had done: “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14,15).  Thus, mankind is totally responsible for his own actions and conduct.  Never can he truthfully say, “the devil made me do it.”

        “Who had delivered us from the power of darkness” (Col. 1:13).  Provision has already been made for us through the shedding of Jesus’ blood over the works of the devil as well as his influence.  Salvation means deliverance: the setting free of captives, breaking of yokes and heavy burdens, free from the lies and deceit of satan and his evil angels.

        “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 John 4:4).

        “I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one” (I John 2:13).

        “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles (tricks) of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).  The reason so many people fail to walk in victory is because they refuse to put on the whole armour of God.  A half-hearted effort produces a half-victorious life!

(2) If Jesus is yet to assume His Kingship, then He is not now King.  But let us once again turn to the plain words of our Lord and His apostles for the truth.

        “Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne(!) O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom” (Heb. 1:8).

        “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, CROWNED WITH GLORY AND HONOUR” (Heb. 2:9).  Jesus already crowned?  Absolutely!  The glory and honour of His crown is far greater than any mere diadem of gold and precious gems could ever be.  His represents the coronation of the King of Glory in power and majesty, for “he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (I Cor. 15:25).

        Pontius Pilate demanded Jesus to admit or deny His kingship, to which He answered: “Thou sayest that I am a king.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37).

        It is very interesting to note Jesus’ reply in several other sources:

        WEYMOUTH: “Yes, said Jesus, You say truly that I am a king.”

        MOFFATT: “Certainly, said Jesus, I am a king.”

        SCHONFIELD: “Jesus replied, As you say, I am a king.”

        BERRY: “Jesus answered, Thou sayest it, for a king I am.”

        NIV: Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king.”

        Peter, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, reaffirmed the same premise in his sermon on the day of Pentecost: “Therefore being a prophet (David), and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption…Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted” (Acts 2:30-36).

        The literal throne of David in the ancient city of Jerusalem was merely a type of the majestic throne which Jesus occupies at the right hand of God exalted.  Remember, “Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God is forever and ever.”  David’s throne was not made of eternal substance nor quality.  “The things which are seen are temporal (temporary); but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:18).

        Actually, the promises made to David have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

        Paul also joined the chorus in exalting the royal position of Jesus.  He declared that when the Father raised him from the dead, he “set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world (age), but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:20-23).

        Paul refers to Him as “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” in I Tim. 1:17, and Jude exudes “to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever” (Jude 25).

        These Scriptures all confirm the fact that Jesus now reigns as King, and His dominion girdles this globe and extends even to the invisible realms (the heavens).  The fact that He has many enemies does not detract one iota from His Lordship.  He does rule and reign, but not in tyranny.  His rule is one of mercy and righteousness with the purpose of salvaging as many souls as possible from the wreckage of humanity.  He works with mankind as free moral agents, allowing every person to decide individually his or her own eternal destiny.

        Remember that among His last words was the proclamation, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).  Is He King then?  Does He reign even now?  You had better believe it!

(3) If the kingdom of God is going to be established on this earth as a physical/material reality, then Jesus’ words that His kingdom is not of this world are wrong, and the kingdom which He said was “at hand” was not at hand after all, and the kingdom which He said does not come by observation, will come by observation; the kingdom which Paul said could not be inherited by flesh and blood will be inherited by flesh and blood.

        In other words, all the plain statements made by Jesus and the apostles regarding the Kingdom of God are null and void if there is ever to be a future materialistic kingdom on this earth known as the kingdom of God.

        Israel of old demanded a material kingdom; God granted it to them, but He was angry with them concerning their demand.  Later He testified against them, saying, “I gave thee a king IN MINE ANGER, and took him away in my wrath” (Hosea 13:11).

        The prophet Amos spoke of this debacle also: “Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth” (Amos 9:8).  And He did that very thing!

        When Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom, He said that “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14,15).  The King and the Kingdom were there, right in their very midst, and they did not recognize either.  They were looking for and wanting a restoration of the old sinful kingdom which God had destroyed.  But Jesus was not offering them a material, physical, political kingdom.  He spoke to them of the eternal, glorious, everlasting, supernatural kingdom of peace, joy and blessing which was available, accessible, and present.

        Repentance was the key that unlocked the door into this Kingdom, and the laws of the Kingdom were clearly stated by the King Himself.  When anyone truly repented and acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord and Redeemer, the Holy Spirit transformed that person by an act known as being “born again,” and entrance was made spiritually into that great spiritual, heavenly God kingdom where Jesus Christ is Saviour, Lord, King, Master, Advocate, Intercessor, and Blessed Lamb of God!

        “and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).

 

 

 

IF IT WERE TRUE

Kenneth Fountain

        Carnal man’s natural distaste toward the humility of submitting to a Higher Authority is appeased by the commonly accepted teaching that Jesus did away with commands, and now only requests that men believe on His name and receive His gift of grace for salvation and eternal life.

It is purported that the apostle Paul received this gospel of grace directly from the throne when he went into the desert to be taught of God after his miraculous salvation experience.  This theory of grace instead of obedience was greatly promoted by the late Dr. Scofield, who in his Bible reference notes wrote, “the sermon on the mount is pure law, (and) gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the church.  These are found in the Epistles” (of Paul). (pg. 1000, Scofield Bible)  Many of the major denominations of our day teach that the Ten Commandments, along with all the other commands Jesus gave during His ministry on earth, were done away with at the cross, and that man now has no obligations of obedience because sin is covered by grace.  However, most who cling to this vein of thought do not consider the far-reaching ramifications of ignoring the commands of Christ.  Any who believe and teach the annulment of the commands of Christ should consider the results of disregarding God’s loving instructions.

The Alternative:

        First: If the Ten are no longer applicable, then a Christian may embrace and worship other gods.  Common choices include the following: Mohammad, Buddha, Hindu or Shinto religions, Rev. Moon, athletes (or teams), actors, singers, oneself, a career, house or car, money, prestige, etc.

        Second: Graven images (or exalting emblems of veneration) of whatever one finds attractive or of interest from the previous list are legitimate.  What about a crucifix or Madonna?

        Third: Expletives utilizing Divine title are perfectly acceptable in the Christian home and work place.

        Fourth: There is no Sabbath day to commemorate as holy, so worship (or not) when one pleases, and work or entertain the rest of the day.

        Fifth: Children should not be taught to honor, nor show any respect, toward their parents, grandparents or any other adult/authority figure.

        Sixth: If the Ten no longer apply, it would be perfectly all right to kill anyone who gets in the way or offends.  (Just do away with them, there is no sense in harboring hatred, or ill will toward someone.)  Of course, someone else may exercise this right as well, so it is best to carry some form of good life-insurance policy.

        Seventh:  There is no such thing as adultery, so the Christian and his spouse may have sexual relations with anyone, anytime, anywhere.  If this should hurt the feelings of a spouse or other family members, simply invoke a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  The same policy can apply to the young children or teenagers who want to “explore adulthood.”

        Eighth: If the Christian sees something he likes or needs that belongs to another, he may simply help himself; but to keep what is his, he should have everything carefully guarded under lock and key.

        Ninth: One may speak evil about his neighbors as much as he likes.  (They are probably doing the same about him anyway.)  Tearing down a reputation by backbiting, pointing the finger, and slandering can be quite satisfying to the carnal man.

        Tenth: It is perfectly all right to covet a neighbor’s nice house, or their wonderful spouse, their friends, job, position, and material possessions.  After all, numbers six through eight above may be applied at any time!

        Any who reject the Ten Commandments would logically embrace the above list because if a statement of belief is not adhered to with one’s life, this would be defined as hypocrisy.  If these thought processes seem repulsive, they certainly should, but a large percentage of church-goers accept these views.  This rejection of The Master’s laws of life are a major cause of the present woes in society in our “Christian” nation as well as all other nations.  Mankind as a whole has rejected God.  They want His love, and His promise of eternal life, but they will not have Him to rule over them (see I Sam. 8:7; Isa. 4:1; Lk. 19:14)!  While He is a God of love, He is also holy, righteous and just.  He desires fellowship with people who love Him enough to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14).  “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1).  Since “sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4) and it is possible to sin, it is only logical that we must be responsible to obey commands so as to not transgress.

        In reality, we are bound to obey these commands because obedience to God is how we show our love for Him and our separation from the world.  Consider the following plain statements from the words of Jesus, as well as Paul, James and John.

Matt 5:17-19: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill (Gr.: to fill up defects, to complete, to perfect).”

Matt 7:21: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

John 12:48: “He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

John 14:15, 21, 23, 24: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.”  “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.”  “If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.”  “He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.”

John 15:10, 14: “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.”  “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

Rom 3:31: “Do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Rom 7:12: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

James 1:22, 25: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”  “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

James 2:14-26: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?  Can faith save him?…Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

1 John 2:3-6: “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.  He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.”

I John 3:24: “And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him.  And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.”

1 John 5:2-3: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.”

II John 6, 9: “And this is love, that we walk after His commandments.  This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”  “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”

Rev 22:14: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

        David said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).  Also, “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:8).  As is true for any child, we benefit from the guidelines of our heavenly Father only as we receive and obey them.  They have been given for our good that we may have fellowship with Him and receive of His blessings upon our lives.  When we disobey through weakness or rebellion, we allow ourselves to be overcome by sin.  Paul said, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16)  When the servant of God sins, he is chastised by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8) that he may confess, repent and be washed anew in the blood of Christ.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (I John 1:8-10).  Sin still separates from God.  It is not to be overlooked, tolerated, or excused, but repented from!  We are to walk in newness of life, humbly obedient to the Word and the Spirit, thereby bringing forth fruit to perfection for the glory of God.

 

 

 

ALL

James Sanderson

        “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth ALL that he hath, and buyeth that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold ALL that he had, and bought it” (Matt. 13:44-46).

        These two parables spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ bear a vital message for the people of God in this day.  The central theme of each is the kingdom of heaven.  In these few verses of Scripture, our Lord unfolds some rich truths regarding that kingdom and man’s relationship to it.

        The first most glorious truth is that God has made the kingdom of heaven available to man.  “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).  That is, the kingdom of heaven is within the reach of man.  The Mighty Lord Jesus Christ, the great King of Glory, came to earth and demonstrated the majesty and glory of the kingdom.  His message was the good news that man can embrace the kingdom of heaven, not in some future thousand–year period of time, but now in this life.  God has made a way whereby men can walk as Jesus walked, live as Jesus lived, and see the kingdom of God become a present reality in their lives.

        Both of the men in these two parables found something of inestimable value.  As Moses of old they counted this treasure of greater value than all the treasures of Egypt, for they had tasted the glories of God’s kingdom.  The treasure that they sought had a price.  The cost was ALL.  In order to obtain this priceless wealth, it was necessary to invest everything that they had.

        Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was quite emphatic about the cost of discipleship.  In the fourteenth chapter of Luke, He used an illustration of a man who set out to build a tower.  Before this man commenced to build, he counted the cost to determine if he had enough resources to complete this project.  Then Jesus made a very startling statement: “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not ALL that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).  The New American Standard version translates this verse, “So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”

        Jesus was not addressing a select few when he spoke these words.  Verse twenty-five of this same chapter tells us that “there went great multitudes with Him.”  This requirement applies to anyone who would walk in the footsteps of the Master.

        This command to surrender and forsake ALL is found throughout the teachings of Jesus.  In Luke 21:1-4, Jesus commends the poor widow for her offering of two mites.  For “she of her penury (want, lack) cast in ALL the living that she had.”  Also, a rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked a very pertinent question.  “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18)  Jesus gave him the same message that He had presented to the multitudes earlier.  “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell ALL that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me” (verse 22).  The Scriptures go on to tell us that he went away sorrowful because he had great wealth.

        This doctrine was very unpopular in our Lord’s day, and it is still unpopular today.  The vast majority of religious organizations have attempted to soften or modify the demands that Jesus made.  They have substituted the Levitical law of tithing.  Jesus never commanded His disciples to tithe.  He magnified the law.  Under the Levitical law the priests had no inheritance in the land.  The people paid a tithe of their substance.  Under the new covenant, every disciple is a king and priest to God (Rev. 1:6).  As the priests of old, the Christian has no inheritance in this world.  His portion is the Lord.  The cost is not a mere ten percent, but 100%, ALL.  Furthermore, this teaching definitely repudiates the so-called prosperity doctrine, which is just an attempt of man to have God and the world.

        Again, in Luke 12:32-34, Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags (purses) which wax not old, a treasure in the heaven that faileth not, where no thief approacheth neither moth corrupteth.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  The New International Version and all recent translations render verse thirty-three, “Sell your possessions.”  The central truth is that the Father has made every provision through His son whereby man can enjoy all the benefits of the kingdom of God upon condition.  All earthly possessions must be laid upon the altar of sacrifice.  There must be a total renunciation of everything that pertains to this life.  “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (II Tim. 2:4 NASB).

        The early disciples knew very well that Jesus meant exactly what He said.  There was no doubt in their minds that the way of life that Jesus taught was the strait and narrow way of self-denial.  A total renunciation of all that they had was a necessary prerequisite in order to walk with Jesus Christ.  “And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook ALL and followed Him” (Luke 5:11).  As Jesus passed by the place where Matthew (Levi) the publican was collecting taxes, “He said unto him, follow me.  And he left ALL, rose up, and followed him” (Luke 5:27,28).  Then answered Peter and said unto Him, “Behold, we have forsaken ALL, and followed thee” (Matt 19:27).  Paul declared, “I have suffered the loss of ALL things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

        When the early church experienced the wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, this same doctrine became an intricate part of the divine order that God established.  “Neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had ALL things common” (Acts 4:32).  Those who had lands sold their property and “ brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (verse 37).

        What about the Christian in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries?  Don’t we live in a different age, as many people tell us?  The requirements placed upon those early followers of our Lord are still the same today.  The message of Jesus Christ has never changed.  “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ALL power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.  Teaching them to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:18-20).

        Why would God impose such strict requirements on His followers?  Most Christians fail to realize that they are not their own.  Anyone who has come to God and received deliverance from sin has been “bought with a price” (I Cor. 6:20), the precious blood of Jesus.  That individual has become a purchased possession of God.  A true follower of Christ no longer has the right to live unto himself, feather his own nest, or follow his own plans in life (II Cor. 5:14-15).  Everything that he has, is, and hopes to be becomes the Lord’s.

        God does not need man’s things.  All is His, even unto the cattle on a thousand hills.  What God wants is man’s heart totally and unreservedly devoted to Him.  The problem is that earthly possessions and worldly ambitions stand in the way of God’s divine purpose.  A man cannot serve God and mammon at the same time.  It is an impossibility.  The only way that a man can truly show that his heartstrings are not attached to things is to completely renounce them or suffer their loss.

        Brother Lawrence summed it up quite succinctly, “All consists in one hearty renunciation of everything (ALL) of which we are sensible does not lead to God” (The Practice of the Presence of God).

        It behooves every child of God to examine his own walk in the light of the teachings of the Master.  The Lord is not interested in weekend Christians or ten-percent Christians.  Those who are lukewarm will not be able to stand the shaking that is on the program for this latter day (Rev. 3:16).  God is going to measure every temple of the Holy Ghost.  Those who measure up to the standard will be those who have applied themselves to obedience, complete devotion, and full surrender to Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

BECOMING AN OVERCOMER

Mary Woodard

        In Chapters two and three of the Book of Revelation we have several beautiful promises to “he who overcomes.”  Therefore, it behooves us to have an understanding of what constitutes “overcoming” and how we can attain to it.  The dictionary has several definitions that may help in this quest:

  1. To get the better of in any conflict or struggle; defeat; conquer.
  2. To prevail over or surmount, as difficulties, obstacles, etc.
  3. To render (someone) helpless.
  4. To gain mastery; win.

A study of the Scriptures reveals that there are three categories in which we need to overcome: the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Let us examine these three areas.

Overcoming The World

        In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Later, the apostle Paul tells us that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).  Does this mean we have overcome the world?  “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:4,5)

        We who have the testimony that we have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb through faith and have been born of God have overcome the world!  Praise God!

        Does this mean that we have no more overcoming to do?  By no means!  The enemy who attempted to keep us from Christ will now attempt to keep us from attaining a victorious and overcoming life in Christ.

Overcoming The Flesh

        “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (I Cor. 1:30).

        Jesus has made it possible for us to live a godly and sanctified life, but it is up to us to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (affections and lusts, KJV) (Gal. 5:24).  The flesh makes many demands upon our time and energy.  We live in a materialistic society, and the world system is geared to gratifying the flesh, to pampering and entertaining it.  Of course, there are certain basic needs that have to be met, but beyond the needs are the desires.  This is the area where we will either overcome or we won’t.  Jesus said, “My food (meat) is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34).  When our desires begin to mesh with His desires, we have begun to overcome the flesh.

        The very blessings of God have made us comfortable, lukewarm, unfeeling, uncaring, and complacent.  God warned about the possibility of this situation many years ago in dealing with the children of Israel (Deut. 6:10-12).  I believe one of the greatest sins of the church is complacency.

        I recently heard a missionary speak of the conditions facing Christians in China.  He said they have very little in the material realm.  Their clothing and shelter are meager, and they have to look to God for their daily food.  They have no comfortable buildings in which to meet for worship.  And yet Christ is everything to them!  They love Him with a passion and serve Him with a dedication far beyond that with which we are familiar.  They sacrifice to spend hours in prayer.  As a result, He moves for them in marvelous ways.  Oh that we might overcome the flesh and return to our First Love!  Oh that we might set our affection (our minds) on things above and not on the things of this world (Col. 3:2), that we might come out from among them and be a separated people (II Cor. 6:17), and that we might put off the works of the flesh and put on the fruits of the Spirit (Gal., chapter 5).

        Another of the ways we need to overcome the flesh is in the area of our dealings with the world, or those outside of the gospel.  Through the years my husband and I have found that when we attempt to right what we feel is a wrongdoing against us, we always fail.  When we have been able to turn the matter over to the Lord, He has solved the problem or given us grace and wisdom to deal with it.  When we give our battles to the Lord, He fights them for us (II Chron. 20:15).  This also applies to our brethren in Christ: “Why do you not rather accept wrong?  Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded?” (I Cor. 6:7)  “Do not say I will recompense evil; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you” (Prov. 20:22).  (See also Matt. 5:39; Rom. 12:17; I Thess. 5:15)

        Victory in overcoming self, or the flesh, has many facets, and we are constantly being faced with the challenge of them.  The flesh is at war with the Spirit and we are continually making decisions as to whether we will yield to one or the other.  And, of course, as individuals we all face different problems, challenges, and temptations.  Thank God, we are not in this battle alone.  As John Newton wrote:

        “His love in times past forbids me to think

        He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink;

        Each sweet Ebenezer I have in review

        Confirms His good pleasure to help me quite through.”

        The power of the Holy Spirit in our lives will make us “more than conquerors” (Acts 1:8; Gal. 5:16).

Overcoming The Devil

        “And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11).

        I read this statement recently: “the closer you walk to the shepherd, the farther you will be from the wolf.”  The Scriptures put it this way: “Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7,8).

        If we have overcome the world and the flesh, we have, to a large degree, overcome the devil as well.  Yet he is ever around to cause us to falter, fail, and stumble.  After the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, it is said that “the devil departed from him for a season” (Luke 4:13).  The New King James version says “he departed from him until an opportune time.”  He knows when to strike.  He waits for a crack in the armour, a moment of weakness, a moment when our “leaky vessels” are empty.

        In order that we may overcome the devil, we must put on the whole armour of God (Eph. 6:11,13).  We must continually be renewed and refilled with the Spirit of God and power as were the disciples (Book of Acts).  We must overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).

        The apostle Paul puts it this way: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12-14).  He then added: “Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule” (v. 16).

LET US PRESS TOWARD THE GOAL FOR THE PRIZE!

 

 

 

HIS COMMANDMENTS ARE NOT GRIEVOUS

 

Gloria Ponzio

        The Lord gave me the title of this article a few years back, but I couldn’t write about it until I fully believed it was true.  I dedicate this article to the “Lawgiver.”

        Most of the Christian world must feel God’s laws are a burden, because they teach that all of the commandments couldn’t possibly be kept.  Yet, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).  The word grievous here means burdensome.

        We know by many scriptures that the Lord has made a way to keep His commands and even enter into perfection in this life.  “Be ye therefore perfect (of full age or complete), even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).  “Let not sin reign in your mortal body that ye should obey its lusts” (Rom. 6:12).  “But now once in the end of the world hath He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26).

        The importance of obeying the Lord is stressed in the book of Deuteronomy.  “Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which He sware unto thy fathers” (Deut. 7:12).  “And the Lord will take away from thee ALL sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee” (Deut. 7:15).  The world wonders why there is so much sickness and disease today.  Why should not such a wonderful promise be believed by God’s people?  Because they don’t want to keep all His commands.  At times I can hear the Lord pleading, “O, that there were such an heart in them that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (Deut. 5:29)  And it would be well even today.

        The God of Israel still lives.  His promises are still in effect today.  God will not be mocked.  “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a THOUSAND GENERATIONS” (Deut. 7:9).

        Israel in the wilderness lost the joy in serving the Lord.  To obey Him became a burden to them.  “Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and He shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until He have destroyed thee” (Deut. 28:47,48).  From Moses until the time Jesus was born, the Jews had adopted their own set of rules and commands.  They had spurned the Lawgiver.  They didn’t even know Him when He came among them.  Did you ever wonder why so many religions have materialized in the last 2,000 years?  Behind every carnal religion is someone who hates the Words of the Lord.  False doctrines are like a cloak that hides men from the light of the Truth.

        We are encouraged to know there are at least a few individuals who didn’t consider God’s laws to be a burden to them.  The “Letter of the Law” didn’t kill them.  Here are Job’s words: “My foot hath held His steps, His way have I kept, and not declined.  Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than NECESSARY food” (Job 23:11,12).

        David adored God’s law.  “How sweet are Thy words unto my taste!  Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)  “It is time for Thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void Thy law.  Therefore I love Thy commandments above gold; yes, above fine gold.  Therefore I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way” (vs. 126-128).  David loved God’s laws so much that he hated iniquity exceedingly, as Jesus did.  This was said of Jesus: “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of GLADNESS above Thy fellows” (Heb. 1:9).  The secret of joy and gladness is doing God’s will and hating sin.

        The demands of our Creator, whether the written word or His will for our lives, can never hurt us – only our pride.  Even if we have to give up something or someone we love dearly, it’s only because they would hurt our walk or even destroy our soul.  The Lord is not a tyrant.  He is full of love and compassion.  Peter had told Jesus he had left all to follow Him.  Jesus replied, “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren or sisters, or father or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold NOW in this time, houses, brethren,” etc. (Mark 10:29-30).  The Lord “appoints unto them that mourn in Zion, and gives unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified” (Isa. 61:3).

        We praise the Lord that He replaces the ashes with His blessings.  His love overshadows the cross we bear.  Truly His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  It’s a joy to serve the One we love.

 

 

 

THREE DOCTRINES AND YOU’RE ASLEEP

Wayne King

        When the cry was made at midnight, “Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him”, there were wise, as well as foolish, virgins asleep.  Although it was time to be awake and watching, many were not.  Jesus said in Luke 12:37, “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching”.

        Since the parable of the ten virgins, referred to above from Matthew 25, is a parable only for those living in the latter days, it would behoove us (who are living in the last days) to take special note and consider what it was that put the virgins into a state of sleep.

        This author considers three (fairly) standard doctrinal positions of the Protestant faith to be significant contributors to the slumber of the church.

        We will review those doctrines and the corresponding errors:

  1. The rapture of the church
  2. The future millennial reign of Christ
  3. The Jewish Triumph

The Rapture of The Church

        Anyone who is a frequent reader of this publication is aware of our stance that there will be no rapture of the church, an event preceding and separate from the second coming of Christ.  See previous articles to review the fallacy of this doctrine. 

        The error of the rapture doctrine that produces a sleeping church is this.  We are told that the church will not go through the coming tribulation and will not experience this period of extreme difficulty.  The obvious unspoken understanding is that the church is now as good as it is going to get.  Casual Christianity is acceptable.

        We do not hear the following scripture thundering in our churches: “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger.” (Zeph. 2:3)  There is nothing “casual” about Christianity.

        Some will state this doctrine of the imminent return of Jesus for His church keeps them in a state of readiness, however, based on this author’s observation, that is not the case.  It is fairly obvious that the church world is continuing on as if the “Lord delayeth his coming” (Math. 24:48).  When asked, “When will the church be without spot or wrinkle?” two answers are common.  The first response is, “Jesus will change us (in a moment in the twinkling of an eye) from a lukewarm church to a holy church”.  Apparently, God can’t really have a spotless bride that hath made herself ready.  Remember the serpent as it questioned God’s word, “Thou shalt not surely die”.  “Surely, God can’t have a church that is really holy”.

        The second common response to “When will the church be without spot or wrinkle?” is “Because of Christ’s blood that was shed, the church is considered by God to be holy NOW”.

        Both of those responses confirm the original conclusion: a lukewarm church with many spots and wrinkles is acceptable to God.  The church is not expected to, and therefore is not required to, become genuinely holy.

        It is no wonder even wise virgins are beginning to nod off.

The Future Millennial Reign of Christ

        Opposition to this doctrine has also been addressed numerous times in this publication so a detailed analysis will not be written here.  The short explanation is that the period of time referred to in Revelation 20 as a thousand years is a figurative or symbolic period, the duration of which is known only to God.  This period of time began at the cross when Jesus defeated that old serpent the devil (past tense) and placed clear limitations on his activities and authority.  This period is now coming to a close as the latter days draw near.

        When Christ came 2,000 years ago, the religious leaders were expecting the Messiah to establish a physical kingdom on earth.  Today, the church is also expecting a physical reign of Christ.  Christ had no intention of establishing an earthly kingdom 2,000 years ago and He has no intention of an earthly kingdom now.

        The church world is looking for the millennium to start.  Those that are awake are looking for the thousand–year period to end.

        And therein lies the deception.  It is clearly stated in Revelation 20 the devil will be released for a season at the end of the thousand–year period.  If that period of time started at the cross and ends before the second coming of Christ, then Satan is being released…NOW.  The church world of today is still looking and expecting to be raptured out of any difficulty.  No alarm is being sounded of the coming wrath of Satan.

        Rev 12:12  “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”

        No rapture is coming–the church will remain on earth.   There will be no future millennium–Satan’s wrath against the church is coming.

        Do you see the need to be awake?

The Jewish Triumph

        This last doctrine moves the triumph of God’s work on earth away from the church to only those that are physical descendents of Abraham.  This, again, suggests that the church has no presence or responsibility during the tribulation and no degree of alertness is needed.

        The scriptures clearly inform us that God is not interested in one’s physical lineage.  As one author in this Testimony of Truth publication correctly stated, “Man has changed the gospel of grace into a gospel of race”.   There are not two plans of salvation but only one–extended to “whosoever will” believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

        When the Pharisees correctly informed Christ they were descendents of Abraham, Jesus responded quickly with, “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:44).  Jesus was not interested in who their physical father was but in who their spiritual father was.  Galatians 3:7 captures the message: “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”

        There is the whole issue in a nutshell.  We are taught that the church will not be involved in God’s grand finale.  Instead, we will be in a spiritual rest home in the sky while God’s greatest victory is being accomplished and the precious fruit of the earth is being harvested (Rev. 14:15).  FALSE!

        God will use “spiritual Jews”, not physical Jews, in His final victory over Satan. 

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

        The church of today will become glorious and pure.  We are “those of faith”.  We, of “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Rev 14:6) are the children of Abraham.

Summary

Many virgins are asleep because:

  1. The rapture doctrine informs us “the present spiritual condition of the church is all that is to be expected”.
  2. The millennium doctrine informs us “we will ‘surely’ not be exposed to the wrath of Satan”.
  3. The “Jewish” doctrine informs us “God’s assault on the gates of hell will be done ‘by others’”.

The midnight cry instructs the sleeping to wake up for the Bridegroom is coming.